There is just something about a sun-kissed glow. When you have it, you look better, and even feel better. But in the winter months, sunbathing isn’t an option, and even during the months that it is, many people avoid it due to greater awareness about skin cancer. Still, this doesn’t mean you need to go without the color you want. Nor does it mean you need to spend hundreds of dollars on self-tanning products. Instead, you can use the best drugstore self-tanner on the market.
What makes using a drugstore self-tanner so great? Well, first of all, they are cheaper than luxury brands. While luxury self-tanners can cost hundreds of dollars for a single tube of lotion, drugstore self-tanners are well within the budget of the average user. Then there is also the convenience; since they are carried by drugstores, as the name would imply, you can get them at your local Walgreens, CVS, or other pharmacy. Finally, they are also easily available online. While luxury brands are often only sold through certain websites, drugstore self-tanners are sold everywhere, including Amazon.
So, are you ready to glow with the best drugstore self-tanner for you? If so, let’s look at what you need to know before you buy.
How Do Self-Tanners Work?
Self-tanners go by many names. Oftentimes they are called sunless tanners or fake bakes. However, no matter their name, they all work mostly in the same manner. You apply the cream, lotion, serum, spray, or wipe to the skin as directed, let it sit for however long is indicated in the instructions, and then clean your skin. While the product is drying, it works to alter the color of your skin, with the results visible usually within a few hours. Most self-tanners use the chemical DHA to darken the skin. This chemical interacts with dead skin cells to darken them, which results in a tanned look.
When Self-Tanners Go Bad—And How to Make them Great
As with any product, not every self-tanner is created equal. You want a self-tanner that is not orange and that doesn’t smell bad, one that applies easily and evenly and leaves you looking great. To help, we will review the very best products you can purchase. However, sometimes the problem with the look a self-tanner gives you isn’t the products fault; instead, it occurs due to improper application.
While this fact can make you feel like there is a lot of pressure on you to get things right, the good news is that it means you have a lot of control over the results you get. To give you confidence, we are going to go over the simple steps you need to take to get a great result.
How to Correctly Apply Self-Tanner
- Exfoliate your skin. You want to remove the top layer of dead skin cells as these can be uneven. If you apply self-tanner without removing them, you will end up with a blotchy look. You want the exfoliant you use to be gentle, and even a textured washcloth will get the job done.
- Pay extra attention to the skin on your joints. You will want to spend a little bit more time exfoliating in these spots because the skin is thicker here and can be problematic.
- After exfoliating and cleaning your skin, give your skin time to dry completely. This is vital, as wet skin, even when just slightly damp, will cause the self-tanner to become thin and runny, leaving streaks on your skin rather than even color application.
- When applying the self-tanner, do it in sections. If you try to apply it all over, it will dry in some spots and not in others, resulting in uneven coloration that is not the look you are going for. Our advice is to do one body part at a time—an arm, a leg, etc.—so you can focus on even coloration.
- Apply the self-tanner using the same motions on all parts of the body. The most effective motion is a small, circular motion, but consistency is what matters most.
- When applying self-tanner over the joints, dilute it. This is because the thick skin in these spots will absorb color faster, resulting in a darker appearance.
- To avoid dark hands, apply your self-tanner with gloves, then color your hands last. This helps to avoid a rather awkward look.
- Finally, give your skin the time needed for the product to dry before you shower or sweat. The time needed varies by product, but 30 minutes is usually ideal.
Healthy Skin Tans Better
Something else to consider when it comes to getting good results is that healthier skin tans better—even when you are self-tanning. As such, if you want your self-tanner to get the best results possible, you need to properly care for you skin. Some things you should do to improve the health of your skin include:
- Drinking plenty of water throughout the day
- Moisturizing your skin every morning and evening
- Use a humidifier in your home or at the office if the air is dry
- Add antioxidant-rich foods to your diet
- Always go to bed with a clean face
- Reduce the amount of sugar you consume
- Increase the amount of healthy fats you consume
- Sleep at least 8 hours a night
- Practice mindfulness to reduce stress
- Exercise every day
What to Consider When Purchasing a Drugstore Self-Tanner
Purchasing a drugstore self-tanner requires you to consider a few simple features to get the best fit for you. These features are the same ones you would consider when purchasing any other type of self-tanner, so if you decide to go for luxury products in the future, you will know what to look for. So, what do you need to consider when you make your purchase?
Every self-tanner is designed to help get you to a specific color level. When selecting the color level you want to reach, you need to keep in mind the natural color of your skin. For example, the best drugstore self-tanner for olive skin with the goal of getting a deep tan will not be the right choice for someone with fair skin looking for a bit of glow. If you are wanting a significant change, it is better to do it gradually and build up the color over time to avoid going orange.
Once you narrow down the products based on color level, you need to consider if there are any special features that matter to you. Some examples include formulation for sensitive skin, the use of all-natural products, and the inclusion of SPF protection. These features can be great to have but are not ideal for everyone, so you have to consider them on a case-by-case basis.
Self-tanners come in a wide variety of formulas. However, most drugstore self-tanners only come in a few: oils, creams/lotions, and sprays. Oils are difficult to apply and not ideal for those who have acne-prone skin. However, they are good for those with dry skin as well as those who have oily skin due to an underlying dry skin problem. Creams and lotions are good for most skin types and are also easier to apply because they are highly visible. This makes them good for those who are new to self-tanning. Finally, sprays are a little trickier than lotions, but are also highly visible. They tend to create deep color, so they are good for those with darker skin or who want a dark result.
So, now that you know the features to consider, let’s take a look at the products we feel are the best drugstore self-tanners on the market.
Top 5 Best Drugstore Self-Tanners Comparison Chart
|#1 Neutrogena Micro-Mist Tanning Sunless Spray|
|#2 Banana Boat, Summer Color Self-Tanning Lotion|
|#3 Alba Botanica Sunless Tanning Lotion|
|#4 Jergens Natural Glow|
|NIVEA Sun-Kissed Radiance Medium to Dark Skin Gradual Tanner & Body Lotion 13.5 Fluid Ounce|
#1 Neutrogena Micro-Mist Tanning Sunless Spray – Drugstore self-tanner for face:
You can take a look here:
When it comes to drugstore skin care, Neutrogena is well known for the quality products they offer at affordable prices. As such, it is no surprise that our number one choice is one of their many self-tanning products. We chose this particular option for several reasons.
First of all, we like that it is a spray application. Although this can be tricky for those who are new to self-tanning, it means you do not need to rub the product it. This actually makes it easier to avoid streaks, so once you learn to control the mist, your results will be incredible every time.
The other features that sold us on this product are the fact that it is oil-free, so it will not clog pores, alcohol-free, so it will not dry skin, and achieves quality results, darkening your skin tone by as many as three shades. For less than thirty dollars, you get two cans of this self-tanner, making it very affordable as well, though perhaps at the higher end for drugstore products.
#2 Banana Boat, Summer Color Self-Tanning Lotion – Drugstore self-tanner for olive skin:
You can take a look here:
Banana Boat is a company that we all know and love when it comes to sun tanning products and products meant to protect us from the sun. Now, they are also part of the sunless tanning industry. This particular formula comes in several shades, allowing you to achieve the color you want.
Our favorite feature of this lotion is that it is fast drying. Many people who are interested in self-tanning opt out just because it takes to much time. With this offering from Banana Boat, you will be able to tan your skin in minimal time, making it a simple addition to your skincare routine.
In addition to drying fast, it is also oil-free and streak-free, making it easy for novices to apply. It is also incredibly affordable at less than ten dollars per bottle. This is one self-tanner you will definitely want to try.
#3 Alba Botanica Sunless Tanning Lotion- Drugstore self-tanner for a real bargain:
You can take a look here:
Alba Botanica may not be as well-known as the other brands on this list, but that does not mean they do not offer high quality products. In fact, the company has been making its name by offering luxury quality at drugstore prices. Do not be afraid to give this product a shot.
What sets this product apart from the rest is that it uses all-natural ingredients and is never tested on animals. Ethical skin care has been getting more and more attention as of late, but most drugstore brands do not participate in this movement. Alba Botanica, however, does. With them, you can look good and feel good about your purchases.
Since their product uses all-natural ingredients, it is not ideal for a deep, dark tan. However, it does impart a healthy, natural glow that will transform the way you look all the same. And when you consider how affordable this product is, it is hard to say no.
#4 Jergens Natural Glow- Drugstore self-tanner for gradual tans:
You can take a look here:
There is nothing wrong with sticking with a classic, and in the self-tanner world, it doesn’t get more classic than Jergens Natural Glow. This particular self-tanner was one of the first to hit it big, thanks to it offering a glow that truly looks natural, never orange. It has a very loyal following thanks to its results.
Jergens Natural Glow is skin firming, helping to reduce signs of gaining and cellulite. This results in skin that looks both darker and overall younger. It also moisturizes the skin to keep it healthy, making your skincare routine easier.
This product is not designed to achieve deep, dark tans. Instead, it is meant to steadily darken your skin with each application until there is a golden glow. Even if your goal is a deep tan, this product can help you reach the base you need to get there.
#5 NIVEA Sun-Kissed Radiance- Drugstore self-tanner for face and body:
You can take a look here:
Finally, you cannot go wrong with Nivea. Much like Neutrogena, they are well known for their incredible skin care products offered at affordable prices. With their Sun-Kissed Radiance, you get the results you would expect from the company: a gorgeous, steak-free glow.
As the company is known particularly for its moisturizers, you will be happy to know that this product does, in fact, hydrate and smooth the skin. This helps to remove some steps from your skin care routine, keeping things simple even with the addition of a self-tanner. The scent is offers is light and fresh, so it will not overpower your choice of fragrance.
With this product, the color builds gradually. They offer multiple formulas for different color levels, allowing you to start with the light formula and build up to using the darker formula. As a result, you can easily get the look you want.
If you want skin that glows, you do not need to spend hundreds of dollars to get the look you want. Instead, purchase the best drugstore self-tanner for you. We are confident that one of our choices will be ideal for your skin tone and type. So have fun shopping, and enjoy your glow.