Around the world today, a lot of people struggle with the conflicting objectives of protecting their skin and getting a beautiful tan. Tanned skin is an ideal for a lot of people. But, as many scientists have proven, suntanning can be horrible for your skin. Using a tanning booth can be just as dangerous because it is the sun’s UV rays that cause the problems, and tanning booth use exclusively UVA rays.
The severity of a person’s reaction to the sun has a lot to do with genetics. However, it has been established that spending a lot of time in the sun without protection like sunscreen, a hat, and long clothing, can cause major health problems. The scariest of these is skin cancer. But, suntanning can also cause dark spot, wrinkles, and lines.
So, how do you receive a great looking tan without the danger? There are actually a lot of ways to reconcile these two seemingly adverse objectives. First, you could get a professional spray or airbrush tan. Second, you could give yourself a self-tan.
Today we will look at the second option—using a self-tanning product—in detail. Throughout this article we present a buyer’s guide and a list of the five best drugstore tanning lotions to help you find the best product possible without hurting your budget.
- What is a self-tanning lotion?
- How does a self-tanning lotion work?
- Is a self-tanning lotion safe?
- How long does self-tanning lotion last?
- What do we mean by drugstore tanning lotion?
- Why buy a self-tanning lotion from a drugstore?
- What to look for in a drugstore tanning lotions?
- Other things to take into consideration when purchasing a self-tanning lotion
- Top Five Best Drugstore Tanning Lotion-Comparison table 2018
- Top Five Best Drugstore Tanning Lotion-Reviews
- How do I prepare for sunless tanner?
- How do I apply a self-tanner
- How do I remove a self-tanner from my skin?
- What is the best way to care my skin when wearing a self-tanner?
- Final Words
What is a self-tanning lotion?
Essentially, a self-tanning lotion is a lotion or gel that your rub on your skin to provide a tan. The tan is provided artificially through the use of chemicals, it is not the same process as receiving a tan from the sun. It usually takes 12-24 hours for your skin to darken fully when you use these products.
However, almost all sunless tanning lotions also often have bronzers in them. The bronzers are there to create an immediate brown on you skin. This helps you see any missing spots. Usually the bronzer will wash off when you get your skin wet for the first time after applying the lotion.
The actual tanning agent in the lotion does not wash off and will remain brown until it eventually fades.
How does a self-tanning lotion work?
Self-tanning lotions work differently than tanning in the sun. When you suntan or receive a tan from a tanning booth, the melatonin—pigment that controls the color of our skin—increases. The more melatonin you have in your skin the darker its color. Your skin increases the melatonin as a way to protect against the sun’s damaging UV rays. Thus, as your suntan you receive a very slight form of sun protection.
On the other hand, most self-tanners use a chemical called dihydroxyacetone (DHA). DHA reacts with the dead skin cells on the surface of your skin and darkens them. This creates the brown color of the tan. The melatonin in your skin is not increased. It is important to understand this because it means that using self-tanners is not the same as using sunscreen, and your skin will not have any protection.
Whether you choose to suntan or use a self-tanning lotion, you should always use sunscreen.
Is a self-tanning lotion safe?
Most experts believe that using self-tanning lotions containing DHA are safe for your skin. There have been no reported side effects or long-term health consequences of the using the chemical.
Just because there have been no reported side effects doesn’t mean that DHA is safe for everyone. Already at-risk populations like pregnant women and people with health concerns should discuss using self-tanning products with their doctors first.
Also, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) recommends that you do not inhale or otherwise ingest sunless tanning lotions. So, it you are applying a self-tanning lotion to your body, do not use it on or in your nose, lips, or eyes. If you are planning on receiving a sunless tan through a spray—such as a spray or airbrush tan—you should make sure that your eyes, nose and mouth are protected.
How long does self-tanning lotion last?
The length of your tan is determined by many factors, but for most people it will last 5-10 days.
Here is a quick list of some of the things that influence the length of your sunless tan:
What do we mean by drugstore tanning lotion?
On the list below, we will list our top five picks for the best drugstore tanning lotions. You may be wondering what it means to be a drugstore tanning lotion. When we say drugstore tanning lotion we are talking about products that can be easily found at any drugstore like Walgreens or CVS. You will find these products in the skin care aisle.
This is not to say that you have to buy these products in a drugstore. In fact, all of the self-tanning lotions we will be discussing today can be found on Amazon. However, we merely use the designation to point out affordable but still high-quality sunless tanning lotions that you can find anywhere.
Why buy a self-tanning lotion from a drugstore?
The simplest answer to this question, is because buying self-tanning lotion from a drugstore is cheaper than the other alternatives. Plus, when you use the drugstore self-tanners, you can have a tan anytime you want. You don’t have to wait for the sun or make an appointment.
When you compare self-tanning with the other tanning options, its benefits are easily seen. For example, receiving a professional spray or airbrush tan is a surefire way to get great color, but the cost is prohibitive to most people. This is especially true if you want to receive the tan regularly. Salon fees add up quickly.
Also, we’ve already mentioned how tanning in the sun can be dangerous for your skin’s health. Suntanning can also be tricky, because your tan is determined by the amount of sun that is out, which means that you can’t just tan anytime you would like. This is even more true if you live in a cloudy climate like Washington State or want a tan in the winter.
In contrast to these tanning options, self-tanners from the drugstore are the simplest and best alternative. You can choose to have a tan anytime you desire one, and the tanning lotions available at a drugstore will be less expensive than their salon counterparts. This opens up sunless tanning to anyone who wants that golden-brown look.
What to look for in a drugstore tanning lotions?
There are a few ingredients that you should look for in drugstore self-tanning lotions. Remember that just because a product is more affordable doesn’t mean that it has to be cheap.
We recommend that you buy a product with:
Other things to take into consideration when purchasing a self-tanning lotion
Finally, there are a couple of things to keep in mind when you purchase a drugstore self-tanning lotion.
Top Five Best Drugstore Tanning Lotion-Comparison table 2018
Fair to medium
DHA, Glycerin, Corn Starch, Green Tea Leaf Extract, Olive Fruit Oil, Oat Kernel extract, Calendula Flower Extract, Avocado Oil, Jojoba Seed Oil, Vitamin E
7.5 oz. and 10 oz
Light to medium
Aloe Vera Extract, Vitamin E, DHA
Fair to medium
DHA, Ginkgo Leaf Extract, Grape Seed Oil, Citric Acid
DHA, Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Soybean Oil
DHA, Safflower Seed Oil, Sweet Almond Oil, Glycerin, Shea Butter, Calendula Flower Extract, Green Tea Leaf Extract, Matricaria Flower Extract, Ginkgo Biloba Leaf Extract, Citric Acid
Top Five Best Drugstore Tanning Lotion-Reviews
Jergens is one of the most common brands to see in a drugstore. Their Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer fulfills two important functions. First, it can be used as a daily moisturizing lotion, which is important for our overall skin health. You can see this in the inclusion of ingredients like green tea, avocado and jojoba oil. Second, the inclusion of DHA and bronzers will ensure that you get a nice glowing tan from the lotion.
Jergens has made their gradual self-tanning moisturizing lotion gentle enough to use every day. This will provide you that sun-kissed look as long as you want. When you stop using it your tan will fade in about a week.
Banana Boat’s Self-Tanning Sunless Lotion will provide a streak free and even natural looking tan every time. Even though it does not have the same number of active ingredients as some of the other tanners on our top five, it has a lot of skin helpful ingredients like Vitamin E and Aloe Vera.
Banana boat’s self-tanning lotion also is quite flexible to use. It does not have sunscreen in it. However, you can put the tanner on first, let it dry, and then put sunscreen over the top. For the price, this product is an amazing deal.
Nivea’s Sun-Kissed Radiance tanner is, like the Jergens product, also a moisturizing lotion and a great self-tanner for dry skin. It helps to nourish your skin and is gentle enough to be used every day. The Ginkgo extract and grape seed oil help your skin while also providing a long-lasting fresh scent to the product.
Nivea’s self-tanning lotion is a gradual tanning product, which means that it will take longer for you to receive the full tan. In fact, you need to apply it everyday for a week at first in order to build up the tan properly. However, this slower process ensures that the tan you are left with does not streak or have uneven patches.
In contrast to our number three choice, L’Oreal Paris’s Sublime Bronze Tinted Self-Tanner provides immediate color. This is achieved through the use of bronzers in the product. The immediate tan and quick drying aspects of the product are perfect for people that need color fast.
While the Vitamin E and AHA in L’Oreal Paris’s self-tanner does help your skin retain moisture, it should not be used as a daily moisturizer like some of the other products on this list. Instead, this self-tanner is the best for those people that need a beautiful tan the same day and do not have time to wait for a gradual tanner to work.
The only product on our list that is all-natural, Alba Botanica’s Sunless Tanning Lotion has no parabens, phthalates, or animal tested ingredients. In fact, all the ingredients are even vegetarian. This product is one of the safest that you will find in a drugstore.
Also, it absorbs into your skin quickly, which saves you time. No longer will you have to wait for 30 minutes for the lotion to dry. With Alba Botanica’s product people of any skin type will dry quickly and then continue on with their day with a new beautiful tan.
How do I prepare for sunless tanner?
The days leading up to using the sunless tanning lotion are the most important. It is what you do to prepare for the lotion that will determine how long your tan lasts. Some of the most important things to do when you use a self-tanner are
How do I apply a self-tanner
The technique you use when applying self-tanning lotion will make or break your look. You want to apply the lotion to your dry skin in circular motions. This will ensure that the lotion goes on evening and does not streak.
You should also apply a drugstore self-tanner to a single part of your body at a time. Concentrating on a single area allows you to make sure each body part is evenly and smoothly covered in lotion. Make sure to wipe your hands after you finish each body section—or you could wear gloves. The tanning lotion can build up on your hands and discolor them.
When you get to your joints—elbows, ankles, and wrists—you will likely have to use a damp cloth to wipe them. These areas tend to hold onto the lotion and can get darker than the rest of your body if proper care is not taken. But, do not forget to apply the drugstore self-tanning lotion to your hands and feet, otherwise they will be lighter than the rest of your body.
After you have finished apply the self-tanning lotion to your entire body, you will need to wait the right amount of time before putting on your clothes. The tanning solution needs time to dry, so that it doesn’t rub off on your clothes. The time you have to wait will depend on the lotion you use. Usually it will be at least ten minutes, but you may want to wait a few extra minutes longer than the bottle says, just to make sure you are completely dry.
How do I remove a self-tanner from my skin?
When you apply your own tanner, it is likely that you will make mistakes. Novice mistakes are to be expected but could cause unsightly splotches or streaks on your body. Thankfully, there are a few things that you can do to remove the tan from your body.
- Exfoliate: This helps remove the dead skin cells faster and will dull your tan or smooth out any streaks.
- Use lemon juice: Soaking a cotton ball or qui-tip in lemon juice and dabbing at the offending spot will help you remove any unsightly spots of self-tanner.
- Baby Oil: If you need to remove a large area of tanner, then lathering it in baby oil could work to remove the tan. Once you put baby oil over the entire area, let it stay on your skin for 10-15 minutes then wash off with soap a hot water. This should remove any area that went wrong.
What is the best way to care my skin when wearing a self-tanner?
Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. No matter what type of tan you opt for—suntan or sunless tan—you should moisturize. Really, even if you don’t tan, you should make sure your skin is hydrated. This will help keep you feeling soft and supple.
Moisturizing also helps keep your skin cells from drying quickly. This will ultimately make your tan last longer and look much brighter.
You don’t have to harm your skin to get a great tan. Luckily there are options for people that want to keep their skin healthy even while continuing to tan. Now you just need to use one of the many sunless tanning options to get a sun-kissed glow.
Today there are so many different tanning options that it can even get a little overwhelming. However, you don’t have to worry. You don’t need to go bankrupt just to get a praiseworthy tan. If you follow our buyer’s guide and choose one of our top five picks for the best drugstore tanning lotions then you will not go wrong. Any of the products discussed here will give you a tan good enough to make your friends jealous.