Beauty

7 self-tanners for your face that are better than bronzer

Look like you got some sun without the UV damage.

A photo of the Isle of Paradise and Tan-Luxe tanning drops. Credit: Isle of Paradise / Tan-Luxe

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If you are pale(r than you want to be), you may have dabbled in self-tanner. There are several popular products out there, many of which come in light, medium, and dark options to cater your bronzed glow to your skin. While no one needs to self-tan, these products can give you a confidence boost when you’re exposing more skin. Plus, you get to reap the benefits of time in the sun without damaging your skin with the sun’s harmful UVA and UVB rays.

Many body self-tanners are fragrant or too thick-feeling for the delicate facial skin and could block your pores or just feel uncomfortable on the face. Instead, opt for tanners designed for your face. Most of these products all use dihydroxyacetone (DHA), which reacts with surface skin cells and darkens them, as well as added ingredients that moisturize your skin.

For best results, gently exfoliate your face before using any of these products and apply to clean, dry skin. This will keep the products from clinging to dry patches and make it easier to get a streak-free, even tan.

1. Isle of Paradise Self Tanning Drops

Isle of Paradise Self Tanning Drops
Credit: Isle of Paradise

Easily match your face to your tanned body with the Isle of Paradise Self Tanning Drops.

Just because you want a tan does not mean you want a whole extra step in your beauty routine. That’s why these self-tanning drops, which you add into your moisturizer, are perfect. The drops use coconut, avocado, and chia seed oils to moisturize the skin and eucalyptus globulus leaf oil for a natural fragrance. Add anywhere from two to 12 drops to your moisturizer (reviewers recommend starting with as few as two to determine how deep you want your tan to be), mix the two together, and apply it to the skin. Your tan will develop over four to six hours and last for a few days, depending on how often you wash and exfoliate your face.

“I’ve tried several self-tanners (which inevitably leave me orange) and was skeptical about how this would work. But after using it for several days, I’m so impressed!” one Sephora reviewer writes. “I apply two drops to my face and neck each morning mixed into my facial moisturizer. I’ve developed a subtle tan that looks very natural without a trace of orange. And it really has helped reduce the redness across my cheeks. In fact, I’ve reduced the amount of foundation I use every day.”

Get the Isle of Paradise Self Tanning Drops at Sephora for $29

2. Tan-Luxe The Face Illuminating Self-Tan Drops

Tan-Luxe The Face Illuminating Self-Tan Drops
Credit: Tan-Luxe

Mix the Tan-Luxe The Face Illuminating Self-Tan Drops into moisturizer for an easy tan.

Just like the Isle of Paradise drops, these ones from Tan-Luxe transform your moisturizer—or a serum or face oil—into a self-tanner. Apply one to four drops into your face product and the formula will moisturize your skin with raspberry seed oil and aloe vera as the color develops over two to four hours. If you want a deeper tan, mix additional product into more moisturizer—you can add up to 12 drops.

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“If I could give this product 10 stars, I would ... it's that good,” one Sephora reviewer raves. “I have zero makeup skills and I have yet to fudge up an application of this stuff. Never had any streaks or problems. Every single time it leaves me with the perfect golden glow. I love that I can decide how dark I want to go. And I also love that it dries quickly. I think it's the best self-tan product you can buy. I will definitely be purchasing it again.”

Get the Tan-Luxe The Face Illuminating Self-Tan Drops at Sephora for $49

3. Golden Star Beauty Self Tanner for Face

Golden Star Beauty Self Tanner for Face
Credit: Golden Star Beauty

Good skincare and a tan? Sign us up for the Golden Star Beauty Self Tanner for Face.

If you use a skincare product like this moisturizing serum, your bronzed glow will be part of your daily routine without a second thought. The Golden Star Beauty serum uses hyaluronic acid and vitamin B5 to hydrate your skin, and rosehip oil, a popular anti-aging ingredient that claims to repair damaged skin and correct pigmentation. Apply three to four pumps to clean skin and the dihydroxyacetone will temporarily darken your complexion over the following few hours.

One Amazon reviewer writes: “This is by far the best facial self-tanner I’ve ever used. It doesn’t smell, it didn’t streak, and didn’t look fake at all. It feels nice and light without being greasy. It soaks into the skin immediately. It also didn’t clog my pores, either. I always worry about that when applying anything to my face. I was actually extremely impressed with the golden results after only using once. I applied it in the evening before bed and in the morning I was shocked at how I already looked like I had spent the day before in the sun!”

Get the Golden Star Beauty Self Tanner for Face on Amazon for $23.99

4. Jergens Natural Glow Face Daily Moisturizer

Jergens Natural Glow Face Daily Moisturizer
Credit: Jergens

Everyone and their mother knows the Jergens Natural Glow line.

Many of you will remember the craze of Jergens’ Natural Glow line years back, but you may not know there’s a product in the collection designated for the face. Unlike the other products in this list that can be applied morning or night, this is ideal for morning because it contains SPF 20 to protect your skin from the sun's rays, which you (of course) don't need at nighttime. You can use this lightweight moisturizer daily for a natural-looking tan and reapply every couple of hours if you’re relying on it for sun protection—and to deepen your color.

One Amazon reviewer writes: “I have been using this product for years and it remains my favorite. After working with a dermatologist years ago, I have avoided tanning in the sun. Until I tried it, I was using the body self-tanner from Jergens, and wondered why I needed to buy another version. Now that I tried it, and love it, I buy them both and love them both! There is nothing unnatural about the color as it fades, and doesn't clog your pores. It is a terrific product.”

Get the Jergens Natural Glow Face Daily Moisturizer on Amazon for $8.64

5. Beauty by Earth Face Self Tanner

Beauty by Earth Face Self Tanner
Credit: Beauty by Earth

The popular Beauty by Earth Self Tanner comes in a tube designated for your face.

If you’ve tried the super-popular Beauty by Earth self-tanner for the body, you may be curious about this companion face product. This lotion moisturizes the skin with ingredients like aloe vera leaf juice and glycerin while bronzing the complexion. Beauty by Earth recommends applying a thin layer using gloves, or thoroughly washing bare hands after, to avoid any discoloration. You’ll have a tan within six hours that’ll last up to a week.

“I want to start off by saying that I have literally purchased every single face tanner on Amazon (no joke) and this is the only product that worked for me,” one Amazon reviewer writes. “The wonderful thing about this product is that it is moisturizing. Most face tanners dry out your face, but this one does not. Also, the scent of this product is not too overwhelming; it's pleasant and subtle. I also loved that I noticed a change in my face color after one application. I have extremely pale skin (especially in those winters months) and this gives me just the right amount of color without me turning orange!”

Get the Beauty by Earth Face Self Tanner on Amazon for $19.99

6. Tanceuticals CC Self Tanning Face Lotion

Tanceuticals CC Self Tanning Face Lotion
Credit: Tanceuticals

A light layer of Tanceuticals CC Self Tanning Face Lotion gives you the bronzed glow you're looking for.

For a self-tanner that actually is a moisturizer, instead of one that needs to be mixed with a moisturizer, try the Tanceuticals CC Self Tanning Face Lotion. On a cleansed face, apply a light layer of the product all over the face and massage it in using circular motions. For a glowy tan, let it completely dry before washing it off after at least seven hours (you can wear it overnight, too).

One Amazon reviewer gushes: “I applied this the very first night I received it. The next morning I had a nice subtle glow of color. I applied it two nights in a row and I absolutely love the tan it gives to my face. No fake orange color. The more you apply it, the darker you will get. It's up to you. I am very happy that I can get rid of my foundation for the summer months ... maybe even winter!”

Get the Tanceuticals CC Self Tanning Face Lotion on Amazon for $21.95

7. Drunk Elephant D-Bronzi Anti-Pollution Sunshine Drops

Drunk Elephant D-Bronzi Anti-Pollution Sunshine Drops
Credit: Drunk Elephant

You get a tan you can wash off at the end of the day with the Drunk Elephant D-Bronzi Anti-Pollution Sunshine Drops.

If you want a tan that you can wash off at the end of the day—without dipping your brush into a powder bronzer dozens of times—you may love these “sunshine drops” from Drunk Elephant. Mix a drop (or more, depending on how tan you want to be) into your serum, oil, or moisturizer and you’ll get an instant tanned effect. Then wash it off just like you would remove foundation and it won't leave any pigment on the skin. The drops use antioxidants, extracts, and oils to soothe, moisturize, and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

“This stuff is a godsend. I get very pale in the winter and I’m always looking for something to give me a little life. This is perfect,” one happy Sephora reviewer writes. “I love that it’s good for my skin and actually helps to even it out versus self-tanners that end up making my skin look blotchy. This has the perfect glow without being sparkly and is so easily buildable. It has such a lightweight, natural finish, which I love. I use it with my concealer under my eyes and sometimes on my eyelids as well. I mix it with my lotion every morning and couldn’t be happier with it. Please never stop making it!”

Get the Drunk Elephant D-Bronzi Anti-Pollution Sunshine Drops at Sephora for $36

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.

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