We love a tan as much as the next girl, but for those of us who don't like the idea of sunburn or exposing skin to the harmful effects of UV rays, losing our winter-white skin can be a challenge. Thankfully, numerous cosmetic companies have made it their goal to give us the most natural-looking, fake tan possible. Self-tanners are notoriously scary—streaky, orange, damaging to clothing—so we did the dirty work for you. Take a look at some tanners we think are safe to use and a few tips on how to apply them effectively.
Lancôme Flash Bronzer ($32)
This self-tanning face lotion is ideal for skin that’s prone to breakouts: it’s oil-free and contains a hefty amount of vitamin E to protect skin from pollutants and other free radical damage. Although Lancôme’s odorless product seems to dry quickly, its true color only sets in after 30 minutes, so give it some time to dry before you apply your makeup. Thankfully, there’s no special technique to applying this tanner—use it generously on your face, as if it were a moisturizer, and it will settle in on its own.
For the self-tanning experts, we recommend Clinique’s Tinted Lotion; it adds a rich, fresh-from-vacation color to your skin and gives you a healthy-looking, glimmering glow. Apply it evenly to clean, dry skin starting from your chest and working your way down. If you miss a spot, you’ll notice it, so be sure to take your time and get every corner. If you have a minor mishap—say an elbow or knee that ended up too dark—you can always apply a small amount of hair removal cream to the spot and give it about 20 seconds before you wipe it off. You’ll have a clean slate instantly and a second chance to get the color looking even.
Need to get your faux glow on ASAP? Try this L'Oreal’s tanning gel for an immediate, hydrating tan. When it comes to this product, what you see it what you get, meaning it won’t darken over time. Although it works all over, we love what it did for our faces (we’ve even used it as a substitution for bronzer!); its super streak-free and really left us feeling sun-kissed. L'Oreal created this gel to last one day at the most, so if you don’t like it, wash it off with soap and water and you’ll have a fresh face in no time.
Ideal for light to medium skin-tones, these fool proof tanning wipes will make even a first-time tanner look like a pro. The towelettes come individually wrapped and are great for the face and body. Like most self-tanners, this product gets progressively darker with time—you’ll reach your maximum color in about three hours—but don’t let its light color deceive you, it will darken! Wipe the towelette in a circular motion gently and evenly, all across the body. It dries in seconds, so no need to worry about ruining your clothes. The best part? TanTowel smells light and citrus-y—a perfect scent for the summer!