A golden tan is always in for summer (especially when it’s paired with a playful swimsuit) but roasting ourselves and leaving skin exposed to the sun’s damaging rays is most definitely out. The negative effects of the sun are well documented, which is why we’re always looking for sunless ways to get our tan on. Self-tanners are one way to achieve a golden glow without risking UV damage and sunburns, and they’re more practical than liberally dusting bronzer from head to toe. But not all self-tanners are created equal: Instead of a bronzed goddess look, the wrong product can turn skin Oompa Loompa orange.
The key to a great fake tan is that it shouldn’t look fake, which is why we prefer a good gradual tan product. Rather than trying to turn pale skin into a deep bronze in one application, gradual tanners subtly add color to skin that builds to a more natural-looking, streak-free glow over time. If the color is too light, you can keep reapplying until you achieve your desired level of bronze.
No matter which self-tanner you end up selecting, it’s worth doing a patch test to get a sense of how the color will progress. Plus, it ensures skin won’t have a negative reaction to the product.
Ready to get glowing? Read on for 13 of the best gradual tan products to try this summer (or all year round).