self-tanners for a natural-looking glow
by Fiona Clarke

Gone are the days of slathering on oil and baking in the sun for hours. From a health standpoint, we all know that overexposure to UV-rays can change the texture and weaken the elasticity of the skin causing premature wrinkling, uneven skin tone, age spots and even cancer.

Now the goal is to have a healthy, fresh, yet subtle glow – a natural sun-kissed look. Advances in self-tanning products are making it easier to get that convincing glow without damaging your skin. The new formulas, available in rich creams, fine mists and towelettes, produce believable color without streaking. Just be sure to follow the directions carefully for a perfect result. Here are ten of our favorites. 

Above: With careful application of a quality self-tanning product you can achieve a natural, sun-kissed glow.

Instead of DHA (the chemical that causes the “tanning” effect in most self-tanners) works to encourage your skin’s natural melanin development for a subtle, incredibly natural-looking glow. By Terry Serum Terrybly Sunbooster, $103,

The last thing you want is to kick off a beach vacation with pasty legs, but packing a tube of sunless tanner is a great way to get a beautifully bronze-splattered makeup bag. Skip the spill risk with these individually packaged towelettes soaked in a deep-tanning, smooth-applying formula. Kate Somerville Somerville 360 Tanning Towelettes, $48,

If the smell of self-tanners drives you up the wall, this naturally citrus-scented cream – it’s got grapefruit and lemon extracts – will make getting a sun-kissed glow a (fruity, refreshing) breeze. Jane Iredale Tantasia Self Tanner & Bronzer, $37,

Avoid skin-harming UV rays and get a safe glow at the same time with this two-in-one formula that includes a progressive bronzing formula as well as a doze of broad-spectrum sun protection. Supergoop! Healthy Glow Sunless Tan SPF40, $38,

You can turn your favorite moisturizer into a self-tanning moisturizer by simply shaking a few drops of this booster into the formula. It will take a few days to see a difference, but the glow it leaves behind is worth the wait.Clarins Radiance-Plus Golden Glow Booster, $32,

We’ll admit it: we gave this formula major side-eye when we first heard that it claimed to tan you in the shower. But it proved us wrong: just smear the lotion on your wet skin, wait three minutes, and then use warm water to rinse it off. Be sure to clean your feet really well (you might unknowingly stand on a glob of product). A tan develops in about three days. St. Tropez In-Shower Gradual Tan, $25,

Fast drying, this bronzing gel has a soft golden shimmer that won’t rub off on clothes and progressively deepens over the course of 30 minutes for a rich caramel shade that lasts for days. Lancôme Flash Bronzer, $42,

Maran’s signature argan oil makes this light, hydrating self-tanner absorb incredibly fast and leaves skin feeling soft. Josie Maran Argan Liquid Gold Self-Tanning Oil, $38,

You’ve already worked sleep masks into your nightly skincare routine, working one into your self-tanning schedule just makes sense. Not only will this version leave you with a toasty bronze glow, but the smoothing lactic acid and coddling oat kernel extract will also leave skin looking better when you roll out of bed in the morning. Charlotte Tilbury Overnight Bronze & Glow Mask, $55,

Okay, we’ll admit, spending $100 on self-tanner may seem a little excessive. But when you consider than not only are you getting a UV-free bronze, you’re also getting a face and body moisturizer filled with La Mer’s signature ingredient, Miracle Broth, this multi-purpose self-tanner is so worth it. La Mer Soleil de la Mer The Face and Body Gradual Tan, $100,