self-tanners for a natural-looking glow
Text 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. Just be sure to follow the directions carefully for a perfect result. Here are ten of our favorites. 

Above: The goal is to have a natural sun-kissed look without damaging your skin.  

It’s not water, or a mousse, or even a lotion. This serum feels less like a conventional bronzing product and more like the silkiest formula you’ve ever applied below the neck. Oh, and major points for smelling like a fresh piña colada. $48, Coola Sunless Tan Luminizing Body Serum, $48,

Infused with moisturizing and protective active ingredients, this caramel liqueur gives your skin a sheer bronzed or silky amber glow. To apply, use a large brush, your fingertips or a sponge for unified, seamless application. When unshaken, the formula creates a sheer, warm, matte finish. Shake to create a sun-kissed tan effect with a touch of subtle glittery shimmer. By Terry Tea to Tan Face & Body, $88,

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 and 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 for the Body, $46,

We’ll admit we gave this formula a major side-eye when we first heard that it claimed to tan you in just hours. But it proved us wrong: simply apply the lightweight, non-sticky gel to your skin using an applicator mitt (sold separately) to ensure you don’t miss any patches. For a light tan, shower off at one hour, two hours if you want a medium golden bronze, or in three hours to achieve a deep, dark tan. St. Tropez Self-Tan Express Bronzing Gel, $44, 

This ultralight, oil-free self-tanning fluid is enriched with a powerful derivative of vitamin C to create a long-lasting tan that gradually fades through the natural exfoliation of the skin. A pro-melanin complex activates and maintains the tan while helping to reveal firm firmer-looking skin while vitamin E helps improve hydration. Natura Bissé C+C Self-Tan Drops, $65,

Simply mix this product with your face or body moisturizer to gradually develop a natural-looking, beautifully bronzed tan. Formulated with RéVive’s signature Bio-Renewal Protein to help skin look healthy, and youthful, the formula delivers all the benefits of being sun-kissed from head to toe without the negative impact of the sun. ReVive Bronzé Supérieur Self-Tan Booster, $105,

Maran’s quick-absorbing, super hydrating self-tanner will leave your skin 

feeling soft. The 100-percent pure argan oil nourishes skin while natural DHA safely builds a natural-looking bronzed glow that lasts. Each bottle comes with a plush mitt to ensure streak-free, blissful application. Josie Maran Argan Liquid Gold Self-Tanning Oil, $38,

Okay, we’ll admit spending $140 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 that will leave behind a seamless velvety, golden, streak-free finish on the skin. Sisley Self-Tanning Hydrating Body Skin Care, $140,