8 Drugstore Self-Tanners That’ll Give You the Sunkissed Glow You’re After
We asked a dermatologist how to apply self-tanner for a natural-looking glow and rounded up the best picks available at Canadian drugstores.
We’d hate to rain on your sunny day, but any tan you get damages your skin, says Geeta Yadav, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of FACET Dermatology. However, that doesn’t mean you have to go all summer without a sun-kissed glow. You just need a safe one—a.k.a. self-tanner.
“Self-tanners work using DHA (dihydroxyacetone), a sugar that interacts with the dead layers of the skin to change their colour,” says Yadav. Now, if you experimented with these creams and foams in your youth, you probably think streaky limbs and orange hands are the prices you have to pay for a safe tan. Not true—you just need to know the proper way to apply it.
First, exfoliate. “The more dead skin cells you can get off, the more evenly your tan will appear,” says Yadav. Second, lightly moisturise dry areas (elbows, knees and ankles) and areas with thick skin (palms and soles), to prevent self-tanner from darkening them, says Yadav. You can also use an application mitt to further protect the palms of your hands from stains and help spread the product evenly.
Read on for eight of the best drugstore self-tanners (including foams, sprays and lotions) for the face and body,
Best Drugstore Self-Tanner for Beginners: St. Tropez Instant Glow Body Bronzer
If you aren’t sure about self-tanner or you want just a touch of colour, try St. Tropez’s award-winning formula. It goes on creamy but instantly dries as a powder for a smooth finish. It’s a foolproof pick for newbies since it isn’t long-lasting—meaning, there’s no need to stress if you mucked up the application since it can wash right off.
St. Tropez Instant Glow Body Bronzer in Medium, $29, shoppersdrugmart.ca
Best Drugstore Self-Tanner for Dry Skin: Hawaiian Tropic Aloha Glow™ Self-Tanning Mousse 1-Hr Express Tan
This award-winning mousse contains vitamin E to keep it not just tanned but hydrated, too. Once you apply it, leave it on for just one hour (three if you want a darker colour) then rinse off. And yes, it boasts that classic coconut Hawaiian Tropic scent. Also, it’s vegan, reef-friendly and dermatologist-tested.
Hawaiian Tropic Aloha Glow™ Self-Tanning Mousse 1-Hr Express Tan, $18, shoppersdrugmart.ca
Best Drugstore Self Tanner for Mature Skin: Clarins Self Tanning Milky Lotion
Organic fig extract is the special moisture-boosting ingredient in this tanning lotion, helping skin stay soft and hydrated for 24 hours. Its fast-absorbing formula is light and milky (rather than thick and creamy like other self-tanners), and gentle enough to use on your face.
Clarins Self-Tanning Milky Lotion, $43, well.ca
Best Drugstore Self Tanner for Medium Skin Tones: Bondi Sands Self Tanning Foam
People with darker skin tones should look for self-tanners that have a longer wear time—that’ll enable you to build colour quickly to get reach the tone you desire. This foam goes on light and easy, and contains aloe vera to help boost hydration. Leave it on for up to six hours before rinsing off to reveal the glow.
Best Highly-Reviewed Drugstore Self Tanner Towels: Tan Towel Half Body Classic
These tan towels are large enough to help you access any tricky-to-reach body parts. Unfold and wipe one over a part of your body (you’ll need about one wipe for legs, one for arms and one for your torso), and a tan will develop after two to four hours and last up to seven days.
Tan Towel Half Body Classic, $39 for 10, well.ca
Best Drugstore Self Tanner Spray: St. Tropez Self Tan Purity Water Bronzing Mist
St. Tropez’s cult fave Bronzing Mist is a water-based, tropical-scented spray that’s changing how self-tanning agents can be applied. Spray directly onto your face after your skin care, and a tan will develop over four to eight hours (apply it at night and wake up glowing!). Its vegan formula features naturally-derived tanning agents that adapt to your skin tone, plus hyaluronic acid and green mandarin water to hydrate skin.
St. Tropez Self Tan Purity Water Bronzing Mist, $42, shoppersdrugmart.ca
Best Drugstore Self Tanner Drops: Tanologist Self Tan Face and Body Drops
These tanning drops are designed to be added to your existing skincare. Just mix it (anywhere from 2 to 12 drops) in with your moisturizer or sunscreen on the palm of your hand and spread it all over. It’s non-comedogenic, so it won’t clog pores and contains pink grapefruit, goji berry, and juniper to brighten and hydrate skin.
Tanologist Self Tan Face and Body Drops, $28, shoppersdrugmart.ca
Best Drugstore Self Tanner Overall: Jergens Natural Glow Instant Sun Sunless Tanning Mousse
With close to 15,000 Amazon Canada reviews and a 4.5-star rating, Jergens’ popular mousse formula is the clear winner. It’s easy to apply because its light and frothy texture spreads evenly and dries in 60 seconds. You’ll see instant results, leaving skin with a natural-looking glow. What’s more: It’s made without parabens, formaldehyde and other unwanted additives, and is available in three shades.
Jergens Natural Glow Instant Sun Sunless Tanning Mousse, $15, shoppersdrugmart.ca