Trending Self-Tanners That Reviewers Say Won't Turn You Orange

Plus, a celebrity spray-tanning expert explains how to get a natural and streak-free tan at home that will be perfect for your skin tone.
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At-home self-tanners have come a long way since the days of those smelly, greasy lotions that were notorious for turning skin blotchy and the color of Cheetos. And don’t even get me started on the risky tanning beds that were a standard beauty practice in the ’80s and ’90s.

Fortunately, the current self-tanning market boasts a number of different money-saving formulations and shade ranges that allow for customizable and buildable tans, and many options provide realistic results that look healthy and golden, rather than unnatural.

So how can you pick a shade that’s right for you that will look even and streak-free?

Sophie Evans, a celebrity self-tanner and skin finishing expert with St. Tropez, the buzzy self-tanning brand known for its star-studded following, told HuffPost that conducting a patch test on your skin prior to a full-body application can be a great way to avoid looking unnatural. But the patch test shouldn’t be too small, either.

“Applying a tiny spot of self-tan, versus applying a bigger patch, will not be a very good representation of color as the self-tan is concentrated to a small area and it will develop looking a little too dark and muddy. Always patch test with a minimum area of about 2 by 2 [inches], and look at the color four to eight hours later,” Evans advised.

She explained that correctly prepping the skin makes all the difference between a blotchy finish with product bunching into crevices and dry patches, and a tan that looks smooth and seamless.

“Always apply to clean and product-free skin, ideally freshly exfoliated skin. Only moisturize elbows, knees, hands, back of the wrists, whole of the foot and the crease of the heel and any other severe dry areas, like eczema, only. Never moisturize the whole body as the tan itself should be conditioning enough and moisturizer dilutes or can block self-tan color,” Evans said.

She said that the moisturizer you use should be non-oil based and that working with a tanning mitt, or tanning applicator of some kind, can prevent those dreaded mis-colored palms (a dead giveaway that your tan may have come from a bottle).

You should apply the product using a light stroke with a flat hand, Evans said. “You want to smooth the product over the skin, never over rub or massage in a self-tan. This will actually cause a tan to develop patchy as massaging will interfere with the self-tan agent absorbing naturally into the skin.”

Whether you’re just after a subtle shade of golden so you no longer look like a member of the Cullen family, or you’re interested in a more beefed-up bronze for the summer, you can shop some highly reviewed self-tanners below. You can even find Evan’s top pick for achieving a fool-proof glow that works great for facial contouring.

HuffPost may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page. Every item is independently selected by the HuffPost Shopping team. Prices and availability are subject to change.

A whipped cream bronzing mousse with skin-loving ingredients
According to Evans, this lotion-like whipped tanning mousse dries down to a soft, powdery finish and has a built-in color guide so you can see exactly where you have applied the product and avoid doubling up in some areas which can lead to patchiness. The tanning actives present in this formula help the tan to last longer, fade evenly and look like a realistic skin tone. It even contains hydrating, protective and tone-evening properties in the form of plumping hyaluronic acid, vitamin E and niacinamide.

Promising review: “I love this product! I’m not an expert in self tanner but this was so easy to apply! It wasn’t streaky at all and it didn't have a weird smell either. It made my skin feel so silky smooth! I also loved that it made me look much more tan but was still very natural looking even after it had sat for a few hours. I highly recommend it!” – MissTaia
Color-correcting drops that allow you to customize your tan
Isle of Paradise’s concentrated Glow Drops can be added to your favorite moisturizers, body creams or serums in order to create a customized tan that’s both natural-looking and streak-free. Available in three different shade ranges, these drops were developed to work with your specific skin tone while helping to brighten skin and even tone. Omega-rich ingredients like chia seeds and avocado oil also help condition skin and support barrier function.

Promising review: “I've used a lot of self-tanners, from aerosol mists to pump top sprays and creams. This product exceeded my expectations by a lot! I wanted to start slow and gradually build color to make sure I didn't stray into Cheeto territory. After I exfoliate and pre-moisturize the driest parts of my skin (knees, ankles, knuckles, neck, wrists), I [use] one drop in my facial moisturizer, and 3-5 drops mixed in with enough body lotion to cover everything else. I use the Gaiyan kit along with a Real Techniques kabuki brush to blend. This has given me a streak-free golden tan with zero blotches. I like to use a scented lotion to mask the tanner smell that develops. This stuff is awesome.” – shantron
An ultra-popular and fast-acting foam that gives a dark tan
For fast results that look a bit more pronounced, the Bondi Sands tanning foam, which has over 19,400 five-star-ratings on Amazon, might be worth a try. It’s available in three shade ranges, including ultra-dark, and has been enriched with aloe vera and coconut.

Promising review: “It's a mousse and it is strange at first because it is instant color! I've just never experienced the instant mousse color before. I've only used the slow acting, smelly, orange stuff. This is fast acting, no smell, and a real color of tan/brown. I'm very fair and used the light/medium and it's a great tan color. I felt so good about my little bit of color peeking through the cool holes in my jeans. Just rub it in really good and you're streak free, no problem! I'm thrilled with Bondi Sands. Well worth it. (and to be free of that awful scent with other self-tanners! yay! also - brown, NOT orange - yay again) Enjoy!” – Kcubrats2011
A gradual tanning and firming lotion that’s great for pale skin tones
Loved for its low-maintenance application and gradual tan, this hydrating tanning lotion by Jergens also offers skin-toning benefits. With daily use, the nourishing formula slowly deepens your skin’s natural tone and an infusion of antioxidants help to improve skin’s elasticity and protect it from environmental stressors that are responsible for premature aging. It’s available in two shade ranges.

Promising review: “I have very fair skin and after a bad experience years ago with a self tanner that left me looking like the byproduct of a love affair between a zebra and an oompa-loompa I have avoided them. I've used this product every day for a little more than a week and I am loving it. My legs have developed a nice glow that looks natural and are buttery soft.” – Alex Norath
A customizable tanning concentrate just for the face
Tanning the face can be tricky and a little intimidating. The Tan Luxe concentrated self-tanner drops, which are available in two shade options, are formulated specifically for facial tanning and contain a number of organic tanning actives that work alongside your natural skin tone without leaving behind streaks or patches. It also helps to target skin dryness and dullness by utilizing a blend of conditioning seed oils, aloe vera and antioxidant-rich vitamin E.

Promising review: “This is by far the most natural looking tanner I've ever tried. I mix 5 drops with a face moisturizer cream in the palm of my hand and then apply throughout my face. No streaks, natural. Really amazing. You can do that every day. Nothing like this in the market.” – miguel
A 100% natural tanning foam with antioxidant properties
This quick-drying and fast-developing foam by Coco & Eve is non-sticky, lightweight and takes a natural approach to self-tanning. It contains an infusion of raw virgin coconuts, botanicals and amino acids to hydrate as well as a blend of powerful natural antioxidants to help prevent signs of premature skin aging. The base of the foam, which is available in three shades, was developed with a green-gray hue to offset any orange tones and create a natural, golden color.

Promising review: “The smell of this stuff is absolutely amazing; it doesn't smell like regular tanning mousse (stinky and pungent). It has a sweet perfume-like smell that’s very pleasant when applying. My mother even commented about how good it smelled on my skin right after I applied it. It produces GREAT color results, it’s a very natural bronze color, it's not orange and it’s not fake looking at all. I’m very impressed with this formula! Also the mitt that comes with your purchase is wonderful and very soft, it applies the formula flawlessly. I'm SO happy I found this product.” – Erika Gustafson
A lightweight water foam at a great price point
This water-based self-tanning foam is made from tanning agents derived from natural sugars as well as a skin-loving coconut infusion. It’s available in two shades and provides a low-maintenance color wash that is natural and effortless.

Promising review: “This stuff is absolutely amazing. I put this on in the evening after I shower and I top it with a moisturizer and it looks beautiful. I've used it twice and had compliments on it all day so far there are no streaks and it looks like a real tan.” – Melissa Suder
A moisturizing sun foam from a popular brand
This moisturizing sun foam by the New York-based Il Makiage uses a natural tanning agent known as erythrulose, which, according to the brand, prevents streaking and orange tones from developing. It also contains hyaluronic acid for a boost of hydration to the skin, along with soothing aloe vera. This set contains a velvet applicater as well as a soft-bristled Kabuki brush for seamless blending along areas like the tops of the feet and hands.

Promising review: “I am so pale that my skin appears purple. I tried this product in hopes of attaining a normal skin tone and was so pleasantly surprised! It is super easy to apply, not streaky at all, and dries really fast. I have a white sheet and comforter and nothing rubbed off! The tan also lasted for over a week so I’m confident the product will last me a long time.” – Rebekah H.
A highly-reviewed four-piece set of everything you need for prep and application
As Evans mentioned earlier, proper prep and application are imperative for good self-tanner results and this tanning kit, which has close to 10,000 five-star-ratings, is not only comprehensive, it’s very reasonably priced. It comes with a viscose exfoliating mitt for eliminating dead skin, an applicator mitt for the body and a smaller one for the face, as well as a sling that allows you to apply product on your back. Each of the applicator tools are made with a velvety soft microfiber to ensure a smooth application, and the mitts are fitted with elastic wrists to prevent them from sliding off your hand while in use.

Promising review: “I was using latex gloves to apply my Jergens tanning mousse and finally got myself this mitt for its softness, black color and elastic that would keep it from slipping off my hand during application. Absolutely works as it should, the elastic was essential! My tan is smoother in color overall and no streaks! Love this mitt and should have purchased it years ago! Just rinse after use, air dry and good to go for the next tan application. Keeps its softness and shape and no discoloration of my hands - WIN WIN.” – Rebekah A.

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