The 8 Best Self-Tanners and Bronzers to Take You Into Summer

I tested them so you don't have to!
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Danielle
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I tested them so you don't have to!

I go on and on about summertime and how much I love it. I know, being sweaty can be crappy, but there’s nothing worse (to me) than hulking down the block layered to the gills while muttering expletives like the nut I am. I’d rather be covered in a fine moss of my own sweat any day than go one more second of being cold.

In the old days, I would tan at least three days per week. Nothing loco, but at least 30 minutes on each side to get the vitamin D jiving in my system and my Mediterranean glow on 100. This was OK’d by my doctor, but the facts remain, even exposure to UV rays through a window can cause skin cancer, so I’m down to start trying non-hazardous ways to connect with my Jersey Shore roots. It's fake tan tiiiiiiiiiiiiime

L to R: Lush Black Stockings, Bliss Hide & Glow Sleek, The Body Shop Honey Bronze, Voutre Vu Silk Stockings

L to R: Lush Black Stockings, Bliss Hide & Glow Sleek, The Body Shop Honey Bronze, Voutre Vu Silk Stockings

One fun way to do it consequence-free is by using body bronzers! I tried four different types to get that golden glow, and the results were perfetto! 

Gambe prima! (legs before)

Gambe prima! (legs before)

Lush Black Stockings has been a go-to since my waitress days. Cocoa and shea butters with shimmer and a warm brown pigment compliment any skin tone when rubbed in thoroughly over body oil or lotion. The potent scent of allspice and cinnamon warms up gams, which is awesome on those not-quite-hot nights. 

Voutre Vu’s Silk Stockings is a cream bronzer that I was initially worried would stain heavily. The glow ended up being much more translucent, and the shimmer extra-fine—my only beef was color bleeding elsewhere.

Bliss makes Hide & Glow Sleek, a nice-smelling and potential cellulite-plumping aerosol body spray that has a translucent, warm, tawny color; it’s kind of a combination between a spray lotion and that Airbrush Legs stuff from Sally Hansen. 

Last but most certainly not least, The Body Shop's Honey Bronze is going to be my new friend because it instantly tints legs, dries quickly, and is matte to boot!

Clockwise from top left: Hide & Glow Sleek (left thigh), Black Stockings (left shin), Honey Bronze (right shin), Silk Stockings (right thigh)

Clockwise from top left: Hide & Glow Sleek (left thigh), Black Stockings (left shin), Honey Bronze (right shin), Silk Stockings (right thigh)

As for self-tanners, I haven’t tried one in over 15 years! As a full-blown Italian-American and former Jersey Shore dweller, it was something I avoided for a time. But the draw of getting the sunny glow I covet without the potential for skin damage finally won me over and I decided to snag a bunch of options lying around xoHQ and try them out.

L to R: Tarte Brazilliance Skin Rejuvenating Maracuja Face and Body Self Tanner, NKD SKN Tinted Tan Mousse, L'Oreal Sublime Bronze Pro Perfect Salon Airbrush Self Tanning Mist, Jergens Natural Glow Instant Sun Self Tanning Mousse

L to R: Tarte Brazilliance Skin Rejuvenating Maracuja Face and Body Self Tanner, NKD SKN Tinted Tan Mousse, L'Oreal Sublime Bronze Pro Perfect Salon Airbrush Self Tanning Mist, Jergens Natural Glow Instant Sun Self Tanning Mousse

I swatched all four so I could see what I was working with, and I was surprised how far these babies have come in almost two decades. Nowadays, you usually apply with a spongy mitt, and the result is a far more even effect with little to no staining on hands. 

Jergens was medium-toned with even coverage, even in the Dark Bronze shade, so medium gals can use it to brighten up, but anyone darker than that won’t see a difference. NKD SKN has one of the darkest formulas around, and was also not too warm, making it a true ideal for bronzing even darker skin tones; it’s not the pussy-footing orangey ones I remember. Aloe, gingko biloba and silk extract leave the skin feeling really soft after application.

L’Oréal’s Sublime Bronze Airbrush Mist was a bit of a surprise. As you can see in the swatch below, you can barely see it, but when I applied to my back to test its spray-ability, it gave me a pleasant glow that wasn’t super-dark, but wasn’t fake-looking. 

I can’t wait to use Tarte's Brazilliance on the weekly tip when I get a little more of a natural tan. It’s a perfect medium-to-dark bronze and smells delicious! There’s vitamins, maracuja oil, and you can use it on your face. The cream blends really well, it isn’t as mistake-prone as the foam formulas, and it's buildable.

L to R: L'Oreal Sublime Bronze, Tarte Brazilliance, NKD SKN Tan Mousse, Jergens Instant Sun

L to R: L'Oreal Sublime Bronze, Tarte Brazilliance, NKD SKN Tan Mousse, Jergens Instant Sun

I am so happy to reconnect with my past as a habitual self-tanner now that summer is on the horizon. It will help me keep my butt off my silver painted, reflective roof, Instagramming my hot dog legs and increasing my chances of wrinkles and melanoma. Picking up a new beauty habit is no hard press for me, and I’m so happy I can tan a bit safer this year!

  • Alright, fess up, who is a self tanning kween?
  • Anyone use the Jersey Shore cast’s branded tanners?

Photos: Darnell Scott