Your Health Questions Answered

What Are the Best Self-Tanning Beauty Products?

These picks will leave your skin glowing.

By Allison Forsyth January 12, 2022

Image: Kari Perrin

Want to have a glowing tan without sitting in the sun for hours? We may live in a sunny town, but sometimes it's difficult to find time to visit the beach and get the tan we are wanting. Luckily, there are a variety of safe and effective self-tanning products sold in stores locally and nationally that you can easily apply.

What should you look for in a self-tanning product?

Dr. Cathy Milam at Milam Bogart Dermatology says to look for skincare products that are sulfate- and paraben-free. These chemicals that can dry out the skin.

According to a journal by the National Institute of Health, an ingredient called dihydroxyacetone (DHA ) is an additive to sunless tanning products that reactions with a protein called keratin on the skin's surface, to produce pigments called melanoidins, i.e. your glowing tan.

DHA is an ingredient approved by the Food and Drug Administration in quantities of three to five percent in sunless tanning products. However, an article by Healthline identifies studies which have shown a reaction between DHA and the skin, creating free radicals, which diminish collagen production and promote premature aging. Finding products with a safe amount of DHA is important.

So what are the good ingredients we should be looking for?

Look for antioxidants (such as fruit extracts, cocoa and Vitamin E), which can help counteract potential negative effects of DHA. Finding products with some type of oil, like Vitamin E, argan or coconut oil, will also help keep skin moisturized. Milam also recommends wearing a sunscreen outdoors, whether or not you are wearing sunless tanning products, in order to protect skin.

Here are some self-tanning products sold locally to try out.

St. Tropez Self Tan Classic Bronzing Mousse ($32)

This product was named the best vegan self-tanning product on the market, according to ELLE magazine. The soft mousse is easy to apply with mitts and you only need to wait 60 seconds before it'S dry. It can be found at Ulta, Sephora or Amazon.

Skinerals Onyx Self Tanner ($26)

This dermatologist-recommended product contains a mixture of aloe, Indian gooseberry and Açaí berry, fig extract, goji berry extract, green and white tea and Vitamins A, C and E. The product is free of harsh chemicals, artificial dyes and fragrances. Plus, it's vegan and cruelty-free.

Coco & Eve Sunny Honey Bali Bronzing Self Tanner Mousse ($34)

Coco & Eve is a vegan, cruelty-free cosmetics company. This product has antioxidants like fig, banana, papaya and cocoa. It can be applied easily with or without a mitt and the lightweight formula doesn't feel sticky on the skin. It can be bought on its website, Amazon or in-store at Ulta.

Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Glow Pad Self-Tanner for Face ($38)

A formula made specifically for tanning the face, these pads contain tanning ingredients and nourishing alpha-and beta-hydroxy acids, which can tighten pores and smooth fine lines and wrinkles. It's sold in Sephora and online.

There are also local salons that sell sunless-tanning products.

Lasting Looks in Sarasota sells an all-natural beauty and skincare line called Glo Skin Beauty, including products to keep skin healthy in between self-tanning sessions. Angela's Pure Salon and Spa on Lockwood Ridge Road sells natural skincare products, including self tanners.

If you want a professional spray tan, Fresh Salon on Main Street offers spray tanning with a certified organic blend of DHA, shea butter, citrus, ginseng and cucumber.

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