Get Glowing for Summer! My Favorite Self-Tanning Products

Summer is right around the corner! Which means that for most of us, the self-tanning process begins. I've been going to the Versa Spa spray booth at a local tanning salon (which is like Mystic, but better in my opinion!), but that gets expensive and most of the time, I prefer a natural glow rather than the more noticeable results of a spray tan. So for years I've been obsessed with self-tanning products. You name it, I've tried it. So last year, I finally found some amazing products that I used religiously that delivered excellent, natural results. This year, I've re-purchased a few that I needed and have also re-discovered a few new products I'm going to throw into the rotation. Here are some of my must-haves.

The Absolute MUST HAVE: daily self-tanning moisturizer

My #1 Favorite
Victoria's Secret Bare Bronze Daily Moisturizer, $16

Quality self-tanning products from VS? Yup. I purchased my first bottle of this about a year ago and have been hooked ever since. I start out using the "light to medium" shade, but then work up to using the "medium to deep" shade. The best part of this? (besides the natural results of course...) The amazing scent. It's a light, beachy scent that reminds me of a mixed drink. It's a fresh, but sweet coconutty fragrance that isn't overpowering. It also has minimal DHA scent, which is that starchy gross scent that all sunless tanners develop upon reaction with your skin. It's not tinted, but it does impart a pretty glowy sheen to the skin thanks to the fine pearl particles in the lotion itself. I also LOVE the dispenser and pretty bottle so much that I'm not ashamed to leave it sitting on my bathroom counter. It also is available in a skin firming version as well that I've also used and works beautifully. The firming version is $18.

Other alternatives I love:
  • Loreal Sublime Glow Daily Moisturizer ($8-$10 at drugstores)
    Went through COUNTLESS bottles of this... but be warned: Over time, it thins and is IMPOSSIBLE to use. So before you buy, give it a shake. If it sounds watery, skip it and find a thicker one. Some stores with slow turnover keep them on the shelves too long.
  • Jergens Natural Glow Foam ($8.99 at drugstores) click here for my review of this new product

Don't forget your face!
I have two favorites that are impossible to choose between!

Jergens Natural Glow Daily Sunless Facial Moisturizer SPF20 ($8 at drugstores)
This is an awesome facial moisturizer. Because it's oil-free and non-greasy, it's perfect for people with more combination/oily skin. It's moisturization is very light and clean feeling, which is amazing for a product containing an SPF of 20. I've tried the version without SPF and for some reason, find that one a little more oily. This one sinks right into the skin and delivers very natural results. It comes in three shade variations. I find that the Medium skin tone version works best for me. The only downfall? the scent. It smells like the Jergens Natural Glow body moisturizer which I hate. But the good news is that it fades quickly after putting it on your skin.

Victoria's Secret Bare Bronze Daily glow Facial Moisturizer ($17.50)

I will seriously cry if VS ever discontinues their Bare Bronze line of products. This one delivers the perfect amount of moisturization while delivering really natural results. The scent is very much like the Bare Bronze Daily Moisturizer. Beachy, sweet, and kind of coconutty. But not overpowering. I also LOVE the packaging. it's in a tube, but has a pump on the end which makes it super easy to use. It comes in two shade variations, Light to Medium and Medium to Deep. I use the Light to Medium.

If you're feelin' brave: The ACTUAL self-tanner
If you're wanting an even deeper result, try an actual sunless tanner occasionally. I'm not crazy about them and don't use them much (because I'd rather go get a spray tan with better results), but I do have one I like. If I'm planning on using one (or getting a spray tan), I'll always make sure I've used one of the daily self-tanning moisturizers for at least a week prior and I always make sure to prep my skin accordingly. You can easily maintain your color by using a daily self-tanning moisturizer.
Also, take your skin tone into account. Be honest with yourself. If you're fair, don't buy the "DEEP" formula because that describes the results you want, buy the formula that matches your skintone..."LIGHT" or "FAIR" (and medium or deep accordingly).

Jergens Natural Glow Express (around $8 at drugstores)

This stuff is really great. Again, I hate the original Jergens Natural Glow, but this one is much different. I consider this one more of a regular self tanner. It says that with 3 days of continued use, you get the full results, but I always notice big results after one use. Results I would hope for from a self tanner. The consistency is kind of thick like a rich cream and the scent is honestly pretty nauseating. Like strong baby-wipes (that's all I can think to compare it to!). But the results are amazingly natural and honestly pretty dramatic (in a good way). Also, the bottle is rather small, but it's not something you'd use everyday, so it should last you a while. This is something I would use maybe once a week or every other week. For even deeper results, you could use it the recommended 2 or 3 consecutive days.

The little extras....
When starting a self-tanning regimen, remember that moisturized skin is essential. Not only for good results, but to help prolong the life of your faux tan. I like to use my daily self-tanning moisturizer after showering in the morning, then at night, I'll sometimes apply another lotion if my skin feels dry. Just because dry skin is a recipe for disaster where self-tanner is involved. I'll also make sure to use a gentle exfoliating product before getting a spray tan or applying an actual self-tanner to get rid of any dry skin and to make for a more even development of color. There are also a few products you can use to emphasize your glow even more. Good products really make all the difference!

Exfoliate! A few of my favorites...
  • Lush Porridge Soap
  • Victoria's Secret Bare Bronze Sand+Surf Body Polish ($18) AMAZING STUFF
  • Softsoap Body Butter Coconut Scrub ($3 at drugstores)

Enhance the look of your tan...
  • True Blue Spa So Aglow Tan-Enhancing Shimmer oil (Monoi Oil) ($17 at Bath&Body Works)
  • Jergens Soft Shimmer Skin Radiance Moisturizer (around $5 at drugstores)

Happy tanning! :)


  1. I've tried so many of these types of lotions but my own result has been that these types of products work poorly or not at all on very, very fair skin. No matter which product, it always looks unnatural on me or gets streaky, even the ones that are buildable moisturizers. I think self-tanning products look good on medium to darker skin but on very fair, it just always looks so fake. Also, I just absolutely detest the scent of them...

  2. i have to agree victorias secret bare bronze products are amazing! ive been using them for over a year now as well, and i love the smell and never look fake

  3. Can you tell us about your spray tan experiences?
    How was your first time going to get one?
    Do you have to get almost naked in front of someone or is it private?
    How do you keep your body matching your face?
    Things to look for when choosing a tanning salon?

    I know - so many questions but I've never had one and it sounds tempting. Thank you Tiffany!

  4. Thank you so much for all the work you put into your blogs and videos! :) Every day I watch for a new post! About self-tanners, I have very large pores and some acne scarring and have trouble with dark pin-prick looking places on my face from the tanners.

  5. I am Dying to try those VS products!!! They look pretty and with your raving reviews-I'm sure they will live up to expectations!!! I have tried some of the VS Sexy make-up line as well-love it too!!!

  6. I love your youtube videos and appreciate you taking the time to do them. I am not sure if I can say this but I am assuming that you might not be aware of it. You use 'um' a lot. For example, I badly wanted to hear your reviews on lush products, but after every single sentence you say 'um'. That video is 11 min and that is a lot of ums. I am sure you will understand that it can be quite grating especially, when all the attention is on the speech and there are no other visual stuff to distract. I love your detailed reviews, and I hope you could be a little more aware of it next time. I really hope you don't think of me as a troll and rude. Thank you.

  7. I love the VS tanner. I like that you only need one application for a nice glow.

  8. thanks for this post, i've been looking for a self tanner! i'm nervous to try one right before prom (about a week and a half, and i wouldn't buy until this weekend os a week) so i'll have ot old off until after (i really dont want my skin to break out!). but i'll deff pick up one of the ones you recomend.

  9. I live on Self Tanners and the best new tanner I have used is the Bliss one in the blue spray bottle. It doesn't smell as bad as the others and it is so natural. I got it from Bliss here in NYC but you can get it at sephora I think. Give it a try and let me know what you think!!

  10. PS my blog is belledujournewyorkcity.blogspot.com

    I will be reviewing it this week!

  11. i have to disagree with you on the VS bare bronze.. i bought mine quite a while ago too and have always found it to be SOO uneven and more orangey than others ive used. the bottle is also pretty small and pricey considering you can get a drugstore brand that works just as well.

    For gradual tanning i prefer Malibu Hemp Skin firming sunless tanning lotion.. its around $5 at walmart and works and smells just as good.
    For more overnight tanning i use St. Tropez products.. they have a green hue to them to counteract the orange and give you a perfect bronze. They are pricey but definitely the most superior tanning product on the market

  12. Another sunless tanning product that I just waned to share is the Solerra Sunless Tan. Formulated specifically for the discerning client to deliver the most natural sunless tanning experience and replenish skin with essential elements

    All home products are generally available over the counter and can give your skin a tanned look without exposing it to harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays and are commonly sold as creams, gels, lotions and sprays you apply to your skin. The active ingredient in most sunless tanning products is dihydroxyacetone (DHA).

  13. I like victoria's secret product just like the fragrance of it's perfume. Self tanning of victoria's secret is also great I've heard lots of good feedback from it.

  14. they are discontinuing VS bare bronze products. you can still find the body moisturizer on their website, but stores are depleting. the salesgirl told me that bath & body stores are getting a new line of tanning products that smell really nice, so i'll check that out after the holidays (bc the stores are overflown with ppl!)
    sorry! i read you'd cry if they discontinue it, so.. don't cry! :-)

  15. http://makeupbytiffanyd.blogspot.com/2009/04/mac-rose-romance-purchases-review-and.html