Best Organic Self Tanners for 2019

Whenever the sun-filled days of summer roll around, many start working on getting that sun-kissed glow for trips to the beach. And nowadays, you can pull this off without sunbathing or a tanning bed. The answer lies in using the best organic self tanners.

Self tanners simplify sunless tanning, as they’re easy to control and apply. Conventional formulations, however, usually consist of harmful or harsh chemicals and additives that may irritate or even damage your skin.

Cue in organic sunless tanners: all-natural solutions that are both skin- and environment- friendly.

Best Organic Self Tanners Comparison Chart

What is an Organic Self Tanner?

Organic self tanners provide a greener and safer alternative to sunless tanning. They are also often referred to as natural self tanners because they mostly use fruit- and plant-based ingredients.

Compared to conventional self tanners, organic sunless tanners help protect not just your skin but your overall health too.

Most brands do so by steering clear of the following:

Parabens

Parabens are a class of preservatives shown to disrupt the body’s endocrine system, which is responsible for producing hormones. This in turn increases the risk of developmental and reproductive disorders. Certain types have also been found to be capable of mimicking estrogen, which could make you more vulnerable to breast and skin cancer.

1,4-Dioxane

Natural sunless tanners also do away with 1,4-Dioxane, a compound formed during a conversion process where ethylene oxide is added to make other chemicals less harsh. This compound is considered a carcinogen, but because it is a by-product, it is not listed as an ingredient on item labels. Studies on animals have revealed that 1,4-Dioxane can cause cancer. It has also been associated with organ toxicity, although there is no evidence yet on how it affects humans in the long term.

Mineral oil

Mineral oil is another common no-no in organic sunless tanners. Used as a carrier in conventional self tanners, mineral oil is a by-product of petroleum and considered a carcinogenic. And because it tends to form a film above your skin, it can block your pores, cause oil buildup, trigger acne and result in rashes.

Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate

High concentrations of this preservative can cause eye and skin irritation. Also, formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, is added while sodium hydroxymethylglycinate is being processed.

Fragrances

In addition, many of your gradual face tanner options in this category are free of chemical or synthetic fragrances and are instead scented with plant-based oils. Fragrances are a common skin allergen and asthma trigger. Plus, most are stabilized with phthalates, which according to animal tests can lead to birth defects and reproductive issues.

To provide the best gradual tan, some manufacturers use mineral bronzers, cocoa powder or fruit extracts. Others stick to dihydroxyacetone (DHA), an Omega-3 fatty acid that can be sourced from algaes, fish oil and sugarcane. DHA mixes and reacts with the amino acids found on the outermost layer of your skin, making it darker temporarily. Concerns about the health impact of DHA, however, are urging many brands to explore other natural ingredients for creating a tan skin tone.

A lot of the best face tanners with vegan formulas are also cruelty-free, which means the manufacturers did not conduct any animal testing. If third-party verification was conducted, you’re likely to find a certified vegan logo or leaping bunny logo on the product packaging.

Today’s organic sunless tanners are available in various forms, including cream, lotion, mousse and oil. A number are formulated specifically for body use, while others are also safe enough to be applied on your face.

Common features include a color guide, which is a tint that helps ensure even application, and a buildable formulation, which suits those who would like to darken or deepen their tan skin color through frequent or multiple applications.

When browsing for the best organic self tanner for fair skin, you might also come across the USDA Organic Seal. Products bearing this seal contain only organically manufactured ingredients. Such ingredients were produced without harmful pesticides, genetic engineering or synthetic fertilizers.

When it comes to ingredients, remember that more is not necessarily better. Natural self tanners do not need a ton of ingredients to get the job done. So watch out for ingredients lists that are too long.

Best Organic Self Tanners Reviews

Looking for sunless tanning options that are safer and greener than conventional self tanners can be overwhelming, especially if you have not tried organic or natural self tanners before. So here are five popular picks that can help you in your quest for the best organic self tanner for fair skin.

Self Tanner with Organic and Natural Ingredients, Sunless Tanning Lotion for Flawless Darker Bronzer Skin by Beauty by Earth

This Beauty By Earth self tanner gives your skin a natural-looking bronze color that suits those who prefer a light to medium tint.

It’s more of a sun-kissed shade and less of the orange tone often associated with the dreaded fake tanned look. On top of that, it pampers you with moisturizing and gentle natural ingredients, including aloe vera, argan oil, coconut oil, green tea extract, jojoba oil, shea butter and witch hazel. The formulation’s sweet coconut smell is light, although some find it off putting.

This affordable self tanner has a thick consistency, similar to white sunscreen. It takes a while for the liquid to soak in, and you will need to rub it in thoroughly to ensure that there are no light streaks left and that it does not build up around your elbows or knees.

The drying time is about 15 minutes, and the wait time before water exposure is four hours. Since the tanner is buildable, you can apply another layer on another day to get a darker shade.

Best features:

  • It creates a natural-looking light to medium tan.
  • It is packed with nourishing ingredients that make for the best face tanners.
  • You only need to wait 15 minutes for the coat to dry.
  • You can take a shower four hours after you complete your self-tanning session.

Skinerals Self Tanner Sunless Bronzer Californium Natural and Organic Ingredients for Safe Alternative to Sun Tanning by Skinerals



The Skinerals Self Tanner lives up to its tagline: minerals not chemicals. It tans your skin using oils and extracts of fruits and plants such as acai berry, fig and goji, among other essential oil blends, and features a pleasant fresh apple scent. It does not use any artificial dyes, synthetic fragrances, parabens, phthalates, propylene or butylene glycol, petroleum or sodium lauryl sulfates, so you don’t have to worry about harsh chemicals drying or damaging your skin.

Besides being vegan and cruelty-free, this organic sunless tanner is known for having three different formulations that you can choose from depending on how bronze you would like to look. It also has a mousse texture that’s light, foamy and fluffy, making it easy to apply and rub in. You need to be extra careful though to avoid a streaky or splotchy appearance due to the brown guide. And for optimum coverage, it’s best to use a tanning mitt.

Many users love how quickly it dries (under 10 minutes) and the non-sticky feel it leaves. But let it dry completely before getting dressed because it might stain your clothes, and wait four or eight to 12 hours before taking a shower.

The bonus: the manufacturer donates a percentage of sales to fund research on skin cancer. Supporting this corporate philosophy means with every bottle you buy, you may get to help someone in need in the long run.  

Best features:

  • It is cruelty-free and made up of a variety of plant and fruit oils and extracts.
  • You can choose from three different formulations, depending on your preferred tint.
  • It features a light and foamy mousse texture.
  • It is non-sticky and dries quickly.
  • Your purchase helps fund skin cancer research.

Level 2 Medium Self Tanner Organic & Natural, Body & Face, No Orange Streak-Free Sunless Tanner by Bahana Tan

The Bahana Tan Self Tanner is formulated using eco-certified DHA and moisturizing non-GMO ingredients, including argan oil, cocoa oil, monoi oil and shea butter. There are zero parabens and petrochemicals.

The lotion has a light brown color, a thick and creamy consistency, and a slight shimmer.

It is buildable, but may take few minutes to get absorbed completely. And with its shimmer, applications could get a bit messy, so a tanning mitt is definitely recommended. The drying time is about 30 minutes.

For many users, the best part about this gradual self tanner is the smooth natural bronze color it produces. While it suits those looking for a light to medium tan, you can achieve a darker tan with reapplications.

It lasts three to five days, fading evenly and without splotches. The light tropical smell fades slowly as the color develops.

Best features:

  • It uses moisturizing non-GMO ingredients and is paraben-free.
  • It produces a light to medium natural-looking bronze color.
  • The tan it provides is buildable, so you can apply a second coat for a darker tint.
  • You can look forward to a bit of shimmer.

Self Tanner For Face – Anti Aging Sunless Tanning Serum w/ Hyaluronic Acid Organic Oils & Vitamin B5 – Non Comedogenic Fake Tan Facial Bronzer Glow by Golden Star Beauty


The Golden Star Beauty Self Tanner stands out thanks to its skin-friendly vegan formula. It is packed with organic botanicals like avocado, jojoba and macadamia oils that nourish and soften your skin. It also contains anti-aging ingredients and hyaluronic acid, which helps with moisture retention.


The serum itself is a clear and colorless dry oil, making it easier to rub on than gel, liquid or mousse types. It may be more watery than what you’re typically used to, but it is lightweight, non-greasy and dries in just 10 to 15 minutes. Plus, uneven spots and streaks are unlikely, and this natural sunless tanner has a nice cinnamon vanilla scent.

In terms of color, you can look forward to a natural-looking subtle bronze glow.

If you prefer a darker tone, you can simply apply a heavier layer or reapply over a couple of days. For a number of users, it also helped even out their complexion, making their skin look like it has been airbrushed. It takes 24 hours to set fully, but won’t stain your sheets or clothing.

Apart from these, every purchase includes a freebie in the form of an e-book on self-tanning best practices.

Best features:

  • Its natural ingredients help keep your skin soft, hydrated and young-looking.
  • It is a clear dry oil that applies easily.
  • It is non-sticky, lightweight and quick-drying.
  • You can expect an even, airbrushed-like glow.
  • It comes with a free self-tanning ebook.

Jergens Natural Glow Instant Sun Sunless Tanning Mousse for Body, Deep Bronze

The Jergens Natural Glow Tanning Mousse wins over users with its easy, more error-proof application. To begin with, it is light and airy and goes on smoothly with a sweet fruity scent that is light and fresh.

The light brown tint lets you see which areas you have covered and which ones you may have missed, so you’re more likely to pull off an even application and less likely to end up with missed spots or streaks.

What’s unique about this self tanner though is the “instant” tan it creates. Once the mousse is blended in, your skin becomes a shade darker right away.

The tan skin color will then deepen over the next few hours, but you can also re-apply the mousse the next day if you would like a darker shade. It usually lasts four to five days.

One common complaint, however, is that it does not dry as fast as expected and feels sticky on the skin.

Best features:

  • It is light, airy and easy to apply.
  • The brown tint allows for even, streak-free coverage.
  • You can see results right after one coat.
  • It has a nice fresh and fruity scent.

Tips for easy, effective sunless tanning

Selecting the right natural self tanner for your needs is just the first step. To pull off a faux tan skin tone flawlessly, you need to also do the following.

Prepare your skin

Before applying organic sunless tanner, exfoliate your entire body while taking a hot shower. Your skin will soften with the heat, so you will able to remove those dead skin cells more easily. Use an exfoliating scrub or glove.

Exfoliation refreshes and revitalizes your skin’s outermost layer, allowing for an even development of color and a lasting tan. Without it, you might end up dealing with a streaky or patchy application.

Keep your skin bare

Do not apply any personal care products like creams, lotions, perfumes or oils post-shower. Gradual self tanners absorb much easier and faster if you’re working with a clean slate—that is bare, pure skin.

Use circular motions

The application process is the most crucial part of sunless tanning. Get this right, and you can look forward to a tan that looks real and consistent. With tanning lotion, one technique is to rub it in using small and big circular motions going in clockwise and counterclockwise directions. Make sure you have every spot covered.

Pay extra attention to your ankles, knees, elbows

Your ankles, knees and elbows are dry, rough and rubbery areas that absorb sunless tanning formulations extra easily. Thus their final color tends to be darker than the tan on the rest of your body. To help even out your overall tone, use a combination of self tanner and unscented lotion (mixed in a 1:1 ratio) and apply this on your ankles, elbows and knees with lighter pressure. You can get to these areas once you’re done with your other body parts. This way, you can take your time and focus more on applying the tanner the proper way.

Choose aerosol for your hands, feet

Your hands and feet are tricky areas as well. If you apply too much, these might appear in a darker, more intense shade than the natural-looking tan you were going for. To minimize the amount applied to your hands and feet, consider an aerosol-type gradual self tanner. For best gradual tan results, spray this at a distance of six inches from your target area. Use only long, sweeping motions. And avoid getting any on your palms and soles—you can’t actually tan these parts naturally under the sun, so you don’t need to include them when you’re self tanning.

Cover your hands

Use a tanning mitt. Or if one is not available, grab your dish washing gloves. Although you can simply wash your hands thoroughly after each application, wearing a mitt can save you a lot of mess and trouble. With fast-acting formulations, you can get orange palms and fingernails if you use your bare hands. Plus, most tanning mitts are designed to help with applying the product more evenly.

Wait it out

After the application process, you need to wait for the color to fully develop. At this point, there are guidelines you need to follow to get the most out of your tanner. Otherwise, even the best organic self tanner for fair skin won’t get you that perfect bronze glow.

One common recommendation is to choose more loose-fitting clothes. Another is to not apply cream, lotion, perfume or oil until your tan is completely set.

There’s also the minimize-your-exposure-to-water rule, which requires waiting several hours before getting yourself wet to achieve a longer-lasting tan. This includes not taking a shower, or dipping in a hot tub, or going for a swim. Try not to sweat too. In case you need to wash your hands, limit it to your palms.

And if you do get wet, gently pat your skin dry using a towel. Don’t rub or scratch your skin. As a workaround to all these, you can schedule your self-tanning session just before bedtime. You can then hit the sack once you’re done and just wake up to a sun-kissed complexion.

It also pays to wait before applying a second coat. Your tan will deepen over the first few hours of application, so you won’t be able to tell the actual final color right away. If you rush into it, you might overdo it color-wise. Note that creams and lotions dry a bit longer than spray tan oils.

Keep your skin hydrated

To maximize the benefits of the best face tanners, don’t forget to keep your skin hydrated. Moisturizing daily makes for a long-lasting and fresh-looking tan. Select natural oils or lotions formulated with cocoa or shea butter for optimum results. And of course, drink plenty of water.

Wear sunscreen

Your sunless tan won’t protect your skin from harmful UV rays. To avoid sunburn and premature aging, make it a point to apply sunscreen every day. The sun protection factor (SPF) should be at least 30.

Help your tan fade evenly

Different factors affect how long your sunless tan lasts. These include your skin type, your choice of tanner, and how well you prepare your skin, apply the tanner and take care of your tan. Many start fading two or three days after and will continue fading until days seven to ten.

To keep your skin from fading in patches, exfoliate as you take a hot shower. Your best bet: scrubs based on citrus fruits such as lemons and grapefruits.

Conclusion

When you’re looking for the best organic self tanners to suit your needs, take a close look at the ingredients list, consider which features are a must-have for you, and decide on the tan skin tone want to get. There are a growing number of natural sunless tanners in the market today. And they come in a variety of forms and formulations, each with their share of pros and cons. So you’re not likely to run out of options, and with the right pick, you can certainly get a lovely bronze glow in a safe and healthy way.

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