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The Best Self-Tanners For Beginners

New to the world of sunless tanning? We welcome you with arms wide open to the safest and most convenient way to get that glow on. Whether you are someone who likes to take risks or you are someone who would rather move forward slowly inch by inch, we’ve got the self-tanner that will fit your personality.

What is sunless tanning?

It’s basically taking an afternoon bask under the sun, putting it in a bottle, and taking it anywhere you have to be to give you an instant tan whenever you fancy (yes, that means you get to tan even while working indoors or when you are asleep). Sunless tanners, or self-tanners as we like to call it, contain a natural tanning agent called DHA or dihydroxyacetone. This allows for a temporary darkening of the skin that eventually fades out over the course of several days.

Are all DHAs made equal?

Yes and no. All self-tanners have one ingredient in common: DHA. However, the original formulation of sunless tanners tends to come out more orange than bronze, so scientists have come up with improved formulations over the years to create a tan that looks more natural.

On that note, not all sunless tanners are created equal. While all of them have DHA, the best kinds use quality ingredients and formulations that will leave the skin improved and hydrated. It’s important to check the labels on the self-tanning bottles you pick up and browse over reviews as well.

Now that we have the basics down, let’s get down to our favourite part: the products. Here are our recommendations for newbie self-tanners:

The gradual tanner

The what now? Gradual tanners are pretty straightforward in their name: they give you a gradual glow. That doesn’t mean that regular self-tanners just magically make you tan the second you put them on—it just means that gradual tanners allow you to layer on the color as you see fit. If you’re a total newbie to sunless tanning and would rather err on the conservative side, this kind is probably the best fit for you.

Gradual tanners typically come in a lotion or oil form. This makes them easy to use as long as you have a normal skin routine down (if not, it’s totally easy to get into one!). Just take your go-to body and face moisturiser, mix in a decent amount (a pump or two for lotions, a few drops for oil), and get glowing. You can go as little as you feel is comfortable for you to start with and layer the product on as you feel more confident. This is especially great if you have no idea what shade looks best on you.

Best part: your skin gets even more hydrated as you go. Don’t forget to wash your hands after application!
Our recommendations: Bondi Bodz Skinsation Gradual Tanning Lotion and Bondi Bodz Afterglow Tanning Drops

The medium tanning mousse

Tanning products come in many many forms, but we find that the best kinds are the ones that come in mousse form. They are lightweight, non-sticky, and super easy to use (and they tend to create the most even tan amongst others we’ve tried).

Mousses can come in different hues, and some of them might be too drastically dark for someone just starting out. Even if you’re the type to jump the gun, we want to give you a word of caution: not everyone looks good with a super dark tan, especially if your natural colouring is quite far from it.

But who knows, you might be able to pull it off. The best way to know is to go shade by shade. For starters, we recommend a medium shade that’s not quite as conservative as gradual tanners, but will give you a good gauge on where you want to be colour wise. Just remember that the colour develops over eight hours! Stepping into the shower as soon as one hour in will give you the lightest possible shade.

Our recommendation: Bondi Bodz Bronze Bliss Medium Tanning Lotion

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