Fake It Till You Bake It: The Best Self-Tanners to Keep You Looking Tan Until Spring Break

With just two weeks until Spring Break, chicks those of us here in Syracuse, the Land of the Missing Sun, are itching for that sun-kissed tan. I stayed relatively tan throughout my high school years because I played soccer year round, but when I came to Syracuse, any trace of my bronze disappeared. After realizing that I looked much, much healthier and better in my sun-kissed days, I took it to do research on alternative tanning methods. I decided not to excessively tan at tropical beaches because of the risk of skin cancer (no tan is to die for), and I was absolutely against the pre-mature aging and cancerous effects of tanning beds. I was between spray tans and tanning mousses/lotions, but explored the latter because one. So while tanning mousses/lotions had their own disadvantages, like the smell or chemicals incorporated into some products, they were the least toxic batch of them all.

Here we rank the best tried-and-trusted fake bakes to help you look your tannest while keeping prices, product availability, and results as our criteria.


1. Tropez Self Tan Classic Bronzing Mousse

The holy grail in the self-tanning community, St. Tropez Self Tan Classic Bronzing Mousse is a mousse that is best applied with a mitt after exfoliating and shaving in the shower. It has received awards from multiple beauty magazines for a reason. It doesn’t contain the DHA self tan smell that all self-tanning junkies have become all too familiar with, is quick-drying and has minimal transfer onto your clothing/sheets (and is easily washed off if transferred), does not look orange, and can last up to 10 days. I always end up going back to St. Tropez. Best results for a solid price.

Available on Amazon, Sephora, Ulta, and on their website at $42 for 8 fl oz


2. Bondi Sands Self Tanning Foam

Endorsed and used by famous Australian fitspo instagrammer/model Stephanie Smith (@stephclairesmith), Bondi Sands is a foam tanner that has earned multiple accreditations on beauty/style magazines. What draws me to this tanner is the average to great (depending on your application techniques) results yielded by a product cheaper than most other brands at this quality. The tan itself develops very evenly, isn’t any more orange than other self tanners, and has a sweet scent. However, I, and other beauty bloggers, have experienced tightness of skin with this, but applying a good lotion mitigates this side-effect. This gives you your bank for your buck; available in two shades.

Available on Amazon, Target, and on their website at $24 for 7.04 fl oz


3. Loving Tan Deluxe Bronzing Mousse Medium

Endorsed by dozens of Australian beauty youtubers (who have the Australian sun going for them but I’m sold!), Loving Tan was the first self-tanning product I used when I ventured into the realm of fake bakes. There are always coupon codes available for a free applicator or exfoliation mitt, both which are crucial to getting even results. This mousse is easy to apply, fast-drying, and does not streak. Additional layers simply make you darker, so there really isn’t a mistake you can make applying this tan. Cons would be the smell that could turn some people off (the smell fades by day 2) and the patchiness left on your hands after a couple of days due to the amount of times you wash your hands. Nonetheless, Loving Tan gives you a dark glow some of us crave. Available in three shades, medium, dark, and ultra dark.

Available on their website at $34.95 for 4 fl oz


4. Jergens Natural Glow Firming Daily Moisturizer

An old favorite and a classic mom buy, Jergens Natural Glow Firming Daily Moisturizer is not a foam or mousse like the first three are. Moisturizers are easier in the sense that you can apply them in place of your regular moisturizer and the tan will develop slowly but deeply, and will be maintained for longer. Moisturizers are more recommended for beginner tan-fans. This moisturizer doesn’t give the tight feeling some mousses do, and never results in an orange color.

Available on Amazon and Ulta at $8~$10 for 7.5 oz


5. Tan Towel Self-Tan Towelette Full Body Application for Face & Body

Unlike the previously mentioned products, Tan Towel’s towelettes are individually wrapped towelettes that are portable, which allows you to conveniently touch up your tan. This is especially useful if you travel a lot, and is the only self-tan product I carry with me on vacation. They’re mess-free and don’t require you to wash off after several hours and dry instantly. They work by changing the color in your surface skin layer, unlike other tanning products that simply create a color on top of it. The tan lasts 4~7 days depending on how often you sweat and shower. I’d say it’s less cost effective than the other options if you’re using this as your main self-tanner, but it is a staple to have when travelling or when you just need to touch up in the morning.

Available on Amazon and Ulta at varying prices for different counts (raging from 10 to 50)



By Yena Kim