There is nothing like that sun-kissed glow. It just gives you a better look and can even make you feel better about yourself. But come winter, it becomes almost impossible to get a regular sunbath. And with increasing awareness of skin cancer, most people stay out of the sun even during the summer months. Nonetheless, you do not need to lose out on a tan or spend an arm and a leg to buy self-tanning products. Rather, what you could do is buy a proven self-tanner from a drugstore and get the same, if not better, results as you would from a sun bath.

While drugstore self-tanners are a relatively new idea, they can be great in several ways. For one thing, they are cheaper than most luxury brands. If you were to buy luxury self-tanners, you would be out hundreds of dollars and get at most a single tube of lotion that could have gotten several drugstore self-tanners. As such if you are on a budget, self-tanners are definitely something you may want to consider.

The second thing about these tanners is that they offer convenience, given that you can easily get them from your local drugstore. Most local pharmacies and bigger brands such as CVS and Walgreens will typically have them in stock. Finally, you can also buy them online as compared to luxury brands which are only carried by official and specially approved websites.

So do you think drugstore self-tanners are just the thing to bring out your glow? Then dive in with me for a look at what to know before you buy that drugstore self-tanner.

Things to Consider Before Buying a Drugstore Self Tanner

drugstore self tanner

Prior to buying a drugstore self-tanner, you need to take a few things into consideration so that you can be sure you are getting what is best for you. These are the very same features of tanners you need to take into account whenever you think of self-tanning, even if you decide to go for luxury brands when or if you can afford it. So what are the most important considerations before buying a self-tanning product?

 Color Level

Every self-tanning product is made to help you achieve the desired color level. When choosing your color level, it is important that you keep in mind your natural skin color. For instance, if you are going for a bit of glow on fair skin then the best drugstore self-tanning cream that is designed for a deep tan on olive skin just may not be the best product for you. If you are going for a more profound change in skin color, then you would be better off building up the color gradually over time so that your desired tan does not become a burnt orange.

Once you have chosen the self-tanners that will be a great fit based on color level, it is now time to determine if there is anything else that you think may be important for your tanning goals. Some examples of special considerations may include SPF protection as an ingredient, all-natural ingredients, and formulations designed for sensitive skin. These features may be important to have but not everyone may like to have them, and some may even have a problem with them. As such, only consider these according to your special needs and goals.

 Special Features

Self-tanners are made from all manner of formulas. Nevertheless, your local drugstore self-tanners will typically carry only a few variations that will usually include sprays, lotions/creams, and oils. If you have acne-prone skin, you should stay away from oils whose application tends to be difficult. However, they are excellent for those with underlying skin issues that may lead to oily skin as well as dry-skinned persons.

Lotions and creams are relatively easier to apply given their high visibility and hence will be good for all manner of skin types. As such, if you are new to self-tanning, this may be a good option for you. As for sprays, they are just as visible as creams and lotions though they tend to be trickier to apply. For the most part, they are great for creating deep color, and hence if you are looking for a dark result or have darker skin then these will work like a charm.

So now that you are in the know about what to look for when purchasing, it is time to analyze some of the best drugstore self-tanners that you could buy.

Best Drugstore Self-Tanner for Face

Neutrogena Micro-Mist Tanning Sunless Spray

Neutrogena Micromist Airbrush Sunless Tanning Spray, Gradual Sunless Indoor Tanner with Witch Hazel, Alcohol-Free, Oil-Free & Non-Comedogenic Formula, Medium Intensity, 5.3 oz
  • 5.3-ounce can of Neutrogena Micromist Airbrush Sunless Gradual Tanning Spray in Medium Intensity provides a fast, easy self-tan that's two shades darker than your skin tone
  • This sunless self-tanning mist applies like a professional airbrush spray by delivering an ultra-fine-mist for simple, even coverage and a gorgeous, sunless tan all over your body

Neutrogena is a well-known brand in the drugstore skincare market given that its product quality and prices are almost unmatched. Therefore, that one of their self-tanning products makes a list as our top-rated product is no surprise. The self-tanning product made this list for several reasons that we will list out.

The first thing about this self-tanner that makes it so great is that it is a spray. Even though we do not recommend spray application for any newcomer to self-tanning, it will still work great given that you do have to rub it in. As such, if you are a newbie wary of getting streaks this may just be the product for you, as you can get excellent results once you get the hang of controlling the mist.

Another feature that makes this self-tanner so awesome is that it does not have oil or alcohol as an ingredient. Therefore clogged pores will not be a problem and for a person with dry skin, the product’s alcohol-free nature is also a boon. You could attain high-quality tans of up to three shades darker, which is a very high-quality result. It is also not that expensive as you can get two cans of the self-tanning product for less than thirty dollars. However, this is a price that may be on the higher end of the scale as compared to other drugstore products.

Best Drugstore Self-Tanner for Olive Skin

Banana Boat, Summer Color Self-Tanning Lotion

Banana Boat, Summer Color Self-Tanning Lotion, Light/Medium Color, for all Skin Tones, 6 oz Tube
  • Banana Boat Summer Color Self-Tanning Lotion gives you a radiant, deep summer tan all year long
  • Banana Boat

Another great company that produces some of the best sun protection and tanning products that we have all come to know and love is the Banana Boat Company. They have recently ventured into the sunless tanning domain and produced this great product. You can achieve the range of skin tones you desire as you can buy the formulation in different shades.

There is more, the best thing about his lotion is that it dries fast. Given how much time self-tanning usually takes, many people that could get that elusive tan will simply not have the time or patience for it. With this self-tanner, time should not be a concern given that tanning time is minimal. In fact with Banana Boat, all you have to do is add a few minutes to your daily skin care regimen.

It is also a great product for the novice given that it is streak-free and oil-free in addition to its fast-drying nature. With a bottle going for less than ten dollars a tub, it is a good option for the budget-conscious consumer. All being said, this is an outstanding product that you will absolutely have to try out.

Best Budget Drugstore Self-Tanner

Alba Botanica Sunless Tanning Lotion

Alba Botanica Sunless Tanner Lotion, 4 Oz
  • One 4 oz. tube of Alba Botanica Sunless Tanner Lotion
  • Non-streaking, quick-absorbing formula that provides a deep, natural-looking tan

Alba Botanica is not such a huge name when placed alongside the other big brands in this review. Nevertheless, that does not mean that their products are in any way inferior to the competition. In fact, the company has made a name for itself by producing products of luxury quality and then offering them at the drugstore prices you so love. If you have been trying out self-tanning products, then this is one you certainly got to check out.

What makes this product so unique as compared to the others on this list is that it is made of all-natural ingredients and the product testing is never conducted on animals. Ethical skincare becoming more of a hot-button issue in recent times. You will be pleased to know this product is a strong proponent of the movement, unlike its other drugstore brand peers. As a brand that does care, Alba Botanica will ensure that you not only look good but also feel good about your ethical choices.

Given that the product is made of all-natural ingredients, it will not be the best if you are looking for a dark and deep tan. Nonetheless, if you want a natural and healthy glow that will transform your look using natural products, then this is what you need to get. Moreover, given that this is one of the most inexpensive self-tanning products out there what’s not to love?

Best Drugstore Self-Tanner for Gradual Tans

Jergens Natural Glow

Jergens Natural Glow +FIRMING Self Tanner, Sunless Tanning Lotion for Fair to Medium Skin Tone, Anti Cellulite Firming Body Lotion for Natural-Looking Tan, 7.5 Ounce
  • SELF TANNER BODY LOTION - Create a flawless light bronze tan with gradual, natural-looking color while nourishing and hydrating dry and extra dry skin.
  • GRADUAL SUNLESS TANNING - Our Jergens Natural Glow & FIRMING moisturizer will gradually enhance and deepen your natural skin tone to provide hassle-free, streak-free color. Cruelty free

There is nothing like a classic and proven product in the self-tanning world. And when we talk about a classic, nothing says top quality more than the Jergens Natural Glow. The Jergens was one of the first movers that became quite a hit with self-tanning enthusiasts given its quality. It is one of those products that provided a truly natural glow that was a welcome relief from the orange of its early contemporaries. Thanks to its excellent results it has gained a huge and loyal following which is definitely not going anywhere any time soon.

Jergens Natural Glow also helps firm the skin and will reduce the symptoms of cellulite or weight gain that you may have acquired over the years. Firming the skin will make you look younger and darker overall, and in doing so make you more confident. The tanner also comes makes your skincare regimen easier given that it has a moisturizer, and will come in handy, especially for persons with dry skin.

The product is not made to get you a dark and deep tan, but rather it steadily tones the skin with each application until you achieve that sun-kissed golden glow. Nonetheless, if it is a deep tan that you are going for, this product provides the perfect base on the journey to achieving that goal over the long term.

Best Drugstore Self-Tanner for Body and Face

NIVEA Sun-Kissed Radiance

NIVEA Sun-Kissed Radiance Medium to Dark Skin Gradual Tanner & Body Lotion 13.5 Fluid Ounce
  • Smoothes and gradually tans your skin within 5 days.
  • Moisturizing formula provides an even, natural looking tan with less streaking

Nivea, have you ever gone wrong when you went for their products? Similar to Neutrogena, Nivea is a well-known company that provides top-quality skin care products without requiring you to break the bank. With the aptly named Sun-Kissed Radiance, you get the quality that we have all come to expect from Nivea: a streak-free, and gorgeous glow.

Given that the company is best known for making some of the best moisturizers in the market, you will be glad to know that the Sun-Kissed Radiance does in fact smooth and hydrate the skin. Similar to the Banana Boat self-tanner this product makes for an easier skincare routine by removing the moisturizing steps from your daily regimen. While it has quite the sweet fragrance, the scent is what may be described as fresh and light, meaning that it will not overpower your perfumes.

Now for the main function of the product, the tanning. The Nivea product does build out your color tones gradually. The way to achieve your desired tan is to start up with a light formula and then progress to the darker formulas. The product makes this easy as it comes in multiple formulas that will suit a range of color levels and skin tones. As such, it is very easy to attain that desired look and stop at just the right moment.

 How Self-Tanners Work?

drugstore self tanner

Self-tanners are often called by a variety of names with the most popular alternatives being fake bakes and sunless tanners. However, whatever you decide to call them, they all work in pretty much the same way. You apply your serum, lotion, cream, wipe or spray to the skin according to the instructions, wait for it to soak in for some minutes, and then clean it off.

While the sun tanner is on the skin, it changes the color of the skin and you will typically see the results of the treatment in a few hours. Most self-tanners regardless of the method of application change their skin tone by the action of the chemical ingredient DHA. The chemical seeps into the skin cells, particularly the upper dead cells and darkens them to give you that tanned look.

 When Self-Tanning Goes Wrong—And How to make, it All Good

Just like with any other product, some self-tanners are of inferior quality. A good self-tanner will apply easily, won’t smell bad, is not orange, and will leave you looking better than ever. To help with your purchase we review some of the best products that you can find in the market. However, while some products may be inferior, sometimes the self-tanner is alright but the end result is messed up by the user. If you apply the self-tanner improperly it will often end in some not so pleskincareult.

While having this knowledge can make you wary and maybe put pressure on you to be perfect when using self-tanners, the truth is most of the time you will have excellent results if you just follow the directions. Just to keep your mind at rest we wrote down the simple steps to follow to ensure you get a great result with self-tanners every time.

 Proper Application of the Self-Tanner

1) Start with exfoliating your skin. Dead skin cells tend to be uneven and so you have to remove the top skin layer first. Failure to do this will leave you with a blotchy look, and the greatest self-tanner may not help you then. Exfoliation needs to be a gentle process and hence you need to find something soft such as a textured washcloth for this job.

2) Pay close attention when you are doing the skin on the joints. Joints tend to have thicker skin, and hence the exfoliation on these parts needs to be more thorough, given that it is often problematic even for veteran self-tanners.

3) After the exfoliation and cleaning, you need to let the skin dry out to have good results. This is critical given that the self-tanner will become runny and thin, even if the skin is just slightly damp. You do not want a runny self-tanner given that this will leave streaks on the skin when what we want is even application of color.

drugstore self tanner

4) When you are doing the application, it is important that you do it in sections. What typically makes for uneven coloration is when you try to apply it all over the body, which will make the self-tanner dry in patches. As such, the best way to do it is to apply each body part at a time – a leg, an arm, the face, etc. When you do it this way you can focus on even coloration.

5) Use the same motions to apply the self-tanner on all parts of the body. The most effective application motion is moving your fingers in small circular motions, though you could use any other application technique as long as you are consistent all over the body.

6) Dilute your self-tanner when you are applying it over the joints. Given the thick skin on these parts, the skin will tend to absorb much of the tanner faster and if you do not dilute it you will end up with a darker look on the joints.

7) Your hands are critical in the application process but if you are not careful, you will end up with dark hands. As such, you always need to wear gloves, apply the tanner on all the other parts of the body and lastly finish with the hands. Doing this will ensure you avoid having awkward situations where your hands look like they do not belong to you.

8) Finally when you are done with the application of the self-tanner, let it dry before you sweat or take a bath. Most products will typically have their own instructions on how much time you would need to let the tanner dry. However, if you are not sure, half an hour will usually be ideal for most self-tanning products.

 Have a Healthy Skin to Improve the Quality of Your Tan

Something that you need to know if you are working towards a tan using natural methods or self-tanning is that you will get better results if your skin is healthy. Therefore you need to keep your skin healthy and if possible wait until it is in the best of shape before you embark on your self-tanning journey. Luckily the health of your skin can be improved.

The following are just a few ways to enhance the health of your skin:

1) When you are out and about ensure that you always drink as much water as you can

2) Make sure that your skin stays moisturized all day by applying moisturizer every evening and morning

3) Get a humidifier and use it every time the air at the office or in your home is too dry

4) Food plays an important role in the health of your skin, particularly antioxidants. Have as much oxidant-rich food as you can in your diet

5) Always clean your face to remove dead skin and the grime of the day before going to bed

6) Reduce the sugar in your diet

7) Increase the healthy fats in your diet and eliminate the bad fats as much as you can

8) Have at least eight hours of sleep every night

9) Reduce stress levels by practicing mindfulness

10) Make a habit of engaging in exercise if you can every day of the week

Wrapping Up

If you need your skin to glow, it is not necessary to spend a lot of your hard-earned money to get that sun-kissed look. If you can buy the best drugstore self-tanner that is a good fit for your skin and apply it as it is supposed to, you will achieve your desired color tone. Happy shopping and enjoy the glow!

Leave a Comment