As far as we’re concerned, tanning isn’t just for hot summer days. Thanks to self-tanner, a sunkissed glow is the must-have accessory for any day of year, especially the cold and wintry ones. Facial self-tanner is especially helpful because, unlike our legs and arm that are hiding under pants and long sleeves, our faces are still exposed to the cold weather elements, so we might as well give them a well-deserved glow-up. Still, this is when things can get tricky. Facial self-tanner isn’t that complicated, but if you choose one that doesn’t jive with your skin’s chemistry or use it incorrectly, you’ll regret the day you bought it. The wrong shade will result in a complexion that’s more orange than golden, and improper application will leave behind streaks that even the best foundation can’t fix. And if you apply too much or pay little attention to the ingredients, it may exacerbate acne or signs of aging.
That’s why we’ve rounded up not only the best-reviewed facial self-tanners, but also options that speak to a range of concerns and price points. Nowadays, the most exciting aspect of facial self-tanners is the range of applicator types. The standard sprays and creams (mitts included) still exist. However, there are newer options like serums and wipes that make self-tanner feel more like skincare and user-friendly for newbies.
How We Found The Best Facial Self-Tanners
We carefully curated this list with the help of our cutting-edge algorithm, a proprietary tool that identifies products using a variety of tried-and-true data. Think beauty editor reviews, recommendations from trusted experts and influencers, and social media word-of-mouth. Ahead, take a look at the best facial self-tanners for selfies, beach days, and everything in between.
September 16, 2022
Top 10 Lists serve as unbiased shopping guides to the most trusted product recommendations on the internet. Products are scored and ranked using an algorithm backed by data consumers find most valuable when making a purchase. We are reader-supported and may earn a commission when you shop through our links.
L'Oreal Paris Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Facial Drops
WHY PEOPLE LOVE IT: These drops are a perfect companion for your moisturizer thanks to the hyaluronic acid-rich formula—free of fragrance and dermatologically tested, btw—that hydrates and brightens the complexion. Plus, you can't beat the $14 price tag.
APPLICATION TIP: Mix five to 10 drops with your daily moisturizer, and be sure to avoid the brows and hair roots, especially if they’re light-colored.
Coco And Eve Bronzing Face Drops
WHY PEOPLE LOVE IT: When adding products into your daily routine, breakouts probably top your list of concerns. If that’s the case, you'll love these drops—the formula is rich in natural ingredients (banana, coconut water, dragon fruit), and the natural DHA delivers a tan in just two hours and lasts for days.
APPLICATION TIP: Add just two to three drops to your moisturizer and use once a week to maintain your glow.
Isle Of Paradise Hyglo Hyaluronic Self-Tan Face Serum
WHY PEOPLE LOVE IT: Not into mixing products? No problem. Isle of Paradise’s tanning serum is a standalone self tanner that not only illuminates the skin but also hydrates (hyaluronic acid), brightens (grapefruit oil), and plumps (avocado oil). It’s also a suitable option for all skin types.
APPLICATION TIP: Stick with four to 12 drops or add more if you want a deeper tan. Don’t forget to wash your hands afterward!
B.Tan Face Self Tanner
Face And Body
WHY PEOPLE LOVE IT: When you’re always on the go, nothing beats the convenience of a spray formula. B.Tan’s facial tanner is also vegan, and it can be used alone or on top of an existing tan.
APPLICATION TIP: Start with clean, exfoliated skin, spray evenly, and wait a few minutes before applying the rest of your skincare products.
Coola Organic Sunless Tan Anti-Aging Face Serum
WHY PEOPLE LOVE IT: Coola’s face serum is a twofer that naturally tans the skin and addresses signs of aging. Its reef-safe formula is made with a beet-derived DHA that illuminates, while Centella Asiatica, a staple in K-beauty products, reduces the appearance of fine lines.
APPLICATION TIP: Wait two to four hours to see a visible difference, and if you want a subtler glow, mix it with your moisturizer instead of using it alone.
Bali Body Face Tan Water
WHY PEOPLE LOVE IT: Even with a glorious tan, acne scars can still kill your confidence. That’s why we love Bali Body’s facial tanner, whose ingredients—rose water and jojoba oil—reduce skin scarring and replenish moisture.
APPLICATION TIP: Use this as you would a toner, applying it with a cotton pad or your hands. Expect a glowier complexion in just two hours.
Isle Of Paradise Self Tanning Drops
WHY PEOPLE LOVE IT: Think of this less as a self-tanner and more as a color corrector. Available in three shades, the formula works with your natural tone to tamp down on redness and even things out to a glowy complexion that's uniquely you. It’s also to your face what conditioner is to your hair, giving it plenty of moisture via coconut and avocado oils.
APPLICATION TIP: Add anywhere from two to 12 drops to your moisturizer; the more drops, the deeper the glow.
St. Tropez Purity Bronzing Water Face Mist
WHY PEOPLE LOVE IT: St. Tropez is basically the Rolls Royce of self-tanning products, with a range that includes foams, lotions, mists, and more. The tropically scented face mist is a user-friendly option that also protects the skin from environmental stressors with hibiscus flower extract.
APPLICATION TIP: Spray in a downward motion over the face and neck before applying makeup or moisturizer. It can be used daily or until you achieve the color you want.
Tan Towel Face Tan
WHY PEOPLE LOVE IT: This best-selling, one-of-a-kind facial self-tanner comes in the form of a travel-friendly towelette that's infused with a tanning agent, aloe vera, squalane, vitamin B-5, and citric acid to smooth, brighten, and moisturize with just a few swipes. Just be sure to apply it to clean, dry skin and wash your hands afterward.
USER REVIEW: “I've used Tan Towels for about 15 years. I have very light, sensitive skin but hate to go around all pasty white! These DO NOT streak. Very easy to apply. An even color and refreshing without having a strong fragrance. No streaking. Just natural-looking tan. I really love these and rely on them to achieve a healthy color without risking skin damage.”
Tan-Luxe The Face Illuminating Self-Tan Drops
WHY PEOPLE LOVE IT: Tan-Luxe’s award-winning Self-Tan Drops are renowned for their skincare-first formula that addresses dryness and uneven texture with organic tanning actives and moisture-rich ingredients. It can be used in conjunction with your moisturizer or serum, and it provides results within hours.
USER REVIEW: “I am addicted! I love to have a healthy tan in the summer, but I want to protect my face from wrinkles, and this is the solution. Also, when I tan, my face always fades before my body. Not anymore with this self tanner.”
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