Sunless Tanners: Expert and User Reviews

In this report

Self Tanners: Ratings of Sources

1. Beautypedia.com Self-Tanners, Editors of Beautypedia.com, As of May 2017
Credibility:
Editors of Beautypedia.com conduct thorough analysis of self-tanning products, identifying the best products in a variety of skincare categories. A handful of self-tanners are identified as the best options for a streak-free, natural-looking tan based on ease of application, fragrance, how natural the resulting color looks, and whether they contain skin-irritating ingredients like alcohol and fragrant plants or "beneficial extras" such as antioxidants.
2. Good Housekeeping Faking It: The Best Self-Tanners, Liesa Goins, May 14, 2014
Credibility:
For this older review, editors of Good Housekeeping sent 13 self-tanners to more than 250 women in the U.S., also testing each product in the Beauty Lab to evaluate how well they moisturize skin. Author Liesa Goins says any of the four recommended self-tanners could be used as a substitute for body lotion, noting that they're applied like a moisturizer and darken skin within a few days of use without staining.
3. ConsumerReports.org Best self-tanners under the sun, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, June 9, 2014
Credibility:
Testers for ConsumerReports.org tested six self-tanners (four sprays and two lotions) over a period of several weeks with a panel of volunteers. All of the products tested produced color in about four hours that lasted for several days, although one self-tanner outperformed the rest, producing the most natural-looking tan. Although this is also an older review, the products are still widely available.
4. Amazon.com Self-Tanners and Bronzers, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of May 2017
Credibility:
There are thousands of self-tanning products available at Amazon.com and some get thousands of reviews; many others get hundreds. Some reviews are very thorough and include pros, cons and helpful tips -- these are the ones we give the most weight to. You can sort by top-rated products, best-sellers, new releases, most-gifted, and more to narrow the results to the newest, most popular, or best-rated self-tanners.
5. Sephora.com Self Tanners, Contributors to Sephora.com, As of May 2017
Credibility:
Contributors review a number of self-tanning products, ranging from gels and creams to wipes and sprays. Each product is rated on a five-point scale, but the total number of reviews for each product isn't available until clicking through to the specific product page.
6. Ulta.com Self-Tanning & Bronzing, Contributors to Ulta.com, As of May 2017
Credibility:
Self-tanning is has its own product category on Ulta.com, with over 160 results. Most of the products get at least a few dozen reviews, with each ranked on a 5-star scale. The header for each review has a list of pros and cons, as well as best uses for the product, which makes it easy to get a good overview of customer consensus.
7. TotalBeauty.com 11 Best Self-Tanners, Claire Ballor and Allie Flinn, Not Dated
Credibility:
Claire Ballor and Allie Flinn identify 11 top self-tanners based on reader feedback, including quotes from reviewers about what they liked or disliked about each product and an average reviewer rating, on a scale from one to 10. You can also click through to individual product pages to read feedback from all reviewers for more insight on real-world ease of application and performance. 
8. Allure 10 Under $20: Self-Tanners, Melanie Rud Chadwick, April 30, 2014
Credibility:
This older review focuses on affordable self-tanners – specifically, products you can purchase for less than $20. Author Melanie Rud Chadwick provides a short paragraph describing each product, including helpful application and removal tips.
9. RealSimple.com The Best Self-Tanner for Your Skin, Editors of RealSimple.com, Not Dated
Credibility:
Editors of RealSimple.com name six self-tanners, although it's not clear whether they've conducted hands-on testing to come up with their picks. Self-tanners are recommended in various categories, such as the best self-tanner for the face, best scent, cult favorite, and more, each accompanied by a brief description. In a related review, editors name four of the best gradual self-tanners.
10. Cosmopolitan These are the best (streak-free) fake tans out there, Editors of Cosmopolitan.com, Feb. 9, 2017
Credibility:
Editors of Cosmopolitan.com say they've tried every sunless tanning product out there. They name nine "highest-rated body bronzers," each accompanied by a brief description. It's not clear whether the editors conducted any hands-on testing to select their recommended self-tanners, however.
11. Elle 7 Self-Tanners I Have Known and Loved, Julie Schott, Dec. 30, 2016
Credibility:
Julie Schott points out the dangers of tanning beds, noting that people who use self-tanners are exposed to 40 percent less UV rays compared to those who don't. She names the seven best self-tanners, products that "give the skin the look of a winter spent in Tulum" in various formulations, including a gel, cream, in-shower rinse-off, mousse, towelettes, and more.