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These Natural Self-Tanners Will Make Your Skin Glow, Sans Sun Damage

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mbg Assistant Beauty Editor

By Hannah Frye

mbg Assistant Beauty Editor

Hannah Frye is the Assistant Beauty Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.S. in journalism and a minor in women’s, gender, and queer studies from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Hannah has written across lifestyle sections including health, wellness, sustainability, personal development, and more.

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Liliya Rodnikova
/ Stocksy

If you’re looking to get that sun-kissed glow sans sun damage, consider a self-tanner. It’s a safer alternative to baking in the sun (which can cause accelerated skin aging) or using tanning beds. And when it comes to picking a self-tanner, the options are endless. You can reach for a tinted mousse, a spray-on formula, a gradual tanning lotion, or customizable drops.

When choosing a product you use daily (like a body lotion), you want to make sure the ingredients are clean, as you’re getting repeated exposure. With self-tanner though, you likely use it once a week at most and wash it off after a few hours (depending on the product). As a result, finding completely natural self tanner formulas can be a difficult process. Nevertheless, the hunt for the best clean self-tanner continues–and we’ve uncovered some pretty worthy picks, below. (FYI, some of these options contain ingredients that are not the cleanest, but we’ll call those out so you can be in-the-know about what you’re putting on your skin.)

How we picked:

Naturally-derived DHA

We prioritized clean, natural ingredients when choosing the best self-tanners. We looked for products free from questionable ingredients and disclose when there’s a red flag.


We selected a variety of self-tanner products including mousse, drops, gradual-tan lotions, spray, and face tanners.


We tested out products firsthand to see what worked and what didn’t. When this wasn’t possible, our editors utilized verified customer experiences.


We prioritized finding options with clean, natural ingredients as well as formulas that have more skin benefits than just a nice tan.

How to use self-tanner:

Although you should follow the instructions on your tanning product, there are a few general guidelines when it comes to using self-tanner. Here’s a quick step-by-step for tanning your body, regardless of which form of self-tanner you use.

Exfoliate and shave your body (where you want to)

Let your skin dry and apply moisturizer to the knees, elbows, and wrists

Apply tanner evenly, making sure you get every spot to avoid streaks

Let the tanner sit for a few minutes

Put on loose clothing

After it’s set (check the product for the exact time needed) rinse off

Moisturize your body

Following up with body lotion is perhaps the most forgotten step–but it’s one of the most important. Make sure your pick is a simple, hydrating formula with zero chemical exfoliants, like mbg’s postbiotic body lotion. This will ensure your tan stays longer and flake-free. Not to mention, hydrating your skin daily is generally important for the health of your moisture barrier and microbiome.

mbg review process.

At mbg, high standards are earned–and there are no shortcuts. Our beauty editors stay up to date on the latest ingredient research and innovation. It’s a dynamic, continuously evolving space, and it’s important we look into the science so we can make informed choices about which formulas earn our stamp of approval (figuratively speaking).

Our high standards also come from testing products–many, many products. Our editors and writers rigorously test and research the products featured in our roundups to offer you the best, most informed recommendations. When we write reviews, you can trust we spend quality time with the formulas: We don’t simply rave about products we’ve slathered on the back of our hand. We endorse products we’ve tried and loved.

Learn more about our testing process and clean beauty standards here.

The takeaway.

Using self-tanner is a great way to achieve a bronzy glow without subjecting your skin to sun damage. It’s important to remember that nobody is an expert as self-tanning right away, and it takes some practice. But once you get it down, you’ll be so glad you did. There are some high-quality tanners on the market with natural ingredients, and now you have plenty of options to choose from. Remember to follow up with a moisturizer after your tan sets to make it last even longer.

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postbiotic body lotion

postbiotic body lotion

Ultra-hydrating formula that nourishes your skin barrier, available in unscented and neroli

postbiotic body lotion

postbiotic body lotion

Ultra-hydrating formula that nourishes your skin barrier, available in unscented and neroli

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