We found the best self tanner for at-home tanning

  • Self tanners are a safe option for people who want a bronzed glow, but want to protect their skin from the sun.
  • Insider producer Natalie Fennell tries four self tanner formulas to find the perfect self tanner: Jergens Natural Glow Instant Sun Mousse, Bondi Sands Self Tanning Foam, Loving Tan Deluxe Bronzing Mousse, and the COOLA Organic Sunless Tan Sculpting Mousse.
  • After trying each self tanner for a week, the $24 Bondi Sands Self Tanning Foam comes out on top for its natural looking tan, easy application, and long lasting quality.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Following is a transcript of the video.


Natalie Fennell: Oh. [laughs] This looks so dark. [laughs] [groans]

This is “How Much Should I Spend?”

Nico Reyes: Where we test a product at various price points to let you know which is the best value for your money. Today Natalie is joining us on “How Much Should I Spend?” because she is going to be trying out four self-tanners for me. We figured it’d be easier for you to tell on her than on me probably.

Natalie: Yes.

Nico: The self-tanners I have gathered for Natalie are the Jergens Natural Glow Instant Sun, the Bondi Sands Self Tanning Foam, Loving Tan Deluxe Bronzing Mousse, and the Coola sun care Organic Sunless Tan Firming Lotion. I’ve never used self-tanners before, but what has your experience been like? What are you looking for today?

Natalie: What I’m really looking for is a self-tanner that isn’t too orange, one that applies evenly and doesn’t leave any, like, weird streaks or anything, and one that’s actually gonna last awhile. I’ve never found one that’s all-around perfect and is gonna hit each one of those things, so hopefully we’re gonna find that today.

So, our first self-tanner we’re gonna try out is the Jergens Natural Glow Instant Sun, which retails for $14, which isn’t bad. So, the directions on this bottle say, “Pump mousse into your hand or mitt and smooth evenly over clean, primed body skin.” So I’m pretty sure what “primed body skin” is referring to is, before you self-tan, you want to exfoliate your skin with, like, a body scrub and then moisturize it entirely, ’cause you don’t want any dead, dry skin that the tan is going to cling to and give those, like, patches. Yeah, it smells equal parts like middle school and my mom’s bathroom. This is what the Jergens tan looks like fully developed. I wore it for about six hours yesterday and then showered it off. The color is my largest concern. I feel like it is coming off a tiny bit orange, but people I’ve asked have said that it looks natural, so I don’t know. It might just be personal preference. So, let’s see how the Jergens tan holds up for the rest of the week.

OK, so it is the final day of wearing the Jergens self-tan, and this one completely faded on its own. I didn’t have to do any extra scrubbing to get it off. So, this one was OK. I mean, the color was fine. It just didn’t have the staying power that I’m looking for, so I’m excited to try the rest of them, and hopefully they can stand the test of time, unlike this one.

Next we’re gonna move on to the Bondi Sands Self Tanning Foam. I’ve never used this before, but you can buy it at drugstores like Walgreens. It retails for $24. “Sand, sea, and sun, the enviable Australian image.” So, I would love to have that. The Australian image. [groans] I actually really like how this Bondi Sands turned out. It looks honestly very natural. I really like the color. I liked how it applied, I liked the smell, I liked that it wasn’t that sticky, but let’s see how it actually looks at the end of the week.

It is the morning of the seventh day of wearing the Bondi Sands. I actually just showered and scrubbed it all off. The one thing I would have to say was that my neck got kind of weird. It got kind of, like, patchy in my neck. So I wanted to get into some natural light so that you guys can see that this Bondi Sands did scrub off just so beautifully. Like, look at that. Like, look at this elbow! There is nothing! Look! Wow. Wow. Wow.

The next self-tanner we’re gonna do is this Loving Tan Bronzing Mousse, and this is the one that tons of influencers use, tons of YouTubers use, everybody loves this one. [squelching] Oh. Oh, my God. [laughs] This looks so dark. Oh, OK. [laughs] Um… [groans] Immediately, I really like the way it looks. The application was great. I feel like it was shocking, like, a very shocking, dark color going on, [groans] but it blended into something that is really nice and, like, honestly very natural-looking.

It’s the seventh day of wearing the Loving Tan, and I actually just got out of the shower trying to scrub it all off, and this one just was not good. It, the color was, I don’t know. It just clung to patches of my skin in such a weird way. It faded out of my elbow pit so quickly. It gave me these weird white elbow pits and dark, dark tops of arms. I just didn’t like this one.

So, our last self-tanner is gonna be this Coola Organic Sunless Tan Express Sculpting Mousse. This is $48, which is very expensive. It has caffeine in it, and it’s gonna give me snatched legs or something. I don’t really know. [laughs] [gasps] What? It’s clear? I guess you just put it on and it’s gonna develop? I think that the Coola self-tanner actually applied really nice. I don’t see any real streaks. I feel like the color looks good, but it is two coats. I feel like it went on as kind of a sheer tint, so I did have to build up the color, but it looks pretty good for now, and we’ll see how it lasts throughout the week.

OK, so it is the last day of the Coola self-tanner, and this one was fine. I mean, it was very similar to the Jergens in that it kind of just gave me, like, a tan tint. I usually like something a little bit more dramatic, but it was OK. I don’t think it did any of that, like, sculpting, firming stuff that it was claiming to. Maybe if I used it longer it would start to have those effects, but this one was just OK.

So, after four weeks of wearing these self-tanners, I finally have a winner, and that winner is the Bondi Sands. The Bondi Sands applied so wonderfully. I loved having the guide color so that I could see where I was putting it, and once it developed, it had such a great color, and I honestly think it could have gone past the one-week mark into maybe, like, one and a half to two weeks. Ones I’ve tried in the past have just kind of faded after about a week, but after paying more attention to the life span of the tan, I feel like that is a really important thing that goes into deciding what brand of tanner you wanna use.

I so pale.

Nico: You’re on.

Natalie: Today’s snow is crippling much of the Washington lowlands. [laughing]

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