best self tanners for skin tone
Photography via Instagram/vitaliberata

The Best-Self Tanners for Every Skin Tone

Navigating through self-tanning products can be a tricky process. With so many options on the market — from mousses to lotions and even in-shower body washes, it can be difficult to figure out which is best for you, especially if you’re new to the sunless tanning world.

But perhaps the trickiest part is finding the right self-tanner for your skin tone. After all, the last thing you want is a fake (read: orange)-looking tan.

Of course, there’s no one-product-fits-all when it comes to the best self-tanners for specific skin tones. As St.Tropez finishing expert, Sophie Evans, notes, it all comes down to how intense an individual wants his or her tan to be.

“A good self-tan will work off of a person’s natural skin tone to give a colour that is unique and natural. Rather than choosing a self-tan to suit one’s skin tone, at St.Tropez we rather ask the individual how they wish to look,” says Evans.

Still, there are a few general rules of thumb to be wary of. Alyson Hogg, CEO of Vita Liberata, stresses the importance of building up a tan when you have fair skin, as opposed to trying to go super dark right away.

“This can tend to turn very pale skin orange – which you do not want,” Hogg explains. As for those with darker skin tones, they should look for natural skincare ingredients and products that balance the colours of the tan to avoid the orange effect, says Hogg.

Read on to see Hogg and Evans’ product recommendations for the best self-tanners for fair, medium and dark skin tones.

Fair skin tones

Both Hogg and Evans say that fair-skinned people are more susceptible to noticeable mistakes when it comes to self-tanning. Evans recommends using a product with a guide colour (built-in bronzer), such as St.Tropez Classic Bronzing Mousse, so you can see where the product has been applied.

Meanwhile, Hogg advises using gradual building product, such as Vita Liberata Fabulous Self-Tanning Gradual Lotion or the new Vita Liberata Ten Minute Tan, to build a good base colour. If you want to go darker from there, she recommends using a medium tan product, such as Vita Liberata pHenomenal Tan Mousse in Medium.

Medium skin tones

Medium skin tones have it easiest when it comes to self-tanning, says Hogg, who also says the desired result is what’s key here.

“Fair product = a light glow similar to a weekend in the sun. Medium product = a natural bronze, similar to a week in the sun. Dark = a deep natural bronze similar to two weeks in the sun,” she explains. “Think of it the same way as tanning in the sun.”

Alternatively, you may want to choose a product based on skin type. Evans says drier types can try a lotion or dry oil, while normal to oilier skin types should opt for a mousse or an in-shower product.

Dark skin tones

While many may think self-tanners are not effective on darker skin tones, it turns out the opposite is true. And darker skin tones aren’t just limited to ultra-dark self-tanners, says Hogg.

“Contrary to what people think, using a gradual tanning product will brighten the skin, taking the dullness out and making the skin glow and look super radiant,” she explains.

Evans shares similar sentiments. “If a dark-skinned person wants to look like they have spent one day at the beach it can be achieved by just applying one layer of Gradual Tan in either lotion or mousse.”

Again, at the end of the day, it depends on your desired effect, though Hogg does recommend using an instant skin-finishing product for red tones, as it will complement the darkest of skin tones.