The 5 Best Self Tanners For Your Face

self tanners for your face

It’s no surprise that both women and men alike are constantly on the hunt for the best self tanners for your face.  We may want to look completely bronzed and beautiful, but the idea of actually getting sun on our face is a definite no.

You’ve likely heard it from your dermatologist, mom, best friend, and every skincare-related article you’ve ever read, but avoiding the sun is the best way to avoid fine lines, wrinkles, sun spots, and every other sign of aging under the sun (no pun intended).

But when the sun itself can’t help you achieve the perfect tan to accompany your already bronzed body, finding a self tanner formulated specifically for your face is crucial.

In this article, we’ll cover the importance of using a self tanner designated for your face, debunk a few myths about using self tanner on your face, and give you the top 5 best self tanners for your face available on the market today.

Choosing Self Tanners For Your Face

 Whether you’ve made skincare a top priority of yours, or you’re just starting to regularly exfoliate, you probably have different products you use on your body than you use on your face.

For the most part, you have a specific cleanser, sunscreen, body lotion, etc. that you use on your body, and a completely different set of products you use to take care of your face.

The same approach should be taken when it comes to self tanners.  And truthfully, it may be even more important to find a self tanner formulated specifically for your face than it is for other skincare products.

Here’s why: your face has a tendency to develop a little darker due to a higher pH level.

In other words, self tanners created specifically to be used on your face are typically formulated a little lighter than body self tanners.  So if you go in with a body self-tan that is a perfect match for the skin tone on your body, your face will end up looking a lot darker.

Definitely not the look you’re going for.

You’ll also want to use your face self tanner on your neck and décolleté, especially if you aren’t using a self tanner on your body.  No one wants an awkward abrupt line on the bottom of their jaw line.

Besides the fact that your coloring may be off if you don’t choose a self tanner for your face, in general, the skin on your face is much more delicate than the skin on the rest of your body.

Because of that, you face needs more gentle ingredients to keep your pore clear and help you avoid any negative skin reactions.  This is why you may see different ingredients in a face self tanner than in a body self-tan.

Now that we’ve covered the importance of using a self tanner for your face versus using the same one you apply to your body, let’s quickly cover a few myths about tanning your face.

Myths About Self Tanners For Your Face

Myth #1- I can just apply the self tanner directly to my face

Wrong!  If you choose not to prep your face before applying the self tanner, you’re in for a bad outcome.

It’s crucial that you remove all of your makeup, lightly exfoliate, and moisturize your face (don’t forget the neck and décolleté if you’re applying there, too) before you put self tanners on your face.

Why? Besides getting rid of dead skin cells and dirt trapped on your skin, specifically forgetting to moisturize first could make certain areas of your face look darker than others—specifically your nose, upper lip, pores, and age mark.

Talk about a horrible outcome, right?

So make sure you spend the few extra minutes beforehand to truly prep your skin in order to achieve the best possible tan on your face—one that you definitely won’t be embarrassed of.

Myth #2- Self Tanners For Your Face Clog Your Pores

Wrong again!

Okay, maybe not totally wrong…. But there is a way to avoid this.

No matter what kind of skincare product you’re looking at, there are always going to be a few (or a lot) bad eggs in the mix.  Despite saying they are formulated specifically for your face, you may find that you’re breaking out and needing regular facial to combat your skin congestion.

While we know a sunless summer tan is your best option for your skin long-term, you don’t want your self-tanning regimen to take a toll on your skin.

According to Manhattan dermatologist Dr. Doris J. Day, “Self tanners themselves do not clog pore however they can be put into formulations that can clog pores.  You should exfoliate before applying to make sure the skin is smooth and the product penetrates evenly, and look for products that say non-comedogenic or non-acnegenic on the label.”

Those big, fancy words just mean that they’ve been tested to not clog pores.  Dr. Day says she finds the best luck with self-tanners for your face in gel, lotion, or wipe form.

Not to worry, though.  If you’ve found that the self tanner you’ve been using on your face doesn’t say non-comedogenic and you’ve been experiencing nasty breakouts, simply wait until your face has almost returned to your normal skin color, and then try a peel to encourage skin cell turnover.

Other than finding a product that will do good for your delicate skin, you also want to be careful about how you’re apply self tanner to your face.

Using too much product, no matter what it is, can cause a build up on your skin.

All you need is a dime-size amount of self tanner to begin dabbing in the areas you would naturally tan—forehead, apples of your cheeks, bridge of your nose, and your chin.  Once you’ve applied the product there, begin blending outward with your fingertips.

Make sure you’re extra cautious around your nose and top lip as those areas tend to pick up more color.

With anything remaining on your fingers, feather the tanner out into your hairline, being extra cautious if you have blonde or gray hair.   Don’t forget to drag the product down onto your neck and décolleté, as well!

Myth #3- Self Tanners Won’t Stain My Hair

Yikes—this is a major misconception!  Self tanners for face will definitely stain your hairline and your eyebrows if you aren’t careful.

If you have bleached hair, or are sporting the gray hair that’s all the rage right now, you’ll definitely want to pay attention to this.

In order to avoid the self tanner staining your hair, make sure you apply a little moisturizer around your hairline to guard your hair and leave you with a more natural finish.

And if you get any in your eyebrows, make sure you immediately take a dry Q-Tip and remove any product from the brow area.

Alright, now that we’ve blabbed on and on and self tanners for face as a whole, it’s time to dive into the best of the very best available on the market today.

Top 5 Best Self Tanners For Your Face

 Once you’ve come to terms with the fact that you won’t be able to use the same self tanner for face and body, you’ll likely find that achieving the perfect glow on your face can still be super challenging.

If you have dry skin, self-tanners can stick to the dry patches on your skin, resulting in an unfortunate outcome.

If you have oily or acne-prone skin, you may find that some self-tanners cause you to have clogged pores and break out more.

Or, if you simply have overall sensitive skin, the chemicals and fragrances in some self-tanners might cause an inflamed flare-up.

For these reason, and so much more, it’s crucial to understand that not all self tanners for face are created equal, which is why we’ve compiled the very best available to you on the market.

Your skin, no matter what skin type you have, will thank you for taking time to research the topic and land on the self tanner perfect for your gorgeous face.

#1- Tanceuticals Self Tanning Face Lotion

Tanceuticals Face Self Tanner

Where to Buy: Click Here

Cost: $25 for 1.7 oz

Details:  It was a no-brainer for us to rank Tanceuticals Self Tanning Face Lotion as #1 on our list of the best self tanners for face.  As a luxurious self tanner specifically designed for the face, you’ll achieve a long-lasting tan for up to 7 days, free of any hints of orange.

Besides the gorgeous glow you’ll be left with, Tanceuticals is packed full of ingredients to help moisturizer, repair, and firm your skin, leaving you with more beautiful skin than before you used the tanner.

The Color+Correct aspect of the face self-tan will also help even out skin tone, protect against signs of aging, and is free of any harmful ingredients, such as parabens.

Oh… did we mention it smells absolutely delicious, too? What more could you want?

Noteworthy Ingredients: Aloe Vera Leaf Juice, Shea Butter, Vitamin E, Argan Oil, Acai Berry Fruit Extract, Pomegranate Extract

Why Others Are Saying: “I have tried several face self tan products and Tanceuticals is by far my favorite!  It goes on easily and without color, as if you were simply applying a moisturizer to your face.  This product has a light scent, similar to coconut, which is phenomenal… I was also really pleased with the tan results.  I felt like my color was very natural and not at all streaky.  I would (and already have) recommended this product to everyone!” – Lisa Smiley

“I’ve been through countless self tanners ranging from really cheap to ridiculously expensive.  Once I came across Tanceuticals the journey for the perfect self tanner came to a close.  Color is flawless, smell is vibrant with not a hint of dha (THANK GOD) and the tan lasts for almost a full week.  I’m a guy and I do a lot of physical movements for work so it’s nice that it does withstand through how sweaty I get… All in all it’s a fantastic product and worth every penny.” – Zach Ryan

#2- St. Tropez Self Tan Untinted Classic Bronzing Face Lotion

St. Tropez Self Tan Untinted Classic Bronzing Face Lotion

Where to Buy: Click Here

Cost: $30 for 1.6 fl oz

Details: When it comes to self tanner for face, St. Tropez Self Tan Classic Bronzing Face Lotion is pretty straight forward.  The product is lightweight, streak-free, easy to apply, and will leave you with a natural glow in just 4-8 hours after application.

It’s also quick drying, non greasy, and will make sure to keep your pores clear. And as another bonus, it’s free of the usual self-tan odor so many of these products have, so that’s definitely a perk, too!

Noteworthy Ingredients: Dimethicone, Glycerin, Hydrolyzed Jojoba Esters, Caramel, Tocopherol

What Others Are Saying: “I love this product, it’s light, it doesn’t close my pores, it’s effective with a nice gradual tan, giving me instant results.  There’s no slightest hint of orange, a great investment for your face if you’re a beauty lover looking for a self-tanner via face.” – Hint of Bronze

“I was surprised at how much I like this lotion. I always get compliments on the days that I use it.  It gives me a nice glow.  It also is phthalate free and does not make your pores look bigger/blog black heads which most other tanners on your face do. Highly recommend!!!!!”

#3- Vita Liberata Self Tanning Moisture Mask

Vita Liberata Self Tanning Moisture Mask

Where to Buy: Click Here

Cost: $45 for 2.2 fl oz

Details: If you’re looking for self tanners for your face that will do all of the work while you’re sleeping, look no further than Vita Liberata Self Tanning Moisture Mask.  Not only will you glean all the benefits of a hydrating, anti-aging face mask, but you’ll wake up looking like you spent a day at the beach, not a night in your bed.

This organic self tanner can be used regularly to deepen or maintain the achieved color, and should simply be applied liberally before bed on clean skin.  How easy is that?

Noteworthy Ingredients: Tocopherol, Sunflower Seed, Shea Butter, Aloe Vera

What Others Are Saying: “This is definitely for dry skin.  It’s nicely hydrating overnight.  I am fair skinned and it gave me about 1 or 1.5 levels of tan and for me that’s perfect.  Also, I felt like my pores looked smaller than the finish of a primer but without anything on.  I use a moisturizing wash wash as well and it didn’t wash off the color.”

“I usually use self tanners and find that my skin absorbs the color very well.  I found that after one use of this I had a nice noticeable glow and my skin was very soft and even toned.  I used brightening products on the regular so my skin is very even toned but often pale. I like this mask because it add color while keeping my skin texturing looking great.”

#4- Coola Organic Sunless Tan Anti-Aging Face Serum

Coola Organic Sunless Tan Anti-Aging Face Serum

Where to Buy: Click Here

Cost: $54 for 1.7 fl oz

Details: Yep—you read that name right.  This product is not only a self tanner for face, but it’s also an anti-aging face serum.  If you’re someone who wants to look youthful, radiant, and a bit bronzy, as well, this is definitely a self tanner to consider.

This sheer, lightweight anti-aging serum acts as a gradual tanner.  Simply use it for several days to achieve a soft, subtle tan on your face.  Love what you’re seeing?  Continuing using the serum to keep up the effect.

Noteworthy Ingredients: Hyaluronic Acid, Centella Asiatica Meristem Cell, Chorella Vulgaris Extract

What Others Are Saying: “I was honestly only looking for a mild sunless tanner to develop some color on my face.  This product has gone above and beyond that!  The formula feels 100% like a serum, and leaves my face feeling soft and smooth with every use.  The tanning aspect of the product holds up to the description… Within three uses my face was a good two shades darker than it was prior to using the serum.” – MWeiss

“Okay. I am being totally serious that this is one of my favorite skin items I have ever owned…. It is so easy to apply and it does not rub off on my pillow when I sleep at night. I wake up with a PERFECT flow you guys.  I feel so confident with a little bit of a bronzed look especially for summer time and my biggest thing with self tanners is that my body will tan while my face gets white right away from scrubbing it at night.  Now I can maintain my face tan along with my body. 10/10 recommend!” – Heather

#5- Supergoop! Healthy Glow Sunless Tan

Supergoop! Healthy Glow Sunless Tan

Where to Buy: Click Here

Cost: $38 for 3.4 oz

Details: Does it get much better than a self tanner that is actually a broad spectrum sunscreen, too?  With an SPF 40 and a guaranteed 80 minutes of water resistance, this is a product sure to keep you protect from the sun.

Supergoop! Healthy Glow Sunless tan provides long-lasting color that’s streak-free, transfer-free, and scent-free.  It’s easy to apply with a light spray that instantly disappears into skin.

You can expect your gorgeous, natural glow to develop in just 2-4 hours.

Noteworthy Ingredients: Avobenzone, Homosalate, Octinoxate, Octisalate

What Others Are Saying: “This has been the easiest sunless tanning product I’ve ever used and the color it gives my skin definitely does look natural.  It has helped to soften sunspots instead of darkening hem like other products I’ve used in the past.  It really does make me feel like my skin looks younger.  I’m amazed at how long the color continues to look good, too.” –Kelly B.

“This is the best sunless tanning lotion I have ever used.  It is perfection.  A lovely natural color that lasts a long time, no scent, and has a sunscreen and leaves no streaks.  An incredible combination!  I have tried many many sunless tan lotions. I am hooked and will be loyal to this one.  Thank you Supergoop for creating a great product!” –Kirsten

Now that we’ve counted down the top 5 best self tanners for your face on the market today, you’ll be all set to achieve the perfect natural tan on both your face and your body.

And with options as great as these—not just for your tan, but for actually improving your skin, too—there’s no reason to keep using your body self-tan on your gorgeous, delicate face.

Find the self tanner than works best for your face, and continue achieving the perfect, bronzed look throughout the year, not just in summer!

Happy self-tanning!


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Category: Facts About Self Tanning

About the Author

Emily Andrews is the Editor-In-Chief of As you can imagine, Emily loves anything and everything having to do with self tanning! She's also a big fan of shopping (duh), tiny Yorkies and football.