Wanting to experiment with some self-tanners to try to get that bronzed and beautiful glow? After sampling multiple formulas that all promise results, we can finally bring you our top self-tanner picks that made the cut (yeah, we know…it was a tough editorial assignment!). These are also recommended and work for nearly every skin type. Just don’t forget to exfoliate beforehand!

The product:  St. Tropez Bronzing Gel; $35.00 for 5 oz.
The grade:  A-
My experience:  This easy-to-apply gel gave a perfect, streak-free and gorgeous tan for nearly six days (it began fading after four). The application was relatively easy – one of the best things about St. Tropez self-tanners (check out their Bronzing Mousse if you like the gel!) is that no matter how streaky they look after application; they rinse off to reveal a perfect even tan. When applying the gel, use their foam Applicator Mitt ($6.00; sttropeztan.com) to ensure the product blends into the skin evenly without staining hands. Since the color-guard dries dark, apply the tanner at night before bed (the color needs a good four to eight hours to develop) and wash the excess off in the morning to reveal your perfect color – or, leave it on for four hours during the day and rinse off for more of a “glowing from within” look. The tan faded very naturally, and by day seven it was gone. Remember to keep your skin moisturized to prolong your tan and keep your skin from looking “patchy.”
Great for:  Vacations; dark and light skin tones
Where to buy:  Sephora, 1125 Galleria Boulevard, Roseville, 916-772-8800; or at sttropeztan.com

The product:  Bare Escentuals Faux Tan; $22.00 for 4.5 oz.
The grade:  A
My experience:  This easy to blend and natural tan looked beautiful on fair skin. The color only barely develops darker than the tan, so it’s great for putting on right before an event or night out. The dry-time was very quick and even though I rushed to put clothes on, my white shirt was surprisingly un-stained after a long night out. The beachy, coconut scent is to die for – and no self-tanner smell! The final color was a gorgeous light brown. The tan began to fade on the fifth day, and by the sixth into the seventh day it was gone. For continued use, reapply on day five. If you want to gradually build the color for a darker tan, apply every three days.
Great for:  Applying before events and parties; dark and light skin tones; coconut lovers
Where to buy:  Bare Escentuals, 1151 Galleria Boulevard, Roseville, 916-782-3111; or at bareescentuals.com

The product:  Xen-Tan Dark Lotion Absolute Luxe; $56.00 for 8 oz.
The grade:  B+
My experience:  The first thing that we noticed about this self-tanner was the heavenly smell – it has a rich and creamy caramel aroma. The color blended well, especially when used with Xen-Tan’s helpful Hard to Reach Back Applicator ($18.00) on trouble spots. The color was a little orange-y while applying, but developed into a very nice golden brown tan, and looked very natural once the color guard is rinsed off. The color does dry very streaky, so apply before bed and rinse off in the morning. The color faded naturally, and didn’t even begin fading until day 10. For continued use, reapply after 10 to 12 days – sooner if exfoliating regularly.
Great for:  Vacations; long honeymoons; dark and light skin tones
Where to buy:  ULTA locations; 2381 Iron Point Road, Folsom, 916-984-8010; 1232 Galleria Boulevard, Roseville, 916-780-1117; or at xen-tan.com

The product:  Fake Bake Beyond Bronze Mousse; $30.00 for 4 oz.
The grade:  B+
My experience:  Although the application was fairly difficult (the foam expands quite a bit and the nozzle will spray tiny particles everywhere that will stain your flooring if you aren’t careful to point the tip downward) the resulting tan was light and natural looking – great for fair skin tones. It is recommended to build the color every day until you reach your desired tan level – even if you’re light skinned. The tanner took quite awhile to dry, and it left a film on the skin while sleeping (unfortunately it did transfer onto my sheets). However, the developed color was unbelievably beautiful, and after a quick rinse-off it looked far more natural than any of the other tanners. You can use this product during the day or before going out – the color guard does develop dark, but the resulting tan is so light that many might prefer the color guard to the actual tan. This tanner faded better than any of the others, with almost no exfoliation required, and lasted about five days.
Great for:  Fair skin tones; those looking for an extremely natural tan
Where to buy:  ULTA locations; 2381 Iron Point Road, Folsom, 916-984-8010; 1232 Galleria Boulevard, Roseville, 916-780-1117; or at fakebake.com

Blog post by Real Weddings Magazine Contributor Danielle Enns.

Photos courtesy of St. Tropez, Bare Escentuals, Xen-Tan and Fake Bake.

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