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There’s nothing to boost your confidence like having a healthy, sunny glow. Whether it’s summer and you’re looking to be beach-ready, or just keep from looking particularly pale during the winter festivities, a bit of color does wonders for the self-esteem! That’s why both tanning and self-tanning has become so popular!
Self-Tanning and How It’s ‘Gradually’ Evolved
Looking tan used to mean relying heavily on the destructive UV rays of the sun and tanning bed to get the color so many hope for. Luckily, since the discovery of dihydroxyacetone (DHA), there’s an alternative to get you a great tan without damaging your skin. This naturally-derived chemical compound is found in self-tanners and is the chief substance responsible for simulating the tan from the sun.
Over the years, self-tanning formulas have been tested and improved, so there are less orangey and streaky tans compared to those early self-tanning products of the ’70s. Now you can achieve a beautiful, natural-looking tan with the help of hundreds of different products in the form of creams & lotions, mousse, sprays, towelettes, and even daily moisturizers.
What is a Gradual Self-Tanner?
Well-known in the circle of self-tanners is the gradual self-tanner. It usually comes as a lotion whose main function is to gently develop into a tan, as against the unanticipated tan appearance from the traditional self-tanner.
Gradual Self-Tanners vs Traditional Self-Tanners
With a gradual self-tanner, you can improve and maintain your existing tan, whether it is natural or fake. For beginners, a gradual tanning lotion could serve as your initiation point into the self-tanning cult. You are in control of how much you want to get tanned with a gradual tanner; if you want to be more bronzed, then apply more tanner. Most of all, a gradual self-tanner can be used on a daily basis, an attribute which is lacking in a traditional self-tanner.
How to Apply Gradual Self-Tanner
Most gradual tanning lotions are lightweight and readily spread across without a vigorous rubbing in. Many are able to be used as a daily moisturizer, so are best to be applied daily after showering. When you reach your desired tan level, apply only once every 2-3 days to maintain that color. And should you want to remove your tan, within 10 days, your complexion will return to normal.
What To Look For In A Gradual Self-tanner
Does It Suit Your Skin Color?
All gradual self-tanners were not made from the same company or with the same kind of ingredients. Depending on your skin type, you will get a gradual tanning lotion that will give you a satisfactory tan. Pale skins should go for the tanner that gives them a significant bright glow with one application. Darker or already tanned skins can tolerate a very subtle tanning lotion to maintain shine.
How Well Does The Gradual Tanner Build?
Gradual tans are supposed to allow you to slowly build up your tan to your desired shade. How many applications it’ll take to reach your goals will depend on the tanner you pick. If you want to move from light to pretty dark in a short amount of time, make sure you pick a tanner with a faster build or one you can pair with a secondary tanner.
Does It Have Any Reviews?
It is not unusual to hear from an arrogant buyer, that the customer is always right. As annoying as it sounds, it is true to a great extent. Before you shell out your hard-earned money on a gradual self-tanner you saw on TV commercials, dedicate some time to check on the internet, what people who have bought and used it have to say about it.
What Kind of Ingredients Does It Use?
It’s always important to know what products you’re putting onto your skin. Some ingredients are great for your skin and supply it with essential nutrients and moisture. Some ingredients, on the other hand, may cause breakouts or allergic reactions, and that’s far from the look you want! Make it a habit to do a quick search on the active ingredients on a gradual self-tanner, to know if they are suitable for your skin, and if they are safe for your health in general. Be wary of gradual self-tanners that have no ingredients listed on the container.
How Long Will The Tan Last?
For some gradual self-tanners, the tan developing time kicks off within 3 hours, while for others, you will need to sacrifice up to 6 hours before noticing any change. If you’re always in a hurry or particularly impatient, choose a product that gives fast results!
How Often Can Gradual Self-Tanner Be Applied?
Though many gradual self-tanners are recommended for daily use, there are others that offer the best results when used every other day, or once every week. For daily use, ensure that it is a subtle tanner that doesn’t add heavily to your tan with every application on your skin.
10 Best Gradual Self Tanners
Now that you know what you’re looking for, let’s focus on the products that are out there for you to choose from. These are 10 of our favorite gradual tanners so give you a beautiful, buildable tan!
Vita Liberata Fabulous Sunless Tanning Gradual Tanning Lotion
Who’s it for: Someone who’s looking for a self-tanner that’s quick to apply, doesn’t smell funky, and won’t stain your clothes!
Vita Liberata Fabulous Sunless Tanning Gradual Tanning Lotion gives you the best excuse to rock a sun-kissed complexion from your face to your feet, even during the freezing winter! This is the ideal tanning lotion for those who can’t stand the smell of self-tanners! It’s fragrance-free, and has odor blockers to ensure you don’t smell funky all day!
There’s a lot to love with this gradual self-tanner. First, let’s applaud it for being purely organic! Did we just hear you scream in excitement? Yep! Oh, and hey, oily skin, rejoice; the presence of licorice in this lotion will balance the oil on your skin. And for all of us who want to stay looking as young as possible without going under the knife,, Vita Liberata’s lychee and raspberry content will fight those free radicals that prompt wrinkles on the skin. Tan and enjoy the benefits of its Aloe Vera and Shea butter extracts that calms skin irritation and hydrate your skin!
St. Tropez Gradual Tan Tinted Body Lotion
Who’s it for: Anyone who wants a lightly tinted tanner that will help you apply your self-tanner evenly!
If you’re looking for a perfect tan enhancer for your already existing tan, this product should be yours. But that’s not to say the St. Tropez Gradual Tan Tinted Lotion isn’t a great tanner itself, because it is! It provides a light tan, but can also be used daily to extend and enhance the tan you already have!
The tinted color helps you to keep track of areas of your face and body where it’s already been applied. As much as I love a tinted tanner, it should be remembered that the tint can rub off onto clothing. If you don’t want your outfit to have a tan as well, make sure it’s dry before getting dressed!
St. Tropez Gradual Tan Mousse
Who’s it for: This one is best suited for patient tanners who agree that a great tan is worth the wait!
Dark skin tone, step aside! Pale skin tone of any degree, get in here; this gradual tanner is worth trying out. Self-tan beginners, you’re also welcome here. St. Tropez Gradual Tan Mousse will give you a natural tan 8 hours after application. But don’t worry, it’s worth the wait! It is an everyday gradual tanning mousse that moisturizes the skin satisfactorily, leaving it radiant and silky.
This mousse lacks tint to guide you during application. Therefore, you’ll have to be careful enough to note areas reached to avoid misses. For best results, it’s suggested you use a self-tanning applicator mitt. This will help you apply it evenly across those harder to reach areas you might otherwise miss.
Like most products that don’t dry quickly, patience is required to wait it out to avoid rubbing it off on your clothing. You wouldn’t have to get worried when it starts fading, as it does so naturally and evenly.
Control Your Glow Organic Gradual Self Tanner
Who’s it for: Those looking for an organic self-tanner with no harsh chemicals and is safe for all skin types!
It takes a skin burned by the UV rays of the sun to appreciate a self-tanner that mimics the natural, healthy skin glow from lying under the Jamaican sun. And that is what Control Your Glow Organic Gradual Self Tanner exists for. Everything is right about this tanner: from the quick tan developing time to its price value, not to mention that it is organically formulated.
It is white and clear, it is easy to apply, leaving behind a light coconut fragrance. If you’re looking for a gradual tanner that starts forming within 4 hours after application, this product is right for you.
A little at a time goes a long way because of its bursting power to give you a warm bronzed glow. That brings us to letting you know that you are in charge of how much your skin tans with this tanner. Whether light or dark, there’s nothing orangey about the tan it forms. All you’ll be left with is a ravishingly tanned face and body. What’s more, your lusty tan will last for a week.
Nkd Skn Natural Gradual Tan Lotion
Who’s it for: Those looking for a full-body gradual tanner that works great for every skin type.
You can pronounce this tanner as “naked skin” if you’re wondering, “What the heck is NKD SKN?” That’s a cool name for a cool product, especially for super fair or pale skin. With only one application, your face and body will take on a natural, milk-chocolate tan, and that could make you question the authenticity of its gradualness. Plus, that one application can last you for a week and if fades as nicely as it builds!
Nkd Skn natural gradual tanning lotion is composed mainly of natural ingredients to keep your body from dangers associated with using toxic chemicals. While most self-tanners will expose their nasty smell as soon as you open the bottle, it isn’t so with this tanning lotion. There’s zero funky tanner smell to endure all day. And even if you apply it before bed, you don’t have to worry about it staining your bedding. It goes on clear and won’t rub off once it’s dry! It sounds like a winner to me!
Spa Destinations Argan & Açaí Smooth & Sunless Gradual Bronzing Lotion
Who’s it for: Someone who is on the go and needs a daily gradual self-tanner that dries quickly.
With the presence of pure argan oil and açaí berry extracts in Spa Destinations Gradual Bronzing Lotion, your skin is guaranteed to be ultra-hydrated, vibrant and ageless. These two plant extracts contain powerful antioxidants that fight aging to a standstill, while renewing, restoring, and reviving your skin’s appearance and texture. Use it every day for a gorgeous glow you’re going to love!
Kudos to the manufacturer for packaging it in such a way that it looks like a lovely gift. And with a bunch of great reviews, if you are gifting this to a fellow self-tanner, you’ll know they’ll love the results they see with it too!
Australian Gold Gradual Sunless Tanning Lotion
Who’s it for: First-time self-tanners looking for an affordable gradual self-tanner to try.
Australian Gold Gradual Sunless Tanning Lotion is one of the most popular gradual self-tanners on the market, and when you look at what you get for the price, it’s easy to see why. If you’re pale and afraid of winter, this tanner is worth the try. It has a bronzer that gives you an immediate tanned appearance. By the second application, you are sure to get an enviable, even tan which goes on for up to 5 days at a stretch.
It is just the right gradual tanner for anyone who wants to buy a quality, exactly-as-stated tanning lotion for a few dollars. The presence of natural moisturizers and skin softeners in the lotion guarantees the hydration and softening of your skin as it glows like the morning sun. Oh, and if you’re terrified of smelling like self-tanner, don’t be! This one features a Tropical Breeze fragrance that users love!
Hempz Yuzu and Starfruit Touch of Summer Moisturizing Gradual Self-Tanning Crème with SPF 30
Who’s it for: Someone who uses self-tanner to avoid the risks of sun exposure, and wants a great sunscreen in addition to their tanner!
It’s hard to find a great self-tanner that also doubles as a great sunscreen! Avobenzone 3% found in Hempz Yuzu and Starfruit Touch of Summer Moisturizing Gradual Self-Tanning Crème is a notable sunscreen that protects the skin from destructive UV rays of the sun. Unlike many chemical sunscreens, it has the ability to also block UVB rays responsible for skin cancer and forceful aging of the skin. Hempz Yuzu self-tanner with sunscreen is an exceptional product that comes in two styles for fair and medium skin tones to meet individual self-tanning needs.
You’ll love it because it is made from 100% pure hemp seed oil to keep your skin looking younger than your age. Hempz Yuzu tanning lotion has gained a reputation for being a “subtle sunless tanner” producing an even tan that lasts up to ten days while retaining your skin’s suppleness. It’s light, applies evenly, and smells like heaven. Ideal for someone who wants a brilliant tan within three hours after use. If you care about your pet, you may as well use this tanner because it is cruelty-free.
L’Oréal Paris Sublime Bronze Hydrating Self-Tanning Milk
Who’s it for: Anyone looking for a lightweight self-tanner that only needs to be applied a few times a week.
IL’Oréal Paris Sublime Bronze Hydrating Self-Tanning Milk is one of the top picks for an important reason: it provides beautiful color without the need for daily applications!
This lightweight tanning milk is a popular choice for all skin types, and for both men and women. Those who dislike sticky, greasy lotions will appreciate the way this tanner lightly covers your skin. It’s recommended for use 3 times a week for a beautiful, streak-free glow. With this one, there’s no need to apply it daily to keep up the color!
Anjou Self Tanner Natural Sunless Tanning Lotion
Who’s it for: Self-tanners who want a fast gradual tanner that can give great results in as little 2 applications.
One layer gives you a beautiful, light tan that’ll look like you spent the afternoon by the pool. Just one more layer and you’ll have the dark summer tan that’ll look like you just got back from vacation! This gradual self-tanner means business!
If you’ve always hated waiting overnight before seeing a color change from a gradual tanner, then you’ll love this tanner. Within 3 hours, you should be able to see how well your tan is evolving. If you want it darker, you can apply a second coat right away to achieve the color you’re looking for!
Bondi Sands Everyday Gradual Tanning Milk
Who’s it for: This one will give you the gradual tan that no one will question is real or fake!
If you’re worried about being pale one day and unrealistically tan the next, this is your tanner! When you go from Snow White to Pocahontas overnight, odds are people will notice! If you want a real gradual tan that builds over a longer time, check out this one.
Bondi Sands Everyday Tanning Milk is great for use daily for a beautiful, gradual glow, or in between self-tanning sessions with your favorite Bondi Sands Self-Tanner. Either way, you’re going to have a great looking tan without having spent a minute in the sun! What more could you ask for!
The harm from lying under the sun and in undergoing tanning sessions on tanning beds is irreversible. With the rising concerns of skin damage and skin cancer, many health-conscious men and women have drifted to using self-tanners to get a sun-kissed tan the safe way.
The gradual self-tanner takes a couple of hours or more to develop, usually into a light golden tan; it is in the hands of the user to control the amount of tan desired. Gradual self-tanners come in a variety of forms to suit different skin colors and needs. Most of the time, it takes a gradual self-tanner to appreciate the difference between an unhealthy-looking skin and a vibrant one.
The ten (or eleven) gradual self-tanners we’ve picked for you are loaded with their individual benefits to give you a memorable experience you’ll cherish for a long time to come. So get ready to get your tan on!