If you are looking to give your pale skin a sun-kissed glow, gradual tanning lotions are a great place to start because the color develops slowly (typically within three days of consecutive use). This allows you to customize the intensity of your tan, and it also makes it easier to touch-up any areas you might have missed. If you want an instant formula for color that shows up right away, I recommend first doing a patch test somewhere that isn't noticeable. But no matter which of the best tanning lotions for fair skin you choose, don't forget to thoroughly read the directions first, and always, always wash your hands right after to avoid stained palms.
Additionally, because these tanning lotions will take the place of your regular body lotion, you'll want to make sure they include moisturizing ingredients (like glycerin, vitamin E, and shea butter, for example). If you plan to use tanning lotion on your face, too, be sure to use a face-specific formula that's non-comedogenic so it won't clog your pores.
To get working on your glow without sitting in the sun, here are five tried-and-true tanning lotions for fair skin that are not only easy to use, but also guaranteed to look gorgeous on fair skin types.
1. Best Gradual Tanning Lotion For Fair Skin
When it comes to an effective formula that's also affordable, no drugstore brand even comes close to the Jergens Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer For Body. This particular choice was designed to work best on fair to medium skin tones by gradually imparting a hint of color after each use. The moisturizer itself is also nice and nourishing, thanks to ingredients like glycerin, avocado oil, and jojoba seed oil. While I've personally noticed a slight self-tanner scent, it's not that overwhelmingly strong smell most other formulas have.
Jergens Natural Glow is also a fan-favorite on Amazon, with many fair-skinned reviewers commenting on just how natural the results are. "I'm fairly pale and pretty much translucent in the winter, but this stuff works well on me," wrote one reviewer, who added, "I like that it's a subtle change so you can control how deep the color gets."
2. Best Tanning Lotion With An Instant Tint
I can't say enough good things about St. Tropez (their Dark Bronzing Mousse will forever be my favorite tanning product). The St. Tropez Gradual Tan Tinted Body Lotion works double duty to instantly add sun-kissed color to skin while gradually building a more noticeable tan as you continue to use the lotion. That instant tint of color is also beyond helpful when it comes to ensuring you've covered your whole body because it lets you see any spots that you might have missed.
One fan of the tinted lotion, wrote, "It's a bit more expensive, but it applies easily without streaking and the color is completely natural looking — not the least bit orange. I'm thrilled to have found this product since my skin is so fair, and I burn quite easily."
3. Best Tanning Lotion That Washes Right Off
If you're not entirely sold on the idea of self-tanner, or you want something that you know you can wash off right away, try Vita Liberata's Body Blur Instant HD Skin Finish in "latte light." Designed for fair skin tones, this product adds a light, honey-beige color to your skin as soon as you apply it (and the color won't deepen or change during the day). Formulated without irritants like parabens, alcohol, sulfates, and artificial fragrance, Vita Liberata keeps skin moisturized using glycerin, aloe vera extract, and shea butter. And, because it works similarly to body makeup, you can wash the color right off at the end of the day.
4. Best Tanning Lotion With SPF
If you're desperate to add a glow to your skin before going outside, you need an instant tanning lotion that also has suitable sun protection built in. Australian Gold's SPF 30 Lotion Sunscreen With Instant Bronzer does the trick with broad spectrum SPF 30, to protect against UVA and UVB rays, and Kona coffee-infused bronzers for a glow that appears as you apply. This sunscreen/bronzer combo is also formulated with vitamin C sourced from Kakadu plum fruit, which protects against photo-damage, and moisturizing ingredients like glycerin, green tea extract, and cocoa seed butter.
"I bought this sunscreen because I am out in the sun all day during the summer and am lighter skinned," wrote one Amazon reviewer, "It doesn't burn my eyes or drip into them, and I love the bronzer in it. It is also the best smelling sunscreen I have ever had."
5. Best Tanning Lotion For Your Face
If you're looking to tan your face without having to use bronzer or foundation, Jergens Natural Glow Oil-Free Moisturizer For Face SPF 20 is an amazing makeup-alternative. In addition to being oil-free, the lightweight moisturizer is dermatologist-tested and non-comedogenic, so it won't clog your pores and cause breakouts. Like their body moisturizer, the Jergens face moisturizer gradually develops as you use it more, but it also provides a bit of sun protection with SPF 20. This shade was specifically designed to be used on fair to medium skin tones, though the brand makes a darker (medium to tan) option, too.
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