If you've ever used a self-tanning lotion, mousse, or spray before then you likely know that a lot of self-tanners have bronzers in them that leave your skin bronzed immediately, which can be great if you're looking for an immediate glow. But sometimes those bronzers can transfer on to things like your sheets, towels, and clothing — and nobody wants that. So recently, quite a few self-tanning brands have come out with clear solution self-tanners that go on clear but then develop into a deep golden tan after just a few hours. But what is clear solution self tanner, how do you apply it, and when should you opt for a clear solution self-tanner over one with a bronzer? To get all of the answers, I enlisted the help of Tan-Luxe's Global Tanning Expert, Alexandra DiMarchi, whose list of celebrity clients includes the likes of Molly Sims and Nazanin Mandi.
For starters, if you're someone who is always afraid of using self-tanners because they might stain your belongings, then clear solution self-tanners are for you. According to DiMarchi, the biggest benefit of using clear self-tanners is that the color doesn't transfer as it's developing, so you can feel free to put on white or light-colored clothing after your tanning session — just make sure to keep the clothing loose. "I still recommended wearing loose clothing and no undergarments to ensure an even tan until you rinse because you still have product on your skin," DiMarchi shared with Elite Daily in an e-mail.
However, she goes on to explain that she has had many women get their spray tan done the day of a big event because they know that they can trust that the clear solution tanner won't transfer onto their clothing. "I've even had women tan with me the day of an event request clear products so that they can continue with glam and immediately walk the red carpet without any worries of staining their dresses or outfits," says the spray tan artist.
The next major benefit of using a clear solution self-tanner is that you can see the real color that your skin will be as the tan develops since you don't have the illusion of bronzers on top of the developing tan, since the excess bronzers or "guide colors" rinse off in the shower. "What I personally love is that as your tan develops, that is the true shade your skin will be," says the spray tan artist. "As opposed to using bronzers and going through the 'I lost my tan' [thoughts] when in reality, you just rinsed off the bronzer."
If applying a self-tanner without a guide color sounds scary to you, rest easy as you're still able to see where you've applied the product (and where you haven't) because there will be a light sheen. "Although there is no color, you can normally see where the product is (that area of your skin will appear more glowy till it dries down). If somewhere looks a little dull, add more product," advises DiMarchi.
As far as how to apply clear solution self-tanners at home, no matter if it's a mousse or spray, first make sure that your skin is prepped, exfoliated, and shaved and free of any moisturizers or lotions. Then, pump the solution onto your tanning mit and apply in sweeping upwards motions. Let the solution dry and feel free to get dressed. Most solutions develop within four to eight hours, so during that time avoid showering or doing any activity that would require your skin getting wet.
Still not convinced that you can master a clear solution self-tanner? The tanning expert advises carrying out a patch test and playing around with using different amounts of your selected self-tanner until you've reached your desired shade. "I like to play around with products until I find the perfect shade," she shares. "For example, Tan-Luxe is known for their Body Drops where every two drops is a shade darker, so I will apply a certain amount of drops into my lotion and apply somewhere that isn't visible until I've found my perfect shade. I may apply six drops on one leg, and eight on the other to test the shades."
Now, for the brands that have listened to their clients requests for a clear solution self-tanner that won't transfer onto their clothing, sheets, and towels. Ahead, are seven of the best self-tanners that go on clear but develop into the prettiest shades of bronze.
NKD SKN Babe Water
NKD SKN's new Babe Water is a clear self-tanning spray that comes in one shade and can be used daily to build a gradual tan on your face and body. The spray is made up of hydrating and soothing properties such as raspberry, papaya, and cucumber extracts so it is soothing and gentle enough to be used on your skin everyday. To use, simply spritz onto a mit, and then apply to the skin using circular sweeping motions. Your tan will develop within four to eight hours, depending on your natural skin tone.
Isle of Paradise Glow Clear Self-Tanning Mousse
The Isle of Paradise brand offers all of their products in three different color-correcting shades: light, medium, and dark. The light shade is a clear peach which promises to brighten and illuminate for a light glow. The medium shade is a clear green which promises to reduce redness for a golden glow, while the dark shade is a clear violet which promises to neutralize dull, yellowish tones for a deep, dark glow.
The clear solution dark tanning mousse is a foam mousse that goes on clear and then leaves skin a gorgeous, natural shade of bronze after about eight hours. The foam is lighter, more liquidy foam mousse, as opposed to a fluffy, more voluminous texture, so a little goes a long way when applying to the body.
Tan-Luxe The Water Hydrating Self-Tan Water
Tan-Luxe's lightweight "The Water" goes on clear and develops within four hours for a natural looking glow. The best part? The hydrating water dries quickly and doesn't leave skin sticky so you can go about your day after applying. "Tan-Luxe's The Water is my all time favorite beauty product," shares DiMarchi. "Say someone wakes up in the morning and needs a little glow on their face or decides to wear a V-neck or off-the-shoulder shirt that shows skin, you can spray the water all over and within four hours you'll start seeing your glow."
Vita Liberata Invisi Foaming Tan Water
Vita Liberata's Invisi Foaming Tan Water is a lightweight, non-sticky mousse that can be built and applied to reach your desired level of tan. In one application, you can apply one to two layers for a light glow, two to three layers for a medium shade of bronze, and three to four layers for a deep, dark shade of bronze.
HauteBronze Sun Drops
HauteBronze is a brand new self-tanning line that was created by the same woman that developed the TanTowel. With the new HauteBronze line, you can expect the same type of innovative bronzing products that deliver a luxurious tan. The Sun Drops specifically have anti-aging properties and can be mixed in with your favorite facial moisturizer to get the ultimate glow on your face. The more drops you use, the tanner you will be. What's more is that your tan will start to develop in just two hours, so it's perfect when you need a tan in a hurry.
St Tropez Self Tan Purity Bronzing Water
St. Tropez's Self Tan Purity Bronzing Water was developed with hydrating properties so that your skin stays moisturized while your tan develops (even though you can't use a moisturizer during the tanning process). The lightweight mousse immediately absorbs into the skin, so it's not sticky as it develops. And the best part? The mousse's citrusy floral smell leaves skin smelling fresh as the tan builds.
Tan-Luxe The Face Illuminating Self-Tan Drops
Tan-Luxe's The Face transforms your favorite facial moisturizer, serum, or oil into a self-tanner for your face and neck with just a few drops. The more drops you use, the darker the tan, and the best part about these drops is that they work with your skincare items to not only deliver a beautiful shade of bronze, but to combat issues like dryness, dullness, uneven texture, and uneven skin tone.
So just as summer approaches, if you're looking to get a gorgeous shade of bronze, without the harmful effects of UV rays, these clear solution self-tanners will give you a great glow without staining your clothes.