The seasons are starting to change again, collegiettes. In a short time, those winter coats you don to class will be replaced with light jackets, sunglasses and flirty spring essentials. And let’s not forget about that spring break countdown on your calendar. The best way to prep for the return of sunny weather and beach vacations? Add a little artificial sun of your own, the safe way. Self-tanners come in both drugstore and department store variety, are compatible with all skin tones and, when applied correctly, can give you the confident glow of a famous swimsuit model without those pesky beach paparazzi. Here are the best self-tanning products that will still leave enough money in your wallet to go out and show off all your sun-kissed efforts.
Best Gradual Tan: Jergens Natural Glow Foaming Moisturizer ($7.89, CVS)
The Jergens line of skin moisturizers is known for having soft, delicate scents and their Natural Glow line of products is no exception. The foaming moisturizer spreads across the skin quickly and doesn’t leave your skin with that sterile, “self-tanner” smell. This product is meant for everyday (or overnight) use so that your tan builds naturally as if you were on vacation for several weeks. The only downside is that the foam absorbs quickly, so you have to spread fast. Whether you use Fair to Medium or Medium to Tan, the effect will be visible in about three weeks with continued daily use.
Easiest application: Sonia Kashuk Self-Tanning Towelettes ($9.99 for a 4 pack, Target)
Bringing the luxurious Sonia Kashuk makeup and skincare brand to retail megastore Target has proven to be a lucrative move. The Self-Tanning Towelettes are of a high-end quality without the snooty price tag. Applying the tanner with a wipe makes for no finger marks or streak lines. If you’re looking to cover your entire body, this 4-pack of towelettes will only last you one application, which will fade in 8 to 10 days, so it’s advisable to grab two boxes before checkout.
Best ‘One and Done’ Application: Victoria’s Secret Beach Sexy Self-Tanning line ($12-$25, Victoria’s Secret)
Victoria’s Secret is known as the expert in showing skin, so wouldn’t it make sense that they have sexy, tanned skin down to a science? The Beach Sexy line offers airbrush sprays, lotions and complementing bronzers you can mix and match for maximum sex goddess glow. One of the best products is their Tan Enhancing Shimmer Lotion with Tint which makes your skin literally reflect golden tints in the sun light. Not for the timid, this line makes you noticeably (at least) two tones darker in a matter of hours.
Best Bang for Your Buck: St. Tropez Everyday Gradual Tan Mousse ($30-$50, Sephora)
This beauty line specializes in tanners and the Everyday Gradual Tan Mousse is top-rated by Sephora and Allure magazine. The mousse is light weight so it spreads more evenly than other foams. With the highly concentrated formula and just a few pumps, you’ll look like you just got back from a sunny getaway in about a week. And since St. Tropez products are made without harsh parabens or sulfates to dehydrate your skin, your glow will remain dewy and youthful, never dry or caked.
Whether opting for an airbrush, towelette, lotion, or gel application, even if you use gloves, remember to keep your fingers together and spread in long, circular motions. And don’t forget to always wash your hands after an application and use an SPF when outside.
Have fun and practice safe sun, collegiettes!