Meredith Kress-Summer Girl Legs Swimming Pool

The Self-Tanners You Need and The Ones You Don’t

In seventh grade, I was a competitive cheerleader. Along with the bedazzled bows and poofy-ponytails higher than heaven, getting a spray tan before competition day was absolutely essential. Spray tans helped combat the bright white lights that lit up the stage on competition day, making us look like humans rather than ghosts. I remember waking up to a beautiful tan was one of the best parts of the competition day.

However, spray tans are expensive when you get them frequently, ranging from $25-$50. As a college student more focused on textbooks than tanning, I knew I had to find another way to get a tan without draining my wallet. Here are five self-tanners I have tried in the past that have served me well, and some that have not.


  1. 1. Jergens Natural Glow

    Jergens has always been a staple for me and a tanner that I have recommended to many of my friends. Jergens gradually tans the skin with each application, so you can control how tan you get. In addition, it also works as a wonderful moisturizer with a pleasant scent. The only caution when using Jergens would be to wash your hands after application. Otherwise, your hands will look patchy and orange.

  2. 2. Banana Boat Self-Tanner

    Similar to Jergens, Banana Boat self-tanner moisturizes and gradually tans the skin. I have found Banana Boat provides a stronger tan but never more than I wanted. I have found if you wash your hands after application and then rub a pea-size amount of the lotion to the back of your hands using a cotton pad, your hands shouldn’t look patchy. However, if they do, then just wash your hands after future applications.

  3. 3. L’Oreal Sublime Bronze Lotion

    L’Oreal Sublime Bronze Lotion provides a gradual tan but does not moisturize as well as Jergens and Banana Boat. Yet, the color of the L’Oreal tanner is a beautiful brown with golden flecks inside of the formula. While at first I was alarmed at how my body looked like Edward Cullen in broad daylight, my tan turned out to be a beautiful golden bronze. Similar to Jergens, be sure to wash your hands following application.

  4. 4. L’Oreal Sublime Bronze Spray

    While L’Oreal Sublime Bronze Lotion worked well, I did not have a great experience with the spray version. I sprayed my body and was sure to cover every part. However, I woke up the next day terrifyingly streaky. The color of the tan was stronger than the other self-tanners and was a beautiful brown. It could be my lack of coordination and horrible execution, but I would avoid using this product on yourself. It probably works best if you have a friend spray you.

  5. 5. B.tan

    B.tan had the best and quickest developing tan of all of the tanners, but dried my skin completely. It comes in various shades (I used “tanned af”) and comes in the form of a mousse that needs to be applied with a mitt. Even with daily moisturizing, I still found my skin looked dry and patchy by the end of the second day. This tanner may be good for one day occasions, but definitely not as a routine self-tanner.

If you’re looking for a Spring glow but don’t have that spray tan dough, definitely try these DIY options out.


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