Last updated: August 12, 2021

Tan effect without going out in the sun? Yes, the self-tanner is the product capable of performing this miracle on the skin, in a very simple way and at home. It is perfect for the colder days or even to start the summer with a bikini line.

Want to learn more? Then follow us to the end to learn everything about self-tanning. We have prepared a complete guide to answer all your questions.


  • Self-tanner can be found in cream, mousse, gel or spray. Although the purpose is the same, the choice of product type may vary by skin type and ability to apply the self-tanner.
  • The secret of self-tanner is a substance called DHA (dihydroxyacetone). This is a molecule that, when in contact with amino acids, darkens the superficial layer of the skin.
  • Although it does not give the effect of a skin tanned by the sun, the self-tanner is perfect to give a quick tan or on cold days. It is often used by models who need to shoot year-round.

The Best Self-tanning: Our Picks

Buying guide: everything you need to know about self tanners

It's not enough just to buy any self-tanner and slap it on your skin. You need to understand the difference between the existing textures and the best way to apply them. Do you want to learn everything about self-tanning? Just follow us in this guide!

Mulher de maior azul bronzeada

Self-tanner is able to tan without sun exposure. (Source: ROMAN ODINTSOV /

What are the different types of self-tanner?

Unlike what some people imagine, self-tanner is not a paint for the skin. It actually contains DHA (dihydroxyacetone), a substance that, when it comes into contact with amino acids, darkens the surface layer of the skin.

They can be found in different textures, such as cream, mousse, spray or gel. Skin type is one of the criteria for choosing the ideal self-tanner. In addition, you need to consider where you are going to apply it, as well as your ability to swipe the product.

  • Cream: This self-tanner is indicated for those who have dry skin, since its components also help in skin hydration. It has a slower agent effect, so it is an option for those who will start using self-tanners. It offers a gradual tanning result, being great for the face.
  • Spray: Quick to apply and dry, this is one of the most practical. It is also the one that requires more experience so that the skin is not stained. The jets need to be spread evenly. It should not be applied on the face.
  • Gel: Perfect for the face and oily skin, the self-tanning gel is easy to spread. Prefer an oil-free version.
  • Mousse: This self-tanner is easy to spread, however, as it is more concentrated, it needs to be careful not to stain the skin.

What are the benefits of self-tanning?

Fast tanning, without the need to sunbathe and even in cold and rainy periods. These are the main benefits of self-tanning. With this product, you can already start the summer with a bikini line. It is also the healthiest way to enhance the skin, it does not harm the skin and acts only on the surface layer.

The self-tanner is a product often used by models that make campaigns throughout the year, especially for the summer catalogues. Anyway, the product doesn't have the same effect of the sun and has little durability, being necessary a regular maintenance.

  • Fast and practical tanning
  • Different textures for all skin types
  • Does not harm the skin
  • Acts only on the surface layer
  • Gets out gradually
  • Does not have the same effect of tanning by sun exposure
  • Has little durability

How long does the self-tanning effect last?

The duration of the tan on the skin will vary according to the manufacturer, and may be from one to two weeks. The most common is that it comes off in the following days of the application, having its almost complete removal in one week.

Therefore, those who want to keep the tan continuously should apply the product weekly. In the first applications, due to lack of experience, it may be necessary to apply it again in the next three days.

To help maintain your tan, moisturise your skin daily. Also avoid bathing in hot water, this speeds up the removal of the self-tanner

To remove the product, avoid invasive procedures that may damage the skin. Knowing that its complete removal happens within one or two weeks, you may help the process by doing a light exfoliation every three days.

How to apply the self-tanner?

Before you start spreading your self-tanner, you need to know how to do it the right way. Not least because there is some care you should take before applying the product. Check our tips:


The first step is to prepare your skin, both the face and the body. Exfoliate the day before to remove dead skin cells. Another important point is to keep the skin hydrated. This should be done by drinking water and using moisturizing creams.

How to use

  1. Use a glove to avoid staining the palm of your hand, since this area will be in constant contact with the product;
  2. Preferably count on someone's help, especially to apply the product on the back, otherwise you may get stained;
  3. With the skin dry, apply the chosen self-tanner on the body, taking care to spread it evenly on all areas of the body. Pay attention to cover the whole body, some areas are usually forgotten, such as behind the knees or between the fingers;
  4. Dark regions, such as elbows and knees, may receive less product than the other areas, spread well to avoid accumulation and stains;
  5. On the face, be careful with the hair, preferably use a headband, and spread the product all over the face, including the ears, with soft movements. Do not forget the neck;
  6. Wait for the necessary time of action - indicated by the manufacturer - with as little clothing as possible so as not to cause removal of an area and get stained skin;
  7. The action may take up to 4 hours to reach its maximum and the product should not be removed. Bathing is only allowed 8 hours after the self-tanner has been applied to the skin.

It is worth remembering that the application of self-tanning does not exempt the use of sunscreen.

Mulher de biquíni aplicando algum produto na pele

Use the desired bikini in the application to ensure the marquinha that you like. (Source: Armin Rimoldi /

Buying criteria: What to take into account when comparing different self-tanning options

Do you want to turn your skin golden even though you can't sunbathe? Let's get down to the final criteria to help you find the ideal self-tanner for your skin type, needs and reality.

Check it out:


We dedicated a section to explain the different self-tanning product textures, you can check it above. It is possible to find it in cream, gel, spray or mousse. In short, those who have drier skin should use creamy lotions.

On the other hand, those who have oily skin can opt for gel, mousse or spray. The self-tanning spray is the most difficult to apply, but also the fastest to act. The cream, on the other hand, is perfect for beginners and guarantees a gradual tan.

Mulher passando creme no rosto

The cream self-tanner is the most indicated for the face. (Source: Sora Shimazaki /


There are bottles of 45, 100 or more than 140 ml. This criterion is even more important for those who buy online, since the photo may cause a distorted impression of the size. As the product must be applied frequently for it to be maintained, invest in a larger self-tanner for value for money.


As we have seen, the self-tanning effect usually lasts between one and two weeks. This time may change according to the manufacturer, that's why durability is an important criterion to be considered.

Even if its application is recommended every three days for better colour maintenance, in some cases, when the tanning effect is longer, this saves time and product.


Finally, a great way to check the real quality of the product, its durability and ease of application is to take into account the opinion of those who have already used the self-tanner you want.

To do that, read user evaluations on sales sites, such as Amazon, which rates products according to buyers' feedback.

Tip: Filter your search by products above 4 stars to find the best results


Self-tanning is perfect for adding colour to the skin even when there is no possibility of sunbathing. There are different types and each one is suitable for a skin type or need. We explain everything throughout this guide.

We hope that all your doubts have been answered. If there are any doubts left, we will be happy to help you, just leave a comment. Now share it with your friends so you can get a great tan in any season.

(Source of the highlighted image: Arturo Rivera /