To begin with, do self-tanners actually work? To be honest, if they didn’t, then these best self tanners for fair skin wouldn’t have attracted the kind of attention they currently do as the safest alternatives to harmful UV tanning.
Sunless tanning, no doubt, is much safer if you want your pale skin complexion to look beautifully bronzed. UV tanning, on the other hand, means exposing your skin to harsh UV rays, natural or artificial.
So why increase the chances of your skin having to deal with sunburns or any other risk factors when you can just as easily use a formula that contains DHA (dihydroxyacetone) for deepening the natural tone of your skin. And NO, at least in most cases, DHA is NOT a harmful or harsh synthetic chemical, rather it’s naturally derived.
Therefore, here are some of the self-tanning solutions that gradually develop a tan on fair skin to give it that perfect, natural-looking, intense sun-kissed glow!
Best Self-Tanner for Pale Skin / Fair Skin – Top 10 Recommendations!
1. St. Tropez Self Tan Bronzing Mousse
- Lightweight, non-sticky mousse
- Hydrating jojoba prolongs the tan
- No unpleasant/foul self-tanner smell
- Healthy, warm glow on the fairest complexion
- Will rub off on your sheets at night
This self-tanner, in mousse form, is totally lightweight, non-sticky, and quick-drying. More importantly, the St. Tropez tanning solution makes those with the palest complexion look like an actual human being. Meaning you can mask that very fair translucent appearance with a warm-looking tan.
Shake well before use, put on the mousse (which goes on very easily to get quickly absorbed into the skin), and don’t worry about hydration because this one provides 24-hour hydration (thanks to the inclusion of jojoba).
2. Jergens Natural Glow In-Shower Self Tanner Lotion
- Colorless, quick-absorbing tanning lotion
- Streak-free and stain-free with no waiting time
- Glides on very smoothly to gradually deepen tan
- Light, refreshing scent (non-irritating, non-odd-smelling)
- Not suitable for sensitive skin
A self-tanner lotion, in comparison to mousse, is better because it gives you greater control over the level of tan. And that is why these kinds of sunless tanning lotions, especially Jergens Natural Glow (you can choose between ‘Fair to Medium’ and ‘Medium to Tan’), are so popular for fair-skinned women and men.
And your subtle glow is accompanied by moisture retention in the skin, which makes the tan look so very natural. So you certainly have a safer and healthier alternative to spray tanning, tanning beds, and sunbathing.
3. VITA LIBERATA Fabulous Self-Tanning Gradual Lotion
- Clean, transfer-free tanning lotion
- Loaded with soothing, moisturizing ingredients
- Naturally-derived DHA for buildable tan
- Suitable for sensitive and dry skin
- Builds a fresh tan, doesn’t maintain a tanned look
You will not find any other formula as hydrating as this one! This literally FABULOUS self-tanning solution by VITA LIBERATA is enriched with nourishing organic ingredients like aloe vera, hyaluronic acid, marula oil, pomegranate, cucumber, and more.
And all of these skin-soothing and moisturizing ingredients build a more natural-looking tan that also stays on for a longer time.
And that’s not it, the self-tanner here is formulated for sensitive skin, unlike Jergens reviewed before this. No artificial scents, no allergens, and no skin sensitivities to sum it up!
4. Beauty by Earth Self Tanner Tanning Lotion
- Buildable tanning lotion for face
- Streak-free, bronzed color
- Super hydrating with a tropical scent
- Only vegan ingredients and cruelty-free
- Tends to clog pores (not for acne-prone skin)
If you have fair and freckly skin, then tanning under the sun is only going to cause sunburns. And you obviously then won’t be able to achieve that perfect, healthy, even tan!
Enter yet another one of the best tanning lotions for pale skin, and this one’s from Beauty by Earth and it delivers the most desirable, natural-looking bronzed finish on the face.
Those with a very fair skin complexion should choose ‘Fair to Medium’ and not the ‘Medium to Dark’ option that’s also available. And even though you have a very pale complexion, this self-tanning lotion doesn’t make your skin look orange.
Plus, there’s that ease of application and you need only a little amount for activating the tan color.
5. Australian Gold Cheeky Brown Accelerator Dark Natural Bronzer
- Tanning accelerator + bronzer
- Very hydrating formula with Vitamins E and A
- Glides on and gets absorbed very quickly
- Made for both outdoor and indoor tanning
- Sweet, fruity scent
- Will turn your palms and nails oddly brown
Say you’ve never used a self-tanning lotion any time before and this is your first experience. In that case even, there is nothing to be skeptical about with this Australian Gold dark tanning lotion with bronzer. It leaves no streaks and doesn’t look in the least bit fake AT ALL!
You don’t even have to worry about your very fair skin dealing with burns or anything of the kind because the bronzer-plus-accelerator combination establishes the perfect summer base tan and also builds and maintains a deeper tan.
And this hugely popular brand also cares for your skin along the process. The proof of that is the addition of Vitamin E and Vitamin A that know how to REALLY hydrate your skin.
6. Supergoop! Healthy Glow Sunless Tan Self Tanning Lotion
- Long-lasting, buildable tanning lotion
- Broad-spectrum SPF 40 sun protection
- Highly moisturizing, thanks to aloe
- Highly soothing as well, thanks to Vitamins E and B5
- Bottle dispenser clogs easily
Now, how about a self-tanning lotion with broad-spectrum sunscreen protection!
Supergoop! surely knows how to formulate a sunless tanning lotion that’s non-greasy, that doesn’t make you look orange, that’s also transfer-free, and not laden with that odd, unpleasant, or overpowering perfume-like scent.
Healthy Glow does indeed give your very pale and freckled complexion a healthy, sun-kissed glow. At the same time, your skin is well-protected with SPF 40 rating!
And the product comes in a spray bottle for easy, quick application.
7. Alba Botanica Sunless Tanner Lotion
- Streak-free, quick-absorbing tanning lotion
- Sensitive-skin-friendly and cruelty-free
- Skin nourishing and hydrating botanicals
- Builds an even, subtle tan that looks perfect on fair skin
- Not the most suitable for a deep, dark tan
Why spend a load of money unnecessarily if it’s your first time opting for sunless tanning!
The Alba Botanica solution here is perfect for giving your skin a very attractive and natural-looking golden glow just like that!
And of course, the formula is powered using botanicals – shea butter, safflower oil, and sweet almond oil for much-needed skin hydration, so your skin tans deeply and naturally and this tan even stays on for a longer time.
You could be well into your 50s too and/or very pale or fair-skinned and still have no single complaints about using this product on a daily basis.
8. Ocean Potion Dark Tanning Intensifier Lotion
- Tanning intensifier lotion for deep, dark color
- Tans easily and quickly
- Nourishes/hydrates with aloe vera and antioxidants
- Suitable for extremely fair skin
- Very fruity, refreshing scent
- Leaves behind a greasy feeling
Those with very fair skin who want to tan easily will find this Ocean Potion Dark Tanning Intensifier Lotion to their liking. Because it instantly promotes a deeper and darker tan faster!
And the formula is packed with nourishing plant extracts, such as aloe vera, tea oil, and Vitamin E, C, and A.
You can also use it for an indoor tanning bed and when sunbathing. In both scenarios, it’s said to increase the heating intensity of the UV rays. And that’s how you get that beautiful deeper and darker tan!
9. COOLA Organic Sunless Tanner Spray
- Tanning spray perfect for a quick tan
- Buildable color with natural-looking, dewy finish
- Silky-smooth, lightweight application
- Natural, certified-organic ingredients
- Control over tan intensity is lacking
If you ask me, both spray and lotion build an even, full-body tan. It’s just that the latter provides more control in terms of how dark you want your tan to be. But it’s the spray version that delivers a quick and easy tan. And that’s what you should expect from this organic sunless tanning spray.
It’s organic, which means the formula is enriched with natural, skin-caring ingredients. These are organic-certified, moisturizing ingredients by the way, such as aloe vera, argan oil, and hibiscus flower. And the scent too is natural and refreshing – pina colada!
10. TAN-LUXE The Water Hydrating Self-Tan Water
- Odorless, streak-free water-based tanner
- Formulated with multivitamins for hydration
- Can also be used under/over makeup to boost radiance
- For full coverage, you’ll need more than a bottle
Doesn’t matter how pale your complexion or skin tone is, this water-based self-tanner will develop that natural-looking sun-kissed radiance. It works the best, needless to say, to top off an already tanned surface.
This is more light-colored, which seems to work the best on very fair skin as it prevents the possibility of going overboard and looking orange or too dark. And even though the tan is light, it takes away your paleness.
Plus, additional points for also being streak-free and super easy to apply!
How to Determine Your Skin Tone
What is my skin tone? It’s only common and even totally okay to not know the answer to this question. But when using tanners and makeup, cosmetics, etc., you should know your natural skin tone so you can buy the right product. In this case, that would mean making sure that your skin is looking its best bronzed version!
You Have Fair Skin…
If your natural complexion is the palest of all with freckles and/or pinkish undertones.
You Have Light Skin…
If those skin undertones of yours are neutral or warmer. Light-skinned complexion still looks pale yet not fully porcelain (yellow and pink undertones).
You Have Olive or Medium Skin…
When your original skin tone is already a little naturally bronzed than light or fair skin. So these are more olive or warm undertones – the in-between complexion in the skin tone shade spectrum.
You Have Dark Skin…
Simply if your natural skin tone is rich and deep. More often than not, dark skin is accompanied by warmer undertones. However, that may not always be the case.
Those with Fair Skin, Make Sure the Self-Tanner Meets These Demands…
1. It Should Be Buildable
Tanning fairer skin means using a product that gives YOU the power to determine how much color you want to build. And this paves the way for gradual tanning, which is the best for a pale-skinned complexion. So you get to decide how dark or bronzed you want your skin to look.
For fair skin, it’s highly advisable to begin with a light tan first, then you can build that tan later as per your personal preferences. The “less is more” approach works like a charm here, so you don’t end up looking like an orange or too dark.
2. It Should Contain Hydrating/Moisturizing Ingredients
Is it a hydrating formula? Depends on what the self-tanner is enriched with. For example, jojoba, shea butter, aloe vera, etc. These are surely immensely hydrating ingredients that infuse moisture into your skin to leave it feeling supple and soft while also making your fresh tan last for a longer time.
3. It Should Also Double As Skincare
Meaning a 2-in-1 kind of formula that both tans and offers skin benefits such as reducing fine lines and wrinkles through the use of antioxidants and moisture retention through the inclusion of hyaluronic acid.
Some of the best tanning lotions for men, which include self-tanners by the way, are formulated with these kinds of skin-nourishing ingredients that create a very natural-looking tan AND give your skin that healthy and radiant glow it deserves.
Choosing the ‘Right’ Shade of Tan for Fair Skin
For those with fair skin, a dark tan is mostly the go-to choice. Some even prefer ultra-dark, which also works for a naturally pale or fair complexion.
So pick dark (from dark, medium, and light) if you want an intense bronzed glow. Do not make the mistake of choosing a lighter shade since your skin is already naturally light-colored. Hence, lighter options may not give you enough tanning pigments.
But with a dark self-tanner, you can achieve a richer bronzed effect because of the natural-looking olive to yellow undertones.
Then there are color-correcting self-tanners too for adding more glow to the tanned finish.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do Self-Tanners Work On Fair Skin?
Self-acting tanners suited for pale or fair complexion are formulated using DHA, dihydroxyacetone. And it’s this particular active ingredient that darkens your skin’s outer layer for building that perfect, desirable natural-looking tan.
How Often to Use Self-Tanners On Fair Skin?
When your complexion is pale or fair, always use less at first because you obviously don’t want to go overboard by mistake. With that logic in mind, how often you should tan actually depends on what self-tanning formula you’re using.
For instance, there are some self-tanners that build a tan gradually. So these you apply daily till the tan shade you want is achieved.
On the other hand, there are those self-tanners that create the sun-kissed, bronzed glow straight after just one application. But this tan tends to fade rather quickly. So for longer-lasting results, don’t forget to moisturize your skin daily.
How to Apply Self-Tanner On Fair Skin?
You always begin with exfoliating your skin (to get rid of dead skin cells, so the tan develops more evenly) and then moisturizing it (for a longer-lasting, fresher-looking tan). Don’t forget dryness-prone areas like your knees, elbows, ankles, wrists, etc., no matter how moisturizing or hydrating the self-tanning solution is.
A tanning ‘lotion’ with buildable color works best for a fair-skinned complexion. This way, you also get greater control over the level of tan you want.
Moving on, for application, wear mitts for a streak-free experience. Work section-wise with light strokes and a flat hand. Smooth it over gently on your elbows and knees.
And after applying the tanner, moisturize those dry areas once again. After all, you want your tan to look as natural as possible, right? So the more you moisturize the drier spots on your skin, the less obvious it’ll be that you’ve actually tanned them.
In the end, thoroughly wash your hands. Otherwise, be ready for your palms to look unnaturally dark. Washing your hands also makes sure there’s no buildup between the fingers.
Using a sunless tanning lotion i.e. self-tanner is surely better, safer, and healthier (for your long-term skin condition) in comparison to UV tanning, both natural and artificial. But then tanning fair skin with a self-acting tanner is quite a task. And one that you absolutely don’t want to mess up because otherwise you’ll look like an orange!
So make sure the product you choose has a super-lightweight texture, hence it’s the easiest to put on and spread evenly. At the same time, it should be streak-free. And since your natural complexion is pale or fair, opt for a darker shade.