Believe it or not, the headline for this story is not clickbait or an exaggeration for dramatic effect. I’ve used self-tanner on a weekly basis since I was in eighth grade (the result of being endlessly teased for how naturally pasty I was). Lacking parental permission to increase my skin cancer odds by going to tanning salons like many of my peers, I always felt like the odd one out, so I became dependent on the drugstore aisle filled with bottles and spray cans of Jergens and L’Oreal Sublime. At the time, I was convinced a fake tan would be better than looking like I had never had a wink of sun exposure, and it was then that my borderline addiction to self-tanning was born—a slightly embarrassing but very real thing I wrote all about here for The/Thirty.
Since becoming a beauty editor, I’ve become more accepting of my fair skin, and I generally skip self-tanner and spray tans. That said, I still consider myself a connoisseur in the art of self-tanning and all the offerings on the market. No joke, I have an entire cupboard at home brimming with mousses, lotions, waters, sprays, powders, and every other self-tanning innovation you can think of. Something that may surprise you? Some of my favorite formulas can be found at the drugstore.
Even though I love pricier picks from Isle of Paradise, St. Tropez, James Read, and Bali Body, I still have major love for Jergens, L’Oreal, Sally Hansen, and other low- to mid-cost brands you can easily find on Amazon or at Walmart. Ahead, I’m sharing seven of the best drugstore self-tanners I personally use, have purchased in a pinch while traveling, and/or have recommend tofrien ds when they don’t want to spend $50 on a bottled bronze. Keep scrolling! All my faves lie ahead.