10 Best Smelling Self-Tanners For A Radiant Look (2024), As Per An Expert

Smell, tan, and look good all by yourself, so what else do you need now?

Reviewed by Cecelia Wong, Licensed Esthetician Cecelia Wong Cecelia WongLicensed Esthetician facebook_iconinsta_icon
Written by , MA (Journalism & Mass Communication) Kirtana Divakar MA (Journalism & Mass Communication) linkedin_icon Experience: 3 years
Edited by , Integrated MA Medha Deb Integrated MA linkedin_icon Experience: 5 years
Fact-checked by , MA (Journalism & Mass Communication) Monomita Chakraborty MA (Journalism & Mass Communication) linkedin_icon Experience: 4 years
Last Updated on
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One of the most exciting things we do to welcome summer is get our tans on. Whether this means booking an appointment at a tanning bed or a siesta in the sun, you choose. Both these methods of achieving rich, bronzed skin have been quite popular over the years. Recently, however, they’ve been getting bad press as the sun’s rays can damage our health. They not only cause cancer but can lead to early onset signs of aging like wrinkles or fine lines. So the best way around this is sunless tanning, and our list of the best-smelling self tanners are here to help.

Delivering a coveted warm sun-kissed, deeper glow to your skin, these tanners don’t have the usual chemical-like odor that most formulas do. They incorporate notes like florals, fruity, or woodsy, adding a sweet smell. Some products also work to moisturize skin and deliver a radiance you can’t wait to show off! Licensed Esthetician Cecelia Wong, adds, “Choose self-tanners that match your skin tone, as overly dark shades can appear unnatural, and look for products that contain hydrating components like aloe vera or hyaluronic acid to prevent dryness and streaking.”

Top Picks
CHECK PRICE
Best Lightweight Consistency:Jergens Natural Glow Instant Sun Sunless Tanning Mousse
Price on Amazon
Best Anti-Aging Formula:Coco & Eve Sunny Honey Bali Bronzing Foam
Price on Amazon
Best Streak-Free Formula:L’Oreal Paris Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Water Mousse
Price on Amazon
Best Radiation-Free Option:Skinerals Californium Sunless Tanning Mousse
Price on Amazon
Best Moisturizing Formula:Bronze Tan 1 Hour Express Self Tanning Mousse & Moisturizer
Price on Amazon
Best Quick-Drying Formula:Tanceuticals CC Self Tanning Body Lotion
Price on Amazon
Best Anti-Fade Formula:Vita Liberata Advanced Organics Phenomenal Tanning Mousse
Price on Amazon
Best Vegan Formula:Control Your Glow Organic Gradual Self Tanner
Price on Amazon
Best Non-Sticky Formula:Cocoa Brown By Marissa Carter 1 Hour Tan Mousse
Price on Amazon
Best Streak-Free Coverage:Whish Coconut Milk + Verbena Self Tanner
Price on Amazon

10 Best-Smelling Self Tanners For Sweet Sun-Kissed Skin

1. Best Lightweight Consistency:Jergens Natural Glow Instant Sun Sunless Tanning Mousse 

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4.3
Jergens Natural Glow Sun Mousse Image: Jergens

One of the most popular self tanners you can find, Jergens’ formula is your best bet to a gradual and natural-looking tan for the summer. With an airy texture, this dermatologist-tested mousse enhances your complexion and mimics the sun with a streak-free result. Drying within a mere 60 seconds, the Sunless Tanning Mousse can be applied precisely as it is tinted, developing within a couple of hours. Even if you happen to stay home during the hot days, the island-like tropical fruity, summery tanner is definitely a treat for your senses! Moreover, it is not tested on animals. This video of the reviewer’s experience with the product will give you more information about it.

Skin Type: Normal | Product Dimensions: 2.11 x 2.11 x 7.13 inches | Weight: 2.47 Ounces

Pros

  • Lightweight consistency
  • Quick-drying
  • Streak-free application
  • Natural-looking and gradual result
  • Dermatologist-tested
  • Cruelty-free

Cons

  • The consistency might be sticky.

protip_icon StyleCraze Says
Use a washcloth to exfoliate your skin before applying a self-tanner to remove the dead skin cells for an even tan look.

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Why We Think It's Worth Buying

This product has made it to our top favorite list with more than 3,405 rave reviews on Amazon.

2. Best Anti-Aging Formula:Coco & Eve Sunny Honey Bali Bronzing Foam

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4.3
Coco & Eve Sunny Honey Bali Bronzing Foam Image: Coco & Eve

Coco & Eve brings to you a good-smelling self tanner that transforms your skin from within. Raw virgin coconuts, amino acids, and botanical scents are infused into this formula to blur out hyperpigmentation and stretch marks. To improve and lessen early signs of aging, the foam is enriched with Cellushape technology that contains figs, bananas, cocoa, and papaya. Orange and lotus flowers work to reduce cellulite while coconut and mandarin nourish skin. This antioxidant-rich formula combines guavas and mangoes to give you a scent that you can’t get enough of! With no orange tones or streaks left behind, this tanner develops within 2 hours for a golden tan. Have a look at this video detailing a tester’s experience of using the product before buying it.

Skin Type: All | Product Dimensions: 7.72 x 1.89 x 1.89 inches | Weight: 6.35 Ounces.

Pros

  • No streaks or blotches
  • Lightweight
  • Minimizes signs of aging
  • Reduces the appearance of stretch marks and cellulite
  • Antioxidant-rich formula
  • Evens out skin tone

Cons

  • Might not be transfer-proof
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Why We Think It's Worth Buying

It has received 8,308 reviews on Amazon and is a popular choice among shoppers.

3. Best Streak-Free Formula:L’Oreal Paris Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Water Mousse

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4.3
L’Oreal Paris Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Water Mousse Image: L'oreal Paris

If you’ve been on the hunt for a drugstore self tanner that smells good, L’Oreal Paris’ mousse gives you a natural-looking even finish. Disappearing into the skin with a super lightweight consistency, the formula dries fast without leaving any streaks behind. Vitamin E and real coconut water are infused into the tanner to hydrate skin, leaving it soft and smooth. The transfer-resistant clear formula needs only 4 to 8 hours to develop for a sun-kissed look. Here is an informative video review that tells you more about the product.

Skin Type: All | Product Dimensions: 1.88 x 1.88 x 6.92 inches | Weight: 7.87 Ounces.

Pros

  • Invisible feel
  • Natural-looking even finish
  • Hydrates and softens skin
  • Transfer-resistant
  • Streak-free formula
  • Safe for all skin types

Cons

  • Some might find the formula sticky.
Jergens Natural Glow Instant Sun Sunless Tanning Mousse
Best Lightweight Consistency
Coco & Eve Sunny Honey Bali Bronzing Foam
Best Anti-Aging Formula
L’Oreal Paris Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Water Mousse
Best Streak-Free Formula
Skin Type Normal All All
Dimensions 2.11 x 2.11 x 7.13 inches 7.72 x 1.89 x 1.89 inches 1.88 x 1.88 x 6.92 inches
Weight 2.47 Ounces 6.35 Ounces. 7.87 Ounces.
Rating
Reviews3,4058,308-
Price$13.47$34.8$11.97

4. Best Radiation-Free Option:Skinerals Californium Sunless Tanning Mousse

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4.2
Skinerals Californium Sunless Bronzer Image: Skinerals

Skinerals brings to you the best-smelling sunless tanner that is also very healthy for the skin without the use of any chemicals. This vegan solution has a light whipped mousse texture that goes on easily without giving you an orange tint. Acai berry and fig extracts are present to deliver antioxidant-rich benefits that lend your skin a youthful look. Along with a golden glow, you can also expect the reduction of blemishes and an even tone.

Skin Type: All

Pros

  • Aerosol-free
  • Paraben-free
  • Sulfate-free
  • Radiation-free
  • Cruelty-free and vegan
  • Lightly scented

Cons

  • Might not leave a long-lasting tan

protip_icon Pro Tip
After applying the tanning mousse, moisturize your skin with Skinerals Amber Glow Tan Extender Lotion to maintain the tan.

worth-buy-icon

Why We Think It's Worth Buying

This product is so liked by shoppers that it has gained over 4,152 great reviews on Amazon.

5. Best Moisturizing Formula:Bronze Tan 1 Hour Express Self Tanning Mousse & Moisturizer

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4
Bronze Tan Self Tanning Mousse (Dark) With Natural Ingredients | Self Tanner For All Skin Tones | Salon Quality Vanilla Scented Fake Tan Foam (200 ml/ 6.7 oz) Image: Existing Beauty

The best-smelling tanning lotion by Bronze Tan has a sexy vanilla scent that is sure to make people turn around twice. Using only natural ingredients that are rich in antioxidants, aloe vera is also present in this salon-quality formula for a boost of skin moisturization. The airy texture glides smoothly across your skin to make application a breeze as the color develops within a single day. The product is free of animal testing.

Skin Type: All

Pros

  • Quick-drying
  • Warm vanilla scent
  • Moisturizes skin
  • Alcohol-free
  • Paraben-free
  • Cruelty-free

Cons

  • Might not be streak-free

6. Best Quick-Drying Formula:Tanceuticals CC Self Tanning Body Lotion

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4
Tanceuticals #1 Rated Self Tanner - CC Self Tanning Lotion for Body Gives Natural, Long Lasting Sunless Tan - Fresh Coconut Scent and Full of Healthy Cosmeceuticals - Easy to Apply - Dark 4.2 oz Image: Tanceuticals

Exuding a glorious natural scent of coconut, Tanceuticals’ best-smelling gradual self tanner blends quickly and dries fast. A powerhouse of ingredients such as acai berry, vitamin E, and mango butter are used to improve the appearance of your skin with a smooth feel. Aloe vera, shea butter, sweet almond extract, argan oil, and cocoa seed butter help towards an intense moisturizing feel. There’s no surprise that this tanning lotion is an award-winner as it doesn’t contain any chemicals that can cause skin irritation. Additionally, it is not tested on animals.

Skin Type: All | Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 2 x 7 inches | Weight: 4.2 Ounces

Pros

  • Lasts for up to a week
  • Smooths down skin
  • Blends easily
  • Quick-drying
  • Doesn’t leave stains
  • Cruelty-free

Cons

  • Might be streaky in application
worth-buy-icon

Why We Think It's Worth Buying

With over 1,793 Amazon acclaimed reviews, this product is sure to find a place in everyone’s shopping bag.

7. Best Anti-Fade Formula:Vita Liberata Advanced Organics Phenomenal Tanning Mousse

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4
VITA LIBERATA Advanced Organics pHenomenal Tan Mousse Image: Vita Liberata

This energizing scented self tanner by Vita Liberata is enriched with organic and natural extracts to give you a toxin-free healthy-looking tan. With their unique Odor Remove Technology, all unpleasant smells are eliminated while the pHenO2 technology keeps the tan anti-fade and long-lasting. The Flash Dry Technology dries instantly upon application and absorbs quickly. Aloe vera, the main character, conditions the skin for a smoother texture and delivers anti-aging benefits as well. The tanning mousse has been proven to deliver visible results and the tan usually lasts for more than 2 weeks according to reviewers.

Color: Dark | Product Dimensions: 1.97 x 1.97 x 7.87 inches | Weight: 7.41 Ounces

Pros

  • Fast-absorbing
  • Quick-drying
  • Improves skin firmness
  • Anti-fade formula
  • Toxin-free
  • Makes for even application

Cons

  • Might be difficult to blend
worth-buy-icon

Why We Think It's Worth Buying

A whopping 1,568 reviews on Amazon make it obvious that users genuinely love this product.

8. Best Vegan Formula:Control Your Glow Organic Gradual Self Tanner

With this nice-smelling self tanner by Control Your Glow, your own natural color is mimicked, lasting for up to a week. Not a single toxic ingredient is present in this formula and this helps keep your skin healthy along with a coveted sun-kissed glow. As it is white with no tint, natural DHA, using sugar cane, creates a shade that doesn’t leave an unpleasant orange tint. Gentle enough for your face and suitable for even oily skin types, the light coconut smell is non-overpowering yet truly heavenly.

Skin Type: Normal | Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 1.2 x 7 inches | Weight: 8.64 Ounces

Pros

  • Non-comedogenic
  • Vegan
  • No parabens, sulfates, or gluten
  • Formaldehyde-free
  • Naturally-derived preservative blend
  • Free of petrochemicals, SLS, and artificial fragrances

Cons

  • Might not be lightweight

9. Best Non-Sticky Formula:Cocoa Brown By Marissa Carter 1 Hour Tan Mousse

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3.9
Cocoa Brown By Marissa Carter 1 Hour Tan Mousse Image: Cb Cocoa Brown By Marissa Carter

Cocoa Brown’s warm-smelling sunless tanner acts quickly and looks flawless once developed. Blending beautifully into your skin for a natural appearance, the formula uses vegetable-derived DHA with no parabens. The floral, irresistible fragrance gives a boost to your feminine appeal and confidence levels. The mousse does not have a sticky consistency, and it fades evenly, dries fast, and leaves you with a subtle fragrance. It is also not tested on animals.

Skin Type: All | Product Dimensions: 1.77 x 1.77 x 7.87 inches | Weight: 4.92 Ounces

Pros

  • Paraben-free
  • Cruelty-free
  • Quick-drying
  • Vegetable-derived DHA
  • Blends easily
  • Streak-free application

Cons

  • Might not be very long-lasting

10. Best Streak-Free Coverage:Whish Coconut Milk + Verbena Self Tanner

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3.9
Whish Self Tanner Image: Whish

For a smooth streak-free coverage, Whish’s coconut-smelling self tanner features natural ingredients to keep skin firm and tight. The hydration delivered gives you a radiant, nice glow that as coconut oil, mango, shea butter, and organic aloe seeps deep into the skin for full-on moisturization. Kigelia African fruit, seaweed, and coffee Arabica extracts are powerful for skin-tightness while goji berry, soap bark, and organic pomegranate extract refine and clarify skin.

Skin Type: All | Product Dimensions: 2 x 2 x 7.25 inches | Weight: 9.6 Ounces

Pros

  • Cruelty-free
  • Paraben-free
  • Sulfate-free
  • Phthalate-free
  • Petrochemical-free
  • Streak-free

Cons

  • Might have an orange tint
*The prices provided in this article are based on the latest available information. However, they may vary due to changes in pricing by the seller and/or promotional offers.

Now that we’ve taken a look at some really nicely-scented self tanners out there in the market, let’s learn how you can pick the right one.

How To Choose The Best-Smelling Self Tanner

  • Skin tone

People with light or fair skin would do well with gradual tanners as they can be applied every single day to build a tan that looks natural. They give off a subtle color and glow that suits pale skin, without looking too harsh or dramatic. But if you do want to make a bit of an impact, a developing solution will also work as they can be rinsed off when you are pleased with the color. A dark-toned self tanner can help you if you like the orange tint that comes after.

Medium skin tones or those that have an olive complexion can go for darker shades as the goal is to warm up their skin. This middle part of the spectrum can also choose a formula that is oil-based as the natural radiance can be highlighted.

Deep tones can opt for shades close to their complexion and those that contain light-reflecting particles for a serious glow. This deep and dark tan combined with a luminous finish works both night and day. When choosing a self-tanner for darker skin tones or deeper skin tones, it’s essential to pick formulations that enhance their richness without causing an unnatural color shift.

  • Hair shade

Contrary to popular belief, tanners must also go along well with your hair color as your mane frames your entire face. If you’re not able to figure out what shade of tanner would look bomb on you, you can use your hair as a guide. If you have light or red hair, go for a light bronze as your eyes are brightened and your skin looks flushed in a healthy way.

Brown hair that is dyed or natural will look good with a deep bronze shade, something with an underlying green base to counter the orange tint. Rainbow-colored hair is trending now, and you need to stick to light to medium shades as the base of these hair colors is blonde or white. If your hair has cool tones of blue or purple, you can go light and a golden shade complements pinks or peaches well.

  • Formula

There are a variety of formulas available on the market and you can choose whatever gives you ease of application. Bronzers are different from self tanners in that you can see the color instantly and it can be washed off rather than wear away gradually. This option is best for people that want a tan quickly and for a short period of time like a couple of hours.

Gels are also available and you can reach for them if you have a bit of body hair. Their silky consistency makes contact with the skin, going past the hair follicles. Gels are a good choice if you have acne-prone skin. If you want something that hydrates your dry skin, lotions are your best bet. However, they take a long time to fully dry. This formula builds gradually as you can add a little every single day for the color to develop to your liking. You can opt for this if you are afraid of making any mistakes, as you can cover it up over the next few days.

Tanners in the form of mists are aerosol sprays or pumps which are the best if you want to save some time. It coats skin lightly, and even goes across your back easily, drying in merely a few minutes. Mousse has a whipped texture similar to your favorite dessert and it is also very popular as it spreads easily, making application a breeze. It even dries within 5 minutes!

Note: Ensure to pick a professional-grade self-tanner irrespective of the type of formula you are buying to get effective results. Remember to pick a product packed with clinically tested ingredients to ward off allergic reactions.

Once you’ve bagged a best-smelling, vacation-inspired, and easy-to-apply self-tanner you can’t wait to flaunt for your beach holiday, it’s time to learn how you can apply it for the best results!

How To Apply The Best-Smelling Self Tanner

  • Step 1: It is recommended to remove body hair before you tan and if you’re going to wax or shave, do it 24 hours prior. If not, the formula might settle into hair follicles, giving the appearance of dots.
  • Step 2: As self tanners deepen skin tone with the presence of DHA, the buildup of skin on places like your knees and elbows can come off too dark. To prevent this, exfoliate your skin and achieve clean skin either manually with a scrub or use an AHA or BHA solution.
  • Step 3: You do need to moisturize skin in certain areas prone to dryness such as your hands, feet, elbows, and knees as this can make the tan even. But applying lotion all over can slow the speed of the color development.
  • Step 4: Begin the tanning process in circular motion after a shower, but wait 10 minutes so your skin is dry and there is no moisture present.
  • Step 5: Use a moderate amount of product for a large area as if you take too little, you might rub it too much, causing streaks.
  • Step 6: Don’t forget to use a mitt as it helps with even application, keeps your hands clean, and its opposite side can be used to buff out any mistakes.
  • Step 7: You can also use the contouring method for a visually-appealing look. Start with a light base and use a deeper color tanning shade to build on it. You can do this on parts of the body that you want to tweak, like your abdominal muscles as this gives them more definition.
  • Step 8: Now you have to wait for at least 6 or 8 hours for your color to develop. This time mostly depends on the formula and brand you’re using.
  • Step 9: After you’re done, you can use a bit of highlighter or shimmer to make your collar bones, shoulder bones, and cheekbones pop a little.

Infographic: Self-Tanners: What Ingredients To Avoid And What Makes Them Stink

Self-tanners are the best way to get a bronze goddess look without spending long hours in the sun. Take a peek through the infographic below to learn more about why self-tanners stick and what ingredients to avoid in self-tanners. Keep scrolling!

What Ingredients To Avoid And What Makes Them Stink (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

The Bottom Line

With the summers soon approaching, tanning is high up on our to-do list. It is time to start flaunting the glorious sun-kissed, faux glow. Well, all thanks to deteriorating climate conditions, sitting out in the sun after lathering tanning lotion, and sipping on cocktails is no longer a safe option. Over-exposure to the sun’s UV rays can lead to lasting skin damage like premature aging, blemishes, hyperpigmentation, and even skin cancer. To avoid the hassle of expensive and time-consuming salon visits or sun-roasting your entire body, you can opt for some good-quality self-tanners. The Jergens Natural Glow Instant Sun Sunless Tanning Mousse offers a lightweight consistency and rapid drying. The Coco & Eve Sunny Honey Bali Bronzing Foam comes with antioxidant-rich formula and nourishing properties. Similarly, the L’Oreal Paris Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Water Mousse is an ideal choice, offering a natural-looking, even finish suitable for all skin types. These offer a gorgeous golden summer glow within an hour and are so much more convenient than traditional ways of tanning. Not just that, these are skin-friendly formulations that smell heavenly and feel luxurious. Keep in mind to always choose lightweight, chemical-free self-tanners that have skin-nourishing ingredients and do not stain or streak or come off on clothes. Most importantly, once bought, perform a patch test before incorporating the product into your routine to check for allergic reactions, especially if you have sensitive skin.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can other people smell self-tanner on you?

No, other people won’t be able to smell your self-tanner.

Are spray tan fumes harmful?

No, most of the tanning spray fumes are safe. However, some sprays might be risky to use due to excessive concentrations of some chemicals like DHA.

How do you breathe during a spray tan?

It’s best to take a long breath before applying a spray tan. Alternatively, you can look away from the spray to avoid intaking it.

How do you get rid of the self-tanner smell?

You can simply shower with a good body wash or soap to eliminate the self-tanner smell.


Cecelia Wong
Cecelia WongLicensed Esthetician
Cecilia is a licensed esthetician with over 15 years of experience in the beauty industry. She firmly believes that a holistic approach can truly transform the skin and focuses on nourishing the skin at a cellular level to make it healthy from the inside out.

Read full bio of Cecelia Wong
Kirtana Divakar
Kirtana DivakarCommerce Writer
Kirtana has a postgraduate degree in mass communication and journalism from St. Joseph’s College, Bengaluru, and 3 years of professional experience. She developed a deep passion for writing after reading the brilliant works of Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl and has chosen a career that is driven by creativity.

Read full bio of Kirtana Divakar
Medha Deb
Medha DebCommerce Editor
Medha Deb is a commerce editor with a master's degree in applied linguistics from the University of Hyderabad, which has allowed her to develop a deep understanding of language and its application in various contexts. She specializes in the areas of beauty, health, and wellness and is committed to ensuring that the content on the website is of the highest quality.

Read full bio of Medha Deb
Monomita Chakraborty
Monomita ChakrabortyBeauty & Lifestyle Writer
Monomita has a graduate degree in mass communication and video production from St. Anthony's College, Shillong, and a master’s degree in journalism and mass communication from the Royal Global University, Guwahati. She is also a certified skincare coach with a keen interest in skin, hair, tattoos, nail art, and lifestyle trends.

Read full bio of Monomita Chakraborty