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    Updated on Jul 17, 2020. Posted on Jul 17, 2020

    I Wore Three Top-Rated Fake Tanners And Here's What Happened

    I finally found a natural-looking self-tanner!

    Hi, I'm Krista, and for obvious reasons — like cancer, sunburns, and wrinkles — I try to avoid and protect myself from the sun as much as I can.

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    However, I do like pretending that I've actually been in the sun, which is where self-tanners come in. This summer, I've been on the hunt for one that doesn't turn me orange and doesn't leave a ton of streaks.

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    So I found three products within my budget ($35 each or less) that have good ratings on Google: St. Tropez Bronzing Mousse, Tanologist Face + Body Drops, and Cocoa Brown 1-Hour Tan Mousse. Here's my honest review based on color, coverage, smell, and number of days they last.

    Photo of the three self tanners.
    Krista Torres

    IMPORTANT NOTE: I am giving this review based on what looked best on my skin, in my opinion. I consider myself to have an olive skin tone. A different self-tanner may work better for you than what worked for me. Please keep in mind that you may also get different results using the same self-tanners I did because everyone's skin is different!


    I applied all of these with a tan mitt that my mom got me from Amazon last year. I swear by it — it has helped evenly blend every self-tanner I've ever used!

    Cocoa Brown Tan text
    Krista Torres

    This is a mousse that you rub on, let it sit for about an hour (or until the desired color is developed), then rinse off in the shower.

    Photo of the tan bottle and what it looks like, which is foamy and brown.
    Krista Torres

    Since the bottle said this was an EXTRA-DARK shade, I was nervous that it would be way too dark. But it actually ended up being pretty subtle!

    Before and after of Krista with fake tan on.
    Krista Torres

    Color: Under certain lights, I did feel like it had an orange tint. However, in natural lighting, like in the photo above, the tan looked pretty natural.

    Coverage: This had good coverage with very minimal streaking. Even though the directions said to rinse, I did feel like it washed off a little too much of the tan. (After it's applied, it dries but is sticky to the touch. I was able to wear a robe while it dried, and I actually ended up leaving it on for three hours before I rinsed it off.)

    Smell: It reminds me of a good-smelling shampoo. It definitely does not have that unpleasant, distinct smell that most fake tans have. BIG PLUS!

    Days it lasted: The tan gradually got lighter, but I would say that around the fifth or sixth day, it was pretty much completely faded.

    Price: $21.95 for a 4.9-ounce bottle on Amazon.

    Overall, I LOVED that this product did not have that nasty fake-tan smell! It gave pretty good coverage, too. The only downfall was that in some lighting, it did look kind of orange.

    Selfie of Krista in mirror with the tan on.
    Krista Torres
    Tanologist text
    Krista Torres

    These are liquid drops that you mix together with your own lotion and then rub in. (The directions did not state how long you had to wait before getting wet, so I didn't for 24 hours.)

    Photo of tanning drops with lotion.
    Krista Torres

    The after photo was taken the day after I applied the tan. I used an ample number of drops but didn't really see a significant difference in my coloring.

    Before and after of Krista with fake tan on – not much difference.
    Krista Torres

    Color: I would say I got about half a shade darker than I was originally. Even though I used a lot of the drops, I didn't really feel like I looked as tan as I would have liked.

    Coverage: I felt like there were areas that tanned more quickly than others. As you will see in the photo below, some areas eventually got darker, but also patchy and streaky.

    Smell: The good thing about this product is that it is essentially odorless. It is also vegan and organic, so I love that.

    Days it lasted: On the fifth day, this tan was pretty much gone — besides the dark patches on my hands and feet.

    Price: $19.99 for a 1-ounce bottle on Target.

    The tan ended up developing more throughout the second day, leaving a slightly darker hue. But I ended up seeing a lot more patchy and streaky areas than I wanted, despite mixing it with the lotion and blending it thoroughly on my skin.

    Photo of patchy areas on Krista's hands and feet.
    Krista Torres
    St. Tropez text.
    Krista Torres

    This mousse was a little more watery than I expected and it didn't smell bad, but out of the three, it was probably the least pleasant smelling. That being said, it was the easiest one to rub on evenly. (The instructions on this one said to wait four to eight hours before getting wet.)

    Photo of self tan bottle and the product which was watery and foamy.
    Krista Torres

    The tan developed pretty quickly — after about three hours — and I loved it. To me, the color of this one seemed closest to my natural tan.

    Before and after of Krista with fake tan on.
    Krista Torres

    Color: I liked how this one had more of a bronzed look. I didn't feel like I looked orangish at all.

    Coverage: The coverage on this one was very good. It covered the areas it was supposed to and didn't streak in the typical fake-tan problem areas.

    Smell: Look, the smell isn't awful, but I did smell a bit of that gross fake-tanner smell, which I don't love. The good thing is, it wasn't super strong and it faded after a couple of days.

    Days it lasted: This tan lasted a full week before it completely faded.

    Price: $32 for a 4-ounce bottle on Ulta.

    Overall, I thought the color on this one was the right shade for my skin. It was decently dark but still looked natural. It also lasted the longest.

    Photos of Krista's tan lines from the tanner.
    Krista Torres
    Final Thoughts: St. Tropez was Krista's favorite, but Cocoa Brown also gives you a good value for your money.
    Krista Torres

    Do you have any self-tanners that you love?! Let us know in the comments!