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Top 5 best self-tanner products in 2021.

Top 5 best self-tanner products in 2021.

This article gives a comparison of the best self tanners in the market for all categories from best value to best quality and best for sensitive skin.

As summer rolls around and the temperature begins to climb, you start to consider digging out that dress for its first wear of the year. However, you are suddenly hit with the realisation that the winter sun (or lack thereof) has caused your legs to turn a striking pasty white. As you imagine stepping out in the sun for the first time to reveal your pearly white pins for the whole world to see, you consider how you can bring a more natural and healthier glow to your legs...

A huge range of studies have confirmed the link between sunbeds and skin cancer.A huge range of studies have confirmed the link between sunbeds and skin cancer

Some may consider sunbeds or an intense tanning session in the garden, however the more health-conscious of us would likely opt for a self-tanner.

With the emergence of more and more studies around skin damage caused by UV rays, the tanning industry has exploded over the past 30 years and with that a huge range of companies and brands have emerged, each with their own Unique Selling Point. 

So, with the vast range of self-tan products on the market it can be incredibly confusing and time-consuming deciding on the brand that’s for you, not to mention the headache when reading the long list of complicated ingredients! 

Luckily for you, we have you covered. 

We have researched, tried and tested a huge range of these self-tan lotions and created our shortlist of best self-tanners in 2021 for a variety of categories. We have also taken the time to highlight and explain any key ingredients found in these products, so you know what you’re buying. 

So, without further delay, let us dive into our top 5 picks by category for the best self-tanning lotion!

Our best self tans

Bondi Sands Pure Gradual Tanning Milk (£12.80)

Best for your skin


The product description says it all: “The colourless, fragrance-free formula is quick drying and gentle enough for all skin types”. It’s clear to see that Bondi Sands have made a conscious effort to produce a product suitable for customers with dry or sensitive skin. Looking at the ingredients it’s safe to say that they are following through on this claim. The ingredients that stood out to us the most were:

  • Hyaluronic Acid (Hydrates and binds moisture to the skin
  • Vitamin C (Helps skin remain firm) 
  • Vitamin E (Moisturises and strengthens the skin function barrier)

The product is fragrance, dye & sulphate free and so should be particularly kind to the skin compared to other tanners on the market at this price.

But the big question is, does it produce a good fake tan?

The product indeed moisturises the skin and leaves it looking firm and once applied to the skin gives a healthy-looking glow. 

However, there are numerous complaints online about results being streaky and sometimes the colour being slightly orange. We think that for those with sensitive skin and a budget this is a good choice, however, don’t expect the results to be that of a high-end product!

Key ingredients:

Hyaluronic Acid, Vitamin C and Vitamin E.

Pro’s and cons

+ Good product for the skin (particularly people with sensitive skin)

+ No skin damaging ingredients

+ Doesn’t come off on clothes or bed sheets afterwards

 - Tan often comes out streaky and doesn’t last long.

Rimmel London Sun Shimmer Self Tan
Mousse (£4.95)

Most affordable


The vast range of products and brands on the market now means that there is also a huge range in prices. From the extremely affordable supermarket tanning products to self-tanners that cost a whopping £90 (More on this later). 

The positive behind this is that there will always be a product within your budget, but it begs the question as to whether the quality of the lower-end products is decent.

There are some horror products out there but there can also be some products that deliver a relatively natural looking tan for a very reasonable price. 

The Rimmel London Sun Shimmer Self Tan Mousse is just one of these products. 

At a very enticing £4.95, this self-tanner does the job and with only 1 hour needed to develop, it can give you a relatively natural looking glow for around 3-4 days. Not bad for £4.95!

However, the issues here arise when you look at the ingredients. For us, the three standout ingredients were.

  • Benzyl Benzoate (Some people are known to react to this preservative),
  • Alpha-isomethyl-ionone (A fragrance that is deemed by the EU scientific body to be a skin sensitiser) 
  • Cinnamyl Alcohol (A volatile fragrance which can aggravate skin).   

These are all chemicals that can potentially aggravate the skin and can slowly erode the dermal barrier, leaving your skin more susceptible to infection. 

For those looking to avoid potentially skin damaging chemicals (or those with sensitive skin) this may not be the product for you. But if you’re looking for a cheap self-tan that does the job then this could be a great purchase!

Key ingredients:

Benzyl benzoate, Alpha-isomethyl-ionone and Cinnamyl Alcohol.

Pro’s and cons

+ Good product for the skin (particularly people with sensitive skin)

+ Very cheap and 

+ Develops quickly.

 - Contains some ingredients that could cause sensitivities for some folks.

Best quality product

Self-Tanning Hydrating Body Skin Care89.95)


Moving to the other end of the price spectrum we have slightly less choice when it comes to brands, however there are a few brands that provide ultra-premium self-tanning products if you're willing to pay the hefty price that comes with them.

After scouring the internet and doing our research we found that the best product in this category was the Sisley Self-Tanning Hydrating Body Skin Care lotion.

This self-tanner certainly delivers on its promise with a smooth texture, no tanning scent (Or overbearing artificial fragrance) and excellent moisturising properties (Using natural ingredients).

This really makes the skin look and feel great after application because the cream is not too heavy or sticky.

Once applied the colour is very natural looking and thanks to the Hibiscus flower extract, this self-tanning lotion is distributed evenly (Hibiscus flower extract has exfoliating properties too). There are several other notable ingredients used too:

  • Macadamia oil (Has good skin soothing properties)
  • Hibiscus flower extract (exfoliates and provides an even tan)
  • Sesame essential extract (causes the tan to last longer)
  • Shea Butter (An excellent emollient and emulsifier)

Overall, it is truly a premium tanning product using natural and high-quality ingredients, and it doesn’t contain alcohols, parabens or artificial fragrances that will irritate or damage your skin. 

The only downside to this fantastic product is that it will set you back a cool £89.95. 

So, if you’re looking to really splash out on a premium product then this is the go-to product for you. If you are looking for something a little more affordable then it may be worth looking at some of the other self-tan lotions in this article!

Key ingredients:

Macadamia oil (Soothing for the skin), Hibiscus flower extract (exfoliates and provides an even tan), Sesame essential extract (causes the tan to last longer.)

Pro’s and cons

+ Excellent moisturising properties

+ Long lasting 

+ Even tan

+ Natural ingredients

 - A little on the pricey side

Unreal bronzing mousse15.00)

Best all-rounder


We’ve explored the extreme ends of the price range, the most skin friendly product, the best budget option and even the absolute best product we could find (Not taking price into account). But what is the best overall self-tan lotion on the market right now?

At an affordable £15.00 the Unreal Bronzing Mousse certainly doesn’t break the bank.

In all honesty it would be difficult to match quality of the Sisley tanner, but as far as affordable self-tanning products go, this one is the closest we can get to the Sisley self tan lotion without spending in excess of £60! 

It gives a natural sun-kissed colour with an even distribution meaning it isn’t streaky or blotchy when applied with a tanning mitt (Supplied with the mousse).

Being naturally based, the product has been especially formulated to avoid the use of petrochemicals, parabens and artificial fragrances. 

It also contains several other natural ingredients with the aim of locking in moisture to counteract the drying effect of the DHA. When looking at the ingredients it is clear to see that. The standout ingredients are as follows:

  • Aloe barbadensis - This binds moisture to the skin meaning the tanning mousse doesn’t dry your skin as you apply it
  • Hyaluronic Acid skin - restoring, moisturising, known to bind moisturise up to 1000 times its weight
  • Grape Seed Oil strong antioxidant properties, protecting the skin retaining moisture
  • Glycerin defends against dryness, naturally occurs in the skin
  • Hibiscus sabdariffa anti oxidant, skin replenishing

All these ingredients contribute to a clean and healthy self tan that doesn’t dry your skin. 

On top of that the tan itself distributes evenly and gives a natural looking golden glow. When you add a reasonable price into the mix then you have an all-round sunless tan that is one of the best self-tanners on the market.

Key ingredients:

Aloe barbadensis (Binds moisture to skin), Hyaluronic Acid (Moisturiser), Grape Seed Oil (anti oxidant), Glycerin (defends against dryness) and Hibiscus sabdariffa (anti oxidant)

Pro’s and cons

+ All naturally based

+ Long lasting 

+ Great moisturising properties

+ Naturally based ingredients

+ Even tan

 - Not quite as good as Sisley Self-Tanning Hydrating Body Skin Care!

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