The 11 Best Self Tanners for a Wedding Day Glow

Get your bronze on with St. Tropez, TAN-LUXE, and more

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You’ll already be glowing on your wedding day, but sometimes it’s nice to have a little extra oomph! Whether you’re planning a destination wedding, beachside ceremony, or you just want a sun-kissed look, applying self-tanner can give you that boost of confidence and help you feel your best on the big day (self-tanner can also be great for creating an even, smooth skin tone on darker skin).  

That being said, it’s essential to find a high-quality self-tanner that won’t leave you looking orange or streaky. You also want to avoid any self-tanners that will stain your precious white dress–if you’ve never applied self-tanner, follow our self-tanner dos and don’ts for tanning tips and best practices! When looking for the best self-tanner to use for your wedding day, first start by considering the shade that best suits you. Many tanners come in a range of shades (such as light, medium, and dark), which will affect the final result. Once you decide how tan you want to look, search for options made with skin-friendly ingredients and non-sticky, hydrating formulas.

Courtney Claghorn, the founder and president of Sugared + Bronzed, also recommends doing a trial tan several times leading up to the big day. "With a trial session(s), brides can ensure they can experiment and play with the exact depth of tan that they are looking for on their big day, which can depend on several factors, including their base color, the time of year and place of their nuptials, etc," she explains. "If a bride plans to apply her own self-tanner rather than get a professionally done airbrush tan, I’d recommend more than a couple of trial sessions, especially if this is something that is newer to them. Once a bride is sure of her application process and shade, I usually recommend [tanning] two to three days prior to the big day, depending on when pre-wedding events might be taking place."

To help you find the best self-tanners, we’ve researched the various options with these key features in mind. For an instant overnight bronze, Tanologist Express Tan Mousse and St. Tropez Classic Bronzing Mousse are our top picks. Want more of a gradual glow to get you prepped for your walk down the aisle? Opt for the TAN-LUXE The Gradual Illuminating Tanning Lotion.

Meet the Expert

Courtney Claghorn is the founder and president of Sugared + Bronzed, a well-renowned sugaring hair removal and sunless tanning studio with locations in California, New York, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

Read on for the best self tanners for a gorgeous wedding day glow.

Best Budget: Jergens Natural Glow Firming Moisturizer

Jergens Natural Glow Firming Moisturizer

Amazon

You know it, you love it–Jergens Natural Glow has been around forever and it never fails to deliver. Just put this everyday lotion on in place of your daily moisturizer for a gradual glow that develops over time. As a bonus, this formula also offers skin-firming benefits for a smooth all-over look. Apply it during the weeks leading up to your big day for a flawless, natural-looking tan. Priced at only $7, it’s also a budget-friendly beauty option.

Best Overnight Tanner: St. Tropez Self Tan Classic Bronzing Mousse

4.5
St. Tropez Self Tan Classic Bronzing Mousse

Amazon

St. Tropez is a fan-favorite tanning brand for a reason. Their classic bronzing mousse is lightweight and easy to apply using a self-tanning mitt. It tailors to your skin tone and will last through all of your wedding weekend festivities. Plus, this formula is clinically proven to moisturize for up to 24 hours, so you’ll keep your skin glowing and nourished at once.

Best Express Tan: Tanologist Express Tan Self Tan Mousse

Tanologist Self Tan Mousse

Courtesy of Target

Vegan, cruelty-free, and clean ingredients are what make this self-tanner a top pick. Made with key ingredients like aloe vera, pink grapefruit, goji berry, and juniper, this long-lasting formula is dermatologist tested and safe for sensitive skin. Tanologists’ express tan mousse only takes one to four hours to work (the longer you wait to rinse it off, the deeper the tan will get), so it’s great for any last-minute tanning needs.

Best for Face: Sugared + Bronzed Sunless Tanning Mist

sunless tanning mist
Courtesy of Sugared + Bronzed.

Whether you need a facial tan touch-up for your big day or on your honeymoon, this sunless tanning mist should be your go-to. It will help you appear well rested even after all of the busyness of the celebrations. Claghorn packed this for her destination wedding and honeymoon so she could ensure her tan looked fresh the entire trip.

"Immediately following the wedding, we began our honeymoon to St. Bart’s and Jumby Bay, Antigua and I knew that I wanted to keep my tan thriving for the entire trip," she says. "I would use the Sunless Tanning Mist and the Sunless Tanning Mousse when I wanted an extra pop of color that day."

Best for Dry Skin: Isle of Paradise Even Skin Tone Self-Tanning Body Butter

Isle of Paradise Even Skin Tone Self-Tanning Body Butter

Sephora

This clean and hydrating formula is especially good for those with dry skin. Rather than an overnight tanning solution, this is a gradual self-tanning body butter that works over time. Just apply it two to three times per week in place of your daily moisturizer in the weeks leading up to your wedding for a natural glow. Plus, it contains color-correcting benefits to even your skin tone for a flawless finish.

Best for a Destination Wedding: TAN-LUXE THE BODY Illuminating Self-Tan Drops

TAN-LUXE THE BODY Illuminating Self-Tan Drops

Sephora

Ultra-convenient and easy to use, these self-tan drops are a must for the traveling bride. It comes in a 1.69-ounce bottle, making it the perfect TSA-approved product to bring with you to your destination wedding or honeymoon. All you need to do is mix two to six drops (do more for a deeper tan) per body part with your usual moisturizer. The result? An all-over tan that looks like you just came home from a tropical vacation, even if you’re just on your way to one.

Best Streak-Free: Coco & Eve Sunny Honey Bali Bronzing Foam

4.9
Coco & Eve Sunny Honey Bali Bronzing Foam

Coco & Eve

This Coco & Eve pick is unique in that it’s a self-tanner that also offers anti-aging and skin-firming benefits. Plus, it’s made with color guide technology so your tan comes out even and works with your specific skin tone. The best part? Unlike many other self-tanners with a musky smell, this luxurious, 100 percent natural bronzing foam has a sweet mango and guava scent.

Best Foam Formula: Bondi Sands Aero Self Tanning Foam

5
Bondi Sands Aero Aerated Self Tanning Foam

Walgreens

For a sun-kissed and long-lasting bronze that will keep you glowing from the rehearsal dinner to the afterparty, opt for this unique, aerated self-tanning foam from Bondi Sans. It's especially great for darker complexions or those looking for a deeper bronze. This super lightweight formula delivers an effortless, streak-free tan in only six to eight hours–put it on right before bed to wake up bronzed from head to toe. Just be sure to rinse before putting on your all-white wedding weekend ensembles.

Best Bronzing Formula: b.tan Tanned AF Ultra Dark Self-Tanner

b.tan Tanned AF Ultra Dark Self-Tanner

Amazon

Another self-tanner ideal for various complexions and darker skin tones, this option is for the brides who want to look tan AF on their wedding day–just like the name suggests. The 100 percent natural, vegan, and paraben-free formula works to deliver a deep, sun-tanned glow in just a few hours. This powerful pick is best for those who are experienced with self-tanners.

Best Gradual Tan: Tan-Luxe The Gradual Illuminating Tanning Lotion

TAN-LUXE The Gradual Illuminating Tanning Lotion

Ulta

For those who would rather develop their wedding day glow over time, opt for this TAN-LUXE lotion and tanning oil hybrid. With ultra-hydrating ingredients like Aloe vera, raspberry, and cellutone complex, it melts into your skin and applies like your daily moisturizer. This product is great for beginners or brides who want a more subtle finished look. Apply every other day during the week leading up to your wedding for an understated glow.

Best SPF: Supergoop! Healthy Glow Sunless Tan SPF 40

Supergoop! Healthy Glow Sunless Tan SPF 40

Amazon

Skincare junkies know and love Supergoop! for its line of nourishing sunscreens, but did you know they have self-tanning products, too? This sunless tanning spray-lotion includes SPF so you can protect your skin while still getting a natural-looking bronze, making this pick perfect for outdoor daytime ceremonies. Once applied to the skin, it only takes two to four hours to develop. Plus, you don’t need a mitt or other tanning accessories–just spray it directly on the skin and rub it in with your hands (but be sure to wash your hands directly after use).

What to Look For in Self-Tanner

Desired Shade

The first thing to consider when shopping for a self-tanner is how bronzed you want to be. Many brands offer various shades that will deliver different levels of tan, from deep shades to understated tints. Do you want a subtle glow that’s only one shade darker than your natural skin tone? Or do you want to look like you just came home from a month-long sabbatical in Mexico? 

Ingredients

Once you determine your desired shade, take a closer look at the ingredients. The last thing you want on your wedding day is dry or irritated skin, so opt for formulas made with natural, vegan ingredients that will leave your skin hydrated and nourished. Lastly, consider which kind of self-tanning formula is best for you. Self-tanner comes in many forms, including oil, foam, lotion, and spray. Choose whichever option is best suited to your needs. For beginners, gradual moisturizers are the best way to go, while those who self-tan regularly can experiment with foams and sprays.

FAQ
  • How do I apply self-tanner?

    Every self-tanning product is different, so be sure to follow the directions provided and get any additional accessories needed for a smooth application–such as an applicator mitt. The key to a successful self-tanning experience is preparation. Before applying any self-tanning product, shower, exfoliate, shave, and dry the skin.


    Only apply moisturizer to thinner, dryer areas like elbows, knees, hands, feet, or any severely dry spots before application. When putting on the self-tanning product, be sure to apply it evenly all over the body for a smooth, even skin tone.

  • How do I prepare my skin for a sunless tan before my wedding?

    "Sunless tanning prep should never go underestimated. Hydration and moisturizing should be a regular part of your routine, but if it’s something you struggle with, you should definitely make a conscious effort to step it up before a sunless tan," Claghorn advises. "When I recently got married in the British West Indies, I thought all of the things that would counteract my goal of well-hydrated skin: I knew I would be taking a long flight to get there, and once I arrived, I’d likely want to swim in the ocean quite a bit, and of course, enjoy cocktails on the beach and at the pre-wedding events. I was cognizant of the fact that I needed to counteract this in every way I could so that my tan was the best it could be."

    "Beginning a week before my wedding, I moisturized non-stop with S+B Hocoba Oil®, made a conscious effort to drink more water than usual, and even got an IV drip the day before the wedding," she continues. "The night before I got sprayed, I showered with S+B Prep Soap and exfoliated with S+B Exfoliating Scrub and Mitt."

    Claghorn also recommends that everyone, especially brides, should get all their hair removal and nail appointments done prior to getting a tan. "I got sugared before I left for Anguilla so my legs and arms were smooth as could be," she adds.

  • What’s the proper aftercare for self-tanning?

    Aftercare is equally as important as preparation when it comes to self-tanning. Rinse your hands immediately after application to avoid orange palms, but otherwise, avoid any wetness to avoid streaks or patches. Most instant or overnight self-tanners will require you to rinse only after you’ve waited for the allotted amount of time (typically around four hours).

    Until it’s time to rinse, it’s a good idea to wear loose-fitting clothing that won’t smudge or stick to the product. Avoid body washes and moisturizers with active ingredients to help the tan last longer and keep it from getting patchy. 

  • How can I make my sunless tan last longer?

    "Beyond the prep, there are also quite a few things you can do post-application to enhance your tan’s longevity," says Claghorn. "Hydration is key. The skin is our body’s largest organ, so be sure to stay hydrated and moisturize regularly. If you’re spending a lot of time on airplanes, in a dry climate, in hot tubs, in salt water, or drinking more alcohol, you should most certainly step up your hydration and moisturizing game. If your tan is for a special event (like your wedding or someone else’s), I’d encourage cutting back on activities that dehydrate or skin drying activities until all the photos are in the bag."

    "I showered with S+B Moisturizing Soap and for the areas that I didn’t have sugared pre-trip, I used S+B Fractionated Coconut Oil to shave. A lot of people think that you can’t put oil on a spray tan, but that’s just a big myth. You shouldn’t have oil on your skin when you go in for a tan, but anytime after the tan is fully developed, it’s actually quite advantageous to apply immediately post-shower while your skin is still damp because it locks in moisture," she continues. "I also packed quite a few sunless tanning products to use in rotation on various body parts to ensure my tan looked fresh the entire trip–and more importantly, in every photo!"

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Chloe Caldwell is a Commerce Writer at Brides who specializes in shopping and lifestyle topics. She has more than five years of journalism experience writing about all things fashion, beauty, travel, and wellness.

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