Just because summer is over doesn't mean you have to say goodbye to sun-kissed skin. A faux glow is a great and safe (zero UV) way to maintain a beautiful bronze into fall—and beyond. And when it comes to your big day, a gorgeous glow is a must. It makes your teeth look whiter and can even create the illusion of being slimmer.
But before you head to store and start scoping out products, there are a few things you need to know. First, not all self-tanners are created equal. Some can you leave looking, well, like an oompa loompa. Second, proper prep (aka exfoliation) and application is the key to success. Third—and this should go without saying, but we will anyway—the color of your complexion matters. If you have fair skin don't overdo it with the deepest shade on the market.
Luckily for bronze-loving brides, there are plenty of products that take the guess work out of the process. So, whether your complexion is fair or olive, you can get flawless, radiant skin for your big day.
Eco-conscious brides will love this natural formula (for face and body). A nourishing blend of vitamins B, C and E, aloe vera and raspberry seed oil leaves skin hydrated and luminous—in just four to six hours. No streaks and no smells, means no drama at your wedding. ("The Water" Self-Tan, $42, Tan-Luxe)
A cult classic, this lightweight mousse dries quickly and evenly—with the added benefit of being transfer-resistant and free of that oh so specific self-tanner scent. So you go in for hugs and kisses without fear of smudge or smell. ("Bronzing Mousse" Self-Tan, $32, St. Tropez available at Violet Grey)
Say goodbye to dry, pasty skin! This easy-to-blend lotion delivers a flawless, golden glow and 24-hour hydration. As if that wasn't enough, it's scented with the irresistible fragrance of figs. (Self Tanning Milky-Lotion for Face & Body, $38, Clarins available at Nordstrom)
Catch some rays while you sleep. Ok, this is a faux glow, so no rays are actually involved, but you get the picture. This overnight serum combines skin-friendly ingredients with a self-tanner, so you wake up well rested and glowing. (Sleep Mask Tan, $52, James Read available at Sephora)
Planning a destination wedding? Don't forget to pack these travel-friendly, 3-in-1 towelettes. Give your skin a quick swipe and in just a few hours you'll look radiant, from head to toe. (Self-Tan Towelette, $27, Tan Towel available at Ulta)
Gels glide on effortlessly and absorb quickly, making them ideal for busy brides. All you need are a few pumps of this translucent, light-as-air gel. It smoothes on with ease and imparts a deep, rich color. And since there's virtually no drying time required, you can get back to your wedding planning ASAP. ("Brilliant Bronze" Self-Tanning Gel, $30, Shiseido available Nordstrom)
These portable, exfoliating glow pads deliver streak-free, natural tint—sans mess or odor. The magic's in the formula—packed with antioxidants, alpha- and beta-hydroxy acids, DHA and vitamin D. Don't worry, there's also a body option. ("Alpha Beta" Glow Pads, $68, Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare available at Sephora)
Green beauties will love this vegan-friendly, tinted mousse—infused with organic botanicals, like cucumber, witch hazel and papaya. It dries in just 60 seconds, delivering an instant bronze—that deepens over four to eight hours—and lasts up to three weeks. ("pHenomenal" 2-3 Week Tan Mousse, $54, Vita Liberata available Violet Grey)
Fake a just-back-from-vacation glow—even though you're still planning your honeymoon. This best-selling tinted gel gets a boost from maracuja, sunflower seed oil, aloe and vitamin E. And it comes with a handy mitt that makes it a breeze to get a streak-free bronze—and keeps your hands clean. ("Brazilliance" PLUS+ Self-Tanner + Mitt, $39, Tarte)
All we can say is this self-tanning oil definitely lives up to its name, "liquid gold." It absorbs like lightening, delivering a sexy hint of natural-looking color—plus 24 hours of silky skin. Even better, it's available in three heavenly scents—Tahitian Vanilla, Tropical Orchid and Vanilla Apricot. ("Argan Liquid Gold" Self-Tanning Oil, $38, Josie Maran available at Sephora)