The Best Natural Self-Tanners To Get A Safe Glow

Since our skin hasn’t seen the light of day in a few months…I thought I’d continue the clean beauty series with some natural self-tanners and tips! There’s a very high chance that you won’t find very many completely “clean” self-tanning products. But there are a lot of natural, organic, and/or vegan options out there…which is better than nothing! And it’s definitely better than exposing yourself to harmful UV rays! If you missed it, catch up on the difference between clean and natural products to learn more. And all of the clean beauty posts are here.

Fashion blogger wearing flattering Norma Kamali halter neck mesh overlay one-piece swimsuit and natural self-tanning product on beach

Ingredients In Self Tanners

I say that you’re not likely to find a completely clean tanner because most of the ingredients that change your skin color will not be completely safe for you. Makes sense, right? While researching, the two biggest questionable ingredients I noticed in the tanners were fragrance and dihydroxyacetone (DHA), which is the most common active ingredient in all tanners.

  • We know that fragrance is bad because it’s so broad, we have no idea what’s really in it. Most self-tanners have fragrance in them because they would reek without it! If you’re interested in ingredients to avoid, read this post.
  • Dihydroxyacetone or DHA is a chemical compound derived from beets or cane sugar that reacts with your skin cells to give you that bronzy glow. It is considered safe according to the FDA and even EU standards for external use only (I talk more about how the EU has better beauty regulations in this post). Studies on the effects of absorption, internal consumption such as inhaling (think spray tans), and it’s reaction with the sun are still underway. This ingredient is approved, but, because self-tanners are cosmetics, they do not require FDA approval. This means there may be other ingredients in tanners that are unsafe and not approved by the FDA.

Flattering Swimsuits, Fashion blogger Erin Busbee of wearing a blue Becca one piece with plunge neckline in the Bahamas

Natural Self-Tanners

If you’re new to the self-tanning world, it can be confusing. There are drops you can add to moisturizers, mousses, lotions, creams, and more. Sometimes it’s hard to tell what will really work. We all have different skin types so what works for one person may not work for another. These are the top products I found based on EWG rating, ingredients, and customer reviews. If you’re unfamiliar with EWG, make sure you read this post.

#1 | Beauty by Earth Self Tanner

This self-tanner is a lotion and scores as a 1 on EWG (this is the best score after EWG Verified). It’s vegan, cruelty-free, and all-natural. It’s gentle on the skin and won’t leave you looking orange! You can get it on Amazon and it has over 6,300 reviews (4.3/5 rating)!

#2 | Kora Organics Gradual-Self Tanning Lotion

This is a good, hydrating tanning lotion for someone who wants to try tanning for the first time. Or you can use it regularly to gradually build your tan. It’s vegan, cruelty-free, gluten-free, and comes in recyclable packaging! It scores as a 2 on EWG.

#3 | Josie Maran Whipped Argan Oil Self-Tanning Body Butter

This body butter is one I’ve tried by Josie Maran without the DHA and I really liked it. So I was excited to see this one with the tanning aspect added to the mix! It doesn’t score well on EWG but I do like this brand and it is organic.

#4 | Kopari Coconut Body Glow

If you’re looking for just a little bit of glow, this could be for you! It has a lot of reviews and scores as a 4 on EWG. Any bad reviews on it were about the consistency (it’s an oil) but the “how to use” section on the site has a tip about adding it to your moisturizer, which would probably help! 

Coola also makes a GREAT one for your face here.

What I’ve Been Using

I’ve only recently started making the transition to cleaner beauty so what I was using was the Charlotte Tilbury Supermodel Body Shimmer Shape, Hydrate & Glow. It blends beautifully, doesn’t get stuck in those tough dry spots (elbows, knees, heels), and absorbs very quickly. It gives you skin a beautiful glow and makes you look toned!


Full Coverage Swimsuits, Fashion blogger Erin Busbee of wearing a paisley print one piece swimsuit by Becca in Moab, Utah

Self Tanning Tips

  • Make sure you shave and exfoliate 24 hours before, not the day of
  • Put moisturizer on your heels, ankles, and elbows
  • Tan your hands in a claw shape (clasp one hand on top of the other) to get all-around your fingers, then wipe your nails clean
  • If you’re using the tanner on your face (some people just mix tanning drops in their moisturizer) make sure you use a dry cloth to lightly buff your upper lip after tanning to avoid the tan mustache
  • Wear dark, loose clothing afterward and take the time to let it dry
  • Follow instructions on the bottle!

Full Coverage Swimsuits, fashion blogger Erin Busbee of wearing a white mesh OYE one piece swimsuit in Moab, Utah

More Natural Self Tanning Products

What tanning or clean beauty questions do you have? Let me know in the comments below!

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Thank you for stopping by!

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How To Manifest Anything, Fashion blogger Erin Busbee of Busbee Style wearing an orange and blue Staud Ina dress with white sunglasses walking around in Telluride, Colorado
Erin Busbee
After a decade in TV news, a desire to help women "look pretty" sparked a career pivot. I started my own wardrobe consulting business, styling "real" women for many years. In 2014, I changed direction again, using my TV background and styling expertise to launch this website and my YouTube channel. We are now a community of nearly 700,000 dynamic, vibrant, amazing women over 40... who know that age isn't something you need to hide from. For us, life is just getting started!!
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One thought on “The Best Natural Self-Tanners To Get A Safe Glow

  1. I’m so sorry a miserable person tried to make you miserable Too. Please try to forgive her so you can shine. The greater and happier you are the more Unhappy people want to bring you down. But, your inner light shines right through and that’s what sets you apart!. They choose to take and you choose to share. Thank You so much for All the Words of wisdom and inspiration YOU’VE given Us. please don’t stop being yOu 🙂 Youre a classy women. Now show em’ whose boss!

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