If you’ve ever wondered why you don’t see more natural self-tanners in the world, it’s because the main “tanning” ingredient in basically every self-tanner is a chemical called dihydroxyacetone (DHA) —a color additive that reacts with the amino acids on the surface of your skin to leave you with a temporarily darkened skin tone. And while DHA is FDA-approved and widely considered a safe ingredient, it does make the hunt for a true, all-natural self-tanner pretty difficult. “There’s technically no cause for concern when it comes to using DHA, but at the end of the day, it is a chemical, so it’s not like slathering oats or honey on your body,” says dermatologist Mona Gohara, MD, associate clinical professor at Yale.
That said, there are a handful of self-tanners that are formulated with 100 percent naturally derived DHA, along with other skin-friendly, organic ingredients (think: hydrating oils and butters that leave your skin super soft). So if you’re looking for a more organic approach to the self-tanning game, you’ve come to the right place. Keep scrolling for the nine best non-toxic self-tanners on the market right now, all of which offer a safe, natural-looking glow.
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Best Self-Tanner With Natural DHA
Coco & Eve Sunny Honey Bali Bronzing Foam
Not only is this self-tanner formulated with 100 percent natural DHA, but it’s also free of silicones, parabens, and gluten. And thanks to its hydrating ingredients (hi, coconut and mandarin oils) and lightweight, non-sticky texture, it leaves your skin with a soft and glowy tan that develops in two hours.
Best Organic Self-Tanner for Face
Coola Organic Sunless Tan Anti-Aging Face Serum
I get it: Self-tanning your face can go seriously wrong if you aren’t using the right formula. This one from Coola is made with natural and organic ingredients (think: argan oil, grape seed oil, and beet-derived DHA) and it creates a subtle, natural-looking tan over seven days. Just mix two or three pumps into your favorite moisturizer and you’ll understand the hype.
Best Organic Gradual Self-Tanner
Kora Organics Gradual Self-Tanning Lotion us.koraorganics.com
If you’re new to the self-tanning world, skip the mousses and sprays and try this gradual lotion instead. There’s way less room for error — all you do is smooth it over your body in upward motions and rinse your hands post application — and it leaves your skin with a buildable, natural-looking tan. This one’s also got sugar-derived DHA and a blend of hydrating, organic oils (like sunflower seed, coconut, and rosehip).
Best Vegan Self-Tanning Drops
Isle of Paradise Self Tanning Drops
I’m lowkey obsessed with self-tanning drops right now — they’re basically the easiest way to get a customizable tan with zero streaks. I like to mix a few drops of this vegan formula into my face and body moisturizers to get a soft glow (no orange tones included, tyvm). And since it’s made with hydrating ingredients like coconut and avocado oils, it also feels nice and soft on my skin.
Best Natural Self-Tanner for Dry Skin
Suntegrity Skincare Natural Self Tanner
You won’t find any harsh or toxic ingredients in this self-tanner — only eco-certified DHA (this one’s from sugar beets) and a blend of organic oils and butters (sweet almond, coconut, mango seed, shea butter, the works ) for an ultra-hydrating experience. Pro tip: As with any self-tanner, you’ll want to exfoliate your skin before applying this bb to get the best results possible.
Best Natural Self-Tanning Oil
Josie Maran Argan Liquid Gold Self-Tanning Oil
One of the biggest complaints when it comes to self-tanner? The smell usually isn’t great. This self-tanning oil is definitely the exception though, thanks to its natural DHA, pure argan oil, and vanilla apricot scent. It’s even got a dash of coconut water and aloe too, both of which help keep your skin hydrated throughout the tanning process.
Best Lightweight, Organic Self-Tanner
Vita Liberata Advanced Organics Invisi Foaming Tan Water
There’s nothing worse than a self-tanner that transfers all over your sheets or clothes (which, uh, been there). That’s what makes this organic formula so great. It goes on (and stays on!) Totally clear and it dries down hella fast, leaving behind a lightweight, non-sticky texture.
Best Organic Self-Tanner on Amazon
Beauty by Earth Self Tanner
There’s a reason this organic self-tanner has over 13K glowing reviews on Amazon: It’s lightweight, buildable, and spiked with hydrating ingredients like shea butter and aloe vera. The best part? It leaves your skin with a warm glow (ie, the opposite of those harsh, orange-looking self-tanners).
Best Natural Self-Tanner Mist
St. Tropez Self Tan Purity Bronzing Water Face Mist
Meet the easiest way to quickly tan your face: Just spritz this self-tanning mist over or under your makeup and it’ll subtly develop into a warm glow in four to eight hours. Oh, and the naturally derived DHA and vegan formula are the icing on the cake.
Ruby Buddemeyer Beauty Editor Ruby is the beauty editor at Cosmopolitan, where she covers beauty across print and digital.
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