You may have been born with a beautiful porcelain complexion, but that doesn’t mean that you want to sport it on every single occasion. If your skin is naturally pale, sometimes you want that sun-kissed glow for a change. This article is going to outline some of the best self-tanner products for pale or fair skin.

Why Use Self-Tanning Products?

There’s a myriad of reasons why people use self-tanners. They make you look healthier, thinner, and help you hide imperfections on your skin. But the main reason why people with pale skin love self-tanners is that they aren’t able to tan in the sun.

While others can get a stunning tan from the sun within a few hours, pale-skinned individuals aren’t as lucky. Instead of tanning beautifully, they just burn. Their skin turns red and it starts to peel and what’s left beneath that is even more pale skin.

If that sounds like you, it means that you have ‘Type I’ skin. If your skin tans slightly after burning, then you have ‘Type II’ skin. Either way, it’s not safe for you to tan under the sun or even to use UV lights at tanning salons, which means that your only option to get a beautiful tan is to use self-tanners.

But, even if you are one of the lucky few pale-skinned people that are able to tan, you may still prefer to use self-tanners because of the many benefits that they have. Self-tanners are much safer than sun-tanning or tanning beds which can cause premature aging and skin cancer. So, if you want a safe and healthy tan glow, self-tanners are a great choice for you regardless of your natural ability to tan.

To Consider When Buying a Self-Tanner for Pale or Fair Skin

Buying self-tanner for pale skin means that you have to consider the same things as everybody else who buys these products, but you must also keep in mind some of the special features that are important to people with pale skin specifically.

However, this isn’t as overwhelming as it may sound. In actual fact, the vast majority of sunless tanners are designed for people with fair skin since they represent the main market for these products.

Here are some of the things to consider when choosing the best self-tanner for your skin:

1 - Color Level

Self-tanners are designed to give you specific levels of tan. It can be tempting to choose a product that is as dark as possible in an effort to achieve a significant change, but that is not a great idea. Instead of a bronze look, you’ll most likely end up sporting an orange one.

When you’re just starting out, go for a sun-kissed look or a light tan. Use these products for a while before moving on to the more intense darker shades.

2 - Skin Sensitivity

It’s so unfortunate that people with pale skin tend to also have sensitive skin. Because of this, any skin products that you use need to be specifically formulated in a way that doesn’t irritate delicate skin. This includes your sunless tanner as well.

Of course, there are those who are lucky enough to have pale skin that doesn’t come with the sensitivities. If that’s you, then you will be much less restricted in your search for the perfect self-tanner. Otherwise, look for those products that clearly state that they are designed for use on sensitive skin.

3 - Self-Tanner Formula

There is a wide range of formulas being used for self-tanners these days and each one has its positive and negative aspects.

– The most common products are self-tanning moisturizers. These are great if you are pale-skinned because they give you a light color which builds gradually over time.

– There are also tanning towelettes that you can use to wipe your skin, creating a slight glow. While these are also great for those with pale skin, they are more suited to on-the-go use than for regular application.

– Then you have the lotions and creams. These types of self-tanning products create a color that is more concentrated which makes them hit or miss when it comes to pale-skinned people.

– Next, we have the mousses, gels, and oils. Although these can work well for you if you have pale skin, they are not recommended for those who are just getting started with self-tanners.

– Finally, we have self-tanning sprays. These are also great if you have pale skin, but you’ll likely need help applying them.

10 Best Self-Tanners for Fair and Pale Skin – Reviews

In an effort to make your search for the perfect self-tanner easier, we have researched dozens of the best products on the market to come up with the 10 best self-tanners for pale skin:

#1 Skinny Tan Gradual Tanner Lotion For All Skin Types

It’s always best to tan pale skin gradually. It not only makes the process appear a lot more natural to the people around you but it also helps you avoid that fake orangey look. This particular product from Skinny Tan gets first place on our list because it’s designed specifically to darken your skin bit by bit which means that you can apply it daily until you achieve the exact color that you want.

To maintain that level of tan, you only have to reapply once every two or three days. This self-tanner is ideal for all types of skin, particularly fair skin with freckles. It’s also a great choice for you if you’re using self-tanner for the first time thanks to its streak-proof formula. So even if you’re not that good at applying it, you’ll still get even results.

Skinny Tan Gradual Tanner also has some additional benefits which include cellulite reduction and skin tightening. It’s also paraben and chemical-free which is great news for anyone who is concerned about the environment. It’s even vegan and it was never tested on animals.

This self-tanner not only leaves you looking good, but it smells great, too. It comes with a 100% satisfaction guarantee, which makes trying it a no-brainer since it’s risk-free.

#2 Cocoa Brown Tan Mousse – Twin Pack

Self-tanners that come in a mousse formulation give excellent results but they also tend to be a little harder to apply especially if you’re new to this. So if you choose to go with this 1-hour Tan Mousse from Cocoa Brown, make sure that you’re prepared. It may be a good idea to practice with it on certain spots that aren’t often visible until you perfect your technique.

With this product, you get lots of control over your pigmentation.

The length of time that you allow to pass between application and showering determines the pigmentation that you get. So, to achieve a light tan, you only have to leave it on for about an hour. Leave it on for two hours to get a medium tan, and if you’re aiming for the darkest tan possible with this product, then you can go ahead and leave it on for three hours.

One of the best features of this self-tanner is its amazing staying power. While most self-tanners on the market right now start to fade in about 2 or 3 days, this formula lasts up to 5 days which makes it ideal for you if you don’t have the time to apply self-tanner multiple days a week.

#3 Josie Maran’s Argan Liquid-Gold Self-Tanning Oil

A lot of people with pale skin don’t prioritize tanning their whole body. Instead, they would rather just add a bit of color to their face to make themselves look brighter and healthier. If that’s what you want to do, this product from Josie Maran could be the right one to help you get that glow.

This self-tanning face oil is arguably the best self-tanner for those with pale skin. Although it’s an oil, it doesn’t leave your face oily or shiny but gives a semi-matte finish. So your skin will not shine, but it will glow. This formula is designed to not only darken your pigment but also to repair and hydrate your skin thanks to the ingredients which include aloe juice and coconut water.

One application lasts up to 24 hours which means that you can skip the bronzer and still keep your glow. This self-tanning face oil needs to dry fully before you can apply your make up, which is why it’s recommended that you use it in the night before you go to bed.

It may be a good idea to purchase a special pillowcase as some of the product may transfer onto your pillow, but the results are definitely going to be worth the effort.

#4 Xen-Tan Transform – Luxe Daily Tan

This sunless-tanner from Xen-Tan works gradually, much like the one from Skinny Tan, and it’s a great option for fair-skinned people. You only need to apply the self-tanner once every day until you achieve the color that’s right for you. To maintain that color, apply the self-tanner once every two or three days. This formula works quickly and gives superb results. You will have a beautiful glow within just a few short hours.

A lot of self-tanners leave behind a sort of chemical smell, but this one doesn’t. Instead, there’s a lingering scent of light vanilla after using Xen-Tan self-tanner. It’s one of the best features that most users find appealing about this product.

On the flip side, some users have reported that this formula sometimes leaves dark spots on their elbows, knees, and ankles. Because of this, it might be a good idea to purchase a blending cream to make this self-tanner work better. While this may seem like a lot of work, the results are astounding and well worth the effort according to a lot of happy customers.

#5 Sun Bum Browning Lotion and Tanning Towelettes Combo

Sun Bum isn’t a well-known brand in the US, but it’s quite popular in many other countries. This self-tanning lotion is great for you if you don’t want to have to do all of the preparation steps involved in self-tanning. It does everything all at once, from the exfoliation to the moisturizing and tanning of the skin.

Sun Bum also comes with an added bonus – tanning towelettes which are great for touching up your tan when you’re on the go. This lotion is different from the other products on our list because it’s designed for use in conjunction with sun exposure. This means that if your skin is extremely pale (type I), then this product isn’t the right one for you.

But, if you have type II skin, then you can get good results with this lotion. You don’t have to be in the sun for lengthy periods of time to make this work, which is great for those of you who don’t have time to sit around soaking in rays all day long.

Another great feature of this self-tanning lotion is that it’s all-natural, so whenever you use it, you can feel good about doing your bit for the environment. In addition to tanning your skin, this lotion is also designed to hydrate and protect it. All in all, this is a great option for anyone who is looking to self-tan as well as spend some time in the sun.

#6 Rimmel London Sun Shimmer Medium Matte Self-Tanning Mousse

This offering from a well-known brand is designed to work on all skin types, but it’s only meant to help you achieve a tan that is medium-level and not dark. This makes it ideal for anyone with fair or pale skin, and it’s also a great one to try for those who find that most self-tanners turn them orange.

Again, it’s a mousse, which means that it’s going to be a little tricky to apply. But, with a little practice on some hidden areas, you’ll soon have a perfect technique that will leave you with a heavenly glow. This self-tanning mousse from Rimmel takes about one hour to show results. You can make the tan a little deeper by leaving it on for longer before showering or by layering it.

One of the best things about this product is its staying power. It lasts up to 7 days, which means that as long as you can apply it at least once a week, you’ll maintain that incredible glow.

#7 St. Tropez Self-Tanning Bronzing Mousse

This self-tanner from Saint Tropez is also a mousse, but only get this one if you already have lots of experience when it comes to applying mousse self-tanners. This is because it dries in under 60 seconds. This may seem like a downside from a novice’s point of view, but it’s actually the best news ever for expert self-tanners.

You can see the initial results after just an hour, and the full results are visible within 4 to 8 hours of applying this self-tan bronzing mousse. The time it takes depends on how the product is received by your skin). This mousse is made from all-natural DHA so it’s totally safe to use.

It’s a particular favorite of users with pale skin because it delivers streak-free results and a tan that looks natural even on the palest skin. This is a great option to achieve that sun-kissed look if you have skin that is so pale it’s nearly translucent and you burn in the sun within minutes.

#8 Fake Bake Fair Lotion – Set of 2

All the self-tanners that we are recommending here are great for those with fair skin, but some may not be explicitly designed for them. If you feel hesitant about using products that aren’t specifically for fair-skinned individuals, then this is the ideal self-tanner for you to try.

Fake Bake Fair Lotion is formulated for and tested on fair skin. With this lotion, you will be able to avoid all of the usual pitfalls that come with tanning pale skin and achieve amazing results. If you want a tan that goes deeper than the maximum tan that this lotion provides, you can use the other lotions that they make for darker skin tones. But for the most part, pale-skinned users report that the results offered by this self-tanning lotion are no less than perfect.

The lotion comes with a glove for easy application. The lotion shows itself as you’re applying it, which means that you won’t get that streaky look. You will be able to easily tell where you’ve applied it, if it’s even, and if you’ve missed any spots. This lotion gives fair-skinned individuals a great, natural-looking tan that is extremely smooth and even.

#9 Australian Gold SPF 30 Spray Gel with Bronzer, 2 Pack

For those just starting out on their self-tanning journey, it might be a good idea to avoid spending too much money in the beginning. If you would rather purchase a less expensive sunless tanner for fair skin while you’re getting the hang of the process, then this may be the ideal option for you.

Of course, there’s a lot to be said for the more luxurious lotions, creams, mousses, and oils, but it’s also important to mind your budget when you’re trying something new. If you desire to experience self-tanning without breaking the bank, get this cheap self-tanner from Australian Gold. It’s not only affordable, but it’s also good for your skin.

It comes with SPF 30 which means that while you’re tanning your skin, you’re also protecting it from the harsh effects of the sun. This lotion bronzes the skin nicely on its own, but you can achieve even more impressive results when you use it in conjunction with a bit of sunbathing.

Aside from the price, another great feature of this self-tanner is that it has an enjoyable summertime, beachy smell that most users absolutely adore. But on the downside, unlike most other similar products, it doesn’t have much lasting power which means that you’re going to have to apply it every day.

#10 Jergens Natural Glow and Firming Moisturizer

Last on our list of the best self-tanners on the market right now is the Jergens Natural Glow self-tanner. This was one of the first products to make it big when the self-tanning obsession hit. But, don’t think that it’s outdated. It has stayed popular over time because it’s a high-quality product that does all that it promises and more.

It’s specifically formulated for fair to medium skin tones so it doesn’t start strong. You apply it every single day until you achieve the color that you want. You can even layer it to deepen the tan. After you get to the right shade, you then maintain it with bi-weekly applications. However, if you want to avoid getting that streaky look, you’ll have to be diligent in your exfoliating.

This formula not only darkens the skin, but it also firms it at the same time making it look a whole lot more youthful and glowing. This is an extremely dependable product from a trusted brand. You can find it online and in most drugstores.

How Do Self-Tanning Products Work?

Self-tanning products, also known as sunless tanners or fake bakes, are lotions, creams, mousses, oils, or sprays that you apply on the surface of your skin. How exactly they work depends mostly on the type of formula.

Most self-tanners use DHA to create a tanned look. It reacts with the dead skin cells, causing them to darken. This darkened color lasts for about three or more days and if you want to maintain that particular level of tan, all you have to do is to apply the self-tanning product once every two or three days.

How to Avoid the Biggest Self-Tanner Mistakes

Self-tanners, when used the right way, give stunning results. But when you use them the wrong way, you end up with atrocious results. You’ve seen the results of self-tanners gone wrong: the odd streaks, the orange skin, patches of skin that are either too pale or too dark – the list goes on. It’s enough to make you feel hesitant about using self-tanners.

But it’s important for you to keep in mind that you’ve also seen some sensational results where self-tanner was applied the right way. Maybe you just don’t know that you’ve seen it because when self-tanner is used the right way, you won’t even know it’s there.

While products on the market range from the very best to the worst, the truly horrible results generally come down to poor use of self-tanning products. So if you want to avoid the common pitfalls and get that beautiful glow that you’ve seen on celebrities, models, actors, and some everyday people, then you need to know the rules of good self-tanner application:

Tips for Proper Application of Self-Tanners

Tip #1 – Prepare skin by exfoliating it

You do this to remove the layer of dead skin cells on top of your skin. The skin cells you reveal under that will also be dead, but removing the top layer ensures that all skin cells are even rather than patchy. Not exfoliating is one of the reasons why some people get discolored patches when they apply self-tanner.

Use a gentle exfoliant like a simple washcloth or a light scrub. Pay particular attention to the knees, elbows, and ankles where the skin is thickest.

Tip #2 – Let your skin dry fully before applying self-tanner

If you attempt to apply self-tanning products while your skin is still damp, the self-tanner will run and this will create those unsightly streaks that you’ll be stuck with for days before they start to fade away. So find something to do to pass the time after exfoliating to ensure that you give your skin ample time to dry.

Tip #3 – Apply self-tanning products in small sections

Start with one small area such as one leg or one arm. This makes it easy to ensure complete coverage and gives you time to massage the product in before it dries. When massaging the self-tanner into the skin, use circular motions so that the color is even.

Tip #4 – Pay extra attention to the joints

At the ankles and wrists, blend the self-tanner and lightly extend it so that you can achieve a look that is more natural, but dilute it over joints where the skin is thin because it tends to absorb the product much faster.

Tip #5 – Take extra care with your hands

You may want to wash your hands before applying self-tanning products to them in order to help prevent them from ending up darker than the rest of your skin.

Tip #6 – Allow skin to dry fully after self-tanner application

Ten minutes is the minimum amount of time that you should wait, but whenever possible, try to wait at least 30 minutes. Don’t exercise, wear tight clothing, or get into hot environments for at least 3 hours after you apply self-tanner. This will reduce the likelihood of sweating which would streak the finish.

Accessories for Self-Tanning Pale or Fair Skin

Discovering the right self-tanner for your skin is only half the equation. You still need to find the right accessories for your product. Listed below are some of the things that you will need for a great self-tanning experience.

Blending CreamMittApplicatorExfoliating Gloves

This is a cream that you use in areas where the skin is a bit thicker such as knees, elbows, and ankles. It helps to avoid dark spots and leaves the color looking natural. Vanicream is a particularly good blending cream for anyone with fair or pale skin.

Using a mitt when applying self-tanner will help to avoid getting streaks on your skin by making the application even. It will also prevent your hands from getting too dark. Any mitt will do, but a particularly great one to try is Skinerals Padded Microfiber Applicator.

An applicator is just a long stick that is designed specifically to conform to your body lines. It’s easy to use and will help you get your self-tanning product to those spots that are hard to reach. One that we like is the Skinerals Padded Self-Tanning Wand Applicator.

Exfoliating is absolutely necessary to achieve great self-tanner results, but you don’t need to use expensive scrubs. You can just get an effective exfoliating glove such as Joyssee’s Body and Face Exfoliating Set Premium Pack.

The Bottom Line

If you’re someone who has pale or fair skin, it’s still possible to have a sun-kissed glow if you have the right self-tanning products. Use this article as your resource and guide to choosing and purchasing the best self-tanner for fair skin so that you, too, can start to enjoy the many benefits that come with a beautifully tanned skin.