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Achieving a healthy, bronzy glow is one of the first things that truly get you in the summer spirit, but staying in the sun for hours is one of the quickest ways to risk developing skin cancer, and tanning beds aren’t any safer.

The UV rays that you get exposed to when sitting in the sun or in a tanning bed cause cell damage to your outermost skin layer, causing your skin cells to produce more melanin to protect themselves, which results in the tan that you end up getting.

Since the very first tanning session, skin damage starts to build up even when using SPF. Fair skin is the most easily affected by this damage, as it can get sunburnt and quickly dry out.

Thankfully, self-tanners have evolved in past years with several formulas that cater to every skin concern. Read on to learn about our top picks for the best self-tanners for fair skin!

At a Glance:

The 5 Best Fair-Skin Self Tanners in 2021

1. St Tropez Self Tan Purity Bronzing Water Mousse - Best Overall

The St Tropez bronzing mousse is a lightweight water-to-foam self-tanner that has an easy, streak-free application. It’s quick-drying with no transfer, so you could apply it before bed without worrying about stained sheets.


This mousse has an ultra-hydrating formula that develops into a long-lasting, glowing bronze over 4 to 8 hours. It’s tropically scented with no self-tan smell, so no need to worry about smelling like pure chemicals. It’s also vegan-friendly, paraben-and-sulfate-free, and made with naturally-derived tanning agents.


It lasts up to 10 days and fades without leaving patches. Besides, it can also act as a moisturizer, as it’s clinically proven to be moisturizing for up to 24 hours. Its clean, non-blotchy formula and smooth application make it the best overall pick for a natural, healthy glow.


  • No need to rinse off
  • Streak-free application
  • Hydrating


  • Lack of guide color could make the application process harder

2. Tan-Luxe The Body - Best Drops

The Body is a tailor-made illuminating self-tanner with a formula uniquely developed to fit your skin. You can mix these drops with your moisturizer, serum, or oil to give yourself a radiant glow that takes 4 to 6 hours to fully develop.

It’s enriched with skin-boosting ingredients such as vitamin E, aloe vera, and moisturizing raspberry seed oil for healthy, plump skin. It also helps firm the skin with a caffeine-rich cellutone complex.

With no typical self-tan smell, these drops have a pH balance of 4.5. It’s also streak-free, 100% vegan, and made with naturally derived DHA, which ensures a safe, non-toxic tanner with no sulfates, synthetic dyes, or other harmful chemicals.


No need to worry about over-tanning, as you can start by adding 2 drops to your usual moisturizer and work your way up from there. You can add up to 12 drops for a fully bronzed look, or stop at the glow that works best for you.


It has 2 shades, a Medium/Dark shade for darker tones and a Light/Medium shade for pink undertones that burn easily. The latter is best for fair skin, as it’ll help even the skin tone and reduce redness.


  • pH balanced
  • Even, custom tanning
  • Firms and tones the skin


  • Can be expensive relative to other self-tanners

3. Tan-Luxe The Gradual Illuminating Tanning Lotion - Best Gradual

Perfect for pale skin, The Gradual offers a balanced mixture between a tanning oil and a lotion that leaves your skin with a hydrated glow. It has a quick-drying formula that isn’t blotchy, rather has a lightweight, easy application.

It takes 1 to 2 hours after application to start noticing a gradually appearing bronze, and fully develops in 2 to 4 hours, lasting for up to 2 days. You can apply it on both your face and body, with no streaks guaranteed. It has an odorless fragrance that spares you the smell of chemicals.

Cellutone complex technology means that as you use this self-tanner, it’ll help reduce the appearance of cellulite. Similar to The Body, this tanning lotion is made with a super-hydrating formula with raspberry seed oil, vitamin E, and aloe vera.

One complaint that some users have had about this gradual is that it can be too mild. Some people prefer the natural, even look, but for those that might find this too subtle, we recommend applying it with a few drops of tanning water for a deeper color.


  • Odorless fragrance
  • Reduces the appearance of cellulite
  • Super hydrating formula


  • Beginners can find it challenging to use due to its thin formula
  • Can be too mild for some people

4. Jergens Natural Glow In-shower Lotion - Best Budget

The Jergens Wet Skin moisturizer is made to be used in the shower with no wait-time for a quick, fast-drying application. There’s also no need for rinsing; just apply it on wet skin, then pat it dry, and you’re good to go.

It gradually builds the desired glow with each application, so it gives you control over the outcome. You don’t have to worry about leaving streaks or color transfers, as this lotion is made with polymer technology that allows it to stick to non-dry skin without rubbing off on your clothes, towels, or bed sheets.

You can start by applying it daily until you reach your ideal glow. Afterward, you can limit its application to once every few days to maintain your natural-looking, even tone.

This self-tanner is considered our best budget pick, thanks to the fact that it’s relatively cheaper than other self-tanners that you’d usually find. It’s paraben-free and cruelty-free with a fresh scent, unlike usual in-shower self-tanners.


  • Easy, fast application
  • Cheaper than similar products
  • Fades evenly


  • Some users complained that it leaves a residue on the skin that doesn’t get completely dry

5. Sublime Bronze Water Mousse by L’Oreal Paris - Best Application

Unlike the rest of the self-tanners previously mentioned, the Water Mousse from the Sublime Bronze range by L’Oreal Paris has a tropical, coconut fragrance thanks to a formula that’s enriched with coconut water and hydrating vitamin E.

It glides smoothly on the skin thanks to its lightweight consistency that gives a natural, streak-free sunkissed glow. It’s our list’s self-tanner with the cleanest application that leaves no stains.

It fully develops over 4 to 8 hours, but you can apply it and get going once it dries (which takes about 2 hours), as it has a zero-transfer formula that ensures your white sheets, clothes and towels will preserve their color.

We do recommend properly moisturizing before applying it, especially on dry areas such as elbows, knees, and ankles, as it tends to look patchy and unnatural on dry areas.


  • Clean, smooth application
  • Fresh, tropical scent


  • It takes longer than usual to fully dry
  • It looks unnatural on dry areas

How to Pick a Self Tanner for Fair Skin

Now that we’ve gone through our top 5 picks for self-tanners for fair skin, below, we’ve gathered some tips on what to look for when buying a self tanner.


Picking a self-tanner with the right formula for your skin tone is the most crucial part of your process. What works for pale skin may not work for olive skin.

If you have fair skin, it’s better to start out by using a gradual. This type of self-tanner allows you to build up a natural-looking tone that fits your desired taste. 

Mixing tanning drops with your moisturizer is also a great way to achieve a natural glow that looks great on fair skin.

If you’re looking for something with more color, you can use a developing self-tanner. This one’s also great for lighter skin tones as you get to leave it on until you reach the desired tone, then you rinse it off.


Some people are more sensitive to the smell of self-tanners than others. Some self-tanners have a typical “chemical” smell that drives most consumers away, but recently there have been more and more products coming out that don’t include this smell. Some self-tanners are even completely odorless.

Application Process

Application varies from one self-tanner to another. Some might need only their hands for a smooth, even application, while a tanning mitt might be required for others. Make sure that you know well the proper application process for the tanner that you use.

For people with fair skin, a simple application mistake will show up more clearly. So, it’s best to start out with a self-tanner that has a guide color. A guide color helps let you know which areas of your body are covered in the fake tan and prevents you from applying too many layers.

Bottom Line

Self-tanners provide a safe alternative to other tanning methods that could cause some severe and irreversible damage. Still, they’re not a one-size-fits-all solution. 

You can use our guide for picking a self tanner for fair skin to narrow down your options to 1 or 2 choices that provide what you need.

Pair your new self-tanner with proper sun protection for a healthy glow that lasts you all summer long.


I hope this article was helpful for you.  If you have any additional questions, feel free to reach out to me directly - [email protected].


Grant Kantsios

Sunless tanning business & marketing coach

Hey everyone!  My name is Grant and I've been in the sunless tanning industry for over 9 years.  I started in the industry working for Sjolie Sunless, one of the largest companies in the sunless tanning industry.  Since then, I've had a passion for helping sunless tanning business owners through my work at happytans, with the happytans podcast and website builder. In addition, I created Sunless Evolution with world-renowned spray tan artist Jimmy Coco, who sprays A-list celebrities like the Kardashians and Ashley Graham.

Disclosure: Some of these are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I’ll earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase. I do have experience with each of the products or services listed below so I feel fully comfortable recommending them. Please do not spend any money on the products unless you feel you need them to achieve your goals. It turns out a lot of the things I use are free so you should be able to do the same.

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Kristen Spagnolo
Kristen Spagnolo

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Grant & Gary were so patient with me…

Grant & Gary were so patient with me during this process. I am not very tech savvy & they made it so easy! My site is beautiful and I can't wait to see how this boosts my business!

Happy Tans always!

I have been a Happy Tans user for years and would 1000% recommend to anyone for a user friendly, customer service oriented company to support. Grant is the best!

The best in the business!

I cannot thank HappyTans more for their continuous support. They are there EVERY step of the way. Their communication is top-notch & customer service is non-compete-able [if that's a word :)] I cannot imagine working with another company to help build, create, and stay on top of my business' website. I'll forever be a customer! (PS* Grant & Gary are my favorite!)

Extremely knowledgeable and helpful

Happy Tans has been an incredible asset to my business. Their expertise and customer service is unmatched. I didn’t have to worry about anything but tanning because they had my website covered! Well worth every penny.

I can't say enough

My experience thus far has been fantastic. They do exactly what they claim. Collaboration has been seamless. I had a website to begin with and the transition has been smooth. 10/10

100/100 recommend Happy Tans

100/100 recommend Happy Tans. They are extremely helpful and attentive to my requests.


Grant and his team are exceptionally helpful! I am happy that my Boss opted to use HappyTans for her website. I maintain our company's website and whenever I need help, Grant and his team always respond within 1-2 days. I like and appreciate how they'd respond with a video for me to follow if the instruction is not posted in their help center. Thank you for always assisting me and for making it easy.

From the first communication to…

From the first communication to creating my website and all that is needed to purchase the domain Happy Tans' team guided me through. Knowledgeable, professional, and so friendly. They understand how hard it is to juggle all the responsibilities that fall on one person as a small business owner, and that we are all not tech savvy. They send step by step images on how to do your part. Oh and did I mention their affordable pricing? Again goes to their understanding of small new business owner's responsibilities and overhead. Only thing I would love to see change is being able to speak to your point of contact, especially during the website creation, it would help with too many back and forth email threads. But in the grand view I have nothing but amazing things to say about my experience. I absolutely would and already have recommended Happy Tans. Thank you!!!!!!

Exceeded my expectations!

I had a super experience with Happy Tans. They built an absolutely stunning website for my new business and were so flexible to work with. They gave me loads of helpful advice regarding marketing, reviews, SEO etc and always responded quickly to my questions. Happy Tans truly exceeded my expectations!

Best website experience ever!

This was an amazing experience because I have tried building my own website before with a different platform, and it was really complicated and didn’t have the look that I wanted. Grant and the Happy Tans Team made the process super easy, once I submitted all my information my new website was done the next day! I offer other services besides spray tanning but they were able to add them all in, they created a beautiful aesthetic to showcase all of my services, and my friends and family all had great things to say about the website they had designed for me. They even worked with my domains support team because my domain wouldn’t connect at first. Happy Tans is definitely my new recommendation for anyone, not just spray tanners, in this industry!

Happy Tans has changed the way I do…

Happy Tans has changed the way I do business now in my beauty salon. I was introduced last year to Grant and the team and heard Grant speak about happy tans and how much it can improve business, I instantly switched platforms and I couldn’t be happier. I love how quick and efficient the team is in responding about any questions or problems you maybe facing in your business. I am so happy and thankful for all of the improvements I have had in my business this past year when working with happy tans! I can’t tell you how much I rave about the websites, reviews and different business tools that happy tans offer and how they can help you achieve your goals! Ladies don’t wait to switch! Thank you grant and Gary and the whole team! Love my new website and my reviews are already helping so much

One of the best decisions I have made…

One of the best decisions I have made with my business! Grant, Gary and the team have done such a great job with setting up my website and listening to all of my ideas. When I have questions about integrating other platforms to my website, they respond very quickly and give me resources to improve my business. I'm not tech savvy so when I started with other website companies it was very difficult for me and I became very frustrated. I cannot say it enough about how easy this process was and if you're like me and don't want to build it yourself, there is an option to have them do it for you, I promise you, you will not regret it! Happy Tans is truly the best! What's even better is they are always evolving to find ways to improve their services for their clients.I refer them to everyone!! My only regret is waiting so long to write this review! I would give them 10 stars if I could.

Perfect Website

My website HappyTans created is perfect! I gave them my vision and they made it happen to a T. Communication is always quick and service is excellent.

I will never use another company

I will never use another company! HappyTans has changed my life! They made the whole process extremely easy and boosted my business like i could never imagine!

Happy Tans was so helpful in setting up…

Happy Tans was so helpful in setting up my Spray Tan website and keeping up with changes as my business grows and changes, I would highly recommend! I initially set up my website with Happy Tans in April of 2022 and I still get clients who say my website is amazing!

I had been looking for help to build a…

I had been looking for help to build a website. And I’m so thankful happytans was recommended by a fellow artist. I can’t say enough about how great of an experience I have had. From the beginning the Happytans team was supportive, answered all my questions, and guiding me through the process. I offer a variety of services including spray tan, and they helped created my vision from scratch. Even now that my site is live, they continue to provide help and advice. 10 out of 10 in service all around, I highly recommend them if you’re in need for any website support. Thank you!!!

The service was so good!

The service! Nothing compares, the easy navigation, the response time is prompt and informative. I would highly recommend happy tans for your website! Price is so good as well!


I am absolutely thrilled with the website that Happy Tans created for my spray tan business. Their exceptional work, customer service, and knowledge in their field has helped grow my small business so much in such a short time! Highly recommend!

Unmatched experience!

This was by far the best money I have ever spent on a professional business website creation, as well as incredible support from happytans.com. The responsiveness in my communication with Happy Tans is out of this world amazing. Not to mention, everyone loves my website. This has been an incredible experience, Happy Tans truly made my dream of having an amazing spraytanning website come to life, for a fraction of what other website creation companies charge. Amazing value, very professional, always there to help with everything and anything related to helping me and my business grow! Highly recommend!

You won't regret it!

My biggest advice if you are deciding DIY versus Happytans to create your website is to just have them do it! I attempted DIY first but honestly it took so much time and there was definitely a learning curve. With that being said, once I threw in the towel and upgraded for them to take care of creating my website, they did not disappoint! Gary did a wonderful job and kept in good communication with me throughout the entire process. I know that this is definitely a great investment for my business. It is evident that the Happytans company takes pride in the services they provide. Grant and Gary truly care about your business success! Thank you again!

Grant and Gary made the website…

Grant and Gary made the website building experience so easy! They were very responsive and helpful at every step of the way and created a beautiful site for my business. I highly recommend Happy Tans to anyone looking for amazing site for their spray tan business!!!

Amazing customer service and support!

Happy Tans made building my website so easy. They have great tutorial videos, and on the few occasions that I couldn’t figure something out, they responded quickly to my emails. I highly recommend them if you’re wanting to create a website for your tanning business!

Highly recommend!!!

My website game has completely transformed and the SEO help has helped my business so much!!! Customer service is phenomenal and I can't recommend them enough!!

Don’t even think twice… just do it!!!

Happy Tans made me a beautiful website. It was an easy process that I expected to be painful because web building is not even in my vocabulary! Their knowledge and expertise enabled me to focus on growing my business and not lose precious time on web development. Thank you!!! I am so proud to share my website!

Absolutely faultless process

Absolutely faultless process, love my new website. Gary and Grant are really helpful and professional. Bookings from website have definitely improved in just a week of launching. Definitely one happy customer ❤️ Thank you so much Linda Shirley FakeAway Tanning

Grant and Gary have been very helpful…

Grant and Gary have been very helpful and accommodating throughout the process. Thanks for all your help!

Look NO Further

Grant and Gary are great to work with. They took my vision for my website and exceeded my expectations when bringing it to life! Communication was great the entire process: when emailing them with changes, it was completed promptly, and we launched on schedule to coordinate with my second location. I have 2 different websites with Happy Tans and continue to refer everyone!

I am beyond thrilled with my new…

I am beyond thrilled with my new website created by Happy Tans! The whole process was so great and they did everything I asked. I didn’t have to worry about a thing. I absolutely would recommend them to anyone!

Customer Service and Support

We built our site with Happy Tans back in summer of 2021 and have now gone through several iterations with Grant and Gary. Their response time is truly second to none. More recently, I was so thankful for Grant and Gary going above and beyond for us after I was clicking around too much in Google Domains and inadvertently made our site go down. Even though this was self inflicted, they came to the rescue quickly!

I am melting over my website!

Happy Tans blew my expectations out of the water! From the very start, all my questions were answered in detail to make the daunting task of starting a website actually to be not that daunting at all...thanks to Happy Tans! Grant started me off with all the info I needed. The video chat and tutorials are an really excellent feature. Pricing was transparent, no hidden fees. Gary was my direct contact for design and he went above and beyond. I submitted everything right before the Holiday's since I had a little down time and did not expect them to be as fast as they were during that time. I am forever grateful. Did I mention my website is GORGEOUS?! Thank you so very much Happy Tans! Highly recommend to anyone in the biz.

I love my new website !

They had great communication and response times. My website is everything I wanted and they turned my vision into reality. I 10/10 recommend!

I would absolutely 10/10 recommend…

I would absolutely 10/10 recommend Happy Tans and their expertise to build a website. I have no experience in this area and they walked me through each step. Never once did they make me feel rushed even after asking the same question 10 times. Very personable and professional. Now that my site is up and running they are still a email or phone call away if I need anything at all. If your looking for someone to guide you and very knowledgeable Happy Tans will not disappoint!

Thank you so much for my website I love…

Thank you so much for my website I love it. I had a great experience with Happy Tans team. Highly recommended to anyone!

Happy Tans was amazing to work with

Happy Tans was amazing to work with! Gary was super patient in making multiple changes for me while setting up my website. The turn around is much quicker than I expected and their passion shows through their work!

I can not say enough about grant and…

I can not say enough about grant and his team.I had happy tans build my website almost 4 years ago and within a few months, I was the first spray tan salon to pop up on Google in my area. It was definitely a pivotal point in the growth my business and clientele. And over the years one of the main things I hear all my clients say is that they loved the professionalism of my website and that’s why they chose to book with me. Grant has been by my side ever cents as I grew my business and rebranded. Grant helped change my website and update it multiple times. He is so kind I can reach out to him and he personally gets back to me within a day, he has now designed many websites for my friends in the beauty industry, and as even now designing a website for my husband’s construction business.I’m forever great full for happy tans they are stuck with me for life!

The Happytans team listened and…

The Happytans team listened and implemented everything I had in visioned for my website. They have Excellent customer service. I highly recommend Happytans!

The entire happytans team was phenomenal!

The entire team was phenomenal! Gary always answered any questions or concerns and gave me great ideas. Very smooth process. I’m extremely happy with the end result.

The best !!

I strongly recommend Happy Tans. Grant and Gary are the best. I have been with happy tans for over 3 years now, not only did they do an amazing job designing my websites, but they also provide me with ongoing support. Every time I need assistance with something related to my website not only are they fast to respond but fast to help! I’m so happy to have them running my website it’s such an important part of my business. I’m glad to have such amazing support! Thank you Gary & Grant for being the best and always keeping my website up to date.

Hype For Happy Tans

Happy Tans created a beautiful website for our new business. I'm so glad that I chose to have them build it for us rather than try to build it on our own! They helped guide us step by step through the process of getting the site live. Even after the website was finished, they continued to help and answer questions. The customer service is absolutely the best there is! Gary is super patient and able to understand what was needed even when we were not sure ourselves! The best part is that they know the beauty biz. They are working with businesses just like yours and can offer insights in a way that other website builders can't. I 100% recommend Happy Tans!

Super helpful

Super knowledgeable, patient (as I had a lot of questions) and response time is incredibly quick! Fantastic experience - truly!!!

Beautiful work by caring friendly people!

I cancled my Wix subscription when I came across Happy Tans. I knew the importance of my business website and had the vision of what I wanted to create and portray. However, every time I sat down to construct it - I was overwhelmed - I had vision but lacked the tech skills and precision to execute the site the way I wanted it. I had to stop wasting precious time and energy agonizing over this crucial task in my business. I knew hiring Happy Tans was the solution to this. The price point is incredible for what you receive. My website is absolutely gorgeous and my vision was brought to life. Gary was so easy and pleasant to work with and very gracious about any edits I needed to make.Thank you, Happy Tans!

Gulf Coast Tans By Patsy recommendation

I am thrilled to have a new, improved website from the wonderful folks at Happy Tans! The process was made very easy for me by a well informed staff whose goal is to see that my business is represented online in the best light possible. My overall experience with Happy Tans was positive at each step, communication was timely and thorough, and my website is exactly what I wanted and needed for my clients. I was in great hands with Happy Tans and I highly recommend this wonderful business for quality online representation as well as the information they share with business owners to navigate online presence to increase success.

WOW Grant & Gary and Happy Tans Team

WOW Grant & Gary and his team are amazing ! I was so impressed with the Instagram live I watched with Grant through my network group both with Audrey Lyons W/ Salty Beach and Emily Scott with Bronze Palms and knowing how successful they are and they have Grant in their circle and hearing how Grant knows our sunless industry very well, I saw he knew our focus and need, I knew I was in good hands to make the jump to finally pay the money to "Game Change" my website going from a brochure website that looked "just ok" to having a professional website that is working for me. I am so excited to watch it work and show results. Happy Tans has a great team who is very Prompt and knowledgeable, and we are lucky to have them in our industry

Happy Tans is simply the best

Happy Tans is simply the best! Our website they created is user friendly and beautiful! Excellent customer service and really enjoyed working with Happy Tans!

I love HappyTans

I love HappyTans! It is so user friendly and has been easy to set up from the beginning. I tried other websites and was just unable to create something as beautiful and professional as I have been with HappyTans. The customer service is excellent and they are so fast to answer your questions! Definitely recommend!

Can trust with such a vital part of your business

Been with Happy Tans for several years now.. They’ve always been there when I need them.. updates, links, questions, troubleshooting.. whatever it may be. As a small business owner, it’s a big relief to be able to put one vital portion of your business into someone’s hands knowing you can trust them entirely. Not only represent you but to be there for you when you you need them. Highly recommend!

Happy Tans has been so helpful and…

Happy Tans has been so helpful and amazing. I love my website. Gary from the support team, is very responsive and is always eager to help with any changes I may have for my site. The whole process has been seamless and stress free :)

I am so happy with happytans

I am so happy with happytans! My website came together beautifully, and the process was so easy! Anytime I have a question or a change I want to make, I get response quickly! I am now searchable and booking so many more clients!

There is so much to say about Grant

There is so much to say about Grant. He has and still is on top of all my updates with our website. I never have too worry if something is added or removed. I’m very grateful for his expertise and professionalism. Thank you Grant for helping me grow my business.

Happy Tans is AMAZING

Happy Tans is AMAZING! I absolutely love working with Happy Tans, their website builder is very simple to use and has all of the assistance you need, Grant and his team are so helpful and have timely responses to any questions I have. Being able to be found on GOOGLE was huge for my business too! Every time a client tells me they googled me I am thankful for them because I don't have the time or know how to make this happens! It's having a team working around the clock to make my business thrive!