I won't lie, I used to be a fake and baker long ago! I went tanning in high school and college and now I would never in a million years (age/education I guess?). I'm sure there was damage done, but luckily I am religious with my skin care routine and don't spend much time in the sun these days, so hopefully I have been able to reverse some of it.
That said, who doesn't love glowy bronzed skin?! I look and feel better when I have a tan, but I'd rather not damage my cells in the process nowadays (or waste the time laying out honeslty). There are so many self-tanners out there that I am sure there are plenty of other good ones, but today, I am talking about my favorite and what works for me.
For Your Body:
St. Tropez Mousse has been my ride of die for years now. It is so easy to apply, creates a great glow for my tone and is quick most importantly! There are a few variations of the products and I have tried a couple. It can be found at Ulta, Sephora, Nordstrom and it's own website. While I try to use really clean beauty products (and food and household products), this isn't the cleanest product. It is paraben, sulfate and phthalate free, it does contain fragrance and propylene glycol. They say they are all transfer-free and that they don't smell like tanner but... they're wrong lol Only the newest one, the clear Purity Bronzing Water truly has no transfer and smells good!
Self-Tan Classic Bronzing Mousse- the easiest original to start with! If you're fair, I would use this one because it isn't quite as dark as the others. This has the bronzing color-guard for easy application (aka you can see where you put it already). It does take 4-8 hours to develop.
Self-Tan Express Bronzing Mousse- This is my favorite because it only takes 1-3 hours to develop so I put in on in the morning and then shower it off at lunch. (I do 3-4 hours). It's a good color the longer you leave it on as well.
Self-Tan Extra Dark Bronzing Mousse- This is the deepest tan of them all, which I love but it takes 4-8 hours to develop and since it has the bronzing color-guard, it will get on what you touch. If you're darker toned to begin with, this is the better choice over the original.
Self-Tan Purity Bronzing Water Mousse- This is the newest product and it really has an improved scent. It smells nice, it's non-transferable so you don't get it on your clothing or sheets, but because it is clear, there is no color-guard so you have to be good at applying to know where you've already put it. It also isn't quite as dark but is very convenient since it's clear, so I still like and use it. If I had to sleep in it due to time constraints, I would hands down use this one.
*They also have gradual tan lotions, which I've heard are great but they don't suit my needs so I have not personally tried them.
Deep, even tan
Easy to apply
Long-lasting (~1 week for me but I shave my legs often, rarely put on lotion and take scalding hot showers so it'd last longer if I wasn't terrible).
Somewhat of a tanner scent (except the clear option!)
Not a "clean" product (although I have not found any that are aside from Coola!)
Tricks & Tips:
If you do anything, use the application mitt! It doesn't have to be the St. Tropez one - although that is what I use- but use any type of tanning mitt you can find. It will create such an even tan, and you wont have to worry about staining your hands.
Wear loose/dark clothes while it sets. The clear option you can wear anything and it doesn't seem to transfer though.
Exfoliate and shave prior to application to make it last longer and apply more evenly.
Stay moisturized before and after application and it will make it last longer as well as appear and fade more evenly.
For Your Face:
For years, I used Clinique's Self Sun Face Tinted Lotion because it didn't make me breakout. I still think it's alright, but I have upgraded to a new holy grail face product for this: Coola Sunless Tan Anti-Aging Face Serum. It is SO GOOD that it's worth it's semi-absurd price tag (keep in mind, I recognize I am over the top when it comes to skin products). There is nothing that I don't love about this: not only that it's a clean/organic product, but it has so many other benefits from its amazing ingredients such as an antioxidant-rich blend of argan oil, vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, and plant stem cell cultures.
It's gradual, doesn't make me breakout, doesn't smell and isn't sticky or gross feeling. To apply it, I just mix a pump in with my Caudalie Anti-Wrinkle Glow Serum and Farsali Rose Gold Elixir that I use in the morning after washing my face. It would be too harsh on it's own so mixing it in with another serum allows for easy application. Here is a link to my full skin care routine post, too! Just make sure you remember to wash your hands after you apply! Another thing I really like about this is that it's a gradual self-tanner so it doesn't just wash off like a bronzer when you remove your makeup at the end of the day (like Drunk Elephant's similar new product).
If you have tried others that you love, let me know! I am always on the hunt to improve products, but so far, these have been fantastic for me!