I hate self-tanner. There, I said it. I hate how it smells, I hate how it stains your sheets, and I hate how easy it is to mess up—meaning you have to live with weird streaks or patches for days.
Plus, as I explained in my self-tanner tutorial, it can actually harm your skin, too. The active ingredient in self-tanners triggers a chemical reaction that generates free radicals, accelerates aging and damages DNA.
Fortunately, self-tanner isn't the only route to a sunless tan. There's a new generation of body bronzers that can give you a glowing, sun-kissed look right away.
Not only do they deliver instant colour, they're also safer than self-tanners, have no unpleasant odour and wash right off with soap and water. Bonus: Most are formulated to be transfer-resistant, so you don't need to worry about them rubbing off on your clothes.
Keep scrolling to discover the best body bronzers I've found.
The Best Body Bronzers of 2021
By Terry Tea to Tan Face & Body
By Terry Tea to Tan Face & Body is a water-based liquid bronzer spray infused with tea extracts and flecks of fine shimmer. Let the particles settle at the bottom if you prefer a matte finish; otherwise, shake the bottle so they disperse throughout the formula and leave you glowing. It comes in one buildable and transfer-resistant "iced tea" shade.
Isle of Paradise Disco Tan Instant Wash-Off Body Bronzer
Isle of Paradise Disco Tan Instant Wash-Off Body Bronzer has a natural bronzey tint with super fine, subtle shimmer. It should suit light to medium skin tones best, but can be layered to achieve a deeper colour. Although it doesn't claim to be water-resistant or transfer-resistant, I've found that it stays put quite well. Founder Jules Von Hep also says you can use a bit of translucent powder to help it set.
James Read Enhance Body Foundation Wash Off Tan
James Read Enhance Body Foundation Wash Off Tan is a creamy but quick-drying tinted lotion with a luminous (but not shimmery) finish. Although there's just one medium shade, you can apply a second layer to deepen the colour, or mix it with your favourite body lotion to sheer it out. This formula is transfer-resistant and water-resistant (just give it a few minutes to dry before you get dressed).
Marc Jacobs Glow Away Bronzing Coconut Body Stick
Marc Jacobs Glow Away Bronzing Coconut Body Stick is a creamy, non-greasy body bronzer in stick form. The coconut-based formula is both waterproof and transfer-resistant, and dries quickly—so you'll get the best results if you apply and blend in sections. There are three bronzey shades (light, medium and deep), which also help to blur the look of imperfections.
Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs Leg Makeup
Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs Leg Makeup is a spray-on body foundation that comes in six high-coverage shades with very little shimmer. This is one of the most water-resistant and transfer-resistant formulas. Technically, it's for legs, but I don't see why you couldn't use it all-over!
Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs Lotion Leg Makeup
Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs Lotion Leg Makeup is similar to the brand's spray-on body foundation, but in a lotion format. This one, too, is water-resistant and transfer-resistant, and comes in five shades to match any skin tone.
South Seas Island Glow Body Bronzer
South Seas Island Glow Body Bronzer is a shimmering, bronze-tinted lotion that was originally created for the contestants on Dancing with the Stars. As such, it dries quickly and is extremely transfer-resistant. There's just the one shade, which can be built up in layers for a deeper tan.
St. Tropez One Night Only Wash Off Face & Body Lotion
St. Tropez One Night Only Wash Off Face & Body Lotion is a tinted lotion that's available in two natural golden shades (light/medium and medium/dark). The finish is matte, not shimmery, and it lasts for up to 24 hours. Best of all, it is both transfer-resistant and water-resistant.
Tan-Luxe Instant Hero Skin Perfector Illuminating Wash Off Body Bronzer
Tan-Luxe Instant Hero Skin Perfector Illuminating Wash Off Body Bronzer is a full-coverage tinted lotion with illuminating properties, so it can be used not just to bronze but to also camouflage redness, spider veins and cellulite. It's transfer-resistant, long-lasting and has a built-in sponge applicator that makes it quick and easy to glide on.
Tarte Better Bod Bronze & Contour
Tarte Better Bod Bronze Contour comes in one natural-looking shade with a completely matte finish. That makes it ideal for both contouring imperfections as well as mimicking a tan. Use the accompanying mitt to help blend out the creamy formula. After about 30 seconds, it dries down and becomes waterproof.
This Works Perfect Legs Skin Miracle
This Works Perfect Legs Skin Miracle is a tinted body serum infused with natural caramel colour and barely-there shimmer. It's not just for legs—you can use it on any other part of your body to even out skin tone, combat scars and discolourations, and add a subtle sun-kissed glow. Since it's not transfer-resistant, wear it with dark clothes or add a dusting of powder to help lock it on.
Vita Liberata Body Blur Instant HD Skin Finish
Vita Liberata Body Blur Instant HD Skin Finish is a creamy tinted lotion available in five realistic-looking shades, with a tiny hint of shimmer. Think of this one like a BB cream—it's all about creating the look of flawless skin with a wash of sheer colour that reflects light and blurs imperfections. Since it does not claim to be transfer-resistant, consider setting it with a bit of translucent powder if needed.
Shop Editor’s Picks
Have you tried a body bronzer?
Which product is your favourite?