A Guide to Natural Self Tanning

Holistic make-up artist Sjaniël Turrell shares her favourite natural self tan brands and application tips to get that bronzed, sunkissed glow without damaging your skin. 

Summer is here – or so they say as I sit with rain pouring outside and the heating on in June! – so far so British. Which brings us to another British first-world problem – lilly white skin while you have a booked summer holiday where everyone else is certainly going to look glowing and bronzed.

Since we all know that trying to turn that around in one day on holiday is a very, very bad idea (hello lobsters and skin damage), it is imperative that we compile a list of our clean beauty alternatives to sunless tanning products. Whilst the main tanning ingredient, dihydroxyacetone – the active ingredient that reacts with the amino acids in the top layers of skin cells to change their pigment, remains the same in both natural and commercial products, it is the accompanying ingredients that matter. Natural oils and plant-based ingredients mean better moisturising components, free from nasties and toxic fragrances that in themselves may not be biologically or sun safe. Another thing to consider, for those who love their spray tans – is that you are quite possibly breathing in particles of sunscreen and additive chemicals and that most certainly is not good for you.

Avoid getting sunburnt or absorbing unwanted nasties whilst on a tanning mission and get your glow on in the bathroom with our list of clean and effective self- tanning brands:


Dedicated self-tanning brand Luna Bronze has four tanning options for you to choose from: a daily ‘slow-tan’ moisturiser if you’re wanting something subtle and gradual, a self-tanning lotion that gives an immediate bronzing finish with a deepening glow, a tanning mousse for those seeking a rich, golden tan and an inventive facial tanning mist that you can spray on without needing to use your hands. 


Australian self-tan brand Eco by Sonya is becoming a very popular choice for those wanting to avoid harmful rays and ingredients. Certified organic and cruelty free, this range includes 5 options including a mousse, moisturising lotion and the novel “tanning water” that you apply to your face or body like a toner


Madara is a skincare and makeup brand with a number of sun-safe products. Their one sunless tanning product ‘FAKE IT’ is a tanning milk with superiour moisturising ingredients that are certified natural and gives a natural sun-kissed glow for those who prefer a subtle glow rather than an all out bronzing effect. 


Biosolis is an excellent natural sunscreen range for the entire family, their natural and organic certified self tanning mist is a spray for both face and body that gives immediate colour to the skin with a gradual developing tan. 


Skincare brand Oskia has two self-tan options in their offering. The Adaptive Tanning Mist is a very fine mist that needs no rubbing or blending and that is filled with many amazing anti-oxidant ingredients to keep your skin healthy and deepen the tanning effect. The Adaptive Tanning Drops is an ingenious product where you add 1-3 drops into your regular moisturiser or oil and apply that to your face and body for your desired tan level and also comes in a handy travel size. 


Tan Organic is a natural and organic certified self-tan brand that offers a selection of tanning products. There’s a self-tan oil that absorbs right away for fuss free application that does not stain whites. The mousse and lotion offer a deeper tan result and there are also moisturising face and body oils, handy exfoliator glove and application mitts on offer – essentially your one-stop self tan shop.


The two products on offer from Organic Pharmacy include a self tan lotion for face and body and a natural tan accelerator that uses Betacarotene and Kappi Kacchu to stimulate melanin production in the skin and help you develop a deeper tan with less sun exposure – remember to use in conjunction with sun protection.


Australian skincare brand Trilogy offers the 100% natural self tanning gel that is easy to apply and absorbs quickly. It gives an instant bronzing glow thanks to the naturally derived caramel and continues to deepen into a golden tan over 2-3 hours. 


Balance Me is a UK natural skincare brand that caters to all skin concerns and its Gradual Tanning Drops are also a DIY formula where you choose to add it to your favourite face and body moisturiser or oil. The fact that you can control the depth (2 drops for medium tan, 3 drops for deep), means that you can add less to your face for example to keep it more natural. 


Certified organic self-tanning option from Lavera include a self-tanning lotion for the face and one for body full of deeply nourishing and moisturising oils and containing aloe vera to provide a gentle and subtly, glowing and streak free tan. It is cruelty free, vegan and gluten free and also very affordable.


Green People offers a self tanning lotion that applies easily and gives a very subtle but genuine looking healthy glow. It has surprisingly low self-tan odour and absorbs quickly into the skin. Certified organic, cruelty free and Vegan it is jam packed with anti-oxidant oils and plant extracts for enhanced skin health.



  • To ensure you get the best results from your sunless tan, good application is key. It is always advisable to exfoliate before a self tanning session because smoother skin means a smoother finish – use a dry body brush before showering or an exfoliating bath mitt like the Hydrea Carbonised Exfoliating Glove whilst showering. 
  • Give your skin new life with the amazing Saint Iris Adriatica Purity Paste, a body mask that you wash off after only 3 minutes with incredible smoothing results. 
  • Once out the shower just gently pat off excess water, but leave your skin damp (or just do it wet straight after your shower) and massage in a few pumps of body oil until your skin is dry and all the oil is absorbed – try Isla ApothecaryLina Hanson or By Sarah London for your ultimate body oil experience.
  • Once fully absorbed you are ready to apply your self tan – make sure you remove any rings and apply the product evenly all over your body and don’t forget to wash your hands after! Or use this handy self tan mitt for easy application sans orange palms.
  • Give yourself 5 – 10 min before getting dressed to avoid getting product transfer onto your clothes or bedding. 


For more advice on protecting your skin from the sun, read Sjaniël’guide on where to start with natural sunscreens.

Show off your perfect tan in some sustainable swimwear.

Looking for the perfect pair of sunglasses to suit your face shape? See our guide.