PSA: Self-Tanners Can *Benefit* Your Skin. How To Get Glowing & Bronzed In A Healthy Way

June 26, 2023

Back in early to mid-2000s when I was a susceptible teen, noticeably tanned stars were all the rage. Abercrombie & Fitch sold the beauty ideal of tanned legs and seashell anklets. Girls and women walked around with skin three shades deeper and more orange than their natural complexion. Eager to fit in, I got a tube of L’Oréal self-tanning gel and ended up with orange zebra stripes all over my legs. (How?? I thought I rubbed it all in!) When Jergens launched a self-tanning lotion that promised to build to a natural bronzed glow, I tried it again. I couldn’t mess up putting on lotion, right? Wrong, because I did. My skin looked a lot worse than before I started, and I gave up on self-tanners.

Flash forward some twenty years (!!), I’m a grown woman who is comfortable in her own skin, more or less. I sincerely believe that we’re our most beautiful in the range of a few shades that we’re born with. For example, my natural untanned complexion (like my midsection most of the year round) is ivory. My face and hands shift from pale sand to milky cappuccino from winter to summer. Typically, I don’t try to veer from my natural shade, like attempting a glamorous bronze in winter or a bright ivory in summer. But recently, a flood of beauty inspo photos of well-tanned women has got me thinking about my own possibilities.

a tan and blond woman wearing a white strapless bikini top and playing with her hair.

Self-tanning doesn’t have to have a moral weight attached to it: trying it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re rejecting your natural color. It’s something fun you can do like coloring your hair or painting your nails, which may complement your outfit or mood or style. Also, as it turns out, self-tanners can actually benefit your skin.

How can self-tanning be good for your health?

As we all know, tanning is a result of your skin’s production of melanin after exposure to the sun’s UV rays. While most natural and free, this also damages your skin. UVA causes premature aging like wrinkles and sunspots, while UVB causes serious conditions like melanoma.

Self-tanning reduces your chances of getting these skin damages by keeping you out of unnecessary sun for the sake of beauty. Of course you should still use sunblock, but there is real psychological benefit of being already tan and not feeling the need to be in the sun.

But wait, that’s not all. Self-tanners are typically made with dihydroxyacetone (DHA), a stainer that’s the only FDA-approved ingredient for self-tanning. DHA offers some protection against UVA light. It may also provide protection for people suffering from photosensitivity disorders—which happens to include yours truly.

How do I self-tan in a healthy way?

It’s 2023 and there’s a panoply of cruelty-free, vegan, and easy to apply self-tanners in the market now.

Isle of Paradise self-tanning spray

Isle of Paradise Day Dew Self-Tan Face Mist, $24

This affordable, cruelty-free, vegan, and toxin-free self-tanning spray goes on evenly, so you won’t have to second guess where you already applied and where you haven’t. It also has hyaluronic acid and vitamin C for hydration and rejuvenation.

St. Tropez Self Tan Bronzing Water Body Mist, $45

st. tropez bronzing water body mist on a white background.

This cruelty-free and vegan body mist is colorless, meaning you can put on your clothes or hit the sheets without the dreaded staining. Simply mist over your body and rub down for an even finish. It’s also reef-safe and comes in recyclable packaging.


Yes, I can hear your brows rising to the ceiling! It’s a French beauty secret to snack on carrots for a bronzed glow sans soleil. The carotenoids in carrots can color your skin exactly the way you think it does. But not only that, carotenoids also provides protection from the sun and can help individuals suffering from photosensitivity. Just writing this sentences makes me crave a tall glass of carrot juice!

Carotenoids are also found in sweet potatoes, pumpkin, mango, and papaya. These all happen to be some of my favorite veggies and fruits. Done and done!

Pro tips

  • Be sure to exfoliate first using a gentle exfoliator before applying any self-tanner. This will prevent the streaks!
  • Don’t forget to put on sunblock any time you go under the sun.
  • Powder bronzers and shimmery body oil are a temporary and foolproof ways to try out a tan. You’ll be able to tell if self-tanning really is the way to go. You can also highlight your self-tanning with these day-of tools.


Get more like this—Sign up for our daily inspirational newsletter for exclusive content!


Photo: Jack DeLulio via Unsplash; respective brands


always stay inspired!