Best Drugstore Self-Tanners

Get Glowing With These Budget Self-Tanners

Want to look like you hit the beach, without subjecting your skin to the sun's harmful rays? Look for these super-cheap, super-effective self tanning lotions. They're guaranteed to make you feel sunkissed, but with softer, healthier skin. They're all available at a drugstore near you.

Most self-tanners have a distinctly chemical smell. That's where this Banana Boat tanner differs: it smells more like a moisturizer than a tanner, and dries so quickly (under five minutes), you won't mind working a little harder to get it to absorb. (It's pretty thick.) Works in one application.

Price: $8

As close as you can get to an idiot-proof self-tanner, this lotion is the one to try if you have problems with streaks, spots, etc. An informal poll of our testing pool indicated that it does work slightly better on darker skin rather than very pale, but it's a good, effective product no matter what. Just remember to exfoliate first, as you always would, and to wipe up any spills immediately, as it can stain tile.

Price: $8 or less

The old Jergens Natural Glow Express had a really heavy chemical smell, but people put up with it, because it was one of the few products that promised to give you a tan over time, like you'd get if you sat out in the sun for days on end, instead of transforming you into an Oompa Loompa overnight. And then eventually, other companies followed suit and created products that would give you that gradual glow, and we heard less about this product.

In the last few years, however, Jergens has tweaked the formula so that it smells way less like an old school self-tanner. If you haven't given this a try, it's worth your while. Still comes in two shades, one for lighter skin and one for darker.

Price: $7 or less.

Love sunless tanning, but hate all the chemicals? This product might be for you. A gradual tanner along the lines of Jergens' offering, this lotion promises a hint of color, along with natural ingredients like rose hips and vitamin E. Just be warned that this is not an organic product,and "natural" can be kind of subjective. There are still plenty of tongue twisters like glyceryl stearate and dimethicone hiding out among the almond and apricot oils on the ingredient list. Those aren't necessarily risky ingredients, but it's important to note that you're not exactly dyeing your skin with purified walnut juice and crushed leaves.

Price: $10 or less.

Need a convincing tan in a hurry? This foam goes on fast, absorbs quickly, and smells more like a fruit basket than a chemical vat. One note: if you have darker skin, you'll want to buy the darker shade. Olive-skinned users have reported being disappointed with the lightness of the paler product.

Price: $12 or under.

If you're in a hurry, skip this old favorite: it feels tacky to the touch for a couple of hours after application. If you've got a day to wait around, however, Hawaiian Tropic's self-tanners are a solid choice. Comes in three shades and will provide a deep, dark tan, as well as moisturizing properties. Good news for those of us who spend too much time in the sun, even with self-tanners. Price: $8.

Another, more naturally derived sunless tanner, Alba Botanica's Very Emollient Sunless Tanner is especially good for users with dry skin. Like some of the other tanners on our list, this product is best applied ahead of time -- three hours or so should do it. If you want a darker color, wait three hours and then reapply to layer and deepen your tan. Price: $7 or less.