Unlike so many things beauty-related, the sun-kissed look will never go out of style. Everyone looks better when they have a healthy, radiant tan. But the question remains… to bake, or not to bake?
Tanning beds are out. We all know the damage that twice-per-week visits to the tanning salon can have on our skin. The sun itself is no better. Not only do the UV rays emitted by the sun have damaging effects on our skin in the short term (i.e. sunburns), but in the long term they can cause discoloration, hyperpigmentation and melisma.
Then what are we to do? Many former sun-worshipers have turned to self-tanner to get the glow they’re after. Alas, some of the ingredients in conventional self-tanners are just as harmful to our bodies, if not even more so. If that’s not a reason to go natural or organic with your self-tanner than we don’t know what is.
BEST NATURAL AND ORGANIC SELF-TANNERS
If you’re avoiding the sun to protect your health, you should also be avoiding the irritating and sometimes toxic ingredients that are contained in self-tanners. A natural and organic self-tanner offer you the same glow and radiance as conventional ones, without introducing toxicity to the largest organ of your body – your skin. Check out our list below of the best organic natural self tanners to learn more about our recommended products.
Beauty By Earth Organic Self Tanner $28.99
Create the perfect depth of color with this buildable sunless tanning lotion that doesn’t just give you the sun-kissed glow you’re looking for, but works to nourish and hydrate your skin at the same time. Keeping your skin moisturized is the key to maintaining your tan and with organic ingredients like shea butter, coconut seed oil, and jojoba oil, you’re skin’s thirst will be more than quenched. You’ll notice your new tan within six hours of application and it’s so natural you can remove any “oopsie” stains with a bit of lemon!
Eco Tan Invisible Tan $44
As the first and only brand to be certified by the Organic Food Chain, ECO tan is a name you can trust to deliver your tan using only certified natural and organic ingredients. Suitable for application on the sensitive skin of your face as well as your whole body, this self-tanner helps achieve a natural-looking tan for people with medium to olive skin tones. It’s full of soothing ingredients like chamomile and avocado oil as well as antioxidants like aloe vera, which will protect your skin long after you’ve used it.
Sircut Skin Sircuit Soliel Firming Self Tanner $48
If you’re one to avoid greasy, heavy creams that feel like their suffocating your pores, than this lightweight, easily-absorbed self-tanner is for you! Perfect for all skin types, but especially those that are prone to breakouts, Sircuit’s mineral-self tanner is free of fragrances and full of natural ingredients that will keep your skin healthy. While you might find yourself reapplying this product every 2 to 3 days, we see that an as ode to how very subtle and muted it’s ingredients and textures are.
Skinerals Californium Sunless Bronzer $23
Skinerals is more than just a great product – it’s a brand that practices giving back. A portion of the proceeds from every bottle sold is donated to skin cancer research and we couldn’t be more happy to give our hard-earned money to a brand that holds our health close to their hearts. Their self-tanner is a unique mousse that gives you a beautiful bronze glow while invigorating your skin with natural and organic ingredients like vanilla bean extract, and shea butter. With this self-tanner, you not only help your skin look better, you can rest peacefully knowing you’ve done a little part in making the world a bit healthier.
VIta Liberata Fabolous Gradual Tanning Lotion $30
If you’re anything like us – that is, a little clumsy – then look no further! Self-tanning lotions can get messy and that means stains on clothing and on the area in which you’re working. But Vita’s sunless tanning lotion applies clear so you don’t have to worry about any transfer onto your clothes! All good things are worth waiting for and the (very short) wait for this clear lotion to gradually develop into a natural, soft glow is worth every minute. Plus it’s full of certified organic botanicals that are gentle enough for dry and sensitive skin types.
Suntegrity 5 In 1 Natural Self Tanner $36
The active ingredient in Suntegrity’s natural self-tanner is an Eco-certified DHA that’s made from.. wait for it….beets! Who knew that one of our fave veggies could also help give us the sun-kissed tan we’ve been craving? Not only that, but beets are a powerful antioxidant that will protect your skin from free radicals. It’s lovely, summer fragrance comes from natural coconut and it’s jam-packed with botanical extracts like goji and acai, hydrating oils and, the most skin-beneficial of all, vitamin E.
WHY CHOOSE NATURAL AND ORGANIC SELF-TANNERS
According to some health authorities, using self-tanners is less invasive and problematic than exposing your skin to the sun for long periods of time. We wonder if that takes into consideration some of the potentially harmful and toxic ingredients that you can find in your typical, unnatural and non-organic lotions.
We had a look through some conventional self-tanners and what we found might surprise you. Below are some common ingredients found in self-tanners and why they mightn’t be a healthy option for lathering on your skin:
This ingredient is derived from petroleum (i.e. a fossil fuel) and it’s an inexpensive way to create the effect of hydration. At best, petroleum doesn’t allow your pores to breath or behave naturally. At its worst, it can be carcinogenic.
SODIUM HYDROXYMETHYL GLYCINATE
This is often guised under the term “natural preservative”. Let’s remember that not all things natural are good for us (arsenic is natural, for example). In high concentrations, sodium hydroxymethyl glycinate can be irritating to the skin and to the eyes. Sometimes it can contain formaldehyde, which permeates the skin and is toxic to your body.
How are these still allowed in our skincare products? This preservative is the most commonly found preservative in cosmetics and skincare but it’s a proven endocrine disruptor. Credit where credit is due, though: more and more brands are starting to avoid parabens because of all the negative press (and rightfully so).
They use this stuff in the dry cleaning business. Anything that can clear deep stains faster than you can say “go”, is not something you want to be putting on your skin.
More-often-than-not, this item is a skin irritant that is also comedogenic (i.e. it blocks pores, doesn’t allow them to breathe naturally, and causes breakouts).
There is some evidence that this substance can bind to nitrates already present in the body. The short of it is: nitrates are carcinogenic.
ARTIFICIAL FRAGRANCES AND COLORS
Found in all kinds of cosmetics and skincare products, fragrances and color additives contain a host of ingredients that are potentially harmful and toxic. Brands don’t have to disclose what goes into the process of creating fragrance or color, so we can’t really know what’s in them. But what we do know is that many fragrances used in self-tanners are derived from various petrochemicals, which can be carcinogenic.
This is a chemical sunscreen that is used in some self-tanners to help your skin absorb the lotion. Makes sense for a self-tanner to contain something like this, right? Sure.. but that doesn’t make it safe. Studies have shown that this ingredient might promote the growth of cancer and has been connected to developmental and reproductive problems.
THE SAFE SIDE OF SELF-TANNER INGREDIENTS – DHA
When scanning the ingredients label of a self-tanner you will come across a chemical called dihydroxyacetone (or DHA). DHA is what causes your skin to turn brown when you apply a self-tanner – it combines with the already present amino acids in your skin and the reaction is what results in browning.
What’s important here, in terms of your health, is that this reaction only takes place on the “stratum corneum”, which is the topmost layer of your dermis. This layer is comprised by dead skin cells and that’s the only part of your body that DHA effects. Studies haven’t found any evidence to suggest that DHA penetrates your skin any further than that. So, don’t worry about finding this chemical in your sunless tanner.
If your someone who loves the look of tanned skin but you’re also aware of how damaging the sun can be, then you might consider self-tanners. But protecting your skin while giving it a youthful glow isn’t as easy as picking up the first self-tanner you see. In the long term, the ingredients in conventional sunless tanners can be just as harmful and toxic to your body as the sun. Luckily, the natural and organic movements that are changing everything from what we eat to what we put on our skin have infiltrated the self-tanning market. You can now achieve that desired radiance without harming your body and, instead, providing it with the nourishment it needs.