10 of the Best Tanning Drops According to Our Editors (& One Even Kelly Ripa Swears By)

Summer glow, here we come

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We may or may not be addicted to applying tanning drops to our face and neck for an effortless, sunless glow. Our editors have tried many brands and have settled into our favorites, but that’s not to say that there aren’t a ton of other great options on the market (like, tons). If you’re in search of a seamless summer glow so you can comfortably lather your face with sunscreen while looking like you’ve basked in the sunshine, we’ve got you covered.

The Best Tanning Drops At A Glance

How to Use Tanning Drops

First thing’s first, you’re going to only want to apply tanning drops on freshly cleaned and preferably exfoliated skin. You can use an AHA or BHA exfoliant to slough off dead skin for a smooth base. Note: if you’re doing this in the morning, you’ll want to follow up with a high SPF since exfoliants like this can make the skin more sensitive to sun during the daylight.

Tanning drops are most commonly used on the face, and the most popular way to apply them is by mixing a few drops in with your moisturizer for a more even (and a little more diluted) application to your face and neck. “I’ve also used the moisturizer technique on my body, too, and it works just fine, but you don’t get a substantial tan like you would with a mousse or other body self-tanner,” says PureWow’s commerce editor, and self-proclaimed self-tan expert, Olivia Dubyak. You also have the option to apply the drops directly onto your skin, sans moisturizer, but we recommend only attempting this if you are a seasoned self-tanner. Because tanning drops don’t have a color guard (immediate color that guides you where to apply), it’s important to make sure you’re getting an even blend across your face and neck or you’ll end up with patchy spots or untanned areas. And the final important step some people forget: wash your hands!

Is Tanning Mousse or Tanning Drops Better?

These two products have quite a big difference in terms of application process and color. Tanning mousse is better suited for body tanning since most mousses have a pigment added to help guide you to show where you’ve applied the tanner and where you still need tanner. If you are an avid self-tanner, however, there are tanning drops made for the body to mix with moisturizer so even though you can’t see where you have already applied, being thorough with your blending will ensure a beautiful natural tan. Tanning drops are great if you want something a little more subtle, but mousse typically offers a deeper pigment with much more color options to choose from.

How We Chose the Best Tanning Drops

Finding a natural looking glow by way of a bottle of fake tan drops is somewhat of a hobby for some of our editors here at PureWow. We offered up our opinions on the best tanning drops we’ve tried and which ones we find to be the most effective at giving us the dreamy tan we love. From reviews we’ve read, to color range, to ease of application and how long they last are just a few things we considered when deciding our faves. Spoiler alert: our favorite among multiple editors is the Isle of Paradise Self-Tanning Face Drops ($32)—we even reviewed them ourselves. We also took note of some celebrities’ favorite tanning drops, like the Sol by Jergens Drops ($20) which are a go-to for Kourtney Kardashian-Barker. So, without further ado, here are the best tanning drops we recommend for your glistening summer tan.

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Best Overall

1. Isle of Paradise Self-Tanning Face Drops

Isle of Paradise

  • What We Like: subtle scent,thicker consistency
  • What We Don’t Like: will run out quickly if you’re also using for body
  • Size: 1-ounce, 0.33-ounce
  • Colors Available: light, medium, dark
  • Standout Review: “This provides the perfect tan—I use about five drops in my moisturizer about every four days and it gives me a slightly golden glow, [and] it’s not orangey or patchy.” —a Sephora customer

Many of our editors have tried this bestselling bottle of tanning drops, and all concur that it has a very effortless looking tan result and the bottle lasts quite a while since a little goes a long way. “You just have to be very careful with the amount of drops you use because it can get wild fast,” advises assistant editor, sales & deals Destinee Scott. The product has a slightly thicker consistency which makes it easier to mix with moisturizer and a less runny application.

Best Plumping

2. St. Tropez Tan Tonic Glow Drops

St. Tropez

  • What We Like: hydrating, slightly thicker consistency
  • What We Don’t Like: only one shade available
  • Size: 1-ounce
  • Colors Available: one shade
  • Standout Review: “I have really sensitive skin, but this product did not make me break out. I used it in the evening and the following day everyone was telling me how beautiful my face looked!” —a Sephora customer

Long-lasting with added benefits, these glow drops aren’t just for tanning your skin. They’re formulated with hydrating ingredients to keep your skin looking plumped up and quenched during the driest of summer days. “I like that they have added skincare benefits (like niacinamide and hyaluronic acid). They feel really hydrating, smell nice and I've never had issues with orange tones,” attests senior food editor Katherine Gillen.

Most Lightweight

3. +Lux Unfiltered No. 12 Bronzing Drops

Lux Unfiltered

  • What We Like: lightweight consistency, subtle scent
  • What We Don’t Like: application can be a little messy
  • Size: 1-ounce
  • Colors Available: one shade
  • Standout Review: “[It’s] not patchy or orange. I mix with my night cream about 2 times a week. Gives such a nice glow!” —an Amazon customer

These drops have a more watery consistency, so it’s very easy to use too much or get it in places you don’t want it to be. However, if you are a seasoned self-tanner, you’ll find that the color is super natural and less orangey, and more olivey like a lot of tanners. “I have a few tanning drops I swap between since this one is on the pricier side, but it gives me my favorite glow out of all of them. I like to apply my moisturizer and add a few drops of this (to my hands first) to blend into my face immediately after and it’s always a flawless finish,” claims commerce editor Olivia Dubyak. It only comes in one shade, so if you want something darker, this may not be the tanner for you.

Best Face Tanning Drops

4. Tan-Luxe The Face Anti Age Self-Tan Drops


  • What We Like: scent-free, antiaging benefits
  • What We Don’t Like: very pricey
  • Size: 1-ounce
  • Colors Available: light/medium
  • Standout Review: “These drops are perfect for achieving a [subtle] sun-kissed look and is so easy to apply! I've been using this [it] once a week as a part of my routine.” —a Revolve Customer

Us Weekly reports Miss Kelly Ripa is a huge fan of these tanning drops. The brand claims this shade is good for those with pink and red undertones to their skin instead of olive skin tones or darker. You can mix a drop or more with your favorite moisturizer or serum to apply seamlessly to your face.

Most Illuminating Mist

5. Iconic London Prep Set Tanning Mist

Iconic London

  • What We Like: luminous finish, hydrating ingredients
  • What We Don’t Like: not suitable for those who don’t want a shimmery finish
  • Size: 2.53-ounces
  • Colors Available: original and glow
  • Standout Review: “Every time I wear Iconic London Prep Set Tan everyone is like “Wow you look rested” or “Have you been to the beach” or some other compliment. “ —PureWow senior editor, Dana Dickey

A sun kissed tan is nice and all, but when you add a little bit of shimmer, you’re ready for the beach or a night out on the town. This tanner is a mist application so you won’t need your fingers at all. “The two shades Original and Glow give an immediate subtle tan and it builds a little every day. It’s a mist but I use it like drops, I spray in my palm then pat on my face, because I don’t want overspray on my white T-shirt,” says Dickey.

Best with Skincare

6. Coola Sunless Tan Face Serum


  • What We Like: larger bottle, hydrating
  • What We Don’t Like: can make hairline look patchy if not blended well enough
  • Size: 1.7-ounces
  • Colors Available: one color
  • Standout Review: “This is my FAVORITE sunless tan face serum. It makes my face look tan and sun kissed without having to sit in the sun!” —A Sephora customer

This organic, vegan formula is made to nourish your skin while leaving it with an effortless tan. It’s got vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, plant cell cultures and argan oil for hydration and other skin benefits. “I have used this serum every day for the last three years at least. I have sensitive, breakout prone skin [and] a typical face tanner leaves me greasy with clogged pores. This stuff has never done that! Just be careful on your hairline—if you end up with too much product there, you’ll really notice the difference in scalp to face color,” reports one Sephora customer.

  • What We Like: affordable price, hydrating
  • What We Don’t Like: can smear when wet
  • Size: 1-ounce
  • Colors Available: one color
  • Standout Review: “Beautiful finish, non-greasy, highly pigmented and works well mixed with moisturizer or tinted moisturizer. Highly recommend!” —an Ulta customer

Add a dash of tan to your skin if you’re faced with dullness at the start of summer. You can blend a few drops of this serum with your moisturizer for an easy application, and it will wash off at the end of the day. “As a brown skinned girl, this really helped my skin tone get an even [looking] complexion! I look so glowy and bronzed…and [it] applies smoothly with my moisturizer,” says one happy customer.

  • What We Like: cute packaging, buildable formula
  • What We Don’t Like: watery consistency is hard to work with
  • Size: 1-ounce
  • Colors Available: one color
  • Standout Review: “Cute little bottle, easy to use and I just add a few drops every time I moisturize my face. I even put it in my lotion when applying to my arms and neck. Beautiful, easy tan,” —an Amazon customer

Kourtney Kardashian claims to frequently use this tanning serum and to “mix in drops with daily moisturizer,” according to E! News in Kourtney’s summer Poosh mailer. Aside from the fact that it’s insanely affordable, these drops are known to be buildable and can be used almost daily instead of every few days like other tanning drops. It just depends on how tan you’d like to be.

Best Temporary Tan

9. Drunk Elephant D-Bronzi Sunshine Drops

Drunk Elephant

  • What We Like: formula has a dash of shimmer, thicker consistency
  • What We Don’t Like: very easy to overdo it
  • Size: 1-ounce
  • Colors Available: one color
  • Standout Review: “I got these when they went viral on TikTok and haven’t looked back. The formula doesn’t have an overwhelming scent and it gives my face a very beachy glow.” —PureWow commerce editor, Olivia Dubyak

You’ll get a beautiful temporary tan that will wash off with your nightly skincare routine, and it has some skin benefits too, like mimicking the antioxidant benefits of vitamin D. It also defends against environmental stressors on your skin. “I mix these drops with moisturizer to dilute the color when my body isn’t also self-tanned, but when I am self-tanned, I apply these directly onto my skin for a darker tan since I don’t use tanner on my face,” says Dubyak.

Best Body Tanning Drops

10. Tan-Luxe The Body Self-Tan Drops


  • What We Like: hydrating and rejuvenating, helps reduce redness
  • What We Don’t Like: hard to tell where you’ve already applied on the body
  • Size: 1.6-ounces
  • Colors Available: light/medium and medium/dark
  • Standout Review: “If used as directed, it gives you the perfect summer glow that looks natural. It does not look orange and is not streaky at all, it just looks perfect. I truly do not feel as if I have had tanning drops work this well before.” —a Revolve customer

These hydrating tanning drops are formulated with caffeine and cellutone complex to help the skin look firmer, as well as some other hydrating ingredients to give you a plump, quenched look. It’s available in two shades and like the others, can be added to your moisturizer for a natural glow. “I mix this with my moisturizer at night to let it process overnight. It's subtle but noticeable and give me that super healthy glow that you get when you drink tons of water & eat greens on a regular basis. Also, I have super acne prone skin. At one point I was even on Accutane so I'm very careful about the products that I put on my face and this doesn't break me out,” raves one customer.

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Why You Should Trust Us

Olivia Dubyak is PureWow's Commerce Editor and textbook Capricorn. She studied journalism at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but has gone from New York City to West Texas to Chicago to Northern Colorado since then experiencing new things to broaden her perspective as a writer. She writes across the board in fashion, beauty, wellness and home, focusing on product reviews and roundups that can elevate your everyday life. She's been writing in the commerce-sphere for nearly five years and loves trying new products, sharing her honest experiences to help you decide whether what you’re buying is worth it or not (yup, Augustinus Bader is a must-have).

PureWow is the best friend you never had when it comes to finding the best, most useful lifestyle products online. Founded in 2010, our company’s editors and writers have spent more than a decade shopping online, digging through sales and putting our home goods, beauty finds, wellness picks and more through the wringer—all to help you determine which ones are actually worth your hard-earned cash. From our PureWow100 series, which sees each and every item we test being ranked on a 100-point scale of awesomeness, to the painstakingly curated lists our fashion, beauty, cooking, home and family editors create as vertical experts, you can trust that our recommendations include some of the greatest items you’ll find on the internet. Whether you're looking for travel-size hair dryers you can take on-the-go or women’s walking shoes that won’t hurt your feet, we’ve got you covered.

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Olivia Dubyak

Commerce Editor

Olivia Dubyak is PureWow's Commerce Editor and textbook Capricorn. She studied journalism at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but has gone from New York City to...
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