5 Nontoxic Tanning Lotions To Keep Your Summer Glow
The Good Trade editors endorse products we’ve personally researched, tested, and genuinely love. Learn more about our methodology and business model here.
I crave the feeling of hot sun on my skin and the afterglow of a good tan—although my idea of tan and what actually happens (i.e. skin turns red, burns, peels, then freckles back to normal) are two different things. This is where self-tanner comes in. Get the glow without the burn, UV damage, and subsequent wrinkles. But what you use to get your glow is super important.
A study published in the American Journal of Public Health found skin absorbs an average of 64% of contaminants. Typical self-tanners contain toxic ingredients, including mineral oil (a petroleum-based product that blocks pores and can be carcinogenic); sodium hydroxymethylglycinate which may break down into formaldehyde; isopropyl myristate which may bind to skin as nitrate (a carcinogen); amyl acetate which is sometimes used as a paint and lacquer solvent (gross); octyl stearate, an irritant that blocks pores; and other artificial fragrances and dyes made of petrochemicals.
Since none of us wants our largest organ covered in potentially cancer-causing chemicals, not to mention the nasty smell of DHA, we’ve rounded up five nontoxic tanning lotions to keep your summer glow without the toxic load.
Best For | A perfect glow without the streaks & chemicals
Ingredients | Naturally occurring chemical compounds from fruits and veggies, botanical extracts
Price | $42 for 1.8 fl oz Tanning Water/ $62 for 6.8 fl oz Tanning Foam/ $112 for the entire set w/ application brush
Saltyface uses scent-free clean ingredients for an all-over glow without the petrochemicals. Their botanical extracts hydrate skin so you avoid the sticky tight feeling of toxic tanners, and you don’t have to fear leaving orange streaks on your clothes or sheets since their formulas immediately absorb into the skin.
We recommend getting both the Tanning Water (it really feels like water, nothing oily) for the face and Tanning Foam for the body. To help you find your shade, Saltyface has a Brady Bunch grid’s worth of real customers so you can pick the one that looks the most like you and copy what they use. They package in amber glass to prolong shelf life, plus every product is fully recyclable. They even have a freckle pen! Bonus: they’re a proud member of 1% for the Planet.
2. Coco & Eve
Best For | Natural tanner made with ingredients sourced from Bali
Ingredients | All-natural DHA, Hyaluronic acid (5 types), Banana, Coconut Water, Dragon Fruit, Mango, Cocoa, and Fig
Price | $35 for 6.7 fl oz Sunny Honey Bali Bronzing Foam/ $28 for 1.8 fl oz Bronzing Face Drops/ $88 for 2.5 fl oz Antioxidant Face Tanning Micromist
Coco & Eve has won 21 beauty awards for their 100% clean, cruelty free tanning products. Their ingredients are silicone-free, toxin-free, paraben-free, and gluten-free. Loved by Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, and more, the Sunny Honey Bali Bronzing Foam is created using their patented lotus extract formula to hydrate and firm skin.
For the face, they have two options; Bronzing Face Drops (which won the 2021 Allure Best of Beauty Award) or the Antioxidant Face Tanning Micromist which includes the brand’s promise for a natural-looking tan in two hours that can last four days. The accessories line is impressive: exfoliating mit, soft velvet tanning mit, back tan applicator, face kabuki brush, and self-tan travel kit. All products are free from sulfates, parabens, petroleum, phthalates, mineral oils, palm oil, and other common nasties. You can find a full list of what they’ve excluded—and included—on each product page. All products are 100% recyclable and 100% of the cardboard and paper products are FSC certified.
3. Kora Organics
Best For | Natural tanner with the highest quality ingredients certified organic by Ecocert/Cosmos
Ingredients| Noni fruit, Rosehip, and Sea Buckthorn oils
Price | $52 for 5.92 fl oz Gradual Self-Tanning Lotion
Former model Miranda Kerr started KORA Organics back in 2009 when it was exceedingly rare to find anyone creating organic products. This company is next level when it comes to nontoxic ingredients and a commitment to sustainable practices. Every one of their products is made with ingredients sourced from organic harvesting practices, which means less waste for the planet, fewer toxins for your skin, and up to 60% more antioxidants.
Every part of their process, from ingredients to manufacturing to packaging, has to pass the strictest regulations, guaranteeing no herbicides, pesticides, or toxic chemicals. To top this off, all KORA Organics products launched since 2021 are produced in glass or PCR (post-consumer recycled resin), and products launched before 2021 will transition to glass or PCR by 2026. They use FSC-certified recycled paper for their unit cartons, and they sell reusable product pods, cutting down on waste!
Best For | A natural skin serum tanner with SPF
Ingredients | USDA Certified Biobased product using Argan, Grapeseed, and Karanja oils, Squalane (from sugarcane), Mango & Papaya extracts, and non-nano Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide w/ no soy, gluten, or palm
Price | $48 for 3.8 fl oz
Suntegrity came about when the founder, Tricia, lost her mother to melanoma skin cancer and realized she needed to wear sunscreen every single day. The only problem was that most sunscreens use filters like Oxybenzone or Octinoxate, both linked to potential endocrine disruption. Tricia wanted to make a skin care line that not only protected but also nourished skin. She did just that with the creation of the 2-in-1 Milky Mineral Sun Serum Spray for Face and Body, delivering a broad spectrum SPF 50 mineral protection using non-nano Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide, and supercharged with antioxidants to fight free radical damage.
This formula is non-sticky, nutrient dense, and lightweight, leaving you feeling protected and glowy from the inside out. Suntegrity is Good Face Project Approved, vegan, cruelty-free, and reef friendly. They package in 100% recyclable aluminum bottles in a TSA friendly size. Choose from a body blender mit made of 100% latex-free foam, a Kabuki body brush, or a Self-Tanning Mit for flawless application and coverage.
Best For | A tan complexion serum
Ingredients | Jasmine native cells, Buriti oil, carrot macerated oil, Jojoba oil, Sunflower and Mandarin oils
Price | $57 1 fl oz
Typology’s products have an artisan-style beauty, but they are far from style over substance. Made of six plant extracts in three synergistic categories of active ingredients (plant cells, plant oils, and essential oil) this serum revives the radiance of your skin, giving you an instant subtle summer tan. Buriti oil is rich in beta-carotene, an orange-colored plant pigment found in carrots that is chock full of antioxidants. Used in their proprietary blend, just a few drops of the serum as the final step in your skincare routine results in a sun-kissed glow. It’s suitable for all skin types (although if you tend towards oily skin, they recommend only applying the serum at night). All ingredients are certified organic, 100% naturally derived, vegan, and packaged in a recyclable glass bottle with glass pipette. Oh, and it really is Made in France.
Side note: if you still want a self-tanner, they offer the wildly popular Self-Tanning Serum made with 100% plant-derived DHA and carob pulp extract. It provides a progressive customized tan from six hours after application that last three to five days.