Why you should be using self-tanning drops

Here’s everything you need to know about the beauty industry’s most innovative tanning drops – including how to find the right formula for your skin, says VICTORIA CRAWFORD

Clockwise from top left: Oksia Adaptive Tan Drops; Dr. Sebagh Self-Tanning Drops; James Read H2O Tan Drops Face; Tan-Luxe The Body Illuminating Self-Tan Drops

Whether you’re craving a Côte d’Azur golden glow or aiming for the richer bronze typically associated with a two-week beach bake, these self-tanning formulas will allow you to tailor your faux tan to suit your mood.

Why should I use tanning drops?

Self-tanning can be a messy and complicated business if you’re not used to applying your own faux tan. Self-tanning drops are a far easier format to master and they give a more subtle and natural finish. Infused with the tanning ingredient DHA and often a host of other nourishing skincare ingredients, these innovative drops allow you to create a bespoke tan and achieve the finish you want. They bridge the gap between self-tan and skincare and, as you can mix them into your existing products, they couldn’t be easier to use.

How to prep

As with any self-tan application, exfoliating the evening or morning beforehand is imperative as, regardless of the formula, tanning products have a tendency to latch onto and exacerbate dry skin. Use a gentle chemical or grainy exfoliator, such as Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant or Dr. Barbara Sturm Facial Scrub to remove dead skin and dehydrated patches. Pay particular attention to the sides of your nostrils, under your chin and your hairline, where dry skin can accumulate, too.

How to use self-tanning drops

The beauty of self-tanning drops is that you can mix them into your serum, moisturizer, SPF or body lotion. If you’re a tanning rookie or looking for a very gradual tan, two to three drops blended into your face cream or serum should set you on the right path for a soft, gorgeous glow. For those who prefer a deeper tan, between five and 12 drops will offer a stronger bronzed tone within a few hours. Don’t forget to blend the product into your hairline, onto your ears, down your neck and onto your décolletage. The color from self-tanning drops is subtle and very forgiving, but the more drops you apply, the deeper the color and the harsher any unblended areas will appear.

We are not shy of self-tan and have tried and tested almost every brand, format and formula. Our advice? Start with a low dose of two drops and build up over three days to create a bespoke blend. Keeping your skin well-moisturized will help to prolong the color.

What you should use

Most tanning drops include some kind of skincare benefit, whether that’s upping moisture or calming redness and sensitivities. James Read H2O Tan Drops Face, for example, includes calming aloe vera and hyaluronic acid to soothe and hydrate, making it the perfect self-tanning option for those with dry or sensitive skin.

If fine lines and firmness are a concern, both Oskia Adaptive Tan Drops and Dr. Sebagh Self-Tanning Drops are worthy investments. While the former is enriched with vitamin A, C and E to smooth, brighten and firm skin, Dr. Sebagh’s formula contains fractionated melanin to instill a healthy color and protect from aging HEV blue light from your smart screens.

Admittedly, you can use all the above from head to toe, but if you’re keen to improve the texture of your skin from the neck down, look to Tan-Luxe The Body Illuminating Self-Tan Drops. Alongside vitamin E and raspberry-seed oil, the brand has included its caffeine-infused Cellutone Complex to smooth out lumps and bumps.