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The Best Self-Tanning Towels

Last updated on September 28, 2022

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Our Picks For The Top Self-Tanning Towels

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Product Overview
Key Takeaway
 Top Pick

L’Oreal Paris Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Towels, 2 Pack

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L'Oreal Paris

Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Towels, 2 Pack

In this set, you’ll get six individually wrapped cloths, each loaded with tanner designed to give you a medium tan. In addition to self-tanning ingredients, you’ll get Vitamin E to help keep your skin smooth and soft. The formula dries quickly and provides a tan within two to four hours of application.

Overall Take

For Frequent TravelersYou’ll get six wrapped tanning towelettes in this set, perfect for taking on the road with you.

 Runner Up

Jergens Natural Glow Self-Tanning Towels, 6 Pack


Natural Glow Self-Tanning Towels, 6 Pack

You’ll get six individually wrapped tanning cloths in this set, ideal for taking on the go. This sunless tanner is formulated to provide a light tan that builds up over time, allowing you to apply daily until you get the look you want. The formula includes Vitamin E to keep your skin soft and a fruity fragrance that lets you leave the house soon ...

Overall Take

Subtle ResultsFor those concerned about having a self-tanner look, these wipes provide a gradual tan, working with your natural skin tones.

 We Also Like

Jergens SOL Self-Tanning Towels, 6 Pack


SOL Self-Tanning Towels, 6 Pack

You’ll get six individually-wrapped towelettes in this set, each with a formula that goes on clear. The formula uses natural sugars as a tanning agent for an alternative to chemical-based tanners. Coconut water and tropical passionfruit provide a pleasant scent in the hours after you apply.

Overall Take

Easy to UseThese towels glide smoothly across your skin for an easy-to-apply self-tanning solution.

 Strong Contender

Tan Towel Classic Self-Tanning Towels, 10 Pack

Tan Towel

Classic Self-Tanning Towels, 10 Pack

You’ll get 10 towels in this set, each individually wrapped. Color will develop within two to four hours and will be subtle. You can continue to apply the tanner every day until you get the shade you want.

Overall Take

Great for Everyday WearEach use of these self-tanning towels brings out a little more color to give you the shade you prefer.

Buying Guide

Sunless tanning has become a popular alternative to tanning beds and baking in the sun for hours. Consumers are looking for alternative ways to get that sought-after glow at home, including via the use of self-tanning towels.

But sunless tanning isn’t without its risks. Self-tanners typically use a product called dihydroxyacetone (DHA), which reacts to the amino acids on the surface of the skin to darken. But while the FDA sees DHA as safe for use on the skin, there are concerns about exposure to the eyes, mouth and nasal cavities. For that reason, DHA in spray tanning booths can be of concern, considering it’s harder to control those exposures.

Fortunately, there are plenty of other ways to get that look you want without using a spray tanning booth or airbrush gun. Self-tanning products for use at home have been available for years. They come in lotions, sprays, mists, sticks, mousses and wipes. Each has its benefits, and the option you choose may simply be a matter of personal preference.

Wipes, also known as self-tanning towels, work similar to baby wipes or the wipes you use to clean and disinfect your hands. The product is on the cloth, and you simply pull it out of the packaging and rub it over your skin. To prevent streaking, it’s best to apply in circular motions.

One downside of self-tanning towels is that you’re limited in the amount. Each cloth will only hold so much product, so it might take more than one cloth to do everything. They might work best for those who only look to tan the areas of the body not covered by clothes.

Often, sunless tanning cloths are formulated using a product that is available in other formats. If you find a tanner you like in lotion or spray form, self-tanning towels could be a way to take your favorite product on vacation, particularly if you choose one that comes in individually wrapped packaging.

What to Look For

  • Self-tanners have a distinctive smell. Some try to cover it up by adding scents on top of that, but once the scent wears off, that smell will remain until you shower. For best results, tan on a day where you won’t mind having that self-tanner smell.
  • With any self-tanning product, it’s best to use it daily until you reach your desired level of tan. If you want to maintain that look, simply use once or twice a week, adjusting upward and downward as you learn how quickly it fades.
  • Although self-tanning towels can be easier to use than lotions and mousses, you can still get stained palms from using them. Wearing gloves while you apply can help prevent that issue.
  • To enhance the color, use lotion on your tanned areas after you’ve taken that first shower. Continue to moisturize until you apply self-tanner again.
  • Some self-tanners work gradually, starting with light color and darkening as you add more layers over the days. This allows you to build the tan you want over time, then simply maintain the look, but the downside is that you won’t get overnight tanning.
  • If you’re concerned about the chemicals in tanners, you can find some that are made using natural sugars that act as the tanning agent.
  • Some self-tanners go on dark, and the color will rub off on anything you touch, including your furniture and clothing. Look for one that goes on clear and dries quickly to ensure you won’t have to stand around for hours, avoiding touching anything.
  • Tanning towels can be more expensive than other self-tanning solutions. Most come in small sets of individually wrapped packages, so if you apply self tanner every day, you might want to go with a spray, mousse or lotion.

More to Explore

Dihydroxyacetone is a simple saccharide, pulled from plant sources like sugar beets and sugar cane. It might have gone forever without making its way into tanning products if not for Eva Wittgenstein, who discovered DHA’s skin-tinting benefits by accident. Wittgenstein was working as a researcher at the Children’s Hospital at the University of Cincinnati in the 1950s at the time. She was studying the effects of large amounts of DHA on glycogen storage disease.

The children in the study were required to consume large amounts of DHA, so naturally, some occasionally splashed onto the skin. Wittgenstein observed brown splotches on the children’s skin a few hours after contact. Curious about those results, she tried DHA on her own skin and noted the tint. The result is something called the Maillard reaction, which happens when amino acids mix with sugars, creating golden brown compounds. DHA has since become best known as the key ingredient in self tanners of all types.

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