How to Use Self-Tanning Drops — and Where to Shop the Best Ones

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Photography courtesy of launchmetrics.com/spotlight

Summer skin, here we come.

While nothing quite beats the feeling of warm sun bathing your body (while wearing sunscreen, of course!), we’re all about faking it until we make it when it comes to tanning. That’s why bronzing drops have become crucial to our skincare routines. If you’re also seeking a sun-kissed look but are unsure how to use self-tanning drops, fear not! Allow us to break it down for you.

Unlike self-tan lotions and mousses that are applied all over the body and can take anywhere from one to eight hours to develop before being washed off, self-tanning drops are pigmented droplets that can be applied directly to the face or mixed into a foundation or moisturizer, for a warm wash of colour that enhances your natural complexion. Some can be added to a body lotion for use all over the body, too.

Some will instantly bronze, and some will develop into a deeper tan over time, so be sure to check the label for the specifics.

As for the intensity of the tan, this will also vary from product to product. Generally speaking, you can either shop bronzing drops in specific shades, or opt for more customizable options that become darker the more drops you use.

From Tarte’s newly launched bronzing drops to Drunk Elephant’s TikTok-viral serum, we rounded up five of our favourite self-tanning drops below. No sun damage here!

Tarte Key Largo Glow Bronzing Drops


A few drops of Tarte’s newly launched Key Largo Glow Drops will give you the bronzy boost you need to tide you over until the weather warms up. These serum-infused and transfer-proof droplets can be mixed into your moisturizer or applied directly onto your skin for a radiant glow. Plus, there are four summery shades to choose from.

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Saltyface Tanning Water


Saltyface’s coveted Tanning Water captures your ideal shade of bronze in a bottle. The facial self-tanning product allows for a completely customizable experience where the darkness of your tan can be built up (and continues to develop for up to 24 hours) depending on how many drops you choose to use.

Plus, botanical extracts will keep your skin looking naturally luminous throughout the process.

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St. Tropez Tan Tonic Glow Drops


Powered by 100 natural tanning actives and skincare ingredients like smoothing niacinamide and hydrating dual molecular weight hyaluronic acid, St. Tropez’s Tan Tonic Glow Drops are the key to sun-kissed looking skin that’s visibly smooth and plump. And, since you can control the intensity of the tan by the amount of drops you use, it’s suitable for all skin tones.

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Nuda Bronzing Glow Drops


We love Nuda’s complexion-enhancing Bronzing Glow Drops for a customizable all-over glow or a subtle highlight overtop your favourite foundation. Formulated with squalene, lavender, ginger and moringa, these easy-to-blend drops bronze, brighten and smooth skin in an instant.

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Drunk Elephant D-Bronzi Bronzing Drops


There’s a reason why Drunk Elephant’s D-Bronzi Bronzing Drops went viral in 2023, and are *still* widely sought after. Thanks to a chronopeptide that mimics Vitamin D, this anti-oxidant-rich serum instantly warms up the skin and imparts a post-sun glow.

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