10 Self-Tanners and Bronzers for Black Skin

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I remember being in college and having a salesperson swear that the product they were trying to sell me was a “universal” suntan lotion. It disappeared the moment I put it on my arm. That was only five or six years ago, but since then, the beauty industry has come a long way in making tanning products that give skin a bronzed glow. everybody skin tones.

When Rihanna launched Fenty with 40 foundation shades in 2017, she reset the industry standard for what it means to have an inclusive shade range. Over the past half-decade, we’ve seen a number of brands expand their offerings with complexion products suitable for darker skin tones, and this level of intentionality has been reflected in bronzers and self-tanners.

“As black people, we’ve always loved glowing skin and oils and all that,” says Emily Amick, a celebrity makeup artist in New York City. “With the launch of Fenty and a focus on broadening the spectrum of shades companies are producing for people of all skin tones, it really opened the door for everyone to experiment with trends that have always been popular for lighter skin.” .

The expansion of shades in the beauty industry has occurred alongside a broader societal shift in skin tone acceptance. Since the days of slavery, light-skinned or mixed-race black women have been valued over dark-skinned black women and as a community we have internalized that, which meant that looking tanned on a darker skin tone it was not “desirable.” We still have a long way to go to dismantle colorism: skin-whitening creams remain popular with communities of color in many parts of the world (although in recent years, brands like Unilever, Johnson & Johnson, and L’Oréal have pulled their offerings off the shelves), and it’s worth noting that white women have long been using self-tanning products to simulate the kind of deep complexion that black women have historically been ridiculed for, but as we’ve progressed, little by little, showing a little extra color in deeper complexions is not so scary.

“I feel like I’m almost going back to this kind of mindset of embracing what you’ve got and showing it off,” says Amick. “Naturally textured hair, skin, all of these things are nothing to try to change or conform to anymore.” Case in point? Google searches for “self-tanner for black skin” have skyrocketed in recent months, with more and more black girls showing up on my TikTok feed trying it for the first time. Seeing this movement to own our complexions and embrace a tan is a huge step in the right direction, and the industry has gone to great lengths to offer products to help us get there.

The benefits of bronzer and self-tanner on deeper skin tones

The most important benefit of using products like bronzer and self-tanner is that they give you a healthy-looking bronzed glow without having to spend time in the sun. Although black people are less likely to get sunburn or skin cancer than lighter people, it can still happen and can be much more dangerous.

“People with darker skin tones can still get skin cancer,” says Ivy Lee, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Pasadena, California. “And often when we do develop skin cancer, it’s found at a later stage, and we’re less likely to survive or have a good outcome with skin cancer.” According to an analysis by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), between 2001 and 2014, the five-year melanoma relative survival rate among non-Hispanic black populations was 66.2%, compared to 90.1 % of non-Hispanic white populations.

“A lot of my patients say, ‘Well, I don’t really burn. I just tan,’ but there is no such thing as a ‘safe tan,'” says Dr. Lee. “Every time we are exposed to ultraviolet rays from being outdoors, we accumulate DNA damage in our skin cells.”

Bronzers and self-tanners can also help even out discoloration, which is especially important for deeper skin tones, which are more likely to develop hyperpigmentation due to excess melanin production. The condition is notoriously difficult to treat (and worsens with UV exposure), so color correcting with a complexion product can be a helpful alternative when over-the-counter skincare products aren’t. enough.

“The absolute best part about self-tanner is how it evens out your overall skin tone,” says Laura Daly, head of innovation and product development at Future Beauty Labs, who is black and first tried self-tanner for a bachelorette party. “Whether it’s on your face or anywhere on your body, self-tanner actually helps even out any ashen or gray tones on darker skin. When I use self-tanner on my face, it leaves my skin looking even and glowy for days. It’s so good it honestly replaced my foundation most of the time – my skin looks so even I don’t even need it.”

Get that sun kissed look

Traditional self-tanners tend to conjure up images of streaky, orange skin, but we’re (thankfully) a long way from formulas that will leave you with a pumpkin hue. These products take the melanin you have and darken it, meaning any skin tone can use them.

“Self-tanner, it doesn’t come in shades like ‘terracotta’ or ‘mahogany,’ but obviously, you have light, medium and dark, [which denote how intense of a tan they’ll give you]says Sophie Evans, an ambassador for St. Tropez Tan who has tanned stars like Sade and Mel B. “Self-tanner removes melanin, pigmentation and the pH level of the skin, so if you and I use the same product ‘extra dark’, my ‘extra dark’ won’t look like your ‘extra dark’, it’ll look like it’s coming from within.” No matter your skin tone, you can choose any shade of self-tanner based on how dark you want to get. The light will give all complexions a subtle tan, while the extra dark will give any complexion a deeper tan.

On deeper complexions, self-tanners tend to last about two weeks, but if you’re looking for something even more temporary, that’s where bronzers come in.

When choosing the right bronzer for your complexion, think about your undertones. “My skin is more golden, so I want to look for something in that golden family, kind of orange, burnt orange,” says Amick. “Someone who has a lot of red in their skin may want to look for something that is a little deeper than their reddest skin. [tones]. Or if someone has blue [tones in their skin], they may want to go well. It just depends on what your own skin tone is. That’s why it’s very important for cosmetic companies to have a wide range.”

Unlike foundation and concealer, bronzer isn’t meant to be an exact match, so a line doesn’t need 40 shades to be considered inclusive, but “if it doesn’t come in at least four or five shades, there’s no way to leave”. to work even for most people, let alone everyone,” Amick says. While many brands have launched inclusive ranges, it’s black-owned brands like Juvia’s Place, LYS Beauty and (of course) Fenty that they are truly leading the way in creating bronzers that complement and enhance deeper complexions.

Shop self-tanners and bronzers for black skin below

In this article


Tan-Luxe The Face Illuminating Self-Trowning Drops — $50.00

Daly uses this all over her face to replace foundation. In addition to tanning your skin, it’s made with moisturizing and conditioning raspberry seed oil and moisturizing aloe vera to leave your skin soft and nourished. It’s available in two shades so you can choose how much deeper you want your complexion to be. Daly wears medium/dark.

St. Tropez Self-Tanning Luxury Whipped Cream Mousse

St. Tropez Self-Tanning Deluxe Whipped Cream Mousse — $48.00

Use this mousse for a streak-free, natural-looking shine. It’s made with Niacinamide to visibly calm and even skin tone; Vitamin E and Echinacea to protect skin from environmental damage, soothe and reduce the appearance of redness; and high molecular weight hyaluronic acid to hydrate the skin.

suntan lotions

Saie sun melt

Melted Sun Saie — $30.00

Available in four easy-to-blend shades, this bronzer has a creamy, balmy texture that will leave you with a dewy glow.

LYS Beauty No Limits Matte Bronzer

LYS Beauty No Limits Matte Bronzer — $18.00

This silky-smooth bronzer has a matte finish and is packed with niacinamide to reduce the appearance of pores and limit excess shine; Green Tea Extract to provide antioxidant benefits that soothe and replenish skin, and Sodium Hyaluronate to help skin retain moisture and visibly plump fine lines.

Prime Beauty Bronzer

Prime Beauty Bronzer — $21.00

Available in three shades, all designed for black skin, these highly pigmented and buildable bronzers will leave your skin looking its best.

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These products are independently selected by our editors. Making a purchase through our links may generate a commission for Well+Good.

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