Best Smelling Self Tanner

Looking good and leaving a yeasty smell behind, as you run your errands is not exactly a recipe for confidence. Some self-tanners do have a distinctive odor; some describe it as smelling like cat pee, while others perceive it as that of burning flesh, not very pleasant though.

You might think of investing in a strongly scented body splash, but then you risk having your tan react with the chemicals in your splash.

Perfumes won’t really absorb the pronounced smell, but they might help a tad, so you still have to find the best smelling tanner that won’t make you stand out for all the wrong reasons.

The chemical reaction between your skin’s amino acids and dihydroxyacetone (DHA) that is derived from plant sources is what gives the skin a tan and develops the bad odor.

Vita Liberata Phenomenal 2-3 Week Tinted Self Tan Mousse, Dark, 4.22 fl. oz
Fake Bake Flawless Self-Tanning Liquid | Streak-Free, Long-Lasting Sunless Natural Glow For All Skin...
Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Glow Pad Self-Tanner for Face | Gradual Glow - 20 Towelettes .07 fLoZ /...
Vita Liberata Phenomenal
Fake Bake Flawless Self-Tanning Liquid
Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Glow Pad Self-Tanner
Vita Liberata Phenomenal 2-3 Week Tinted Self Tan Mousse, Dark, 4.22 fl. oz
Vita Liberata Phenomenal
Fake Bake Flawless Self-Tanning Liquid | Streak-Free, Long-Lasting Sunless Natural Glow For All Skin...
Fake Bake Flawless Self-Tanning Liquid
Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Glow Pad Self-Tanner for Face | Gradual Glow - 20 Towelettes .07 fLoZ /...
Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Glow Pad Self-Tanner

1) Flawless Fake Bake self-tan liquid

Fake Bake Flawless Self-Tanning Liquid | Streak-Free, Long-Lasting Sunless Natural Glow For All Skin...
  • NEED A TAN TODAY? This tropical scented, non-sticky formula dries quickly for a beautiful, glowing...
  • WE PROVIDE THE TOOLS, YOU ENJOY YOUR TAN - Fake Bake has a built-in color guide so you can see where...
  • NATURALLY WORKS WITH EVERY TONE - Fake Bake products work for everyone, no matter what skin tone or...

The self-tanner overpowers the DHA smell with the black coconut scent, but before you purchase the fake bake you can consult their color guide. Fake bake self-tanner does not belong to those that are usually left overnight however; you can leave it on for better results. It dries quickly and requires that you moisturize before application.

The product works with a person’s natural skin pigment, so that means it will either enhance or darken your skin in a natural manner and give you the desired bronze glow. To apply just put on your gloves and work it on your body in a circular motion, you can apply it all over your body including the face.

People with sensitive skin can instead use the Fake Bake Platinum “Face Anti-Aging Self-Tan lotion because it is less reactive. There is also the darker liquid spray that falls in the overnight category, its application is done with a tanning mitt, and it dries fast leaving you with a sweet tropical scent.


  • The tan is flawless upon application
  • Works with different skin tones and types
  • Stays on for long
  • It is not sticky and dries pretty fast


  • Drips appear if you sweat hours after application
  • The sweet scent wears off after the first wash.

2) Vita Liberata pHenomenal Tan Mousse

Normally people are used to moisturizing before carrying out any self-tanning processes, so after exfoliation, you don’t have to moisturize, if you are using the Vita Liberata pHenomenal Tan Mousse. About the scent, don’t worry your pretty head because it has been made with the odor remove technology so the tan does not have any smell.

Application is done with a mitt adopting the circular motion and you might want to brace yourself for the overnight development as it takes about 8 hours to fully develop. Its effectiveness is proved by the ability to last on a person’s skin for up to 3weeks. And just like other self-tanning agents, it is suitable for the whole body including the face.

Vita liberate also protects your skin that is apart from enhancing your color, the self-tan locks in moisture for up to 72 hours thus keeps the skin hydrated. Remember if you want to achieve a strong color you have to replicate the application process at least twice. What’s more is that among the ingredients that will be working on your skin is papaya, which is great for the tone and texture of your skin.

Other ingredients include the Witch Hazel, which has healing properties and contains antioxidants, and cucumber that not only eliminates toxins but keeps your skin and body hydrated.


  • Odor remove technology and exudes a sweet smell
  • Locks in moisture thus prevents flaking
  • Can stay on for up to 3 weeks
  • Made with medicinal natural ingredients


  • Needs replication for a perfect finish
  • A bit costly for its size

3) Dr. Dennis Gross Skin Care Alpha Beta Glow Pad Self Tanner

The self-tanner pictured above will not only leave you smelling great but protect your skin too. The tanner is not among the overnight family and you can use it as often as you want to get the desired tan or to complement the outfit that you want to put on. The product works well with almost all types of skin texture and tones.

The reason why Dr. Gross self-tanner has featured among our top best smelling self-tanner is because it is manufactured with the Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Extract and active acids, which work to improve on the scent while smoothing the skin. The Phyllanthus Emblica Fruit Extract contains huge amounts of Ascorbic Acid that aids in suppressing pigmentation and reduces wrinkles.

The powerful anti-oxidant is among the ingredients used to manufacture Dr. Dennis Goss self-tanner, therefore, when you purchase the product you not only benefit from the good smell but are also sure that your skin is well taken care of.


  • Improves skin texture
  • Offer deep color penetration
  • Reduces blackheads and acne scars on the face
  • Can be used regularly


  • The Wipes are not really effective
  • Pricey

4) Tan-Luxe the body illuminating self-tan

TAN-LUXE The Body - Illuminating Self-Tan Drops, 50ml - Cruelty & Toxin Free - Light/Medium
  • Tones and firms skin with caffeine, develops a natural looking, radiant glow in 4-6hrs & evens skin...
  • Mix 1-12 drops to your body moisturizer, serum or oil in the palm of your hand and apply evenly over...
  • Light/Medium: Red/pinkish undertones that burn easily. Medium/Dark: Olive/darker tones that tan...

The Tan-Luxe self-tanner obliterates the cheetah look and gives you a flawless appearance; the second-best smelling tan in our list does not fade away easily from your skin and are available in a wide variety of serum and water.

Tan-Luxe prides itself in not only giving you a vibrant look but also protects your skin; their aim is to ensure that you can use the product in your daily skincare routine. The manufacturers use a naturally derived DHA and follow a strict policy on avoiding the use of paraben and alcohol to improve the scent of the self-tanner.

What they do use instead are ingredients such as Aloe Vera, Raspberry Seed oil and vitamin E among others.


  • Streak-free
  • Best smelling
  • Can be combined with a moisturizer, serum or a face oil
  • Comes in a variety of Medium/Dark and Light/Medium


  • Mixing the lotion and the drops take a lot of time
  • Highly dependent on the drops to achieve a good finish

5) James Read Coconut Water Tan Mist Body

James Read Tan Coconut Water Tan Mist Face Light/Medium
  • James Read Tan Coconut Water Tan Mist Face Light/Medium
  • Net Wt. 100 ml / 3.3 US fl. oz.

The  James read coconut water is a deep nourishing tan spray that has been made with cosmetic grade coconut water, which helps in hydrating the skin. The tan softens your skin and does not take long to dry up, leaving behind a sweet coconut smell. The self-tanner has also been made with rose water, which helps in reducing inflammation and this it achieves by stopping the growth of different types of bacteria.

The ingredient in the self-tanner works well when used as a toner for people with oily skin or those that suffer from acne, its presence in the tanner ensures that your skin is protected from bacteria and elasticity is restored. The use of natural ingredients to manufacture tans is a sure way to enhance the qualities of good skin.

James Read coconut water tan is also manufactured with Anthemis Nobilis flower Extract, which is usually used to help with inflammatory skin conditions and to calm the skin. The extract contains anti-oxidant properties and is effective in inhibiting the growth of bacteria. It moisturizes and soothes the skin.


  • Dries up quickly
  • Contains medicinal properties
  • Made from natural extracts
  • Enhances skin elasticity


  • Tends to be a bit patchy
  • The tan tends to be cold on application

6) Charlotte Tilbury Supermodel XL Shimmer Shape, Hydrate and Glow

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The product offers you at least five exciting features that all work towards the good of your skin apart from the sweet smell. The Supermodel XL Shimmer shape contains vitamin c, which helps in brightening up your skin apart from the glossy skin appearance that you will get from using the product.

Caffeine helps in improving the texture of your skin, and is used in the manufacture of the Charlotte self-tanner, your skin is bound to achieve a healthy glow, the roll-on applicator eases the process of application giving you a nice shimmer. The price might be a bit high but It does give you the summer body look that you have been yearning to have.


  • Perfect for special occasions
  • Easy to use/apply
  • Gives an even tone
  • Is glossy thus a beautiful glow


  • Tends to fade faster than other similar products in the market
  • Must use a lot of the product to get the desired look

Why do self-tanners smell and how can you prevent self-tanners from smelling?

Self-tanners give you an incredible summer glow and you don’t need to go outside to sit in the sun for hours damaging your skin. Although a sun-kissed glow all year round is great, the odor isn’t that great. Most women shy away from using sunless tanners only because of the smell, however you can control some of the factors that can cause the odor to be strong or even eliminate it. You first need to know what causes the odor and the best way to prepare your body before you get a fresh tan without the tan smell.

Why self-tanners smell

Self-tanners and other spray tanning products contain an ingredient called DHA or Dihydroxyacetone which is found in plant sources like sugar cane or sugar beets. It’s an active ingredient that reacts with the amino acids in your skin causing a coloration on your skin that resembles a tan and the smell.

The DHA can have distinct smells from burning skin, old gym socks, to a yeasty smell, but each smell will differ with each person depending on how it reacts with your skin. While the tanning lotion is in the bottle, it doesn’t have that odor, the smell becomes noticeable when there is a chemical reaction between your body and the DHA.

How can you prevent self-tanners from smelling?

Odor neutralizers

Companies are using odor neutralizing ingredients or some type of encapsulating technology in their self-tanning products to get rid of the DHA odor as it reacts with your skin. However, the odor neutralizers might fade off quickly before the tanning process is even complete. To make it last longer, you can use some household items like baby powder or baking powder to neutralize the smell. One product may work better for you than someone else.


Some tanning products have been added fragrances that give it a pleasant smell which helps to mask the fake tan smell. The downside is, initially the tanning lotion will have a pleasant smell, but it can fade quickly before the tan develops, or some fragrances are strong and will last longer, but you might be sensitive to strong scents or you don’t like the smell lingering on your skin all day. These fragrances help to give you a fresh scent after your tan and wear off after application. 

DHA levels

Different tanning products are made with different levels of DHA. Using a product with a lower DHA level can help because the odor is linked to the reaction with your body so this can lessen the odor produced. You can also notice the difference between organic products that contain naturally-derived DHA and the one that is synthetically produced.

Individual attributes

Everyone’s body reacts differently with the DHA and this will determine if the odor produced is strong or not. Some things like sweat contribute to this, but you can use an air conditioner to reduce the smell. Also your diet and the medication you’re using if any, can also affect the way the scent is produced. Pregnancy, menstruation, and other hormonal factors also affect the smell.

Rinsing it off

Taking a shower or rinsing off the product earlier than you should also reduce the smell of DHA, but the tan will be lighter and less developed so the smell will be less. The odor is stronger at night so you can take a shower before bed and apply perfumed lotion to mask the lingering scent. Make sure you don’t remove the tan too early before it fully develops.


Self-tanning products are great if you want to develop a beautiful tan without using the sun, but they can become a problem because of the odor they produce as the tan develops. However, you can remedy the situation to make it bearable and get through your tanning process smoothly.


Final words:

Applying your tan can be one messy affair considering that the hands turn orange after using it on several parts of your body.

You might also want to keep the tan off your armpits because once there it produces a particularly pungent smell.

Your hair needs protection as well because getting rid of the odor once it gets there, can be quite a challenge, so you either cover it or prevent the tan from reaching your head. 


Further reading 

Ditch that Tell-Tale Tanner Smell –