The 5 Best Natural and Organic Self-Tanners 2020

Natural and organic self-tanners are a bit of an oxymoron. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to make your skin appear darker without treating it with some sort of chemical. At first thought, you may think that slathering your whole body with a self-tanner is a better option than sitting out in the sun for hours with tanning oil on.

And yes, while self-tanners drastically limit your exposure to the sun’s harmful UVA and UVB ultraviolet rays, which does not mean those self-tanners should automatically get the green light of safety.

The 5 Best Selling Natural and Organic Self Tanners:

Bestseller No. 1
Self Tanner - With Organic Aloe Vera & Shea Butter, Sunless...
8,653 Reviews
Self Tanner - With Organic Aloe Vera & Shea Butter, Sunless...
  • SAY HELLO TO PERFECT SUN KISSED SKIN: Our self tanner transforms your skin from pale to a...
  • GET YOUR TAN WITHOUT THE SUN DAMAGE OR CHEMICALS: No sun needed here. This tanning lotion gives...
  • YOUR SKIN WILL THANK YOU: Perfect alternative to brands that sell chemical filled tanners...
On SaleBestseller No. 2
Skinerals Californium Self Tanner Mousse - Sunless Tanning...
2,924 Reviews
Skinerals Californium Self Tanner Mousse - Sunless Tanning...
  • NATURAL LOOKING TAN - This green-based solution counteracts the fake orange tan look that can...
  • SAFE SUNLESS TAN - Californium is perfect for lighter skin tones, and is the best way to get a...
  • FACE AND BODY APPLICATION - This self-tanner mousse is non-greasy, light, quick to dry, and has...
Bestseller No. 3
Self Tanner for Face – Face Tanner With Organic Aloe Vera...
874 Reviews
Self Tanner for Face – Face Tanner With Organic Aloe Vera...
  • SAY HELLO TO PERFECT SUN KISSED SKIN: Our face tanner transforms your skin from pale to a...
  • GET YOUR TAN WITHOUT THE SUN DAMAGE OR CHEMICALS: No sun needed here. This tanning lotion gives...
  • YOUR SKIN WILL THANK YOU: Perfect alternative to brands that sell chemical filled tanners...
On SaleBestseller No. 4
VITA LIBERATA Advanced Organics Fabulous Self-Tanning...
832 Reviews
VITA LIBERATA Advanced Organics Fabulous Self-Tanning...
  • Item Package Length: 7.0cm
  • Item Package Width: 8.0cm
  • Item Package Height: 17.8cm
Bestseller No. 5
Naturena Self Tanner Tanning Mousse with Organic & Natural...
  • BEAUTIFUL SUN KISSED SKIN - Our self tanner transforms your skin, instantly creates a flawless,...
  • EFFECTIVE RESULTS - With Advanced Color Complex, the airy mousse works with your skin’s...
  • ACCEPTABLE FOR EVERYONE - This bronzing lotion is for everyone of all genders, skin tones and...

Click Here to Jump to Our List of the 5 Best Natural and Organic Self Tanners.

Most of the common self-tanners on the market, whether they are cheap drugstore self-tanners or expensive designer tanners, have toxic chemical ingredients that do a chemical reaction on your skin to make your skin appear darker and sun-kissed. Sounds scary right?

Not only that but they include other harmful ingredients like artificial fragrances, preservatives like parabens, mineral oils, and so much more. Let’s now take a further look into the harmful effects of self-tanners.

The Problem with Conventional Self-Tanners

Dihydroxyacetone, or DHA, is the most common active ingredient used in most self-tanners. It is a sugar molecule that comes from plants and it reacted with the amino acids on the outermost layer of your skin. The result of this chemical reaction is a darker skin pigment, giving you the allusion you have the perfect sun-kissed glow. It typically takes a few hours for this reaction on your skin to take place fully.

In 2012, a repot from ABC News came out stating that DHA has the ability to damage human DNA and cause a wide variety of health issues in humans. This is because DHA has the ability to penetrate the deeper layers of your skin, the epidermis, and dermis. In fact, it was found that 11% of DHA penetrates into these layers of skin and then can go into the bloodstream.

Even if only a small amount makes it into the human bloodstream, it can still have potential health consequences like the development of certain cancers. More recent studies suggest that when DHA penetrates the dermis and epidermis it can actually interfere with your DNA and increase your exposure to free-radical damage.

* Important Note:

Despite the many harmful ingredients in self-tanners, it is nearly impossible to find a 100% clean and natural self-tanner. Self-tanners need to react with your skin in order for you to develop a darker skin tone, which must come from a form of DHA or sugars that react with your skin’s chemistry. If you want a traditional and long-lasting glow, you will have to compromise somewhere and focus on finding a tanner that is the least offensive with chemical-based ingredients as it is impossible to avoid completely.

The only way to avoid any form of DHA or other chemicals is to use a self-tanner that temporarily tints your skin with ingredients like cocoa powder or natural mineral bronzers. However, please note that these types of tanners are not going to work as a traditional self-tanner. They will typically go on much differently, will not last with water, showering, or sweat, and will not give you a deep and dark glow.

The most important take away is to be aware of the realities of self-tanners and to make an informed and conscious decision as to what you are putting all over your body and how frequently.

Fragrance and parabens are two more ingredients that find their ways into most self-tanners. These chemical ingredients pose heaps of health hazards. You can read more about these ingredients in this post.

Also look out for these toxic and harmful ingredients commonly found in self-tanning lotions, sprays, wipes, etc.:

  • Mineral oil – “a derivative of petroleum, it can be carcinogenic, is comedogenic (blocks your pores). It’s used because it’s a cheap carrier, creates slip and assists with spreadability.”
  • Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate – “ this masquerades as a ‘natural preservative’ and in high concentrations is a skin and eye irritant. It’s also been found to contain formaldehyde (added during processing) and may break down into formaldehyde once it has permeated the skin.”
  • Amyl acetate – “an ingredient used in the dry cleaning business.”
  • Octyl stearate – “an irritant and also comedogenic (blocks pores).”
  • Isopropyl Myristate– “also comedogenic and may bind to nitrates in the body… nitrates are carcinogenic.”

What to Look for in a Natural Self-Tanner

Even though finding a truly natural and organic self-tanner that is safe is a very difficult feat, there are some pretty decent options becoming available on the market. At this point in time, there are only a small handful of options that are worth using and won’t have any adverse effects on your health.

When looking for your natural and organic self-tanner, of course, you must avoid the ingredients listed above. Steer clear of the products that contain DHA in particular.

So, instead of using tanners with DHA to make your skin darker, look for brands that use natural ingredients to give you skin a healthy and beautiful glow. Opt for products and brands that use natural cocoa or fruit extracts to give you’re a bronze tone. Try and find options that don’t have a ton of ingredients – be wary of lists so long you can’t possibly read the entire ingredient list without getting dizzy.

Overall, if you are going to use a self-tanner, you are going to encounter toxic and chemical ingredients in one form or another. The key to using even a more natural self-tanner is to find options better than the conventional self-tanner and to not use these self-tanners on a regular basis.

The 5 Best Natural and Organic Self Tanners:

With that said, here are the top 5 best natural and organic self-tanners we could find. Explore the options below and choose the one that will suit your needs the best!

1. The Chemistry Brand Glow Oil

The Chemistry Brand Glow Oil

*DHA Free.

The great thing about this self-tanner option is that it is 100% DHA-free. That is very hard to find and why it has made it to this list despite the other questionable ingredients on the label. This is a fast-absorbing formula and comes in the form of dry body oil. It is hydrating on the skin, but non-greasy at the same time.

Instead of using DHA as the active ingredient, they use raspberry-based keto sugars that give your skin its darker glow. On average it takes 1 – 3 days to develop the darker glow, but the glow will then last about 2-3 days before you will have to reapply if you want to keep the tan for a longer period of time. It doesn’t have any harsh smell, it won’t leave streaks on your body, and won’t stain your clothes.

2. Chocolate Body Butter – Self-Tanning Lotion 

Chocolate Body Butter – Self-Tanning Lotion 

*DHA Free

This is a super healthy and unique self-tanner that may just be your new go-to because you can use this every single day without any guilt! This amazing self-tanner only has 4 ingredients – yes, you heard that right. It uses vanilla essential oil, shea butter, cocoa, and cocos nucifera oil. This is a handmade product and every lotion is made to order, so you know you are getting a freshly made product every time.

It is great for moisturizing your skin and had a wonderful chocolate scent. This product is meant to balance out your skin tone and give you a realistic and mild golden glow, so don’t expect to get super dark with this product. Of course, there are absolutely no DHA or DHA-like ingredients in this product as the color comes from cocoa. This self-tanner is also 100% vegan and cruelty-free.

3. Lavera Self-Tanning Lotion

Lavera Self-Tanning Lotion

*Contains vegetable-derived DHA.

The Lavera brand is a German brand that is certified by BDIH in Germany. They are known for having the most challenging and toughest certification processes anywhere in the world for organic and natural beauty and self-care products. Their products are specifically designed for those who have sensitive skin and they only use pure formulas that include healthy ingredients like organic plant oils, flower extracts, herbs, etc. they also never use parabens, fragrances, preservatives, petroleum, and more.

Their selfless tanner lotion uses special soy extracts combined with natural sugar extracts as the active tanning ingredient to replace harmful DHA. Other ingredients in their formula include soothing ingredients like organic jojoba oil, lavender, rose water, and cooling aloe vera for super hydration. It takes 3-4 hours for the tan to develop is long-lasting, streak-free, hydrating, and free of harsh chemical ingredients.

4. Dave’s Sunless Tan

Daves Organic Self Tanner

*Contains vegetable-derived DHA.

This special self-tanner is always made in small batches to ensure quality and freshness. It is an anti-aging self-tanner that has a smooth and creamy texture and gives your skin a medium to dark sunless tan. They only use a few simple organic ingredients such as Organic Argan Oil, Hyaluronan, CoEnzyme Q10, and Organic Aloe Barbadensis Gel, Sesame, and Jojoba oil.

There is also no orange tint or any streaking with this sunless tanner, the silky and moisturizing texture of the lotion makes it go it smoothly and effortlessly for the evenest coverage possible. You apply the lotion every 4-5 days for the most natural tan look, it is not meant to be used every day.

This tanner is formulated without the following:

  • Added Fragrance
  • Parabens
  • Pheno-Xyethanols
  • Sodium Laureth Lauryl Sulfates
  • Trieth-Anolamines
  • Stearic Acids
  • Mineral Oils
  • Animal Testing

5. True Natural Organic Self-Tanner

True Natural Organic Self-Tanner

*Contains vegetable-derived DHA.

True Natural self-tanner is also a better option to go with over conventional self-tanners it is meant for the face and body and is all-natural, gluten-free, vegan and free from toxic chemicals. Instead of using DHS as the active ingredient they use certain fruits and veggies naturally occurring sugars to react with the amino acids in your skin – which is what makes your skin look tan.

The tan will appear within 3-4 hours and lasts anywhere from3 -10 days. This tanner also contains natural anti-aging ingredients to help protect your skin. It also works well to hydrate your skin with jojoba oil, aloe vera, and green tea extracts for powerful anti-oxidant and free radical protection.

This tanner is formulated without the following:

  • Methylparaben
  • Butylparaben
  • Ethylparaben
  • Propylparaben dimethicone
  • Polymers
  • BHT
  • Formaldehyde
  • Synthetic fragrance
  • Synthetic colors
  • Mineral oil
  • Petrolatum
  • Triethanolamine
  • Mercury
  • Cadmium
  • And other heavy metals.

16 comments / Add your comment below

    1. Hi Diana,

      Thank you for your comment.

      There is a difference between lab produced DHA and vegetable DHA, so in that respect this kind of DHA may have less risks than the other type. Plus, all of the other ingredients in this product are quite clean and safe.

      We have added a better explanation of the different types of DHA and how they interact with self-tanners above.

  1. Be careful on what to believe online. This blogger put a self tan lotion “#2 Lavera” on the list as DHA FREE when in fact IT IS NOT!!

    #1 RULE: DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH WITH REPUTABLE SOURCES on every product, on every persons claims (reviews/blogs).

    Recently, even food items like extra virgin olive oil from Italy has been tested to be fake. Unfortunately, not much of anything in this day and age is 100% legit.

    Look at the ingredients listed found on the company’s site and also pictured on amazon: DHA is listed as the 4th ingredient.

    Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil*, Alcohol*, Dihydroxyacetone, Glycerin, Erythrulose, Myristyl Alcohol, Cetearyl Alcohol, Fragrance (Natural), Macadamia Ternifolia Seed Oil*, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter)*, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil*, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract*, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice*, Potassium Cetyl Phosphate, Xanthan Gum, Vitamin E Acetate, Vitamin E, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Vitamin C

    1. Hi Sheila,

      Thank you for your detailed comment. The original product information document we had for this product did not include DHA in the ingredients. It seems to have been updated since and now shows naturally derived DHA.

      There is a difference between lab produced DHA and vegetable DHA, so in that respect this kind of DHA may have less risks than the other type. Plus, all of the other ingredients in this product are quite clean and safe.

      We have added a better explanation of the different types of DHA and how they interact with self-tanners above.

  2. Thank you for this list of DHA free self tanning products. I have severe reaction to DHA and until recently was using Melvita. But for reasons unbeknown, it was taken off the market. I have also been using BeautyLab, but had to order it from London, UK which was more costly ($60+) with shipping. I am looking for an alternative, so will try one of these listed above.

  3. Regarding Deciem “Chemistry” brand’s “Glow oil”;
    It should be noted that the formula does NOT work “right away without having to wait for a few hours or overnight,” nor does it then last “2-3 days” as printed here; that’s entirely incorrect.

    The Deciem website states quite clearly that it forms a “lasting glow after 2-3 days of use,” the very nature of the raspberry based kepo sugars is that this takes a longer time to develop a colour change on the skin; rather than 2-3 hours, it will take over a day of using the product morning and night.

    1. Hi Sophie,

      Thank you for letting us know. We’ve reviewed the information you provided and updated the article accordingly.

  4. I prefer tinted moisturizer for my “ tanned “ look, it’s safe , natural and healthy. Any sun absorption into the skin ( happens with any tanning product), only increases the chances for skin cancer and premature aging of the skin.

  5. The best organic Self Tanner I have tried is Ibiza Sun Self Tanning Towelettes. So great! All the ingredients are organic and DHA too, and is Paraben Free and Fragrance-Free, Cruelty-Free and suitable for Vegans. I use them since last year and it gets you a really great color that last for 4/5 days and without sunless tanner smell. It’s so organic that have no parfum at all, they also use an organic vegetable alcohol derived so you only smell that scent when applying it. They are like really raw towelettes and the results are just great. You can find them on and also in the UK and Europe. Worth the try, you should have them on this list!

  6. When you mention lab and vegetable DHA, I am curious the difference. With Sulfates they now use Celery seed extract as a sulfate free item, but now that it is celery seed (contains sulfates) extract there is not limit of how much they can add to food. So you never know with these things it seems

    1. Lab-created DHA is produced by the fermentation of glycerin, whereas a more natural form of DHA comes from sugar beets and sugar cane. While DHA is still DHA in the end, opting for the more natural version of an ingredient is always the best way to go. With that being said, whether you choose to expose your body to DHA is a personal choice. There is, unfortunately, no such thing as a 100% organic self-tanner, but this article should help you can make choices when picking a self-tanner is safer and healthier.

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