The Best Sunless Tanning Lotion for Olive Skin

Self-tanner products enhance the natural golden glow of olive skin.

Photo: Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images

Olive skin might have a head start on paler complexions, but sunless tanning isn’t just for porcelain princesses. A good self-tanning agent evens out skin imperfections on naturally bronzed skin and enhances the golden glow an olive-skinned beauty was born with. While fake tans look subtler on darker skin, olive-skinned ladies aren’t immune to the dreaded Oompa-Loompa-orange effect. Combining the right product with the right application technique, on the other hand, will give your skin a flawless color boost that’s ravishing rather than radioactive.

The Right Shade

While Snow White types should stick to light-colored formulas to avoid tell-tale orange streaks, olive skin can work with all shades of fake tan without the result looking uneven or unnatural. Choose a medium shade to gently boost your color, or go for a product that says “dark” or “deep” on the label for a richer, more bronzed result.


Look for sunless tanners that include DHA and erythrulose on the list of ingredients. DHA (short for dihydroxyacetone) is a type of sugar that reacts with the surface of your skin, causing it to temporarily darken. Olive skin can handle higher levels of DHA than pale skin, but lower levels will gradually build up a natural-looking tan. Erythrulose is another sugar -- from strawberries -- that encourages an attractive, long-lasting color.

Sun Protection

Just because olive skin tends to tan easily doesn’t mean you can skip the sunscreen. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that all skin types wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher year-round, not just in the summer. Avoid splashing out on multiple products by choosing a sunless tanner with a built-in sunscreen. Just remember to top off your sun protection with a separate sunscreen during any long, lazy days in the sun.


Even the best sunless tanners can have disastrous results if you don't apply them correctly. Clean, exfoliate and moisturize your skin before applying self-tanning lotion, and don’t use too much product. Avoid nasty surprises by testing the color result on a small area before taking the plunge and covering your whole body. Application directions vary, so choose a product with clear, detailed instructions -- and follow them to the letter to achieve flawless apparently sun-kissed results.

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