13 of the Best Gradual Tanners For a Natural-Looking Glow

By Tara | Updated: 11/02/2024

It’s common for our skin to lose its natural glow, leaving us feeling dull and lacklustre. However, with the help of gradual tanners, you can achieve a beautiful, golden glow any time of year, without having to expose your skin to the harsh Australian sun.

From lotions to oils and water-based products, we’ll explore the benefits of each option and what to consider when selecting the best gradual tanner for your needs.

So, if you’re looking to enhance your skin and achieve a radiant glow, read on to discover the best gradual tanners to buy in Australia.

Our Picks for the 10 Best Gradual Tanners in Australia

Bondi Sands Gradual Tanning Milk

Bondi Sands Everyday Gradual Tanning Milk
  • 375ml
  • Hydrating formula
  • Enriched with Aloe Vera & Vitamin E
  • Designed as a tan extender
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With over 1300 5-star reviews, Bondi Sands Gradual Tanning Milk is a top choice for effortless, sun-kissed skin. Enriched with Vitamin E and Aloe Vera, it nourishes the skin while delivering a natural, gradually developing tan.

Suitable for daily, full-body application, it offers a streak-free finish with minimal scent, quick drying, and doesn’t transfer onto clothes or sheets. Best of all, it is made here in Australia, cruelty-free, vegan and a sulphate-free tanning solution.

Unreal Skin Self-Tanning Cream

Unreal Skin Self Tanning Cream
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If you love a gradual tanner but hate the sticky feeling as you wait for it to dry and develop, the Self Tanning Cream from Unreal Skin is your best option.

Its formula is enriched with nourishing ingredients like Shea Butter, Macadamia Oil, and Vitamin E, ensuring the skin feels smooth and hydrated, not sticky. Whether you’re aiming for a medium or darker glow, it provides a realistic and sun-kissed appearance.

Best of all, expect no transfer to clothing or sheets and it is free from the typical self-tanner odour.

Eco Tan Winter Skin

Eco Tan Organic Winter Skin
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If you’re looking for a gradual tanner without the nasties, certified organic Winter Skin from our favourite Australian tanning brand Eco Tan is a great option.

This natural, vegan and cruelty-free formula is the perfect way to get a beautiful, healthy-looking tan without exposing your skin to harsh chemicals or potentially harmful ingredients. The rich and hydrating formulation fights dryness and irritation, common problems during the winter months, and can also be used to extend a spray tan. Cacao, a powerful antioxidant, helps protect skin from free radical damage while aloe vera and chamomile calm and soothe any irritation.

Australian-made and certified organic, Winter Skin gradual tan is the perfect solution for anyone looking for a safe and healthy way to achieve a beautiful glow.

Luna Bronze Glow Gradual Tanning Moisturiser

Luna Bronze Glow Gradual Tanning Moisturiser

200ml, 500ml

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Looking for a gradual tanner that won’t leave you smelling like fake tan? Look no further than Luna Bronze Gradual Tanner!

This natural and organic tanning moisturiser is designed for everyday use and contains a blend of ultra-nourishing and hydrating oils to replenish your skin whilst building a natural, even tan. Vitamins A, B & E fight signs of aging and improve the skin’s tone and texture, while coconut, rose hip and jojoba oil provide deep hydration.

Caffeine stimulates circulation, boosts energy and smooths skin, for a day spa experience thanks to the unique natural essential oil blend of lemon myrtle, orange blossom and mandarin.

Body Blendz Gradual Tanning Anti-Cellulite Lotion

BodyBlendz Face & Body Gradual Tanning Anti-Cellulite Lotion
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The newly released Gradual Tanning Lotion from Body Blendz delivers a beautiful, sun-kissed glow, while also working to reduce the appearance of cellulite.

Made with their unique BodyBlendz Complex of botanical extracts and enzymes, this lotion claims to boost circulation, prevent fat storage, and stimulate lipolysis (the breakdown of fat cells). Shea butter, grapeseed oil, and macadamia oil work together to enhance skin regeneration, soothe irritation, and repair damage — while keeping your skin firm and hydration.

The Gradual Tanning Anti-Cellulite Lotion is suitable for all skin types and is cruelty-free, vegan, and free of sulphates and parabens. It’s also incredibly hydrating, so your skin will feel soft and silky after just one application.

For best results, apply evenly to clean skin on the body and face. Use once or twice a day for a natural-looking tan that will build gradually over time.

Eco Tan – Organic Face Tan Water

Eco Tan Face Tan Water
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Our pick for the best gradual tanner for face easily goes to Face Tan Water from Eco Tan.

It’s packed with natural ingredients that hydrate your skin while developing a subtle glow. Another plus is that it has a non-comedogenic formula that clogs pores or irritates making it ideal for most skin types and conditions. You won’t see dramatic results from this product, but you will see a very natural bronze colour build after continued use.

THE BUTTER Illuminating Tanning Butter

Tan Luxe - The Butter Self Tanner
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This is an ultra-moisturising, yet lightweight tanning lotion that literally goes on like butter. It glides onto your skin effortlessly and dries relatively quickly. It can take anywhere between 4 to 6 hours to develop.

There is a pleasantly sweet, cocoa butter fragrance and no awful fake take smell once dried.

Depending on how deep of a tan you are after, applying The Butter twice will produce an ideal colour. You can expect a natural, honey bronze glow as you have just walked off a beach. It also provides a subtle shimmer that makes your skin look illuminated.

Best of all? The Butter fades naturally after about a week with no streaking, strange colouration or flaking.

Bondi Sands Liquid Gold Self-Tanning Dry Oil

Bondi Sands Liquid Gold Self Tanning Dry Oil
  • Enriched with argan oil
  • Touch dries in seconds
  • Pump spray nozzle for mess-free application
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Another notable product from Bondi Sands is their Liquid Gold Self Tanning Dry Oil. A fan favourite, it is easy to see why Liquid Gold is one of the best fake tan products to build up a natural glow.

As the name suggests Bondi Sands Liquid Gold is an oil rather than a lotion. The oil is slightly tinted to help with application. To apply you can either spray it directly onto the skin or onto a mitt and rub it in. Either way, it is recommended to use a mitt to avoid waking up with orange hands. One of the best things about the product is that you can apply and go ( no need to shower afterwards!) and the product will gradually develop darker throughout the day.

The product dries relatively fast and leaves virtually no residue on clothes or sheets. It has a pleasant coconut scent but leaves not strong smell once dried. You can expect a perfect golden goddess glow even on one layer, that should last around a week as it absorbs quite deeply onto the skin.

Tan-Luxe The Gradual Illuminating Tanning Lotion

Tan-Luxe The Gradual
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Tan-Luxe have emerged in the market with a number of great self-tanner products in their range. They approach tanning like skincare and their non-toxic formulations mean that no nasties are going onto your skin. The effectiveness of their products is why they have made the list for the best gradual tanners on the market.

The Illuminating Tanning Lotion is formulated to a lightweight consistency somewhere between an oil and a lotion. This hybrid formula helps absorption, smooths the skins and results in no streaks. The self-tan is easy to apply and fast-drying. On application, the smell is pleasant which develops into a slight, but non-offensive self tanner smell.

The gradual self tan results in a subtly brown (not orange), light and illuminated sun kissed colour. While it is gradual, it is important to note that it won’t build into a tan more than 3-4 shades darker no matter how many applications. As it is a hydrating formula, you can expect the tan to last anywhere between 4 to 5 days.

St. TROPEZ Gradual Tan Tinted Body Lotion

St. Tropez Gradual Tan Tinted Body Lotion
  • Paraben-Free
  • Sulfate-Free
  • Phthalate-Free
  • 100% Naturally-Derived DHA
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St. TROPEZ are known for their great products and their gradual tanners are no exception to that. A number of their gradual tanning products have hit the market and a notable option is their Gradual Tan Tinted Body Lotion.

The formula has a thick, creamy consistency that provides an instant natural glow even on the first application. This is an easy product to use and can be applied daily to build up a healthy, natural glow. It would be recommended to wash hands after application to avoid orange fingers. The product dries relatively quickly in around 10 – 15 minutes and has a light, non-overpowering smell. The result is a non-streaky and sunk-kissed tan that last for around 4 -5 days.

VITA LIBERATA Organic Gradual Tan Lotion

VITA LIBERATA Fabulous Gradual Self-Tanning Lotion
  • Ultra-hydrating
  • Zero transfer onto clothing
  • Formulated with Aloe Vera & Shea Butter to soothe and moisturise

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For those who value products that are organic, cruelty-free and sulphate-free the Gradual Tan Lotion from Vita Liberata is a great gradual self-tanner alternative.

It has a lightweight formula that leaves no sticky feeling. To apply, it works best on cleansed skin and using a tan mitt. It would be recommended not to use a moisturiser or shower gel prior to application to avoid it streaking or becoming patchy.

The tan lotion is instant drying and takes around 4 to 8 hours to develop. While it does claim to be odourless, there is still a slight fake tan smell but nothing overpowering.

You will be able to achieve a perfect subtle and sun-kissed glow. No oompa-loompa orange! Your glow should last around 3 to 4 days and will fade evenly with no patches.

Dove Summer Glow Gradual Self Tan Body Lotion

Dove Summer Glow Body Lotion Fair To Medium
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An affordable way to get a sun-kissed glow is with the Dove Summer Glow Gradual Tanning Lotion.

This product has been around for a long time, but many users keep finding themselves coming back to it as it is a reliable lotion and great value for money being under $10.

There are two options; fair to medium skin tones and medium to dark which both build up a beautiful, natural-looking tan over time, however, the latter has a more intense effect.

Formulated with a unique DeepCare Complex, it deeply nourishes skin while also providing essential moisture to keep skin soft and smooth. It’s super easy to apply, however, we find it can feel a little sticky post-application.

JERGENS Natural Glow + Firming Daily Moisturiser

Jergens Natural Glow Skin Firming Moisturiser Medium To Deep
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Jergens Natural Glow Moisturiser has been around for years, with users keep coming back to the reliable formula. It does exactly what it promises in building a light, natural-looking golden glow over time.

It has a pleasant sweet scent and the easy-to-apply, non-greasy lotion builds a gradual tan but also works to firm the skin and target the appearance of stretch marks and cellulite.

This gradual tanner could be considered one of the best value for money at under $15.00 AUD.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why use a Gradual Tanner?

Whatever your reason, a gradual tanner can be a fantastic addition to your beauty bronzing kit. Gradual tanning products generally provide subtle and natural-looking results. Plus, gradual tanners can be used for just about all skin tones as the results build up to a sun-kissed glow over time.

How Long Does Gradual Tanner Last?

It can be hard to agree definitively on how long it will last. Because you are applying it continually over several days to a week, it is essentially adding a fresh layer on each application. If you were to stop after say, one or two applications, you could expect the time a gradual tan will last is between 5 – 7 days.

What is the Best Gradual Tanner?

With so many great self-tanning products listed above, it can be hard to say which brand we love the most. Also, keeping in mind every person has different expectations of products.
There are some key things that make a gradual bronzer product great:

Some of the common ingredients to look out for in a hydrating gradual tan product include:

Wrap Up

All of the bronzing products listed have great benefits and will allow you to get a gradual glow. With so many great reviews, it is easy to agree with why the beauty community love these brands. When using any sunless tans (whether it be a cream, mousse or oil) it is important to remember that preparation is key.

Exfoliate any dry skin, shave and keep your skin hydrated. The outcome will be a flawless, bronzed glow!

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Tara Lusk is the founder and creator of Beauty Space
Tara Lusk is a Sydney-based beauty enthusiast and the founder of Beauty Space. She launched the blog in 2018 to showcase the best beauty and skincare brands emerging from Australia, while also providing insider tips and tricks for hair and skincare. With a focus on tried-and-true products, Tara puts the latest cult products to the test to separate hype from substance.

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