For the best faux glow.

By Ashley Riddle Williams
Updated August 19, 2020
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Sometimes a nice tan is all you need to take a sundress to the next level, and thus started my secret love affair with self-tanner. As health-conscious and wrinkle-adverse I am, I wanted to balance my desire for a slight sun-kissed glow while knowing just how harmful UV exposure can be for skin. Increasing the risk of skin cancer and premature aging isn't worth it, but a few minutes in the bathroom with a bottle of bronzing mousse certainly is.

For years, I've been on a journey to find a natural-looking faux tan solution that I can also afford. I've tried it all—the automated misting machines that get the job done with a heavy dose of messy fogging, high-end and hand-applied salon spray tans, and what feels like every version of gel, cream, aerosol, and mousse self-tanning product available on beauty shelves. Time after time, I struggled with one or more of the same problems with each attempt at finding my bronzing hero. Some treatments could cost upwards of $50 a pop, some affordable versions left me orange, others streaky, a few smelly for far too long, and some simply didn't seem to work at all. None of those scenarios were exactly what I was looking for. And then, it happened. I found the perfect formula: St. Tropez Self Tan Bronzing Mousse.

This particular beauty ah-ha moment came to me back when we launched our first-ever beauty awards, in which we featured all our can't-live-without products. Because a healthy glow is a Southern must-have, I went on a mission to once and for all find an undeniably "great" self-tanner. While my hopes were high, I didn't know a product could match my expectations. Countless products were tested, but none even came close to St. Tropez's line of self tan bronzing mousses, particularly the Classic formula and the brand's even more advanced express formula that allows you to craft your desired tan by deciding how long to wait before showering. The brand recommends leaving it on just one hour before showering for a light sun-kissed glow, two hours for a medium golden tan, or up to three hours for a deeper, darker bronze. Presto—legs bronzed for the sundress!

Luckily for everyone ending summer on a less than golden note, the jumbo-size bottle of St. Tropez Self Tan Express Bronzing Mousse is on sale as part of Nordstrom's Anniversary Sale, costing only $49 with a value of nearly $90. Do the math, and you've got enough self-tanner to last all fall and winter (plus some) at about half the price. Here are three very good reasons to shop it before it sells out. (Which it will.)

First, it has subtle blue undertones that aim to deliver a more natural-looking olive-toned color instead of the yellow-orange tones of many others. Secondly, it goes on easily and streak-free, unlike those that seem to require impossibly precise application for a smooth finish. And finally, the intensity of color is just right, which helps it turn out looking more naturally sun-kissed than oven-baked. If you're a fellow glow-getter, snag a bottle to feign that tan at almost half price. (SHOP THE EXPRESS MOUSSE SALE: $49; nordstrom.com)

WATCH: Bronzer Mistakes That are Secretly Making You Look Older | Photo:

I've found my self-tanning soulmate and I'll be sticking with it long-term. No sun exposure needed.