Reader question: what are the best organic self tanners?



We’ve had some wild weather on the east coast this spring, from snow in the mountains to 30-degree heat, so we can be forgiven for being a bit slack with our hot weather beauty routines.

It’s predicted to hit a disgusting 35 degrees in Sydney today, so it’s inevitable, we’re going to need to step things up. And that time is now.

Enter fake tan, the great melanin equaliser.

But before we slather our skin with bronzing juice, what is in self tanner that changes the colour of our skin? Is it safe? And what are the best organic and natural brands?

DHA (dihydroxyacetone) is the culprit responsible for turning our skin brown (or orange). Natural and organic brands use DHA that is derived from natural ingredients like sugar cane and sugar beets. Rather than penetrating the deeper levels of your skin, naturally derived DHA interacts with the ‘dead’ skin cells that lie in the top layers of your skin. This reaction makes organic tanners develop faster and means no chemicals are absorbed into your bloodstream. The downside is that your tan doesn’t last as long, as the top layer of your skin sheds through natural exfoliation.

If you have sensitive skin you’re also less likely to trigger a skin reaction when using a product with naturally derived DHA than with synthetically derived DHA.

But what you really want to know is, is this stuff that’s changing the colour of our skin safe? Yes. Look for brands which are ‘Certified Organic’ by EcoCert. is an excellent stockist of all things natural and organic beauty if you don’t know where to start.


We’ve listed our top 5 organic and natural tanners below, but if there’s one you regularly use and you’d like to know more about the ingredients contact the brand directly for more information. Certified Organic tanning products with naturally derived ingredients are safe to use in pregnancy, but you may want to abstain or consult your doctor or OB/GYN before using.

I road-tested Kiri Organics Gradual Tan (Certified Organic) on a recent holiday to Byron Bay and was super pleased with the result. I usually find most gradual tanners take days to build up to a colour I’m happy with. But when you decide to fake tan, you want colour yesterday, am I right? That’s why this one is so great. The colour developed within a few hours and by the time we’d unpacked and hit the beach in the afternoon, I looked like a local.

Pale legs (L) vs Kiri Organic tanned legs (R).

A word of warning though, because this one is so fast acting, you have to apply it with a blending mitt (I used St Tropez Application Mitt) otherwise you get streaky patches and really obvious telltale white patches. I accidentally forgot my feet and was walking around with faux sock lines for a day.

Natural and organic fake tans we love (from left to right in pic above): Jurlique Sunless Tanner (this one is natural not organic), $45; eco Tan (a fave in the Mamamia office and EcoCert), $29.95; Kiri Organics Gradual Tan (EcoCert), $29.95; Santorini Sun Organics Spray (Zoe Foster's fave when she was a pregbot, $29.95); Lavera Organic Fake Tan Lotion (this one is award-winning and well, excellent all round), $34.95. 

Let me know if you've tried any other organic or natural tanners in the comments below, I'm always on the hunt to try more.