Top sunless tanning products and application tips for an even, realistic glow.

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Next to sunscreen, an amazing glow is one of the most important accessories to wear during the summer.

But many people are intimidated by the application of self-tanners, afraid of ending up with an orange streaky mess. Here are some tips for better results, and top products that result in a more natural radiance — minus the harmful rays.

St. Tropez Self Tan Bronzing Mousse, $44; Tatcha Black Sugar Body Gommage, $74
St. Tropez Self Tan Bronzing Mousse, $44; Tatcha Black Sugar Body Gommage, $74

Exfoliate

A main cause of streaks is dry skin that soaks up excess product. To avoid that, start in the shower with a good exfoliation. Trader Joe’s Lavender Salt Scrub ($6) is great for sloughing off dead skin.

Or, if you find that a salt scrub stings, try a sugar-based scrub, such as Alba Botanica Hawaiian Body Polish ($8 at amazon.com) or Tatcha Indigo Smoothing Black Sugar Body Gommage ($74 at tatcha.com). Rub whichever product you choose up and down and then in circular motions for a thorough finish.

Apply

Self-tanners that develop more slowly are growing in popularity. Jergens Natural Glow Wet Skin Moisturizer ($10 at Ulta) is conveniently applied in the shower onto wet skin. The color builds up over a few days, and can be maintained with less-frequent applications.

Overnight self-tanners have come into vogue in recent years, such as Charlotte Tilbury’s Overnight Bronze and Glow Mask ($55 at charlottetilbury.com), which moisturizes skin while delivering a wash of color.

Looking for full-blown color right now? St. Tropez Self Tan Express Bronzing Mousse ($44 at sttropeztan.com) develops in as little as an hour, has no orange cast and lasts about a week. Or try beauty-blogger favorite Loving Tan Deluxe Bronzing Mousse ($35 at usa.lovingtan.com), also lauded for its believable color.

Charlotte Tilbury Overnight Bronze and Glow Mask, $55, and Healthy Glow Moisturizer, $40 (and on models)
Charlotte Tilbury Overnight Bronze and Glow Mask, $55, and Healthy Glow Moisturizer, $40 (and on models)

Face facts

Go light on the self-tanner on your face, and use bronzer to boost your glow. Nudestix Nudies Glow All-Over Face Color Bronze + Glow ($30 at nudestix.com) are dual-ended sticks with bronzer on one side and a blending brush on the other.

Nars’ Sun Wash Diffusing Bronzer ($40 at narscosmetics.com) adds color and diffuses imperfections with a matte finish. It’s available in the cult-favorite Laguna shade.

Or try one of the new sheer bronzing tints that wash off. Charlotte Tilbury’s Healthy Glow Summer Tint Moisturizer ($40 at charlottetilbury.com) is applied like self-tanner but without the commitment.