| April 29, 2013

First, you take careful measure to exfoliate in all the right places (just like the directions say to)! You towel dry, and then–you go for it: endless slathering of the most plastic-scented, lightly peach-tinted self-tanning lotion. You even let it dry. You stand there. Naked. Just waiting, diligently.

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And then, once the dust settles, you examine your masterpiece. And it’s a disaster. How ever did you manage to miss such a large spot? Why are you covered in the hue of Crayola Orange?

It’s OK, we’ve all been there. But being that it’s self-tanning time, we’ve picked out five reliable self-tanning lotions that won’t make you regret leaving the house.

(The Kardashian’s five-unit tanning system hit the shelves of Ulta just this month. Maybe it will make the list next time?)

St. Tropez Gradual Self-Tanning Lotion

Sort of like the Jay-Z of the tanning world, St. Tropez has a reputation for just being really good at what it does: performing. Its scent is not too overpowering and it’s cream-like enough to suffice as an all-day moisturizer. Oh, and don’t be fooled by the “graduaI” part — one application creates a visible difference. StTropezTan.com.

Per-fekt Body Perfection Gel in Tan

This gel-to-powder formula is very much the opposite of a gradual tanner, but rubs on incredibly smoothly and evenly. It’s dark in color, but don’t be put off by that. Just be sure to rub in circular motions, and be careful to cover from head-to-toe. One application does wonders. PerfektBeauty.com.