By: Sarah Peeler
Spring Break brought us abundant sunshine, warm nights and lasting memories with friends. But it also brought on the realization that summer is around the corner, but it seems your pale legs did not get the memo.
No need to fret though because there is a solution! Self-tanners are here to the rescue. Safer and faster than tanning outside, self-tanners are the future of that dearly wanted sun kissed glow. Like all cosmetics, some work better than others. Likewise, some are less expensive than others.
The reviews given in this article are based upon my personal experiences and the countless experiences shared with me from clients at work. Working at a high-end makeup store, I have had two types of women come in, one to boast about their overnight glow and the other to get help to recover from an orange disaster. So read on to learn what the word is on both drugstore and department store self-tanners!
Jergens Natural Glow
Oh Jergens. This is likely the first experience many of us had with fake tanning products because it is gradual, never streaky and applies like a lotion. For some this product gives a subtle glow, but for many it turns more orange every time you apply it.
Although color results may vary, there are some effects that I have seen consistently. Jergens smells like fake tanner (like chemicals and not pleasant). Additionally, applying it daily can cause uneven color. For example, dry patches such as knees and elbows will only need one coat for every three applied elsewhere.
Buy it: Jergens Natural Glow Firming Daily Moisturizer Medium to Tan Skin Tone: $10.79, Walgreens.com
Coppertone Sunless Tanning Gradual Tan
Both my clients and myself have had better luck with this gradual tanner than Jergens in terms of creating a rich taupe/brown color instead of orange. It also applies more color daily than Jergens. It does have that faint tanner smell, but that fades within a few hours. Overall, a great place to start if you need to practice applying before trying out the heavy-duty stuff.
Buy it: Coppertone Sunless Tanning Gradual Tan Moisturizing Lotion: $9.49, Walgreens.com
Neutrogena Micro-Mist Sunless Tan Spray
Sprays are easy to work with: they are faster to apply and cover a large area. However, at home, spray tans are less pigmented. This is a good tanner for a very subtle glow, but building too many coats on top of one another may cause orange discoloration.
I like to use this one to lightly spray the tops of my hands and feet after applying a full body lotion everywhere else. This prevents the obvious “tan line” that can appear across the wrists and ankles without turning palms and toes orange.
Buy it: MicroMist Airbrush Sunless Tan: $10.99, Neutrogena.com
Banana Boat Summer Color Sunless Tinted Lotion
As far as drugstore products go this one emerges as the winner in terms of color. It provides a deep color and is buildable (easy to layer). Additionally there are two shades, one lighter and one darker, to suit various skin tones. There is a tanner smell, but it fades quickly.
There are a few downsides, one is the color can fade unevenly if your skin is dry and look patchy when you decide to stop applying. Another consideration here is the difficulty of applying. The color is very pigmented so there is a risk of streaking. However, with a little practice it is nothing that cannot fit into your summer routine.
Buy it: Banana Boat Sunless Tan Lotion: $6.67, Walmart.com
St. Tropez Self Tan Bronzing Lotion
This is a cult favorite. It provides deep, beautiful color and lasts a long time. Just make sure to apply this one with gloves because it WILL stain your palms. However, the actual application process is easy: just smooth it over your body and let streaks happen. Once it feels dry to the touch take a buffing mitt, or an old sock, and buff the color so it looks even. St. Tropez has a very mild smell. There are two downsides however: it can stain your sheets and clothes, and it comes with a high price tag.
Buy it: Self-Tan Bronzing Lotion: $42.00, Sttropeztan.com
Tantowel Self-Tan Towellete for Face and Body
Tanning towellete’s are fun an easy. They look and act just like those makeup removing wipes that come individually packaged, but with these, they provide you with an even, easy and realistic tan. However, they easily attach to dry skin so be careful around areas such as knees, elbows and toes. The other downside would be it takes two to cover your whole body, and since they come in packs of five, it might not be the best value.
Buy it: Self-Tan Towelette Full Body Application for Face & Body: $27.00, Ulta.com
Tarte Brazilliance Skin Rejuvenating Maracuja Tanner
This I would say, would be my go-to product for those of you with dry skin. Brazilliance not only provides a nice rich color, but it also hydrates. Likewise, this tanner applies streak free and has little smell. And if that was not enough, it also comes with a mitt. However, it does tend to fade a bit quicker than others and does not build to a deeper tone.
Buy it: Tarte Brazilliance Skin Rejuvenating Maracuja Face and Body Self Tanner: $39.00, Sephora.com
Vita Liberata pHenomenal 2-3 Week Tan Mousse
Two to three week results?! Well… No, not really. But Vita Liberata results do last far longer than other products. Most average around five days and this one lasts about ten. I will confess, that this is my favorite.
It does not have that generic tanner smell and when used with the Vita Liberata Mitt it is painless to apply, not to mention quick. However, it will only build up to about two coats, anything past that will not deepen the color. The price is also a bit steep on this one. However, a rare feature that I have only ever seen with this tanner is that when it fades, it does so gradually and evenly, similar to a real tan would.
Buy it: Vita Liberata pHenomenal 2-3 Week Tan Mousse & Tanning Mitt Duo: $54.00, Sephora.com
Self-tanners really are the future of golden, goddess skin and they seem to get better every year. Although formulas are getting better in color and streakiness, there are still a few obvious signs that your tan is not the real deal.
An even color is one of those tell-tale signs, but that can be prevented by exfoliating before application. The second common issue are your elbows, knees, ankles, toes and hands. They absorb more color and are often the number one giveaway of fake tans. But this can also be avoided by applying a rich moisturizer to these problem areas right before applying the tanner.
While fake tanners are great, especially at this time of the year, it is super important to remember that self-tanners do NOT protect you from the sun! So make sure to always wear sunscreen when outside, with that in mind, have a great time out there getting you tan on?