It's officially self-tanning season, which—up until recently—meant absolutely nothing to me. Don't get me wrong—I love experimenting with new products, and I'm not afraid to take the occasional beauty risk. Snail-slime face mask? Bring it! Blue lipstick? Sure, why not! Clown contouring? I mean, I'll give it try. But self-tanner…? I've never wanted to touch it. And I mean never. Maybe it was the fear of orange palms, patchy body parts, streaky finishes and tanner-soaked sheets, but—whatever the case—no one could convince me to try the stuff.
That is, until I was nominated for this assignment. As much as self-tanner freaks me out, I decided to give it the old college try—in the name of beauty, mind you. And hey, how could I, in good conscious, call myself a beauty expert if I'd never experienced a faux glow? And that's how a self-tanning virgin like myself wound up testing three different tanning products. Read on to see which ones received glowing reviews from yours truly!
– Danielle Mrkvicka, Copywriter
Due to my fear of self-tanners, I wanted to start out with something temporary. That way—if I hated the results—I could simply wash it all away. I decided to try PRTTY PEAUSHUN in, an 100% natural body lotion whose light reflecting particles claimed to give skin a gorgeous, flattering glow. Sounds harmless enough, right?
I decided to use the Medium shade, to add a little bit more color to my super-pale skin. I took a deep breath and smoothed a little bit on my legs. Much to my surprise, I LOVED the results. Not only did the silky formula smell amazing, it made my skin look like a million bucks. The light-reflecting particles created a dazzling (not sparkly) golden glow, and even concealed minor imperfections, like cellulite, stretch marks and varicose veins! What’s more, the botanical formula is supposed to help heal cuts and bruises, act as a natural insect repellent, minimize bruising and soothe sore muscles. There's a reason they call this stuff a "peaushun"—it’s pretty much magic in a bottle. (Or well, bag.)
Verdict: With PRTTY PEASHUN, you can score a golden glow the moment the urge strikes. It takes almost zero time to get great results, smells nice, and leaves your skin in better shape than before. And—for all those commitment-phobes out there—you can return to your former skin tone by simply jumping in the shower.
One of the reasons I avoided self-tanner for so long? The MESS. Orange towels, orange sheets, orange smudges all over my white bathroom tile? Yeah, no thanks. Applied in the shower, this tanning lotion from St. Tropez promised to eliminate mess. My interest was piqued, but was it really going to be 100% mess-free? I aimed to find out. After washing and exfoliating skin, I turned off the water, slathered it on, washed my palms, and waited the allotted three minutes. The first thing I noticed was the smell—and no, it wasn't bad! Unlike most self-tanners, this one didn't have an overpowering copper-penny scent. Instead, it had a very a light aroma of coconut. When I rinsed the lotion away, I noticed a totally natural—albeit very faint—golden glow. Zero blotchiness or weird coloring. And even when I dried my legs with a white towel, no orange residue. I was sold.
Verdict: This tanner has earned a permanent spot on my shower ledge. It’s perfect for pale ladies like myself, since it creates an extremely soft, natural glow. One thing to keep in mind—it works very gradually, so if you're looking for an instant dark tan, this probably isn't for you. You can build to a deep, toasty hue over time, but it's not going to happen in one use.
After testing the self-tanner waters with a gradual formula, I wanted to try something a little more immediate. I opted for Paula's Choice SUN 365 Self-Tanning Foam Mousse, which claimed to create a golden glow in just a few hours. After prepping, I applied a light layer all over my body using a tanning mitt. Much like the St. Tropez tanner, the formula didn't have that telltale self-tanner odor. Plus, it was perfect for a newbie like me, since the lightly tinted formula made for easy, confident application. No streaks in sight! Over the next few hours, the color deepened to reveal a warm, natural-looking tan. The best part? It didn't stain my clothes, bedsheets or couch.
Verdict: I am definitely going to keep using this mousse. It's easy to apply, buildable, and natural-looking. It also lasts a good while, and even made it through a leg-shave or two!