Today’s topic is NOT the Big O; it’s sunless tanning!
Just because I am a tireless promoter of protecting yourself from the aging and hazardous- to- your- health rays of the sun, doesn’t mean I don’t covet the burnished look that comes with it. Nothing bugs me more in the summer than sporting the same pallor I have the rest of the year. Those white, freckled legs hanging below my adorable white dresses and cropped pants? Pitiful! And once you’ve given your body a little fake glow, a ghostly face sitting on top looks ludicrous. The more faux bronze radiance, the less makeup needed for the hot and humid days of summer. Fortunately, there are plentiful options, and I’ve given a whole passel of them a test drive.
The sunless tanning category has grown by leaps and bounds since we smeared ourselves with Coppertone QT,in the 1960’s. Orange streaks, stained palms, bad smell; the industry had nowhere to go but up. There are so many formulations now (lotion, gel, mousse, spray, towelettes and boosters). You can tan deeply or lightly, gradually or quickly, colorlessly or with an instant tint, expensively or cheaply.
Before you start:
- Exfoliate your body with a scrub( I like True Blue Spa Fresh Foaming Body buff with shea butter or Fresh Brown Sugar) and your face with something gentler (PUR Attitude purifying rice face wash or St. Ives Apricot Scrub.)
- Dry thoroughly and snap on a pair of thin surgical gloves to protect your hands from palm staining formulas.
- All these products will stain towels and rugs too so apply in the shower where you can wash away any errant droplets or spritzes.
- Work quickly in a circular motion to get an even application before it begins to dry and streak. And don’t forget tops of feet and backs of hands.
- Apply to a freshly cleansed face and body. Moisturizer will dilute the effect. Put on your sunscreen after it is dry.
Allow 10 minutes to dry before dressing. And avoid the shower for 24 hours. Most tanners take 2 to 4 hours to develop and continue to darken for 24 hours. Color should last 3 to 10 days. Applying daily for 3 days and then twice a week thereafter should keep you covered.
In the premium category, two companies stand out: St. Tropez and Clarins. St. Tropez, which I have used for years, has 20 different iterations of product, as well as a mitt for application and a tan remover. I think the mitt soaks up too much product so prefer gloved hands. The bronzing mousse goes on dark so you can see where you are applying and gives believeable color. But it can drip when you dispense the foam and you have to work very quickly. I like their Gradual Tan Anti-Aging for Face cream which gives great hydration and a radiant glow. But the 1.6 oz tube is pricey at $30. The best investment in the line may be the most expensive, their new Self Tan Deluxe Dry Oil. At $50 we are in nose bleed territory but the rave reviews indicate it may last the summer and be worth the cost. It absorbs quickly, give an instant glow, great color and no streaking. Fans say it looks better than a pro spray tan and is good for fair skin. Plus the oil formula is ultra hydrating and gives a shimmer that lasts up to 10 days.
Clarins consistently rates highly with consumers and beauty editors. Their newest innovation is a game changer: Clarins Golden Glow Booster, $30.
Just 3 drops mixed in with your moisturizer, night cream or BB cream does the trick. Try it in your sunblock for a twofer. Since my moisturizer of choice (Neutrogena Rapid Tone Repair) has SPF30, those 3 drops turn it into a trifecta: moisture, protection and self tanning. Clarins also makes 9 other self tanning products including Delicious Self Tanning Cream, $43 with yummy cocoa extract, and one specifically for legs.
On the more affordable front, there is the highly successful Jergens Gradual Self Tanning Moisturizer as well as the accelerated Jergens 3 Days to Glow. Self tanning for dummies! For about $10, you can dabble in the expanded line which has versions for face and body with SPF 20 as well as one that purportedly firms and moisturizes dimply thighs.
I also recommend L’Oreal Sublime Bronze Luminous Bronzer Instant Action. You get immediate gratification as well as results that develop over time with a shimmery glow. The line has 9 products including body towelettes, all in the $9.99 to $10.99 range. You can choose tinted or not, some goosed with Vitamin E and AHA, light reflecting particles and even an airbrush spray for hard to reach areas like back and back of legs.
Gal pal Stacey highly recommends Tan Towel for face and body ($18 for 10 at drugstore.com). She loved the color, and even,lasting coverage. Since they come in little packets, it just may be the easiest and most portable choice to toss in your travel bag this summer.
My perfect product would give me instant color, protect with high SPF and build to a believable golden glow. I just may have found it! Australian Gold Faces Suncreen with Instant Bronzer Plus Gradual Self Tanner, $8.99 is a whopping SPF 45 sunscreen, bronzer and self tanner in one. Allure gave it a Best of Beauty Award. My local stores don’t carry it but drugstore.com has it within my grasp.
Please share your successes and failures as we all go for the (safe) glow!