There’s something about having a great tan that really makes me happy and creates a heightened sense of confidence within. I am naturally pretty pale so in high school when tanning was all the rage I was a frequent customer at my local Total Tan and spent a ton of time in tanning beds and booths trying to achieve that sought after sun-kissed look. I am SO happy they created a law that you have to be 18+ years of age to tan in a booth or bed because my skin has never been the same since I started tanning at age 16 and went on through age 18. Sometimes I wish I never did it at all, it is SO dangerous!
Over the years self tanners have become more and more popular and really have come a long way since 2005, when I thought slathering on L’Oreal’s Sublime Bronze on my extremely pale legs looked good. My legs came out EXTREMELY orange, but because self tanning was a “new” thing, calling someone “orange” wasn’t a thing yet either– I thought I was so tan! I’m sure they’ve upgraded their formula like many other brands since then.
I am also a fan of spray tans, but not all of them. While they are quick and pretty convenient you still need to schedule a time to go, drive there and then confine yourself to your house for 8 hours before you can shower. I am picky about where I go and the formula of spray tan the place uses too, different ones react differently on my skin producing a variance in color.
Which brings me to at home self tanners! For the price point & results these products give, I am a big fan of self tanner. I have tried quite a few different products but the four I am sharing on here are the ones I’ve most recently tried out in the last 6 months. Let’s get right into it… *no specific order*
- Isle of Paradise “Medium” Self-Tanning Mousse $29
I ordered this self tanner from Sephora after searching through what this specific brand offered and the reviews each product got. Using my own opinions and experience with self tanners I went with the mousse in a medium shade. When I received this product it was packaged well for shipping and arrived in 5 business days. I showered, shaved, and exfoliated prior to applying. I put two pumps of the tanner on to a tanning mitt and applied in circular motion. The solution smells really fresh and pretty. It applies with a green hue to it, but don’t worry that’s not the final color. The green hue helps prevent it from coming out orange and overall it applies really well. It took a few minutes to dry, I would say that a fan would help to speed this process up but I didn’t mind waiting before putting clothing on. I applied it to my whole body and neck but skipped my face (I have another product I use to tan my face that I know doesn’t cause break outs) and then put on loose sweat pants and a t-shirt and went to bed. I have white sheets and the tanner did not transfer to my bedding at all, don’t rush the drying process. Once it was 100% dry I would give it a 1 out of 5 for level of stickiness which was so great. I left it on for 8-10 hours while I slept and showered it off first thing in the morning. The tanner did produce a little bit of a “self tanner” smell after a couple of hours, but it wasn’t horrible. There was definitely a lot of bronze going down the drain too, but I was left with a beautiful and natural looking tan in just one application! I would absolutely recommend this product to others as there are no streaks or splotches and fades really clean.
- Vita Liberata pHenomenal 2-3 week Tan Mousse ‘Medium’ (Bronze Basics Must-Have Luxury 3-Piece Tan Set) $25 This tanner was part of a 3 piece set that also came with a tanning mitt and a gradual tanning lotion. When brands offer a travel or trial size in products like this I usually go for those first before committing to a full size. This was the perfect kit to try because it came with the application mitt which was full size and high quality. I first applied this mousse in the morning so I could keep an eye on it as it developed on my skin. It’s a great formula that applies nicely, dries instantly and has virtually no smell! I was so excited about this as I was applying it. I left the tanner on for 6 hours, the bottle recommends 4-8 hours, and then showered. Unfortunately I did not see much of a difference, definitely no tan. It clogged the hair follicles on my legs and made the skin on my face break out. A few days later I wanted to try it again except leave it on overnight and see if my second experience would produce better results. This time I applied it to my arms, neck and chest (tank top season is among us in South Carolina) after showering and before bed. Again I was impressed with the application, no smell and no dry time– amazing! When I woke up in the morning I saw a small difference in color but nothing too noticeable. I came to the conclusion that if I applied it two times consecutively it would produce a nice glow. So that night I went to go apply it again and the bottle ran out. I actually couldn’t believe it. I had only used it TWO times and it was gone?! This is a small bottle (0.85 fl oz) but dang… I thought I’d at least get 5 tans from it. Overall I would not recommend this to anyone who is looking for a bronzey tan, this product would be great for people with very fair skin who are new to self tanning products because it is so gradual. I would give the dark formula a try in the future with hopes that it would produce more color on my skin.
- St. Tropez Purity Bronzing Water Mousse $42
I received this sample bottle of the St. Tropez Purity Bronzing Water Mousse at Ulta last summer with my purchase of another product. This one ended up being my go-to for the rest of last summer and it is currently what I use to tan my face because it doesn’t break me out or produce an intense color. I love this tanner because I feel as though it’s hard to “mess up”. I apply it with a tanning mitt and it produces a subtle glow, no streaks or splotches (when applied evenly). I do need to apply it two days in a row to reach the level of color I like. It has a tropical/sunscreen kind of smell to it initially but does produce that self-tanner smell as it develops. It does not dry fast and remains 4 out of 5 pretty sticky. I have re-purchased the full size bottle of this product because I really like it and I hold on to this smaller bottle and refill it for travel. I would recommend this to a friend and I have recommended it to several people in the past.
- St. Tropez Self Tan Express Bronzing Mist $40
This one is different than this other three because this one is a mist that you spray directly on to the skin and it develops in 1-3 hours. I applied this tanner after showering, exfoliating and shaving. I applied it after drying off while standing in the shower so I wouldn’t bronze my whole bathroom with the spray. It was easy to apply alone and sprayed out a greenish color so you can see the spots you’ve missed. I let it develop overnight and showered the following morning. A ton of bronze went down the drain but I was left with good color. I didn’t have any streaks or spots but my wrists/hands were not even. I believe that to be user error though. I liked the ease of this product, somehow spraying on tanner was easier than rubbing it on with a mitt. It was 4 out of 5 very sticky and didn’t seem to dry all the way. It did produce that self tanner smell throughout the night and unfortunately this bottle only lasted me 3 tans. I was very disappointed it didn’t last longer especially because of the price point. If you want the most “bang for your buck” go with a mousse 100% the bottles last much longer. I would not recommend this product to a friend even though I did previously and she had the same experience.
All in all I’d say my favorite right now is the Isle of Paradise Self Tanning Mousse in shade medium, however this is based off of one use. What self tanners are your favorite? I love hearing about new products and reviews on them!