When is the best time to get your glow on? Any time of course! My first career was in skincare and ever since I’ve done everything I can to protect my skin from the sun. As a result, my skin is usually rocking a bright shade of ivory everywhere I go. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a porcelain complexion, but when I’m feeling the island vibes or preparing for that special event, I turn to my favorite sunless tanners. Here’s my latest list, and how I wear them.
Although the products in this review were provided to me complimentary, all opinions expressed in this blog are my own.
How Sunless Tanners Work
Sunless tanners all work essentially the same. They utilize Dihydroxyacetone commonly known as DHA which reacts with amino acids on the surface of your skin and produces a darkening effect. This essentially dyes the surface of your skin, and as such your darker color will only last as long as it takes for those surface cells to slough off.
- Exfoliate your skin before using a sunless tanner (aka self tanner). This ensures you’ll be tanning the freshest layer of skin for a longer tan.
- Water deactivates the solution so it’s recommended you don’t get wet for 3 to 6 hours following the application
- Avoid exfoliating your skin after application. For example, going to the beach and playing in the sand is likely to wear your tan off wherever the sand causes friction against your skin. Even rubbing your skin vigorously with a towel can wear it off faster so you should dab dry instead.
- Keep your skin hydrated after your tan develops. Use lotion generously so your skin doesn’t get dry and slough off faster.
- Wear dark clothing on the day of your tan to avoid ruining lighter clothes. Clear solutions are less likely to transfer, but many sunless tanners have bronzers in them for instant color and to aid in even application. Bronzers will stain nice clothing.
- If you are hand applying a sunless tanner, make sure to wear gloves or use a mitt designed for applying the product. This will keep your hands from looking unnatural (remember, palms don’t tan), and will help blend out any product build up.
- Remember, sunless tanners do not actually tan your skin and will not protect your skin from the sun in any way. You will still need to use sunscreen.
My mom opened a spa when I was 16 and when I graduated that same year I went to work for her. Our spa was one of the first to bring air brush tanning to the city. While spray tanning booths were mostly the rage, at our spa we were hand painting bodies to have a natural glow. It was a revolutionary time in the world of self tanning because it was the first time natural formulas were being developed that weren’t orange and streaky. Technology has continued to advance but I’m still the biggest fan of air brush tanning. In fact, one of the first spas my mom and I trained in airbrush tanning was owned by Diana Manzano, and she is still who I go to today. You can find her at www.solespainc.com .
Application: An airbrush tan is applied by a technician using an airbrush gun. It is usually a five to ten minute process with a 5 to 10 minute window to dry off.
Color: You can opt for a clear solution which will take 2 to 6 hours to develop or you can choose a bronzing solution for instant color that will darken as the solution develops over the next 2 to 6 hours. I love the instant bronzer but it will transfer onto clothing. The fully developed color is a nice golden color.
Fragrance: There is a typical sunless tanning smell that comes from the reaction your skin has with the solution. I think the airbrush solution is pretty mild considering.
Longevity: About a week if you utilize all the tips and tricks suggested.
Coola products jumped out at me because of their commitment to creating products that are healthier for you and more eco-conscience. Their “farm to face” approach ensures the highest quality ingredients are going into their products. So far I’ve only tried their Sunless Tan Sculpting Mousse, but I’m interested in experiencing more of their line up.
Application: The mousse goes on pretty easy, but since this product did not have a bronzer, it was difficult to tell if I missed any spots. Later I did find a few areas I missed, but it was easy to reapply and blend out. I used gloves with this product since I didn’t have a mitt, but in the future I would opt for the mitt first.
Color: This product is a clear foam. It will not transfer onto clothes. The color developed into a golden hue, but I did find it was pretty light. Next time I will try a heavier application.
Fragrance: I noticed a mild sunless tanning fragrance with a mild tropical scent added.
Longevity: Since this went on light for me it lasted a little less than a week.
I had heard great things about St Moriz, so I had to try it. Available in most drug stores, this product offers a great value since it works great and doesn’t break the bank. For this review I bought the dark, instant tanning mousse.
Application: This is an instant tanner which means it has a topical bronzer in it. This is helpful with application since you can see exactly where it’s going and how think you are applying it. I used the St Moriz tanning mitt which was a must for keeping my hands clean. It also aids in blending the product. I had my husband help me with my back.
Color: True to it’s label I was rocking an instant, very dark tan. Anticipating some transfer, I wore a black dress to avoid staining. After my first shower I went back to normal clothing. (Note: If you wear white and sweat, you will likely get tanner on it) I found the color to be more dark than I was used to. It almost seemed to make my pores seem dirty. This was mainly the topical bronzer. After showering I didn’t notice this as much. I could see this product being great for fitness competitors and ballroom dancers.
Fragrance: The fragrance was very light. Minimal self tanner smell.
Longevity: During my trial of this product I was vacationing at a resort with a water park. We frequented it every day for three days. As a result my tan was pretty much gone after three days of being waterlogged. If I had to guess I would say this lasts 4 to 5 days of normal use.
Tan Luxe is made from a unique blend of purified water, DHA, raspberry seed oil, and vitamins. The Water, is a clear tanning solution that is blowing everyone’s minds. Mainly because no one has sold the clear solution before. It’s always been in a lotion or mousse. They are shaking things up a bit and I’m so glad they did. I’m absolutely loving their product!
Application: Not unlike an airbrush tan, you are simply spraying your body with this clear solution. After you spray down your body, blend and buff with a tanning mitt for the perfect application.
Color: After one application I had the most beautiful and natural golden color. This product had no bronzer so I had to guess on application (which I suggest you do in your shower to keep the over spray contained). It was easy and I had the best application success with this product.
Fragrance: Minimal to none
Longevity: About a week
Since my first Tan Luxe product was such a success I opted in for a try of their Instant Hero product. This is a temporary instant tanning cream that resists transfer.
Application: This product comes with a sponge tip for buffing out application, however I preferred to still use a tanning mitt. This applies like a lotion for instant color, and dries within a minute for instant wearability. Although it says it resists transfer, I still found some color on my undergarments. I would hesitate to wear anything white of of irreplaceable value as it’s not a sure thing. Having said that, I loved this option for a no commitment tan that washes off with soap and water in the shower.
Color: This product turned me a beautiful bronze shade that wasn’t too dark or too light. It also had a natural glisten to it thanks to a built in shimmer in the lotion.
Longevity: Until your next shower
These are my latest favorites but I’ll be sure to update the list as I try more sunless tanning products that I love.
Do you swear by your favorite sunless tanner? If it’s in the post let me know how much you love it, if it’s not comment below and tell me what it is so I can try it too.
Enjoy the Journey!
xo- Amy West
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