6 self-tanners for bronzed skin
Get a faux glow without baking in the sun. We share our experience with six different self-tanning options
L’Oreal Paris Sublime Bronze Sun Splash Clear Self Tanning Gel
This fresh-scented clear gel spritzes on to instantly illuminate skin, and then transforms into a streak-free “super-natural bronze.” ($17, 150 mL)
I haven’t tried self-tanner in many years, so I was curious to see how far they’ve come. I remember them as smelly and messy. This spray-on gel was easy to apply, dried quickly and had a faint but pleasant fragrance. I shaved my legs and then sprayed the tanner onto one leg at a time, rubbing it all over to get even coverage. This is a gradual tanner, which is nice because I didn’t have to worry about a dark tan on my fair skin-which wouldn’t suit me. After one application, I had a hint of bronze in a few hours. After a second application the next day, I had a nice tan that lasted almost a week.
-Jennifer Walker, Deputy Editor
Nip + Fab 365 Body Glow Fix
This fast-drying clear gel promises a streak-free natural golden finish that develops within four hours of application. ($10, 200 mL)
This was my first time using a self-tanner, so I was cautious, searching out a few YouTube clips and talking to the editors here at work for application tips. The night before I tried it, I made sure to exfoliate and moisturize my legs. I applied the gel the next morning, and by later that day my legs had a natural-looking, warm tint. The shade was golden, as promised. Because the gel is clear in colour, you have to be sure to take your time and apply it as evenly as possible. I must have done a good job of that, because I ended up with a good, even tone.
-Josephine Woertman, Acting Art Director
Avon Skin So Soft Satin Glow Absolute Glow Gel for all Skin Tones
Instant hydration and visibly firmer skin are two results promised by Avon for this fast-drying gel, along with a “sun-kissed glow.” ($10, 200 mL)
After lightly exfoliating in the shower, I dried off and applied this gel to my arms, legs and torso, using circular motions to avoid streaks. It goes on super-smooth. The label suggests three applications before you’ll see a difference, but I’m sure I was a little bit darker just a day after my first application! Since it’s gradual, I didn’t feel I had to worry about over-doing it. Make sure it has completely absorbed before getting dressed; I had to wait about 15 to 20 minutes.
-Melissa Greer, Content Producer
Guerlain Terracotta Sunless Tinted Self-Tanning Gel
Tinted for “harmonious application” and “an instant sun-kissed effect,” this gel provides a long-lasting luminous tan. ($56, 150 mL)
I normally don’t use sunless tanners: Whenever I’ve tried them before, I’ve made a big mess on tricky areas like my feet, and I swear off. I tried this on my arms at 7:30 a.m. and by 1 p.m., the colour-a bronzy shade-really showed up. Happily, I couldn’t detect any DHA after-scent. In fact, the product has a pretty floral scent, and I like that it contains skin-nourishing argan oil. I liked it so?much I’m going to also try it on my décolleté, and even on my face, mixing a little with my regular moisturizer.
-Rhonda Rovan; Editor, Beauty & Fashion
Jergens Natural Glow Foaming Daily Moisturizer
This soft, lightweight foam is designed for quick-drying, even application without any odour. The subtle, streak-free colour builds with daily use. ($13, 177 g)
I tried this product on my right leg so I could compare results with my untreated left leg. After shaving, I shook the aerosol can and, as directed, sprayed a golf-ball-sized amount of foam into my palm. (It kept expanding, so I ended up with a softball-sized amount-oops!) It was easy to apply and had a faint, not unpleasant, scent. After one application, my skin was slightly darker; after a second the next day, my right leg had a streak-free, bronzy glow I’d feel confident baring-as soon as I could do my left leg.
-Joana Lourenço, Associate Editor
St. Tropez Gradual Tan Anti-ageing Plus Multi-Action Face
Besides delivering a natural-looking tan with continued use, this formula has a collagen-boosting ingredient to firm skin and reduce fine lines and wrinkles. ($44, 50 mL)
This is for the face, and the Saturday I flipped its lid open to apply it for the first time, I wondered why I’d ever agreed to do it-I did not want to show up at work on Monday with an orange face. I thought I should apply it Sunday, too, since it’s gradual. Because I was so paranoid, I was super-careful to apply it thinly and evenly. I needn’t have worried; it gave me a nice, subtle tan, and when I asked a colleague after a meeting if she noticed the glow, she said, “Now that you mention it, I think I do!”
-Bonnie Munday, Editor-in-Chief