the best self-tanner does
- Gives you a natural tone. The biggest
complaint we see about various self-tanning products is that it leaves the user
with an odd, unnatural tint -- usually orange, but sometimes brown or green. We
largely ignore those reviews (unless there are quite a lot of them) simply
because that's more than likely not the fault of the self-tanner. Products
react differently on different skin tones and not every self-tanner will work
for everyone. What turns one person's skin a lovely shade of gold may turn
another's a sickly shade of green.
- Covers evenly. No one wants to end
up with streaks and uneven color when their self-tanner finally dries. The best
self-tanners go on evenly and smoothly. Many have tints that give you immediate
feedback as to where you've already applied it, making it easier to avoid too
much or too little overlap. Gradual tanners tend to be more forgiving, while
you have to be more careful with instant tanners. Also, practice makes perfect,
the more you use the product, the better you'll get at applying it properly.
- Applies easily. Spray tanners are
some of the most difficult types to apply and there's a learning curve to getting
them just right. You also have to be careful where you're spraying so your
entire bathroom (or any other area where you use it) doesn't end up with a
light coat of "paint." Lotions and gels are the easiest to apply,
while foams and mousses may be a bit more challenging.
- Smells pleasant. Virtually all
self-tanners have some scent, but some have scents that are much stronger than
others. Keep in mind that scent is a highly personal preference. What smells
just fine to one person may be more than another can bear. In addition, we
found many reports of people who could not even smell their self-tanner, but it
repelled their significant other.
before you go
your skin tone now? If you have fair skin, you'll want to choose a sunless tanner that offers a
light shade or promises a gradual tan. If you have darker skin, you may only
see noticeable results from a medium/dark shade of tanner. We saw many comments
from those with darker skin that they saw absolutely no difference when using a
gradual tanner. Spray tanners also seem to work best for darker skin tones,
according to experts.
your skin type? If your skin is dry, a gel or lotion-based tanner is best, whereas mousses and
sprays are better for normal to oily skin. Wipes can work well for most skin
types. Many self-tanners now contain a moisturizer.
time do you have? All self-tanners take a while to dry, but some are quicker than others. In
general, mousse-type tanners dry the most quickly, with lotions and gels a
close second. Spray tanners can take quite a while -- 30 minutes to an hour or
two. Be sure you have time to dry off before you dress or go to bed or it can
wear off on your tan or sheets.
quickly do you need it? Instant tanners give you a quick burst of color, but
they take a few hours to fully develop. Gradual tanners can take days to see
results. One quick shortcut is tinted tanners, which can give the impression of
darker skin immediately -- though some tints tend to look splotchy or fake
before they're washed off. Bronzers give you an immediate glow, but they are
temporary and will wash off with your next cleansing.
sensitive to fragrances? We can't stress enough how many different reactions we
see to the scents in self-tanners. We suggest that if you have any
sensitivities to scent that you sniff before you settle.
expectations: The dollars and cents of it
Although some drugstore self-tanners are highly
affordable, most of the top self-tanners are a bit pricey per ounce, especially
when you consider how much you have to use to cover your entire body. In
addition, what works great for one person may turn another orange -- or the
fragrance may be unbearable. One way to be sure that you don't end up with your
self-tanner collecting dust in the bathroom cupboard is to request sample
sizes. Almost every department store brand has sample sizes available; this can
help keep you from paying top price for something you can't use.
tips for using a self-tanner
- Practice in advance. Don't decide to
use a self-tanner for the first time a couple of hours before a big event. We saw
many tales of woe from those who decided to self tan a few hours before prom or
a significant business event. Plan in advance and be sure the self-tanner you
choose works for you -- because they don't wash off and will take several days
- Wash your hands. Unless you
want to end up with a "tani-cure," be sure to wash your hands after
applying a self-tanner. Even if you use a mitt or applicator pad, users say you
may not realize you have gotten some of the tanner on your fingers, which can
result in a dirty nails look that's not appealing.
Elsewhere in this report:
Best Self Tanners | Best Spray Tan | Best Self-Tanners for
the Face: | Our Sources