Our self tanner showdown

By on June 7, 2013


By: Nicole Rashotte

Summer is finally upon us (no matter what the temperature may say… or the date. Ok, late spring is upon us).  Now is the time that we want to get our glow on. I’m talking about the elusive and much sought-after summer tan. If you are like me, and are not a fan of self-induced wrinkles and you don’t think that Oompa Loompa orange is sexy look on anyone, then chances are you have probably tried a self-tanner or two. This experience can be daunting. It’s hard to pull off the “Oh yes, I was just hiking all weekend and seemed to have ended up with this gorgeous sun-kissed glow” when you are covered in streaks, are the colour of Tan Mom and smell like the inside of a tanning booth. Personally, I think that the smell can be the worst part of self-tanners. When I am huddled up in a sweaty subway and suddenly get a whiff of a condemned tanning salon, I look at the bronzed chick beside me and think, “your secret is out…”

Anyways, since I am such a kind and giving person (and single…so very single…so single that it doesn’t matter if I come home with orange skin, smelling like a day-old workout) I decided to try some self-tanners that are currently on the market and rate them. To get some variety, I tried self-tanners at various prices and with various claims. So, here we go…

1. Tan Towel – $20 – Sephora030513_tantowel_hero

I really like the convenience of these little towelettes. Application is fast, and easier than most in preventing streaks. The colour appears almost instantaneously and eliminates the possibility of being mistaken for a cheezie. Unfortunately, there is a certain “self-tanner” smell to it, but it has a hint of citrus that makes it more tolerable and it definitely fades as the day goes on. I highly suggest putting this on in the morning or even before bed the night before (as it does not come off on sheets). On the flip side of that, this product is also good if you need some quick colour in a pinch.

Score: 4/5

2. L’Oreal Sublime Bronze – $15 – Shoppers Drug Mart

lorealWhen I first put this gel on, I had a mixed reaction. The liquid that came out was dark gold and sparkly, kind of how I envisioned J-Lo if she was liquefied. The gel is also a little on the thick side, so you have to be careful with how much you place in your palm – a little bit goes a long way. When I applied the gel, I noticed that it went on as easy as body lotion and you didn’t have to be precise with your application technique. This comes in handy if you are like me and are prone to anxiety attacks when a self-tanner instructs you on how to properly apply to avoid streaks. If there is a potential to NOT avoid streaks, my hand will find its way there. My instant reaction was to love the immediate colour (which was definitely a bronze over an orange) but I was not too keen on the sparkle. Since I was headed out later that night for some fun and dancing, I kind of rolled with it as almost a sexy accessory and figured it could be something I applied when I wanted a little glitz in my life (some people have engagement rings and others have light reflecting lotions). Again, there was a bit of a scent but it was very mild and dissipated by the end of the night. The nicest surprise was when I woke up the next day and the sparkle was gone, none of the tanner rubbed off on my white pants and three days later I still had the healthy glow. While this self-tanner does colour instantly, it also grows darker with more applications and is easy to maintain your desired level with one application a week.

Score: 4/5

3. Jergens Natural Glow – $15 – Shoppers Drug Martjergens-natural-glow-moisturizer-7.5oz-1

Now, I am generally down with a lot of Jergens products. Inexpensive and generally moisturizing, how can you go wrong? By making a self-tanner for the body, apparently. Like most self-tanners, this is a gradual-building colour maker. The first day I used it, the only thing I noticed was the classic tan smell. Unlike Tan Towels and Sublime Bronze, the smell did not fade as the day went on. By day two, I could finally see a difference but was still a little unnerved by the smell. At one point during the second day, a co-worker inquired why part of the office smelled like bug spray. Since we are not a group of professional campers, there was only one source for the lingering scent. Let’s be clear, vigorously dousing your limbs in hand lotion you keep at the office is not a good look for anyone. I’m not talking the slow and sexy way you may apply it in front of someone you are newly dating (and if you don’t know what I am talking about, please try it out. Men are so easy). By day three (which thankfully fell on a weekend and I did not have to offend anyone on my quest to be radiant) the colour grew, as did orange hue I have night terrors about. On the plus side, it never streaked and I only had to scrub approximately one layer of skin off to rid myself of the Cheetos experience.

Score: 2.5/5

4. Physicians Formula Bronze Booster – $20 – Shoppers Drug Mart

bronze boosterTo change things up a little and focus the facial region, I decided to test out a powder bronzer. In the past, I have stayed away from these products because I think they generally leave you thinking, “so, was she unexpectedly shot with a makeup gun or did she choose to leave the house like that?” Alas, I went to my most trusted source when it comes to powders. Although it can be somewhat pricey, Physicians Formula is the real deal in my eyes. This product is fairly subtle, especially when applied over a BB cream. Don’t lose hope though, a couple more applications (literally a couple, anymore and you will look like a Real Housewife) and a very nice and natural glow can be seen on your moneymaker. I liked this product because a) you couldn’t see the powder in a caked-on way and b) there is absolutely no smell. The only downfall to this product is the multiple applications. It’s a hard knock life.

Score: 4/5

5. Jergens Natural Glow Face – $15 – Shoppers Drug Martfake-jergens-face_300

So, you would think that after my not-so-pleasant experience with Jergen’s body tanner, that I would be crazy to purchase their product for my face. What can I say, I like to live life on the edge. Realistically, I bought them together, so at the time, I didn’t know what I was in for. Funny thing is, the outcome on my face, was a much better experience (that’s what she said?). First of all, yes, there is a smell to it. The trick is to apply it the night before. Now, I do have sensitive skin and this little gem did not make me break out at all. However, If you are worried about wearing it overnight, apply it the next day because unlike its partner in crime, the smell of this product does not linger. This product produces a gradual tan but there is a “darkening” relatively soon after the first application. Another positive to Natural Glow is that there is an SPF 20 in it so you are tanning and protecting at the same time. Win-win. The only small “negative” comment I will make is that the gradual process takes its sweet time.  However, I am an impatient person by nature, so when I say something takes a while, it means a week tops.

Score: 4/5

So there you have it – my small, but hopefully informative, navigation into the big bad world of self-tanners. In the end, it’s all a “choose your own adventure” kind of experience. It’s just nice to have a little help along the way.



One Comment

  1. Pingback: Self-Tanners & Ear Infections… | Picked From A Hot Grove

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *