Lessons from a Sunless Tanner Noob


Fake tans and white teeth. It’s a California cliché. But I figure clichés come from somewhere. Now, I’ve dabbled here and there with sunless tanners. Like, twice to be exact. I’m no expert and nowhere along the lines of Snooki or the Kardashians (is it me or are they particularly orange?) Anyway… since coming back to California and living in a part of San Francisco that has great weather, I’ve noticed one thing… my arms and face have become considerably more tan than my legs. It’s almost trucker style… not good for the upcoming summer (shorts and beach weather). Enter sunless tanner. Being new to the tanning game, I have to say it’s a strange world. Looking at Amazon reviews and Makeup Alley reviews, most reviews come with extensive tips on how to apply. To be honest, it kind of gave me a headache, since I can’t do anything complicated… well, I can… I just don’t like to. It was an interesting experience, watching my legs turn various colors. Here’s the scoop on what worked and what didn’t work for me.

Light Tan:

Mina Organics: Touch of Tan Moisturizer $12.95 

PROS: Initially I was drawn to this because I liked how it was “organic” and worked as a moisturizer. Even though sunless tanners are “safe” the chemicals do freak me out a bit. I mean, they change your skin color! Enriched with argan and macadamia nut oil, it has a wonderful scent. The tan was very subtle, and didn’t turn any part of my body orange, or give me any streaks. I find it was a nice tanning moisturizer either to use with something stronger, or if you’re just looking to take the edge of the pale. No application tools necessary, just wash your hands after.

CONS: Like mentioned above, building a tan with this will take time. If you don’t have it, like say you’re going to the beach this weekend, or are planning on wearing shorts and don’t want to frighten anyone. This probably won’t do it for you.

Medium Tan:

Beautisol’s Medium Self Tanning Mousse $29.00

PROS: After meeting with the founder (about something separate, but tanning came up in the convo) anyway, Sinead Norenius gave me a  bottle of this  with an applicator mit and exfoliator mit. Beutisol is paraben free and PETA certified cruelty free. I liked how it came with instructions including how much to apply to each part of your body, ie. two pumps for each calf, three pumps for thighs, apply lotion to your knees and feet, etc. I found this to be very helpful. The bottle is for a medium tan, and really worked significantly more than the Mina Organics sunless tanner.

CONS: As per the instructions, Beautisol suggests you do not apply immediately after taking a shower and or shaving. It suggests applying before going to bed and allowing the tan to develop overnight. Which is fine most of the time, but not for last minute excursions. I also didn’t apply it evenly, and had missed a few spots which you could see the next morning. But that was more my carelessness than the product.

Dark Tan:

Sun Self Tanning Lotion Ultra Dark Instant Tint - Dark $18.96

PROS: One of the most popular sunless tanners on Amazon, which is by the way, how I make a lot of my purchasing decisions (for non-fashion stuff).  Looove Amazon reviews, some are hilarious (did you see the sugar free gummy bear reviews?) Anyway, I bought this after thinking I needed a bit more tan than Mina Organics, and since it had great reviews I tried it. Well, it does darken your skin fast.

CONS: Instructions did not tell me to us an application mit, nor did I see it on the reviews. So thinking it was like Mina Organics, I tried it right out of the bottle. Let’s just say my husband wondered why my hands were orange. For three days. In daylight the tan was fine, but I was at Norstrom Rack (hey it’s close to Trader Joe’s) and in the dressing room lighting I looked like an Oompa Loompa. It suggests that the tanning lotion is not for fair skin types, but I’ve always considered myself a medium. So, if anyone loves this stuff, send me your address, and I’ll mail it to you.

Final thoughts:

Well, at the end, I think for daily use, I’ll stick with the Mina Organics, and for special occasions/general summer activities break out the Beautisol for now. Summer is coming, and I do want to wear some shorts and dresses!

What sunless tanners do you use? Which ones should we avoid at all costs?


jennineLessons from a Sunless Tanner Noob

Comments 3

  1. Katey

    I use, and love, L’oreal medium self tan. It’s tinted, so you can see wear you put it…helps with the splotchy possibilities. Being a pasty redhead, this has never looked “fake”, I highly recommend.

    1. Post

      Oh wow, I really should give that a try. Do you have to use an applicator, or can you just wash your hands? The tint is usually what scares me!

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