TanWise Self-Tanning DHA Boost Drops

Summer is winding down. Actually, by the time this gets posted, I’ll probably be wearing leggings and drinking pumpkin spice coffee. I figured I’d sneak in another Tanwise review before my skincare attentions are turned to heavy moisturizers to combat seemingly sub-zero temperatures. The last Tanwise self-tanner product I reviewed was a total bust (link to that review is here), but fortunately, these drops are night and day better compared to the gel product.

For $11 from Sally’s Beauty, you get 2 fl oz of this water-based DHA formula inside a dropper bottle. I’ve had this for two months and it’s taking FOREVER to go through the bottle, even though I’ve been somewhat routinely (twice a week) putting it in a ton of my regular skincare products. You really only need a few drops to create some color. So, so far, it’s been a fantastic value for the price and the amount of product.

I’ve mixed one or two drops in with my regular moisturizers (Cerave PM, Dramatically Different) and had a magnificent warm brown color turnout after just an hour or two. NOT orange. I’ve also mixed this in with my body lotions (you might need a few more drops for this, depending on the expanse of your skin you need to cover), and also gotten very good color. I suppose it might not be as dark as Jergens, and possibly not as long-lasting (the stuff washes off in a day, two if you’re lucky); but I’m still very happy with it.

As far as the drop’s malleability with other products, this won’t conflict with anything you want to wear for the day — it won’t cause anything to pill since it’s water-based, and the tan will still develop regardless of what you put over it. What’s also awesome is that this product does NOT streak at all — although, it will get stuck under your fingernails, so be mindful of that. Otherwise, it’s basically foolproof. My only recommendation is NOT to stack the product more than one application every two days. That’s when this will turn you orange (trust me on this… I learned from personal experience. Not great.)

Huge bonus: This DOES NOT SMELL LIKE SELF TANNER. It’s unbelievable. Ok, maybe like, a tiny bit, if you haven’t washed it off after having it on for a day. But the smell is so minimal that I could actually forget that I’d applied it… unlike almost every other product on the market, that all inevitably remind you that you’ve slathered DHA over yourself.

Quick skincare tip: self-tanners are best applied at night, and NOT in conjunction with anything that contains SPF. SPF will cause the tan to fade faster. This is a weird little anecdote, since there’s a few self-tanners on the market that contain SPF. So keep your sunscreen in your morning routine, and slap on the self-tanner at night.

Since this didn’t break me out like the Tanwise gel did (no drying alcohols, woohoo!), this is going to be a definite re-buy of mine. I’d recommend it to anyone who wants a quick glow, without the usual glove-and-guide mess that are typical of traditional tanners. ~A

Perceived efficacy: 5/5

Longevity: 3.5/5

How much I actually like this product: 5/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: Yes (if no sensitivities to DHA)


Jergens Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer

I think I’ve been buying this since lotion for well over a decade now. It’s definitely gone through several changes during that time. It’s latest iteration, to a bit of my dismay, changed how I use this product completely, but I suspect that’s not going to stop me from keeping this lotion around as a beauty staple for another decade after this.

Natural Glow has always come in two colors: Fair to Medium, and Medium to Tan. There was a time when Fair to Medium used to produce a noticeable color, but I don’t really feel like that’s the case anymore, so I usually default to medium to tan, even though my skin tone is pale. My issue now is that this product has become surprisingly blotchy for being a gradual tanner, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

I used to religiously mix this in with my regular lotion every morning and apply to my skin. It distributed the color evenly and I never had an issue with blotchiness. It dried very quickly. The DHA smell didn’t really pop up until halfway through the day, and that smell was tolerable enough until the next morning, when I’d end up washing it off anyway.

But ever since this was reformulated, the lotion is extremely thick, and dries SLOW, like, 30-45 minutes slow. The color shows up a lot faster than it used to, and darker, but it comes at a cost. Mixing it in with another lotion is disastrous, because if your ratio isn’t exactly 1:1, then you’ll start having weird color deposits, or lack thereof. So I treat it more like a mousse. I put it on over clean skin at night, sleep in it, wake up and rinse it off in the shower.

Speaking of showering, it’s a good idea to have one around several hours after applying. The smell — in general, and the resultant DHA-stink — is HORRIBLE. This lotion has always had an initial “bubble bath” kind of smell that did a pretty good job of persisting at least halfway through the day. Even when the self-tanner stink finally kicked in, it wasn’t overwhelming and I could live with it. The primary smell is still “bubble bath” after the reformulation, but it doesn’t stick around for long, and the self-tanner stink is HORRENDOUS.

But if you wake up after keeping this on overnight, the color is pretty reasonable. For being a gradual tanner, and not being the “three days to glow” product by the same brand, this works pretty quickly. You’re not going to get super dark like you would with an actual mousse, but with the medium to tan shade, you’ll at least be noticeably one shade darker the next morning. Brown, not orange, phew! As long as the lotion has had a few hours to sink into your skin, the color will persist even after you shower, and for a day or two after.

This being a gradual tanner, you could build it up. But Natural Glow has always seemingly had a “cap” — no matter how much you build it up and for how many days, there’s a certain point it just doesn’t get darker. It is just a lotion, after all. There’s also the issue of blotchiness with this particular version. I have a really hard time preventing this from creating pigment deposits in thinner parts of the skin, like the hands, ankles, etc. I never had this issue with the older iterations, but the deposits prevent me from wanting to keep stacking this product.

Sensitive skin users, don’t put this one on your face. It’s not going to give you a DHA rash, but the product is far too heavy and will clog up your pores. There’s notably no “bad” alcohols in the newer iterations (the existence of them in older versions probably explains why it dried so quickly and this does not), but again, due to the weight, it probably wouldn’t even spread the color evenly across your face, even if you mixed it in with a moisturizer.

There is also two versions of this self-tanner, besides the shade differences: there’s a “firming” version and a “daily moisturizer” version. I like the daily moisturizer version better. The firming version does dry a little quicker, but it makes my skin feel tight (…as the name would imply, lol), which I don’t care for. Also, the last time I checked out the ingredient list for the firming lotion, it was still sporting benzoyl alcohol.

I’m probably going to keep buying this $8 for the indefinite future, despite it’s several setbacks, and despite needing to keep up with how to best utilize the formulation changes. But it’s always been my “base tan in a bottle”, and the consistency of the color is still unmatched by any other drugstore gradual tanner. ~A

To get this overnight base tan in a bottle, click here to buy Jergens Daily Moisturizer:https://amzn.to/2upLFCP

Perceived efficacy: 4/5

Longevity: 4.5/5

How much I actually like this product: 3.5/5 (ugh the smell)

Recommended for sensitive skin: Yes — on body only.

Tanceuticals Self Tanner

Tanceuticals is probably one of the best self-tanners I’ve ever tried, at the recommendation of http://www.selftanning.com, where it was one of the only products with a true 5/5 rating. But as with any self-tanner, you still have to play by a few rules to get a good application.

The price point for this product is steep ($28), and honestly, there isn’t a whole ton of product in it — perhaps only 5 to 6 full-body applications worth. The liquid is runny and brown when it comes out of the tube, although, in my opinion, for being so thin, the product doesn’t spread very far and you’ll feel like you need to keep going back to the bottle to get more product. The initial smell is standard fare sunscreen-coconut smell, devolving into equally standard fare DHA-stink after hour eight.

Wear gloves with this product!! I mistakenly tricked myself into believing this could operate similarly to a true gradual self tanner. Do not do that. It will create crazy brown deposits if you aren’t spreading this out thinly, and avoiding the “thin skin” areas.

I think what I love most about this product is that there’s essentially no dry time. It absorbs really quickly, cutting down on the potential to rub your skin against something on accident and smear the color. The color starts showing after a few hours of application. It doesn’t stop there, either: it continues to get darker as the day goes on. It does skew brown, not orange, and never gets too dark, just dark enough to be noticeable to other people.

Onto a few more weird quirks about this product. You CANNOT stack any other product with this in an effort to “enhance” the tan. This will cause extreme streaking and blotching with the original product. My normal MO is to use Jergens Self Tanner every morning to keep the underlying base color, and if I’m going out somewhere special at night, I’ll use a mousse. Forget all of that with this product. It does not play well with others, in fact, I would say don’t even reapply the product itself until day 3 or 4. Also, this product dries the heck out of your skin by hour eight, even if you end up using a regular body lotion later on in the day. This seems strange to me, since the ingredient listing is actually relatively tame (no alcohol, many plant-based ingredients).

For all you sensitive skin users: I did not experience any DHA rashes on my body, but this stuff will definitely make your face break out. I did, however, just recently purchase the face tanner of this product (which is advertised as “gentler”?), so I’ll be reviewing that separately and we’ll see if that does any better!

I know it seemed like there were a lot of complaints in this review, but self-tanners are honestly so hit or miss. There are a lot of components to them working correctly, and every product is different. Overall, though, I was really blown away with the fast dry time and the overall color, particularly because that color does stay steadily intact for three to four days. I also appreciate that the ingredient listing seems more plant-based than most. ~A

Click here to buy Tanceuticals on Amazon:  https://amzn.to/2NrW61o

Perceived efficacy: 5/5

Longevity: 4/5

How much I actually like this product: 4/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: Yes — on body only.

St Tropez Gradual Tan Tinted

I think this is my HG instant tan. “But it’s a gradual tanner!” If I had a separate category for “Doing what it says”, this would get 0 stars. But like many other beauty products, this functions perfectly as something other than it’s intended use.

Get the gloves or mitt on for this one: it will stain your hands. Unfortunately this dark brown lotion isn’t incredibly “runny” so you’ll need quite a bit of product if you’re looking to tan your entire body, it’s probably about a month or two’s worth of product if you use it two times a week. Price tag is $30. Stacked against other tanners, this is… not horrible, but still a pricy venture. But keep reading — I think it’s worth it.

This lotion has probably one of the most phenomenal, most foolproof guides I have ever encountered. They’re incredibly dark brown, and you can see it within 15-20 seconds of spreading the lotion. This is quick enough to “notify” you that you need to do a better job spreading the product, because at that point, the lotion hasn’t fully absorbed yet. I am extremely careless when applying self-tanner, and don’t do a great job of checking myself over so it’s good to have a reliable guide. A lot of self tanners I’ve tried are notorious for having the guides show up way too late (well after the lotion has dried), or the guide is simply too light.

Speaking of dry times, this one does have about a 30 minute wait to set. I can generally start moving around a little more after the 15 minute mark, but 30 is probably safest to mitigate the risks of streaking. Also, if you notice any over-applied spots during this time (super pigmented spots in between your fingers, on your feet, knees, etc.), you can easily blend it in or remove some of the product.

Streaking only truly occurs, for me, after 3-4 days of wear and showering. Any splotchiness is caused by me rubbing my skin too hard against something, NOT the lotion itself, and furthermore this lotion DOES NOT cling to dry patches. Loving Tan mousse, for instance, had a tendency to spontaneously crack open once dried on the skin for no real reason. But St Tropez is remarkably resistant to a lot of direct interaction with the skin.

I personally like the color. It’s not orange, it’s a closer to dark brown. It’s not the darkest you’re ever going to get, but the difference is pretty dramatic if you’re originally an NC 10/15/20. The initial smell is a bit like cocoa butter, and fortunately this didn’t descend too quickly into extreme-DHA smell (no matter what anyone says, no matter what product you’re using, you’ll never escape that smell completely!)

As for the ingredients, well, let’s just say that I have lower expectations for the safety and comedogenicity of all self-tanners. There’s a lot of weird stuff in the ingredient list to begin with, but on a very basic level I can say DHA can be a controversial compound — it’s better than actually tanning, but is the forcing your skin to turn over and interact with melanin any better? I’ve also been googling “anisyl alcohol” for fifteen minutes, and can barely find any literature on it in regards to skincare. I didn’t experience any rashes with this product on my body, but my face didn’t tolerate this as well, and I had a few breakouts from it.

Onto the gradual tan vs instant tan issue: I don’t think this works AT ALL as a gradual tanner. Using it day-over-day will cause splotchiness, or at the very least, show evidence of day one looking lighter than day two’s application. But as an instant tanner, if your skin is more on the pale side? This is great! The color is evident after the first 30 minutes of wear, and as I mentioned before, the color fades out naturally in a few days, without tell-tale zebra stripes. That’s everyone’s instant tan dream, isn’t it?

That was a long review, but I think it was worth it to defend my favorite instant tanner that’s in the disguise of a gradual tanner! ~A

Buy St Tropez Tinted Gradual Tan here: https://amzn.to/2UA5amW

Perceived efficacy: 4.5/5 (as an instant tanner!)

Longevity: 4.5/5

How much I actually like this product: 4.5/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: Maybe

L’oreal Paris Sublime Bronze Tinted Self-Tanning Lotion

loreal paris sublime bronze

Myself and my pasty pale skin have been through many a self-tanner. Sublime Bronze was definitely not my favorite, despite it’s otherwise high reviews for a drug store tanner.

First of all, I noticed L’oreal, moreso than most beauty brands, LOVES benzyl alcohol and alcohol denat, particularly as the second or third ingredient… Sublime Bronze is no exception, so if you’re looking to avoid it, you might want to pass on this one.

The color comes out of the squeeze bottle in a dark brown gel lotion, and has a tinge of sparkle to it. I don’t mind a bit of shimmer in my self-tanners, and the glitter in this isn’t too overbearing, so that works for me personally. Don’t forget to put a mit or gloves on before applying this — it will absolutely stain your hands. This smells… a little banana-y. To me, the DHA smell isn’t too overpowering, even after a day or so.

There is a guide with this lotion (gets dark where you need to blend it in, so that there aren’t streaks!), but it’s relatively useless. I truly hate how this tanner dries. Not only does it take awhile to dry, but it dries patchy and streaky regardless of how much attention you pay to blending and being cognizant of the guide. The color will last you maybe a day or two, even if you’re being careful not to scrub your skin in the shower and not sweating particularly much. Since it’s an “instant” product I can’t say that longevity is necessarily the goal here, although it would be nice if it stayed on for a little longer. Although… the blotchiness and the streakiness of this lotion makes you want to remove it anyway!

Weirdly, this product works AWESOME for the face. It darkens immediately, won’t look blotchy if you mix it in with moisturizer, and for some reason the color sticks around for 4-5 days. But alcohol denat as the second ingredient makes that venture totally not worth it for the health of your skin.

Too bad, L’oreal. I liked the shimmer, the not-too-overpowering smell, and the $7 price tag, but the other aspects of this product just don’t stack up. ~A

Perceived efficacy: 2.5/5

Longevity: 2.5/5

How much I actually like this product: 2.5/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: No