How to end up golden bronze, not streaked with orange
It’s not quite summer yet, but sandal season—and the gently bronzed limbs necessary for carrying them off—is upon us. While most of the success or failure of a self-tanner depends on how you apply it (see Sensational By Sunday: Foolproof self-tanning), we’ve rounded up the best of the best, overall.
Jacqui, just back from a vacation (and already annoyingly bronzed), was determined to hold onto her fast-fading glow. She tried Guerlain’s Terracotta Tinted self-tanning emulsion for face and body. “It’s not quite a gel, yet not quite a cream and it has a sweet, tropical fruit-like fragrance, which reminded me of warm, balmy beaches,” she says. Bronzability: “Because it’s tinted, it left my skin with a sexy, slightly iridescent, pearly finish. Instant sun-kissed glow.”
Next, Jacqui took home a tube of California North Titanium Self Tanner. “It’s a white cream, so it’s not as easy to make sure you’ve got it in all the right places, but it has an incredible fragrance—slightly zingy, like freshly squeezed lemons.” Bronzability: “No-fuss, natural, soft, golden color.”
Elizabeth managed to steal away with some Clarins Self Tanning Milk. “This is the best-smelling, richest-and-creamiest self-tanner ever—it’s like a cross between Crème de la Mer and Nivea body cream. Absolutely no ‘sacrifice in the name of beauty’ factor. And the tan is not the slightest bit streaky or orange. Bronzability: Instant swear-by-it status.
Elizabeth also liked Chanel’s Bronzage Automatique. “This white cream comes in a very masculine-looking, pump-action container. It took a while to sink in, but left me a with a subtle, just-got-back-from-the-beach glow.” Bronzability: The color is perfect.
Jean lives for Lancôme Flash Bronzer Self Tan. “It says it’s just for the legs, but this is the best self-tanning product for the entire body that I’ve ever used.” Bronzability: Tinted in exactly the right way, so you can tell if you’re making a mistake—and you end up with a great-looking tan instantly to boot.
For the face, Jean hoards tube after tube of Christian Dior Self-Tan for the Face, SPF 10. “When someone says, ‘You look tired,’ this is the quickest solution,” she says. Bronzability: An instant, ultra-sexy glow that’s entirely convincing.
Jennifer was more reluctant to join the experiment. “Self-tanners usually really irritate my skin, but the Yon-Ka Auto-Bronzant for Face and Body gave me great color without any chemical-related sting,” she said, who after only one application was looking quite native. “The lotion is very thick, but rubs in easily, and it’s refreshingly lemony.” Bronzability: Perfect solution for those with ultra-sensitive skin.
Next on Jennifer’s list was Estée Lauder’s Self-Action Sunless SuperTan Spray. This has one thing going for it: speed. “I was tan in under an hour,” said Jennifer. “But the spray took a while for me to get used to: I ended up standing in my bathtub after first turning my white bathroom rug an odd bronzey-orange.” Bronzability: A top-speed solution, but spray with caution.
Not as permanent as self-tanners, but great for a golden, healthy glow, bronzing lotions are in instant, somewhat sparkly, fix. Jacqui tried three! Nars Body Glow, YSL Huile Eclat D’Été, and Helena Rubenstein’s Golden Shimmer.
“These are fabulous if you want a sexy sheen on your legs and shoulders. If you like oily lotions, the coconut fragrance of Nars’ Body Glow made me think of sunsets over a tropical beach—seriously addictive, and YSL’s Huile Eclat gives a really subtle bronze shimmer to my skin. For a cream, the Golden Shimmer from Helena Rubentein is a non-oily lotion, which gave almost a metallic gleam, and made my skin look gorgeous. One point of caution: leave time for them to sink in before you hug anyone. My boyfriend’s coat is still sparkling—and he’s not happy.”