The observation is bitter but without appeal: in this year 2022, my solar capital is definitely in the red. The fault of my redhead skin, naturally white as a petal (or as a bidet, it depends) which, for too long, has morfled: in the 1970s, my mother, as dark as the rest of the family (thank you not to ask him about my genetic aberration), did not despair of making his last-born pale tan with a blow of milking fat : result, ten summers to look like a post-cooked prawn. Then my sisters introduced me to the corolla of aluminum foil around the face, in vogue in the 80’s. In the absence of brown skin, my freckles had a field day, while, hidden deep in my skin, the first wrinkles were about to follow them. Since then, I’ve learned: no more exposure without index 50, that’s about a month of work to achieve a small dark beige shade. But last year, nothing to do, my exhausted skin remained white, and spots appeared on my face and on my hands. It was then that I made the decision not to expose myself at all, even if it meant self-tanning all summer long. Only, here, I always had bad experiences with these products, which transform me for sure into Donald Tump, alias the orange agent. Brand or gesture problem? I decided to tackle the problem head-on by rushing to the beauty department of ELLE, where my nice colleagues trained me… and above all flooded with new things to try. Let’s go.
I prepare myself
There can be no uniform self-tanning without scrub before, warned the girlfriends. Why ? Because all self-tanners contain DHA, which darkens the skin through what is called the “Maillard reaction” on the upper layer of the epidermis. These superficial cells are intended to desquamate, and if we do not “reset” them by exfoliating them, the color cannot be the same everywhere. So I rub myself with a horsehair glove, very carefully, without forgetting the elbows, knees and heels, areas at risk. During my briefing, I also learned that, not reaching the epidermis, DHA is not toxic in itself, but that certain additives can be allergenic. Ideally, you should always test the product on a small piece of skin, which I hasten not to do, as a poor student but above all as a woman literally hysterical with excitement in front of all the bottles waiting to be unpinned.
I take action
For the test to be effective, I divided my body into six areas: my four limbs, my face and my chest, which I will leave as is in order to have a mark of my true color. So I’m going to test five products, which I’ll apply with a special glove, another express recommendation from my colleagues. All the brands offer it: it looks like a kind of kitchen glove, fluffy on the outside and waterproof on the inside, which allows the formulas to be spread evenly… and avoids having orange palms. Spoiler: this accessory, which looks like a gadget at first glance, will literally transform my experience. At 10 p.m., I get out of my bath completely scrubbed. I can start !
1. Left leg
I’m testing the Magic Face and Body Sunshine Mousse, Intense Natural Tan, by Botan, which, with its golden cap, has a rather engaging luxurious look. The glove associated with the brand is very cozy, the foam smells good and spreads easily, it’s pleasant to use. Surprise, my leg is a little pale green, but I imagine that in two hours it will be gone. Besides, I’m going to bed: so I don’t care. Magic Sun Mousse Face and Body, Botan, 150 ml, €28.
2. Right leg
I apply the Tinted Bronzing Mist, Medium, by Vita Liberata. The product also exists as a cream, but I was intrigued by the word “mist”, so I give it a go. In fact, instead of a spray-like cloud of mineral water on my leg, it’s more of a spray of liquid than it is, so it’s not easy to dose/spread: I finish by splattering the caramel-colored product directly on the glove (of the same brand, of course, I change with each product so that the dice are not loaded) before applying. From the outset, my leg took on a – very – slight darker color. Medium Tinted Bronzing Mist, Vita Liberata, 200 ml, €23.
3. Right arm
I’m pretty excited to try the Coco & Eve Sunny Honey mousse in Dark because it’s a young brand that does a lot of marketing, and the Instagram algorithm keeps suggesting it to me. Here, from the big yellow and pink bottle springs… a goose poo green foam with the smell of coconut candy! After application, my arm looks like that of Princess Fiona from “Shrek”, it’s quite strange… I can’t wait (worried?) to see how it will turn out by tomorrow morning. Bali Sunny Honey Tanning Mousse, Coco & Eve, 200 ml, €31.90.
4. Left arm
I’m testing a historic brand, whose name alone reminds me of a 1960s film with Elvis Presley and his ukulele on a beach, who knows why: Hawaiian Tropic. The Sunless Tan Gradual Everyday comes in the form of an ivory-colored cream, which smells like coconut milk. What sets it apart from previous products is that it works gradually and claims to be equivalent to 24 hours of hydration – a tempting promise, since self-tanners often leave skin feeling dry, in my opinion. It is very pleasant to spread, I am seduced. Only the color result is missing. Sunless Tan Progressive Self-Tanning Milk, Hawaiian Tropic, 290 ml, €14.99.
For the area of all dangers (stinging memory of orange stripes above the eyebrows last year) I rely on the St. Tropez brand. A little because she seems to me to be a specialist in self-tanning, a lot because this name is dear to my heart, nothing bad can come from my childhood village. In short. I chose the smaller size (with a thoughtful thought for my holiday toiletry bag). The Luxe Tan Tonic Drops (30 ml), for the face as for the body, comes in the form of a liquid to add to your moisturizer or serum. We recommend between 2 and 6 drops, I put 5, a little at random, it’s quite liquid so I massage and I reapply to be sure to have put it everywhere, before going to bed, my duty accomplished. Self Tan Self-Tanning Drops, St. Tropez, 30 ml, €36.
The next morning when I got out of bed, my first observation: no textile was mistreated during this test, my sheets like my night T-shirt are immaculate. And it is with the impatience of a lab manager that I run in front of my mirror. Naked, I almost burst out laughing: my body is a patchwork worthy of the sewn leather bags of the hippie years. The most striking thing is the bust, all white, which seems gigantic compared to the rest. Above, my head, frankly tanned… a little too much to tell the truth: I think three drops of St. Tropez would have been enough (but the product, which I dosed better afterwards, is very good). My left arm (Hawaiian Tropic) is the palest of my limbs – normal, it’s a progressive product, and the future will say that you achieve a good color after several applications. Directly below, dare I say, my left leg is ideally self-tanned (Botan) and, surprise, strictly the same color as the right (Vita Liberata). The shock is my Coco & Eve arm: it is very, but then very dark. I had taken care to stretch the product to the tips of my fingers, but when I rinsed off the 5 application gloves, despite all my precautions, my phalanges took a toll… I have two-tone, white hands from the rings, brown on the dish. In defense of this brand, I tested the “Dark” color, certainly too dark for a redhead. But the most surprising thing is that, apart from that, nothing is really missed. No marks on the legs, no brown elbows – the duo exfoliation + use of the glove, it works. Clarification: whatever self-tanner I chose, I had to reapply it after three days to keep the ideal shade, and I, who never hydrate my body, started doing it, because I find that this optimizes the color better. In the meantime, at the newspaper, I strut about: absolutely everyone thinks that I spend my weekends in the sun. And I do believe that, for this summer, I have just saved my skin.
hawaiian tropic self tan eraser
When you put on too much self-tanner or if you spread it badly, the casimir effect threatens… before, the only solution was to furiously erase your epidermis (or, for sensitive skin, to stop all social life for one week). We therefore welcome the birth of the “gum” for self-tanning, or rather this fluid cream that is applied with circular gestures and left on for five minutes before rinsing off with lukewarm water. Advantages: it does not remove everything, at the risk of leaving white circles on the body, but it rebalances the color. And it allows you to clear your skin before, let’s be crazy, to start a new fake tan session. Disadvantage: it works better if it is used 3 to 5 days after the failed installation, which means that the ideal is still not to miss it from the start. Self Tan Eraser, Hawaiian Tropic, 200 ml, €13.20.