Every summer without fail, since I was a teenager, I have embarked on a quest to look tanner. I know, I know… I should be able to embrace my natural skin tone…but I just can’t help thinking I look better a shade or two darker when the warmer weather rolls around, and I inevitably have to don a pair of shorts. I’m not one of those painfully pale people who look like they’ll burn the instant they set foot in the sun, but I’m fair enough to illicit remarks like “Wow, your legs are white” and “Girl, you need some color”; as if I was completely unaware of the offensiveness of my pasty limbs.
Now, unlike the few months before my senior prom when I foolishly frequented the tanning booth to get darker, I try to achieve the goal of beautifully golden skin without the sun. Thus, I have tried a LOT of self-tanners. Some good, some not so good, and others just plain awful. (Like, give you an alarmingly red rash awful.) What follows is a list of products that have treated me kindly:
1. St. Tropez Bronzing Gel ($35) This tinted lotion can be used anywhere on your body, even the face, and it has yet to make me feel oily or break out, which is a huge score. It works like a dream EVERYWHERE. Smooth it on after shaving and applying lotion to dry spots like knees, feet and elbows; the spots that soak up color more easily. It’s tinted so you can see where you’re putting it and gives you an instant tan if you need something right away. I can’t count how many times it’s saved me from having the whitest legs in a picture! If you’re after a more intense, super dark tan, opt for the St. Tropez Bronzing Lotion instead, it’s just a tad more concentrated, but use gloves, because it stains your hands something awful if you don’t.
2. Clarins Self-Tanning Instant Gel ($34) This is a great subtle tanner for when you want just a hint of color, or you’re super pale and under no circumstances can pull off anything remotely dark. While it isn’t tinted, it’s actually pretty goof-proof. I’ve slathered it on in a rush…and lo and behold never seen a streak or a splotch.
3. Jimmy Coco’s Blast Tanning Spray ($28) This is the do-it-yourself version of a formula normally used by celebrity self-tanner extraordinaire Jimmy CoCo (yeah, his name is weird, but he seems to know what he’s doing). His clients include Heidi Klum, Kim Kardashian, and Eva Longoria. This stuff sprays on very evenly and can also be used on your face, a big plus for getting believable color. The can says to just spray and not rub in, but I like to blend it in just to be safe. It gives a totally pretty, non-orange-y honey color. And it doesn’t smell terribly offensive either.
One final note about all of these self-tanners; they fade wonderfully. Which I think might be almost as important as the color they produce. What good is a great-looking tan if after a few days your skin looks splotchy and dirty. Yuck. Gross. Not to mention embarrassing.
Lindsey Pena is a local TV journalist working at KSEE 24 News in Fresno. You can catch her every weekday evening at 7 and 11. She loves “The Golden Girls,” having fun (duh), and hamburgers, which she usually eats at least two of a week. She may also share a piece of that burger with her dog Carl.