Skin Care

By Stef Schwalb

I’ve always been envious of Mediterranean women and men. Their sun-kissed skin color is something I constantly crave but could never achieve with my easily irritated skin. Somehow, I manage to burn each summer, even in the shade while wearing sun block with SPF 30. Most sunless tanning systems I’ve tried leave me with less than a golden glow (read: really orange) and seriously streaky. But sensitive skin gals like me can take heart because now there’s bella bronze™ Mediterranean Color Sunless-Skincare System.

The first characteristic about this line that impressed me is the smell – because it’s barely noticeable. Other self-tanners I’ve tested may give you a healthy glow but they also tend to smell too much like cheap sun tan lotion after a long day at the beach, which is not very office-friendly. The second aspect, and the more important factor, is its skincare elements. You start by using the system with the Sea Kelp & White Volcanics Scrub, which is something I’d probably use by itself if I were looking for new exfoliating body products. It’s gentle and definitely brought a sense of smoothness to the rougher part of my legs, especially the knees.

Once you dry off, the next part of the process is applying the Sea Water & Mineral Self-Tan Maximizer. This refreshing mist prepares your skin for the self-tanner. I tried two self-tanners: the Espresso & Crema Anti-Cellulite Tinted Self-Tanner and the Golden Chamomile & Goats Milk Self-Tanner; I liked both for different reasons. The former has slight tingle when you wear it, which is caused by the advanced anti-cellulite agents that include cherry tomato lycopene and red wine phenols. The invigorating feel is a nice touch since you are forced to walk around during the drying time. The latter is super moisturizing and includes antioxidant-rich ingredients such as golden chamomile and soothing goat’s milk. The final phase of the system, the Olive Oil & Shea Butter Tan Extender, seals the deal. My color lasted much longer than I expected, probably partially due to the added moisture it delivers to your skin.

Overall, the products were easy to apply, weren’t too messy, and lasted longer than most self-tanning systems. However, what impressed me the most is how good my skin felt after using them. Much of that has to do with the caliber of ingredients. The line was created in collaboration with some premier cosmetic chemists and leading dermatologists, so there is a technologically advanced use of beneficial elements for skin. Most of these ingredients, including vitamin C-enriched tarraco oranges, red wine phenols, Mediterranean sea water, cleansing volcanic mud, lavender, and antioxidant-rich virgin olive fruit, are indigenous to Panarea, a volcanic island located off the coast of Sicily.

Product prices range from $17 for an exfoliator to $29 for a tinted sunless-tanner. For more information, log on to

Originally published February 2006
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