Skin Care

By Tallulah Dumonde


I have been using self tanners since the days when Lancome was pretty much the only brand on the market. Somewhat of an aficionado, I’ve learned to get my glow on without sun damage or rusty ankles. So when I got this assignment: to test and evaluate the newest breed of self tanners – multifunction skin care products that give you a golden glow – I figured it would be business as usual. What I learned, however, is that the world of sunless tanning has come a long way in the past couple of years.

The first line I sampled was Jergens Natural Glow Firming Daily Moisturizer. Quite a mouthful, hey? Anyhow, what I noticed first is that it feels great on your skin when you first put it on and dries pretty quickly. This is always crucial because no matter how much you intend to set aside 15 minutes to lollygag around in your birthday suit while these products dry, something always seems to happen and you have to cover your wobbly bits and get on with life. Speaking of wobbly bits, this particular self-tanner has collagen and elastin, which have been proven to improve skin’s tone and elasticity. I also liked that Natural Glow delivers a subtle color. This way you actually use the product every couple of days, to build a natural looking tan. What I didn’t love was the smell. It was not bad (compared to some of the products on the market) but there was a slight odor, which dissipates completely after you shower. Natural Glow comes in various shade ranges to suit your skin tone, and they make a special formula for faces, as well. Available at most drugstores and online at

The next brand I sampled was Sundara’s Watermelon Moisturizer with Tanning Enhancer. For those of you who are not ‘in the know’ Sundara is one of Manhattans most beloved Air Brush Tanning Salons. So it should come as no surprise that they got it right when it came time to develop a sunless tanning product to be used at home. The scent is pleasant, though not distinguishably watermelon and the color was really nice. I noticed that there was absolutely no ‘orange’ tone in the color that developed from this product. I’m going to recommend this one to Donald Trump, who seems absolutely insistent to walk the planet looking like a kumquat with a combover. The challenge with this product: I have no idea how you’d buy it if you didn’t live in Manhattan, other than calling the shop to place an order. (212) 956-1830.

Since into every testing program a little rain must fall, I was expecting to find at least one dud in the group. I was surprised, however, to find it in a tube marked L’Oreal. I tried the Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Gel and I can’t say there was a single thing I liked about it. I figured a gel formula would be light, but this stuff felt sticky. I was disappointed in the color (I think I found the Trumpster’s brand of choice) and for the first time in years of successful self-tanner applications, I ended up with rusty ankles and wrists. When it comes to spending money on self-tanners, L’Oreal is definitely not worth it.

A little shell shocked from my experience with L’Oreal…I moved on to Olay. The new Total Effects Touch of Sun is billed as an Anti-Aging Moisturizer Plus Sunless Tanner, and from what I can tell, it lives up to every word. The smell is mild (yet not non-existent) and I noticed a really natural color within just a couple of hours of my first application. What I liked most about this product is that it did not turn existing flaws (not that I have any…wink wink) darker, as most every other self tanner is prone to do. In fact, according to the folks at Olay, with use over time, this product will actually reduce the appearance of blotches and age spots. If the cumulative effect is to rid skin of discolorations due to scarring or sun damage or age, while imparting a healthy dose of natural looking color, this has got to be the ultimate in facial self-tanner treatment products. Olay Total Effects Touch of Sun is available at most drug stores. For more details, visit

Last, but certainly not least, is a little friend of mine called Amber Sun by Norvell. I was given this product by one of the owners of a spray-tan and makeup salon in LA called Glitz (9867 Santa Monica Blvd, 310-553-6500) and I gotta say it was love at first spray. The formula sprays on, giving you instantly bronzed skin…which helps you to make sure you don’t miss any crucial spots. It dries quickly and the smell is minimal because they have added raspberry and almond extract (again, dissipates after a shower). The color is gorgeous. It’s “I’ve just been to Maui” gorgeous; not a trace of orange. As far as skin care, it has firming agents that reduce fine lines. Even though they say you can use it on your face, I prefer not to. The color is really bronzy, so I prefer a more subtle product (Olay) for my face. Amber Sun is probably not for fair-skin, because as far as I can tell they don’t sell a lighter colored formula. In fact, it is a challenge to purchase these products so, I would advise calling the cuties at Glitz and buying it from them.

When you’re sunning your buns sans actual sun, keep a few things in mind:

– Always exfoliate first.
– Don’t try to go from ghostly white to Eva Mendez in one application.
– Orange is only flattering when it’s Hermes.
– If you can smell it, everyone else probably can, too.
– Don’t self tan your lips.
– Don’t forget to use sun block if the formula you choose does not include an SPF.

And last, but not least, establishing a routine will help you keep your color looking natural and consistent, so get on a schedule every few days of exfoliating, application, moisturizing. Then repeat the cycle and you’ll be the envy of every pale-faced friend you’ve got.

Originally published May 2007



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