Sunless Tanners, Part 2


Well, I don’t love it this much…

One thing I learned about myself while reviewing these products is that I am really into self-tanning. The extra time I spend applying it is nominal, and the process is zen-like. I also like the results. When people compliment my tan, they are shocked to learn its fake. “But you live in California? You don’t need self-tanner!” Cue the record scratch.

As a general comment, I recommend all of the five products below. This shouldn’t be a surprise, as I chose tanners that came highly recommended. Overall, I observed only small differences in feel, smell, color produced, and duration; my reviews really are nit-picking. If you are like me, cost probably is the major decision driver.

Jergens Natural Glow +FIRMING Daily Moisturizer

Jergens has come a long way from what I’ve read and heard. My research suggests it has improved its current product, and I could not find much written criticism. allure magazine gave it the 2014 “Readers’ Choice Award.”

Although I did not find it to be odorless, as claimed, the smell is barely perceptible and is more fresh and floral. The feel is less greasy and the color is nearly perfect.

Its color peaks after two to three applications and fades after two to three days (as with all tanners). I found the medium-dark shade is not as dark as other brands, which may be a good thing depending upon your preference. It’s a two-in-one product, as it moisturizes, too, and also claims it firms.

While my skin is well-hydrated, I can’t say that it feels or appears any firmer after a week’s use. It definitely feels like a moisturizer rather than self-tanner – it’s a bit heavier than others. If you’re looking for a regular, two-in-one product, you may want to consider it. There’s a facial version available, as well. Overall, the product delivers on its tanning promises, and its pricetag is pretty reasonable.

  • As low as $6.52/7.5 fl. oz. (plus shipping) on Jergens website.
  • $8.79/7.5 fl. oz. at Target in-store or online (keep an eye out for buy one, get one sales).

Kiehl’s Sun Free Self Tanning Formula

I initially used a sample the Manhattan Village store manager, Mariana Gallo, provided to me. Mariana provided me with some pro-tanning tips, as well. For instance, blending self-tanner with a moisturizer creates a more even color. My sample blended the tanner with Kiehl’s Creme de Corps, 3:1 ratio.

There’s a mild, relatively neutral scent, and the texture is wonderful, particularly when blended with Creme de Corps – while it is heavier than Jergens, it still feels lightweight

I noticed a subtle darkening in less than three hours and ultimately achieved a light, sun-kissed glow in a matter of days, much like my experience with Jergens. Interestingly, I found that using the tanner unblended for a few days did not enhance the color. Some happy online reviewers allude to a close-to-natural hue that still has room-for-improvement. I agree. I noticed a very light orange undertone with mild discoloration of my webbed spaces and nailbeds, despite good hand-washing. Between this and the price tag, it’s harder for me to justify routine use.

Orange hue in the web spaces and around the nails.

Nivea Sun-Kissed Radiance Gradual Tanner & Body Lotion

If you have fair skin and desire just a hint of color, this may be the one for you. With both the fair/medium and medium/dark shades, I noticed a subtle, progressive darkening. There’s only a slight difference between the two shades.

Like Jergens, it tans and moisturizes. Compared to Jergens, it feels slightly less heavy, creates a lighter tan, and costs less. Its user-friendly price surprised me given its quality and brand.

The smell is mild and pleasant and texture is non-greasy.

  • $8.92/13.5 fl. oz  (plus shipping) on
  • $8.58/13.5 fl. oz (free shipping with Prime) on
  • $6.99/13.5 fl. oz. (plus shipping, which is currently free) on

L’Oreal Sublime Bronze ProPerfect Salon Airbrush Self-Tanning Mist Medium Natural Tan

This is yet another great option for the fair-skinned with a different delivery vehicle – a spray. It may take a few minutes to get used to the spray feature. I found it helpful to keep the nozzle moving back and forth at all times, starting at a distance when initiating the spray and backing off when ceasing the spray.

After spraying it on, I rubbed it in, although this is not necessary. This product checks a lot in the “pro” column: it’s lightweight; affordable; accessible at local drugstores; and causes minimal, if any, hand discoloration (I also found it fun to spray on). While it has a faint odor, I found it pleasing.

$10.99/4.6 fl. oz. (plus shipping) on L’Oreal’s website.
$9.59/4.6 fl. oz. at Target.

St. Tropez Self Tan Bronzing Mousse

I’m told this flies off Sephora’s shelves, and I see why. The lightweight, velvety mousse provides an immediate medium tone, and a deeper tan with subsequent applications – the darkest hue of the products I tested. I did see a darkening on major joints.

A Sephora beautician recommended a pricey applicator mitt, but it is a must-have. A quick pump of mousse on the mitt followed by a “wax on, wax off” buffing technique yielded great results. While the mitt is helpful for application and prevents your hands from darkening, it is flimsy (mine ripped after only a handful of uses, and I was very delicate).

St. Tropez has a subtle chemical odor that fades entirely once it dries. I did see a number of reviews online that claimed the odor justified pitching the product, but it’s a non-issue for me. I found that applying it at night after a shower worked well, as you should wait at least four hours before rinsing, bathing or sweating. Even though it dries almost instantly (60 seconds), I recommend at least 10 minutes before climbing into bed (some say two hours).

While pricey, I really like this product, with the one call-out on the darkening at the joints.


Concentration of product (St. Tropez) on major joints. Apply carefully, particulary on the knees.

More to Come

I am hooked and want to continue trying bronzers. I am still in search of that stand-out self-tanner. Here are products I plan to try:

Your Feedback


The sheer abundance of self-tanner products is exhaustive, and the venture to try them all would sorely impact my pocketbook. I welcome your observations, opinions, and recommendations. Please comment on this site or shoot me a quick message.

For example, I’m curious to know:

  • Which one(s) makes your “best” list?
  • Can you offer any tips on application?
  • For those with darker skin types, what have your experiences been with sunless tanning?
  • Do you recommend any facial self-tanner products or do you prefer facial bronzer or tinted moisturizer?

Once I have a number of responses, I will post them.


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Categories: General, Product Reviews


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