Self-Tanner Reviews Part 1 : Tan-Luxe Products


This is the first installment of a major self-tanner journey for the next few weeks! With spring/summer around the corner, the thought of busting out my pale limbs frightens me slightly, so self-tanner to the rescue! I realized I amassed quite a few different brands and types of self-tanners, and I wanted to dedicate this pre-warm weather period to making my way through each product I own and sharing my reviews and experience with the products. At the end I'll summarize what some of my top picks would be for different situations! I tried to be thorough, so these are gonna get lengthy, but leave any questions you might have below! 

A note on skin prep! Before I self-tan my body, I always exfoliate with some kind of body scrub, shave & then wash off with a shower gel & loofah to get any excess oils off my skin that might be left behind from my body scrub or shave gel. I get extra scrubby around my ankles, knees & elbows where dry skin loves to hang on. Prior to tanning my face, I usually do a physical exfoliation just to get rid of any dry patches or flakes that the tanner might want to hang on to.

PHEW. Now, onto the first round of self-tanning products! I wanted to start with Tan-Luxe because they're the self-tanner products I've had the longest out of the one's I'm reviewing, so I have the most experience with them. Tan-Luxe is focused on giving you the ability to adjust your tan to the depth and intensity you want (they call it a "bespoke" tan), which I think is GENIUS. The dropper versions of their products are meant to be mixed into moisturizers, and give you the option to get tan af or just a little healthy glow. They have quite an expansive line of self-tanning options, but these are the four I own (all were gifted to me by the brand, but the opinions are my own).

The Face (Illuminating Self-Tan Drops) in medium/dark
1.01 oz, $49, comes in two shade options: light/medium, medium/dark

What is it: A tanning concentrate for the face that can be added to any moisturizer, serum or oil to customize the self-tan shade you want to achieve.

Scent/Color Guide?: Out of the 4 products I'm reviewing, this one has the least scent to me. Perhaps it's because I use less and am mixing it with a moisturizer, but I don't detect much of a self-tanner scent. Also, while the drops are a pale, golden color, once you add them into your mixing medium you can't detect them at all, so there isn't really a color guide.

Ingredients: Water, Dihydroxyacetone, Alcohol Denat, (SD Alcohol 40-B), Glycerin, Erythulose, Rubus Idaeus (Raspberry) Seed Oil, Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe) Leaf Juice, Hydrolyzed Silk, Caramel, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitmain E Acetate), Xanthan Gum, Polysorbate 80, Parfum (Fragrance), Limonene, Geraniol, Hexyl Cinnamal, Benzyl Salicylate, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Sodium Hydroxide, Benzoic Acid, Dehydroacetic Acid, Phenoxyethanol.

Application method: Add 1-4 drops to your facial moisturizer/serum/oil and apply evenly to the face. Additional drops will increase the depth of color. I prefer to mix the drops with my moisturizer, and will typically do anywhere from 2-4 drops (I find 1 drop won't really develop on my skin). I also take extra time to work in my moisturizer and the drops so that I'm blending it in even and getting all the way to my hairline, and I take it down my neck.

Finish: My skin feels the same as it would if I were just using my moisturizers and not adding any drops. The drops don't add any stickiness or greasiness, and they don't break me out either, although I'd check through the ingredients if you have any sensitivities. In terms of shade difference, there's something about this product that adds a very natural, healthy glow without looking like you're 3 shades deeper than you normally are. Even when I use four drops in my moisturizer, the color still looks natural although very sunkissed (which I LOVE). The tan doesn't look orange at all, and I've never had issues with patchiness either.

Longevity: I think longevity is definitely dependent on what your skincare routine looks like- for example, despite the fact that I know I have self-tanner on that I want to preserve, I'm still going to exfoliate, mask, use cotton pads, etc. and that for sure will break down the tan faster. Even with all of that, I still manage to hold on to the color for around 4ish days, and even then I'll still have a bit of self-tanner show up on cotton rounds when I'm using micellar waters or toners. I could probably get an additional couple days out of it if I attempted to be more gentle! I haven't had any issues with patchiness when the tan fades, it fades pretty seamlessly and evenly on my skin.

The Body (Illuminating Self-Tan Drops) in medium/dark
1.69 oz, $59, comes in two shade options: light/medium, medium/dark

What is it: A tanning concentrate that can be added to any body moisturizer to create a customized self-tan.

Scent/Color Guide?: Since you mix these drops into a moisturizer, and all my body moisturizers are scented, I initially only smell whatever lotion I chose to mix it with. BUT! After a few hours of wear, the self-tanner smell really starts picking up and you can definitely notice it. It's not the worst thing ever, I kind of expect it when self-tanning. In terms of the color guide, while the drops are a pale, golden color, once you add them into your mixing medium you can't detect them at all. So there isn't really a color guide.

Ingredients: Water, Dihydroxyacetone, Alcohol Denat, (SD Alcohol 40-B), Glycerin, Rubus Idaeus (Raspberry) Seed Oil, Hydrolyzed Silk, Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe) Leaf Juice, Polysorbate 80, Erythrulose, Caramel, Xanthan Gum, Fragrance, Limonene, Geraniol, Hexyl Cinnamal, Benzyl Salicylate, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Lecithin, Caffeine, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitmain E Acetate), Palmitoyl Carnitine, Sodium Hydroxide, Benzoic Acid, Phenoxyethanol, Dehydroacetic Acid.

Application method: Add 2-6 drops of this per body part to any body moisturizer and apply to skin in circular motions (I just use my hands). For me, I use about a quarter size amount of lotion for one leg, and then I'll add however many drops I want that day. I take extra time to work the lotion in to get a seamless blend, but this is definitely more fail-proof than The Water (below). Additional drops will increase the depth of color. When I use 6 drops per body part, I can get about 1 1/2 shades deeper than my original color.

Finish: There's no sticky finish, just the feeling of whatever lotion I used that day. I prefer to use 4-6 drops, and the tan this gives me is very natural looking, and I don't get an orange tinge like The Water can sometimes give me, just a healthy, glowy tan.

Longevity: I can get 5-7 days of wear with this before it's pretty heavily faded, and similar to The Face, longevity can depend on your care of the tan. I exfoliate often and occasionally use a pretty harsh in-shower body towel, so naturally that will fade the tan quicker than a normal human using soft loofahs and not exfoliating every day. I predict I could get a week of solid wear out of this if I wasn't so aggressive with my skin!

The Water (Hydrating Self-Tan Water) in medium/dark
6.76 oz, $49, comes in two shade options: light/medium, medium/dark 

What is it: A colorless, quick-drying tanning water that claims to hydrate the skin while providing a radiant tan that develops within 4-6 hours*.
*I always self-tan at night after I shower, and let it develop while I sleep, so I don't have any hard evidence on the 4-6 hour claim, but it definitely developed after a solid 8 hours of sleep!

Scent/Color Guide?: When I initially spray this, there's a subtle scent that's a mix of self-tanner and some kind of floral fragrance. I do find that as time went on after application, the self-tanner scent gets way stronger. There's no color guide as it's a clear formula, which means it can be a bit tricky to work with if you're new to self-tanning. You have to be thorough in application and blending, otherwise it could be a bit of a patchy mess. No color guide means no risk of staining your sheets or clothing though!

IngredientsWater, Propylene Glycol, Dihydroxyacetone, Glycerin, Ethoxydiglycol, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Erythrulose, Ascorbic Acid, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E Acetate), Rubus Idaeus (Raspberry) Seed Oil, Hydrolyzed Silk, Lecithin, Caffeine, Palmitoyl Carnitine, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Glycereth-26, Panthenol, Fragrance, Limonene, Geraniol, Hexyl Cinnamal, Linalool, Hydroxycitronellal, Benzoic Acid, Phenoxyethanol, Triethylene Glycol.

Application method: Mist onto dry skin and blend in circular motions with a tanning mit (I used a Vita Liberata one I picked up randomly at Ulta, which is hilarious considering I've never tried Vita Liberata before). I don't like a heavy tan, so I go in with a pretty light layer, just to achieve a natural glow. I can't say how many spritzes I was actually using, but enough to full cover my body with one thin layer. I like to work in sections to ensure I'm not missing any spots, especially since there isn't a color guide for this. I also like to spend some extra time on blending to ensure I don't end up with splotches everywhere, so this may take a bit more due diligence in application than if you were to use one with a color guide. Once you're done blending, this dries down in about 5ish minutes.

Finish: This dries down with no sticky feeling, so it's really comfortable to wear after initial application. Also, I have pretty dry skin so while this is lightly hydrating, I do find myself wanting to apply lotion after its had time to develop. In comparison to The Body, this gives me a deeper tan with a single application, taking my legs to about a 2 shades deeper than its typical color. There is a slight orange tinge to it, but it doesn't look abnormal on my medium skin tone.

Longevity: Same as The Body, I got 5-7 days of wear with this, but again, insane exfoliator over here! I found the fade of this to come off patchier than The Body, with my calves fading faster than the front of my legs, but it wasn't too terrible. I was able to scrub away some of the harsher fading in the shower, and after that it faded normally.

The Gloss (Illuminating Face & Body Highlighter)
2.54 oz, $54, one shade option

What is it: This is different than the other typical self-tanners in that it's more of an instant fix tan that can add color and dimension to your body, but then you wash it off at the end of the day. I think of it as body makeup, that can help enhance, highlight or contour your body with the bronzey glow it gives off, but the color is temporary. It comes in stick form, similar to a deodorant, that you twist up and down. Out of the Tan-Luxe products I've tried, it's the one I gravitate towards the least because I'm more of a one-and-done kind of self-tanner. I think if I had a big event and really wanted to amp up the gloss and highlight parts of my body, I'd grab for this, so definitely something I'd save for a special occasion.

Scent/Color Guide?: There is a distinct fragrance to it that isn't too strong, but noticeable if you took a sniff of your arm. I am TERRIBLE at describing scents, but it smells slightly floral and citrus-y, which I enjoy! The stick itself is a deep bronze color, and you can tell exactly where you're swiping it on your skin as it leaves a bronze, golden hue behind. So I'd consider that a color guide!

Ingredients: Propylene Glycol, Aqua (Water), PPG-5-Ceteth-20, Sodium Stearate, Parfum (Fragrance), Mica, PVP, Synthetic Fluorphlogopite, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Xanthan Gum, Limonene, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, Linalool, Tin Oxide, CI 77491 (Iron Oxides), CI 77891 (Titanium Dioxide), CI 77499 (Iron Oxides), CI 19140 (Yellow 5), CI 14700 (Red 4), CI 17200 (Red 33), CI 42090 (Blue 1)

Application method: Apply the stick directly to the skin in long sweeping motions, and blend in with your hands or a tanning mitt. I use my hands to save myself from cleaning another mitt, and the warmth of my skin melts it around easily. The stick also applies smoothly, without any tugging on my skin. I also found that you can easily build up the color by layering, and that adds to the depth of color and really brings out the golden shimmer as well.

Finish: Once blended in, your skin is left with this gorgeous, golden, warm bronze sheen that doesn't look glittery or obvious, just shimmery. I did feel like there was a more red-leaning undertone to it, but it didn't look odd once I blended it in. It never dries down fully, so there is a light tacky finish to it, but nothing uncomfortable. The tackiness of it actually makes my skin feel well moisturized! The creaminess of the formula makes it easy to blend, so there were no issues with streaks or patchiness. When I compare one arm with The Gloss and one without, there is a noticeable difference in color, and the arm with The Gloss just looks more bronze, shiny and healthy. 

Longevity: Tan-Luxe says the color will last up to 24 hours, but it also washes away in the shower with soap. I've only worn this for max. 8 hours, so I can't say much about the 24 hour claim, but I found it lasted well in the places where it woudn't come in contact much with my clothing or other parts of my skin. Naturally the initial wet look of the product faded within the first 10ish minutes of applying, but the shimmer and bronziness lasted well in places like the front of my legs and my upper chest area. Places like my upper thighs where I'd cross my legs, or places on my arms that I would touch would fade quicker, but I was expecting that from a temporary body highlighter.

Coming next week: COOLA's sunless tan products!