My two self-tan heroes.

best self tanners

For the longest time ever, self-tanners, to me, belonged in the “love the effect, but I’m too intimidated to try it” category. Other two were false eyelashes and hair extensions. Few years a go I tried falsies, and my life has never been the same. The thought of clip-in hair extensions though still triggers a slight panic attack in me.

I think I was about twelve or thirteen when my sister and I tried a self-tanning lotion for a very first time (my sister being 3 years younger than me). I remember “stealing it” from my mom, hiding in a room and slathering our legs and arms with that brown, sticky and horribly smelling lotion (My cousin and I actually did that a lot. One day we were just watching TV when a razor commercial came on and I said “hey, there’s an idea, let’s shave our legs!” And that was how I discovered a secret of smooth skin at the age of eleven.) It’s funny, but I can still recall how excited we were when the tanner developed, admiring the beautiful, golden tone of our skin. In reality, we looked like we rolled in mud. We were less excited when my mom noticed what we did and yelled at us (such rebels, weren’t we). Later on as an older teen, I developed a love for tanning beds, it was truly one of my favorite things in the world. After I became more educated about the harmful effects of my love of solarium, I gave up on my dreams of golden skin tone.

st tropez bronzing moousse

Over the years I felt really temped to give fake tanning a try, but I always found it very intimidating. I finally decided to give it a go few years a go. I went through a whole bunch of different products, and just when I was about to give up, I came across St. Tropez Bronzing Mousse. It has such a light formula, it’s incredibly easy to work with and most importantly, it looks very natural. I love the fact that it comes with a pump, it makes it very easy to control the product, however, when using it for the first time you do need be a bit cautious. The amount of mousse that comes out with one pump is quite generous and because of its mega fluffy formula it’s easy for it to slide and fall on the floor. I’d definitely recommend applying this either in the shower cabin, or on the bare floor-save your bathroom rugs! (If you do happen to stain it, no worries, it comes off rather easy.)

It has a slight brown tint, so when you’re applying it to the skin, you can actually see it, which makes it very easy to cover any missed spots/areas. I usually like to use plastic gloves when applying this, so that my hands don’t stain. I apply it all over my body after a shower (give myself a nice scrub to exfoliate the skin and use generous amounts of lotion usually the day before), let it dry for 60 seconds and put on some loose-fitting clothes. I shower few hours later to wash the self-tanner off and reveal my tan. One other great thing about this product is the fact that it doesn’t stink. It definitely has a smell, a rather pleasant one, although I do detect that fake-tan-smell, but it doesn’t stink. The tan last about 3-4 days, and the color is definitely buildable. I only happen to use this on special occasions, especially when I go somewhere where there will be a lot of picture taking, so self-tanning is not something that is a part of my regular routine. If I were to do it regularly, I think that once a week application would be enough to maintain a nice color. This mousse is a definitely on the pricey side (although very much worth its cost, in my opinion), I usually get the 4 oz bottle at Sephora for about $32.00.

Tantowel review

TanTowel is another great alternative for sun-less tanning and it’s even easier to use than the St. Tropez Bronzing Mousse. The one that I’m using is a “Half-Body Application” pack and it comes with 5 individually packaged saturated towelettes, I use two of these for a whole-body application (they also come in “Full Body Application”- a box of 5 costs $24.00 at Ulta). Unlike St. Tropez Bronzing Mousse, you can’t actually see where the product goes during the application, but I still think that it’s a bit more user-friendly. While the towelettes are saturated, they’re not soaked in the product, which is nice and makes for a mess-free and, more importantly, streak-free application. This product is great to use on those days when I don’t have much time to play with the mousse. I just open the packet, take the towelette out and rub it into my skin in circular motion, making sure to wash my hands afterwards. The tan comes out after a few hours, once again nice and natural looking. Similarly to the St. Tropez Bronzing Mousse, TanTowel does have a scent, but it’s not a bothersome one at all.

Those two products finally put an end to my quest for a sun-kissed skin. I still love to bask in the sun during warm summer days (with proper sun protection of course), but thanks to these two gems I get to have a nice tan even during winter months. If you guys have any other recommendations for similar products please, do tell!

  • Thanks for this great post :) I’m looking for a self tanning product and the St.Tropez always appealed to me. Do you use those products on your face as well? Or do you have a special recommendation for face tanning?

    Thanks for your help in advance :)

    xx Carolin

    • Glad you liked it Carolin! I have used both of these on my face and they worked just fine, but usually I only go up to my neck and use a darker foundation to match my skin. Just because I wash my face few times a day and it washes off so quickly.

      Hope that helps! x

      • Yes that helped a lot :) I ordered the St.Tropez Bronzing Mousse and I can’t wait to try it :)

        Thanks again for the recommendation!

        xx Carolin

        Olive Apple

        • Oh yay! That’s great, hope you like it as much as I did!

  • I really want to try St Tropez, I always read such good reviews and it looks amazing (plus if it’s good enough for Kate Moss!) x

  • I get quite scared with self tanner, the only one I ever use is by Clarins as it’s quite gradual, but after this review on St.Tropez I might have to give it a go… my limbs are looking rather pale lol :)

  • Thanks for this post Paula! Like you I am always intimidated to try out self tanners, I feel that I will get streaks or a weird orange color, plus my skin is super sensitive so I’m afraid I might get a rash or break out or something like that haha… does the St. Tropez mousse feel heavy in any way?

    • It doesn’t really feel heavy, since it’s a mousse it’s really fluffy and light, but it may feel a bit sticky at first. It does absorb really fast, I wonder if they have offer any samples at Sephora? It might not be a bad idea to do a little patch test first. My skin can also get very sensitive, and I didn’t get any weird reactions. Hope that helps Christel <3

  • Such a fantastic post Paula, such a lovely topic to cover as I know so many people are so keen to find the right self-tanning products and I’m no expert but from what I’ve heard it’s like finding a needle in a haystack ;) Even better that you’ve found two fab products that do the job without all the unfortunate side-effects that some tanners can provide :D St Tropez Bronzing Mousse sounds gorgeous, I love that it has a nice smell to it, and that it’s easy to cover all areas. I love the concept of TanTowel too, have never heard of towelettes before for tanning and they sound super easy and as you say streak-less to use. Perfect!

    Graham and I are a right double act when it comes to “tans” He drives in his van at work all day, and has therefore acquired a tan down one of his arms, due to it hanging out of the window exposed ;) While the only part of my body that tanned out in LA were my feet (whilst wearing my Zara sandals) so I’ve got a stupid sandal pattern tan! ;) Perhaps we need to get our hands on these lovely products and match the rest of our skin up?! Haha!

    Can I just say (as always) what an amazing variety of posts Paula, especially this week! You’re so super talented blogging about such a wide range of topics, so regularly (I love it!) And as I’ve said before you really are my superwoman inspo girl! Your blog just keeps getting better and better everyday and I couldn’t be prouder of you, I really couldn’t <3 <3

    Sophie xo

    • Thanks so much Sophie! I have to say that I love TanTowels, so so much. I really do think that they are the easiest way to go and provide such a beautiful and natural-looking color.

      Hahaha, it’s always funny when you get that sort of tan lines. I remember few years a go we took the whole family to a theme park and my mom wore a cami and this beautiful crochet kimono. By the end of the day she took it off, and it looked like she still had it on, she ended up with a ridiculous-looking tan. It was the funniest thing ever! haha :)

      OMG I’m so glad that you’re liking my posts Sophie! Sometimes I think that maybe I write about too many topics, but my head is literally exploding with ideas at times. It means the world to me that you think so. You’re the best, so so supportive and kind! Love you!!! <3

  • Sounds like great products. I usually don’t wear self tanning products but they seem to be very good! Great post!