Anna: Pale girl problems
I’ve never really had a tan. I’ve tried tanning beds. I tried sunbathing with tanning lotions or oils. All my fair skin likes to do is sunburn in minutes. The higher the SPF, the better for me.
I’ve faced the reality that I’m never going to be that girl with the bronzed skin. So this month, I faked it.
Carlee and I decided to try sunless-tanning products. (She’s fair-skinned and helpless, too.) Seriously, why had I not tried this sooner? It’s safe, affordable and you smell like the beach. You can control the progress of the tan by the amount of product you use and how often you use it.
Ulta Beauty was kind enough to send us sunless-tanning options for those on a drugstore budget and those on a high-end budget. I tried the Banana Boat Summer Color Sunless Tinted Lotion ($7.99 at Ulta) for a month.
It’s made with a self-adjusting formula, similar to some foundations and makeup products. So any skin tone could use the product and build a gradual tan.
After one use, it was really cool to see my skin a slightly darker color. I wanted to celebrate because that’s the sad life I live (#palegirlproblems).
I applied the lotion two to four times a week, using a sunless-tanning mitt after showering. I recommend shaving and exfoliating before using the self-tanner. It makes the application go on smoother and more evenly.
I applied the product over most of my body but decided not to try it on my face. The product isn’t clear on the tube whether or not to use it on your face. I didn’t want to risk my skin getting irritated.
My friend Catherine recommended I mix a regular lotion or moisturizer with the self-tanner for less streaking and a more gradual build of color. This worked wonders, but it takes your skin a little longer to dry because that’s the nature of lotion. I recommend waiting at least 10 minutes before sitting on anything or putting on clothes. The color may rub off on your bedsheets, as well, regardless of how long you wait to let the lotions dry.
I can’t recommend using a mitt enough because it prevents your hands from turning orange. Mine came from Ulta and is $9.99.
We also tried Tan Towel’s Self-Tan Towelette Full Body Application For Face & Body ($29 at Ulta). The towelettes are folded in a packet and are larger than regular makeup wipes when unfolded.
Carlee had better luck with these.
I used mine on my stomach first and noticed my skin was slightly irritated the next morning. I didn’t try them again, but I noticed the color is stronger with the towelettes than the Banana Boat lotion. If you want a stronger tan after one use, these might be an option for you. The product applies clear, so you have to be careful to wipe evenly.
I used more than half of the bottle of Banana Boat, and I’ll definitely continue self-tanning. It’s not as scary as I thought, but it does take practice. My skin only looks a little orange in certain lighting situations.
I’m calling that a win!
Carlee: Casper’s doppelganger
Fair-skinned and hopeless is exactly right. I tried the whole tanning bed deal, but I’m terrified of the risks.
I’ve tried the oils, the creams, the “praying your burn turns into a tan” and doesn’t peel away.
None of it works.
I, like Anna, had accepted my fate as a Casper the Friendly Ghost doppelganger. But then we discovered the wonderful world of self-tanners.
The Tan Towel Self-Tan Towelettes really worked for me. I tried them twice throughout the course of the month (give or take a few days). They’re easy to apply: just rub and go. But you can’t rush.
I have the patience of a 12-year-old waiting outside of an amusement park, so I rushed the first time. And when you rush, well, let’s just say it gets a little splotchy.
I sported some nice elbow, wrist and foot tan lines for a few days before the tan wore off. The tan lasted for three to four days and then started slowly going away. Pretty good shelf life, if you ask me.
I was definitely tanner than I’ve ever been before. I think it was a little much all at once for me, but if you’re a seasoned tanner, you’ll love it.
Ulta was fantastic and also sent us the St. Tropez Award Winning Kit ($49). It came with a gradual shower-tanning product, an instant tanning product and an application mitt.
I now swear by the gradual shower-tanning product and can’t believe I had no clue it existed.
All you have to do is take a normal shower, turn the water off, apply a generous amount of the product evenly onto your body, sit alone in the shower with your thoughts for three minutes, rinse off and boom! Done!
I noticed a difference in my skin tone by the time I was dressed and out the door, and it kept getting a little darker as the day went by. I recommend applying this product at least three days in a row. That’s when I really started to notice the tan.
Definitely use the mitt with this one, and it’ll help keeps streaks or splotches to a minimum. The best part was that it smells super good and left me glowing — gradually.
I’m about to head to the beach as I write this for a long weekend, and I’m super excited I’ve already got that beachy glow before even stepping foot in the sand.
Reach Anna Taylor at
firstname.lastname@example.org, 304-348-4881 or follow
@byannataylor on Twitter.
Reach Carlee Lammers at
email@example.com, 304-348-1230 or follow
@CarleeLammers on Twitter.