Beauty trends come and go, but one that’s had an almost permanent appeal in the Western world for decades now is tanned skin. It signifies health and status, since not everyone can afford a vacation in Bermuda to bake in the sun. And, of course, there’s another very popular side effect to getting a tan, which is that it miraculously seems to shave off a few pounds without lifting a finger. This is because darker colors are perceived as smaller by the human eye. Ever wonder why subjects in ‘before and after’ weight loss pics mysteriously boast a sun-kissed complexion in the ‘after’ photo?
But it hasn’t always been like this. Well into the Victorian era, women went to great lengths to preserve a pallid skin tone, often using harmful cosmetics containing lead or arsenic, until the benefits of sunlight were finally discovered and advertised in the early 1910’s. This was followed by the legendary incident of Coco Chanel acquiring a sunburn in the French Riviera and returning to Paris with a lovely tan, setting a trend that has accelerated ever since.
Now summer is in full swing and many of us worry that we are not making the most of it. Whether it’s long days at the office, preferring to stay in air-conditioning until dusk, or a blatant—and not unsubstantiated—terror of the less desirable effects of the sun, it can be hard to get that perfect tan going.
There is, however, good news. We don’t have to find a beach for an afternoon anymore; we can easily maintain our tans without leaving home.
Be forewarned: drugstore self-tanners often end in streaky disaster, so opt instead for a higher quality product. Here we’ve rounded up four self-tanners that are subtle enough to keep the pale goddesses among us from looking freakishly orange — and if you already have a base tan, these will deepen it to a golden glow you’ll want to keep long after summer’s end.
If you’re looking for immediate effects, this relatively cheap and cheerful self-tanner will get the job done. The tan deepens over time but doesn’t seem to last quite as long as other, non-immediate tanners. It’s easy to apply and perfect for evening out a tan as you can see exactly where you’re bronzing. Perfect for when you’re ready to leave the house and only have a few minutes to gloss up.
Sweet orange extract, along with various flower extracts (dandelion, violet, daisy, and clover), nourish and moisturize your skin while the active tanning ingredients take effect in 3-4 hours. This cream absorbs easily and gives you a streak-free, natural looking tan — completely worth the money.
The lotion itself is white but this plant-based, vegan tanning lotion will give you a glow in about 3-4 hours. A perfect example of how the choice to go natural doesn’t always mean a compromise in effectiveness. Also, if you’d like to smell like a vanilla frosted marshmallow cake from head to toe, you’ve found your gold.
Clarins isn’t lying when they say it’s delicious! This beautifully-scented cream feels more like a luxurious mousse that also moisturizes your skin, thanks to aloe and cocoa butter, leaving it tanned in just a few hours. It lends the skin a gorgeous sheen right after application, so it’s easy to even out and spot places you’ve missed. I’ve found that my tan usually lasts for a solid 2-3 days with this product. Because it comes in a tub, it’s easy to scoop out every last bit of this cream, which believe me — you’ll want to.
If you’re still paranoid about streaking, try the Vita Liberata tanning mitt. It will leave your palms guaranteed stain-free and costs only $8 (CAD). Simply rinse it after usage and leave it to air-dry until the next application.