I have never been big on sunless tanners. A girl I knew in elementary school was one of the first people to get into the whole sunless tanning craze. She was known for being orange. I can still see her splotchy hands now. So maybe I subconsciously associate the practice of sunless tanning with her…and I’d prefer not to look that unnatural. But I also don’t want to lie in the sun at length and promote premature wrinkles. That’s why I decided to give sunless tanning a shot this summer. Naturally, I wanted something as pure and organic as possible, so I went with Lavera’s Glow & Go Gradual Self Tanning Gel. I put some on over my moisturizer in the morning and left the bathroom, totally forgetting about it. That last sentence is more important than it may have sounded. I totally forgot about it. In other words, I didn’t smell it every other minute all day long like I have with other sunless tanners in the past. That’s not to say that it was completely odorless. When I put it on I smelled just the faintest aroma of DHA (the compound in all self-tanners)—but after it was on, it didn’t morph into an unwelcome intruder all day long.
Apparently I didn’t look at myself in the mirror at all after I put it on because I remember a few hours later my husband came home, took one look at me and said, “Wow, when’d you have time to get so tan?” I walked over to the mirror. I looked like I just got off a cruise ship. Better still, I was brown, not orange. The stuff works.
Self-tanners (whether deemed “all-natural” or not) are made up of DHA and erythrulose—two natural ingredients that react with the amino acids of the skin to create a darker skin color. From what science has found, these two ingredients are harmless, often having been derived from sugar beets. So the main ingredients in most self-tanners aren’t the problem; the problem is all the unnecessary parabens, fragrances and other dangerous synthetics often added to them. For instance, look at this ingredients’ list for Jergens Natural Glow Daily Facial moisturizer and note the ingredients in bold:
WATER, DIHYDROXY ACETONE, GLYCERIN, ALUMINUM STARCH OCTENYLSUCCINATE, C12-15 ALKYL BENZOATE, C13-14 ISOPARAFFIN, GLYCERYL STEARATE, POLYACRYLAMIDE, BEHENYL ALCOHOL, DIMETHICONE, PHENYL TRIMETHICONE, PEG-100 STEARATE, TOCOPHERYL ACETATE, STEARETH-2, CETYL ALCOHOL, XANTHAN GUM, LAURETH-7, CITRIC ACID, METHYLPARABEN, PROPYLPARABEN, DMDM HYDANTOIN, FRAGRANCE, CARAMEL, ERYTHRULOSE.
Lavera’s ingredients’ list, on the other hand, is full of products you can pronounce that won’t harm your health. And they use natural oils to mask the obnoxious DHA smell instead of some kind of cryptic “fragrance.” Take a look at their ingredients’ list:
Organic jojoba oil, calendula, aloe vera and rose water. Water Grain Alcohol* Glycerin Dihydroxyaceton (DHA) Erythrulose Sodium Lactate Sunflower Seed Oil* Xanthan Gum Castor Seed Oil* Calcium Sodium Borosilicate Silica Macadamia Ternifolia Seed Extract* Aloe Vera Leaf Juice* Rose Flower Water* Lavander Flower Water* Camelia Oleifera Leaf Extract*
At $24 a bottle, I think it’s worth it for the amazing tan you get. I’m officially hooked.