Jill’s Picks: 5 Products for Sunless Tanning

Jill never got crazy enough to try the tri-fold, though she did experiment with a sunlamp.

Jill Kloster, Breezy Mama‘s fearless beauty editor is back–this time, she’s not scared to get orange (and bronzed) in order to bring you the best advice on sunless tanning. Read on to see what Jill gets herself into this time. . .

From Jill:

I was 15 years old when my tanning obsessed friend lent me her sunlamp. After my parents went to bed that night, I MacGyvered the lamp to my bedside table and I purposely made sure that when I laid down on the floor underneath it, there was less than an inch between my face and the bulb. I must have laid there for at least 30 minutes. I had visions of walking into my high school the next day as a bronzed goddess. The Captain of the wrestling team would finally notice me and we would be together forever. What I didn’t know, was that a sunlamp should really be called a burn lamp because you do not get sun. You get burn. I remember feeling like my face had been shrink-wrapped, and that I was probably going to have to wear a ski mask for at least a week.

What is it about having a tan that makes us pull stunts like the burn lamp, or the baby oil-iodine homebrew? And what about the under the chin tri-fold foil contraption? Genius. Tanning seems to have a weird psychological effect on us. I personally feel healthy and more confident when I’m tanned. I actually even feel skinnier, which is ridiculous. My friends in the south have a saying: “tanned fat is better than white fat,” which is also ridiculous, but somehow, I get it. The good thing is, that tanning has come a long way, and we don’t have to spend hours under harmful UV rays anymore. There are dozens of sunless tanning options, and Breezy Mama sent me on a mission to check them out.

I am not new to the whole sunless tanning thing, I experimented with self-tan cream as early as 1986 (after I made my face extra crispy with the sunlamp). I just took a break because all the products seemed so messy, and I could never get away with using any of them inconspicuously. Once I tried to “fake tan” my legs and I forgot to do the back of my knees. From behind I looked like a marionette. My quads and calves looked like they were joined with invisible string. Sexy.

As a result, I had always wanted to try a product that you didn’t have to apply with your hands, so when I saw Neutrogena’s Micro-Mist Airbrush Sunless Tan, I was more than thrilled. Tan in a can, no hands. I’m super paranoid about tanning products staining walls, carpets, etc., so when I applied the airbrush tan, I did it while standing in the bathtub. (I guess I could have done it outside too, but that would have been too easy.) I started spraying, and the first thing I noticed, was what I didn’t notice. The spray was clear and it dried pretty fast, so it was really hard for me to see where I was applying it. Not good, considering my failure rate at the sunless tanning activity. Luckily I was only doing my legs, and since my hot pants days are over, not many people would bear witness to any mistakes.

I was pleasantly surprised the next day when my legs looked very lightly tanned. The bonus was that because the color was very conservative, the spots that I missed were barely noticeable. I should have left it at that, but I decided to do another layer, this time at a closer range and with a much heavier trigger finger. During the first round, I had missed a lot of areas around my ankles (just like when I shave), so I really sprayed hard on those. The next day I had big splotches of what looked like dirt all over them. I even had drip marks. What was I thinking? Luckily, I was able to scrub some of it off but I still walked around with dirty ankles for about a week. Mishap aside, I would definitely use this product again, however next time, I’ll remember the old adage that “less is more.”

Though I liked the Neutrogena product, I decided it was time to quit messing around and break out the big guns. It was time for some spray tanning. Everyone’s doing it. Guys are even doing it. It was about time I got with the program. It’s taken me this long to join because I have seen some oompa loompa doozies. For example, I remember watching Oprah one day and there was an actress on there that obviously partakes in the spray tanning regime. The Oprah show is famous for what I like to call the “blowout lighting”–that is lighting that blows out most imperfections. That is why everyone on that show always looks fabulous. I could barely pay attention to what this actress was saying because I was fixated on the brownish orange stains between her fingers and on her hands. I kept thinking to myself, if we can see that under Oprah’s lights, I can’t imagine how god-awful that must look in real life. One more reason not to spray tan. However, business is business, and I committed to taking a bullet for my girls at Breezy Mama.

I asked around, and my friend Michelle told me to go to a place by my house called The Body Bakery. Seriously, that’s what it’s called. The evenly tanned receptionist filled me in on what the spray tan experience involved. For $35.00 and five minutes of my time, I can get a spray tan that will last anywhere from 5- 10 days. Personally, I think that’s a mighty big window, but whatever. She also assured me that once the tan is dry it would not rub off on clothes, furniture and the like. I was told that I am not allowed to shower until four hours after the tan, BUT, I must shower no later than five hours after the tan. WHAT? “It was my understanding there would be no math.” Why five hours you ask? Because after five hours you will turn orange. Not you might turn orange, you will turn orange. Who knew tanning could be so stressful? We decided that based on my skin color (olive) that I would get the “Golden on Medium Brown” flavor. She then led me to a room that had a very futuristic tube-like machine in the middle of it. She showed me that there are five poses that you need to do in the spray tan booth in order to ensure an even tan: Note: This is the part where unfortunately, I may lose you.

1) Face front /palms down
2) Turn to the right side/ right leg front / right arm forward/left arm back/ palms up
3) turn your back to the spray/ palms up (like a mime, miming a fake wall)
4) Turn to the left side/left leg front/left arm forward/right arm back/palms up
5) Face front do whatever you want, it’s just the drying cycle.

I felt like telling her that I grew up in the 70’s and I already know how to do the robot. AND I’m practically a world champion. Don’t hate. My tanned teenage guide then gave me a plastic shower cap to cover my hair, and told me that I would need to put something called “barrier cream” on my cuticles, in between my fingers and on the palms of my feet. She also reminded me that I need to strip down to my birthday suit. Here’s what happened next; I was completely naked and freezing cold. I stepped into the booth/tube, pressed a green button and the tanning began. I was scared. Here I was, doing the robot, changing poses every time I heard a beep. I kept thinking: Am I going to be vacuumed up this tube like the money cylinders at Costco? Will it spit me out in the Von’s parking lot naked–save for a 50 cent shower cap? The whole process was very quick, but I stayed naked for a few extra minutes to ensure that everything was dry.

I went home, covered the couch in an orange blanket before I sat on it (just in case), and ate my lunch. I then set the alarm on my phone to the five hour mark. My kids and I were enjoying some mommy time after school when at around 4pm I hastily announced that we were having a group shower. “Why Mommy?” I simply responded: “Because I said so.” Cut to the next morning: Oh my gosh. I have a bright orange nose. Did I eat too many jars of carrots and peaches? And my fingers. . . did someone soak my cuticles in Doritos? God I love Doritos. I also had an obvious orange footprint on the sole of each foot. Damn, I forgot to barrier cream them!  Note to self: I seriously overpronate. Remember to discuss with podiatrist.

In all seriousness, after I got past the footprints and the cuticles, I have to say that I really liked the results of the spray tan. I received many compliments and it lasted about seven days. I think it’s a great if you have an event and you need a quick, professional looking tan. It’s a great way to get an even glow without baking in the sun and even though it is a more expensive option, it’s worth the money. The best way to get your money’s worth is to buy a booklet (5 to 10 tans); because once you see the results, you will definitely go back.

After the spray tanning experience, I was on a mission to find a product that got the same results that I could do at home. I went to Sephora and a girl named Melanie pointed me towards a few of their best sellers.

Sevin Nyne

This is the brand that Lindsay Lohan is attached to. It comes in a spray can and costs $35.00. I wouldn’t normally spend this much on one product, but this one time I was willing to dent my wallet a bit. Sephora also has a great return policy so if you really aren’t satisfied with a product, you can bring it back. I loved the smell of Sevin Nyne. Nutty and floral. Not the same yucky tanning cream smell you get from most others. The best thing: This tanning spray is tinted so you can actually see where you are applying it. The downside is that you still have to rub it in because the spray isn’t very even. Not a problem, as long as I wash my hands, I won’t wake up with Cheetos fingers.

This spray dried instantly. Yes, I applied it in the bathtub, but I did not cover my couch afterwards. Within three hours I began to see the results. I only applied it on one leg (because I was doing a comparison test), and I have to say I loved my Lindsay Lohan leg. The color was perfect, and not too obvious. I really liked this product. Did I like it enough to put on someone else’s pants and crash a car? Not really. Is $35.00 too much to spend on a can of spray tan? Maybe, but once in a while, it’s nice to treat yourself. It’s a good buy, especially if you’re only doing specific areas that don’t normally see the sun. In this instance, I think you could probably make a can last for at least a month.

What about the other leg you ask? Well, Melanie wanted me to try a cream (yes, exactly what I was trying to avoid) that she really liked. It’s called St. Tropez Bronzing Cream. I was reluctant because a) it was a cream, and b) it looked like diarrhea/mud. This tanning cream was tinted so once again I was able to identify where I had applied and where I still need to apply.

After about three hours, it was obvious that the St. Tropez cream did not hold a candle to Lindsay.  My Lindsay leg was golden and glowing, but the St. Tropez leg? Not so much. However, after a few more hours, I did notice that the French were gaining.  By the end of the day, each leg had equal amount of tan, but I definitely liked the color of Sevin Nyne better. Finally Lindsay has done something right.

Another item Melanie recommended was tanning towels. They’re individual sachets that contain a towelette that is presoaked in tanning product. The brand I used was Sommerville 360, Tanning Towelette for Face and Body, by Kate Sommerville.  I was interested in the tanning towel, because I wanted something to use on my face. The towel option sounded quick and easy, and it was. The actual towelette is quite large and is pretty much saturated in product, so I ended up cutting a smaller piece to use for my face. I rubbed the towel all over my face, avoiding my eye brows, and making sure to carry it under my jaw line and chin. The product dries quickly, and smells great. A few hours later I was getting my hair colored, when my stylist complimented me on my skin. She said it was beautiful and glowing. When I turned around and looked in the mirror I was shocked. I looked like I had smeared my mug with Vaseline! Holy moly. So super shiny, I could see people’s reflection in my face. Maybe next time I’ll use it when I know I’m not going anywhere.

The results showed up the next morning, and once again I had a giant orange stained nose. From now on, I will remember to go easy on the shnoz area because it seems to really soak up tanning products like a sponge. I also noticed that I had a lot of blotchy areas on my face. I didn’t get the results I had hoped for, but I think the towelettes are a good option for other areas like legs and feet.

I had so much fun researching this article. Who doesn’t love a tan? The only problem is that once again I’m hooked. I’m chasing the “Tan Dragon” and I don’t see myself quitting anytime soon.

Have you visited the Breezy Mama store on Amazon.com? It carries most products Jill discovered — yep, even Lindsay’s sunless tanner — that have been featured on the site–click here to check it out!

Petunia Pickle Bottom is giving one lucky Breezy Mama subscriber a LIMITED EDITION diaper bag! To enter, subscribe to Breezy Mama — it’s free! Click here to sign up.

About Jill Kloster:
Jill begun her career as a hair and makeup artist in 1999. During her tenure, she’s worked on a variety of projects–from the Latin Grammys to commercials to the hit reality television show The Bachelor. Jill also has been a makeup artist to actors such as: Judy Greer (13 again, 27 dresses, The Wedding Planner), Josh Malina (The West Wing), and socialite Kimberly Stewart. These days, when she’s not in the shower road testing shampoos, she can be found at home in the LA Valley with her husband Owen and two kids, Ethan and Eiley.

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  1. I loved this! Great article… super funny!! I like the Seven Nyne too. I am also a big lover of the Infinity Tan products.

  2. My favorite self tanner is not listed here, so I figured I would share. Like you, I have tanned for years, first with the beds, then with at home self tanners and spray tans at a salon. My favorite self tanner, hands down, would be Lasting Envy: Spray Tan In A Can, by EnvyTan. They also carry a great self tanning lotion, Confidential. I prefer the tan in the can option. The tans these products provide are just stunning. Beautiful and bronze. When I do not have time to get a spray tan, or I am traveling, Lasting Envy is with me wherever I go. If you are looking to try out a new self tanner, I strongly recommend these products.

  3. “My friends in the south have a saying: “tanned fat is better than white fat,” which is also ridiculous, but somehow, I get it.” – So true!! I agree.

    Great article, thanks for the tips. I’m pretty sure I’d have no interest in trying a product promoted by Lindsay Lohan, but perhaps I’ll give Seven Nyne a try if you say it’s really that good…

  4. I found this article very helpful especially for those of up in the North Pole a.k.a. Canada where we often look pasty white, almost sickly, due to our climate for 6-8 months of the year. Not enough juice in the sunrays I guess. Cant wait to do the Robot dance for my next big night out. Thanks Jill!

  5. Envytan spray is good but you really have to know how to spray yourself or otherwise you can be streaky. Before I did Airbrush tanning I used to use the Faux Tan from Bare Essentuals – maybe you want to check that out as well. But there is nothing better then Airbrush Tanning as it is flawless.


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