An Experiment in Self-Tanner

Summer is here, and so are the short sleeves, dresses, and...my bright white skin. I've always been rather on the porcelain side, and am no stranger to the "are you feeling okay?" questions, which is really just a nice way of saying "you look dead."

But, with no time for poolside hanging between the move, my job, and busy weekends, I seem to be extra bright white this summer. I've also been considering tanning options for our wedding next Spring, and thought this would be the perfect time to give them a test run! The options most recommended to me were spray tans and Tan-Wise (a favorite of Lexi and my favorite beauty blogger, Maskcara), but I was nervous that those would 1. rub off on my white wedding dress and 2. make my face break out (yikes! not a good wedding look).

I'd heard of a product called Xen-Tan while working at Neiman Marcus, and decided to read up on it a little. It's made with green tea, vitamin E, and shea butter, and is oil-free, so I felt a little more comfortable putting that on my sensitive face. It's also more of a gradual tan, and has no instant color, so I thought the chances of it rubbing off on clothing and bedding would be minimal. They sell it at Neimans (I miss you, employee discount!), Nordstrom, and on Amazon (where I bought it, because 2-day shipping, duh).

I decided on the light/medium shade for a more natural and gradual look. I also got the "scent secure" moisturizer, an exfoliating shower gel to prep my skin before applying the tanner, an application mitt, and an applicator on a handle, to easily reach my back (all linked below). 

Here's a shot of my actual haul, pre-tan exploration:

supplies

First things first; I got a shower and scrubbed down with the exfoliating gel to get nice, smooth skin to apply the tan to. After that, I made sure to dry my skin completely, and pulled my hair up and away from my face and neck. I applied the face tanner with my bare fingers, so that I could make sure it was applied evenly all over, all the way to my hair line, and that it was completely rubbed in.

Important note: I applied the face tanner FIRST so that I could then wash my hands with reckless abandon, without worrying about washing away tanner from the backs of my hands or my wrists.

I then got started on the rest. I put on the mitt, and added a quarter-sized amount of tanner to it. The tanner comes out white, which made me nervous that I would miss spots and not notice, but it has a sort of tacky feeling on the skin for about 30 minutes after application, so it was easy for me to tell where I'd put it. I started with my feet, making sure to get the tops, sides, and toes, and worked my way up from there.

Another note: if you're going to try this out yourself, I recommend watching at least one tanning tips video (like this one) beforehand, so you know how to deal with tricky spots like hands and feet.

The only difficulty I found was that the wand I'd purchased for my back was not helpful AT ALL in applying lotion. Maybe I just haven't gotten the hang of using it yet, but the only thing it was useful for was actually getting some lotion onto my back; it wasn't good for actually rubbing that lotion in. Thank goodness I'm pretty flexible, and was able to switch my mitt from hand to hand and get it all rubbed in back there. In the future, I might try out this applicator, which looks much easier to use.

After I was done, I waited about 2.5 hours before putting on any clothing or touching any surfaces. (I made sure all the windows were covered, and just walked around organizing and unpacking some more. Yes I'm still doing that. Shut up.)

When I went to bed, I still looked like my same pale self, but when I woke up the next morning, I had a healthy, slightly bronzed glow! Perfect. Check out these before and after photos:

Before tanner, with no makeup and a cameo from Ginger (who's already bronzed, lucky).

After one application of tanner, 24 hours later, with a nice, subtle color all over.

PROS:
Controlled color. It adds a little at a time, which is perfect for someone who is naturally fair-skinned like me and doesn't want too stark of a difference. 
No bad smell. Like the bottle says, it does have a slight vanilla scent, which I don't mind. And if that smell is too strong for you, the scent secure lotion has a really light, fresh scent (melon, I think) that covers it and is hardly noticeable, so you can still wear perfume with it.
Even coverage. I've used it a few more times since these photos were taken, and I have yet to experience any streaking or blotches. Not sure if it's the lotion itself or the applicator mitt, but I'm a big fan of both.
No color transfer. I've slept on light sheets, worn white clothes (and undergarments), and the tan hasn't rubbed off on a single thing!

CONS:
That back applicator. Not a fan.
The price. It's a little more expensive than your normal self tanners, but for the value and amount you get, it's worth it to me. The bottles still feel full, so I imagine I have many more applications left in them. And for something I'll only need to purchase every few months at most, it's doable.

All in all, I'd call this one a win, folks. If you decide to try it out, let me know how your experience goes! Or do you already have a favorite tanner?