It is that time of year again when you begin your search for the perfect streak-free, stank-free sunless tanning lotion. If you are like me, you want a nice summer glow without the laying out/cancer inducing rays. In the past I’ve reviewed high-end department store self-tanners but this season we are all about the economically satisfying drugstore brands. Are they streak-free? Do they make you stink to high heavens? Is the glow really a glow or more of an orange tinge?
First up, Banana Boat’s Summer Color Self-Tanning Lotion (Light/Medium color) which is a self-adjusting color and claims to be streak-free. It is for all skin tones and will become darker with each application. This lotion ($7.50) is oil-free and enriched with Aloe Vera and Vitamin E. Like most self-tanners this one can be drying to your skin. I mixed in my body lotion with each application. It helps combat that dry leg syndrome and I make sure I have exfoliated before the first application, as I do with all self-tanners. In about 2-3 hours the color does appear just like the tube (6 fl. ounces) claims. The scent is a bit on the perfume side and after a few minutes you can really smell that familiar self-tanner scent. It lasts all day too. By the end of the day I am satisfied with the light tan I have that lasts for a few days, but I am sick of the smell. Overall, I think this self-tanner works incredibly well for the price and goes on smooth. I just hate the after-smell if that is even a word.
Next, Neutrogena’s Sun Fresh Sunless Foam (Fair/Medium skin tones) claims to produce a sheer summer color with a “delicious, fresh scent”. That would be grapefruit/nectarine to be exact. I didn’t notice this. It smelled a bit fruity but like all other self-tanners it still had a faint self-tanner DHA scent to it. The rest of the day however that changed to a slight rose scent which was not half bad. This one is a bit different application wise too. You pump out a light foam (4 ounces at $9.79) that once applied becomes watery and easy to rub on. It applies evenly and is streak-free. I was amazed actually at how easy it was to apply this tanner. It is oil-free and dries incredibly fast too. It is also non-comedogenic so it won’t clog your pores. I have used this one on my face and found it is light enough to not make me orange with more of a light golden color on my face and body unlike Banana Boat which did clog my pores. It is not as drying and is very natural looking.
Finally, I reviewed Kiss My Face’s Instant Sunless Tanner (4 ounces at $7.58) made with walnut extract and is paraben free. This quick drying gel claims to be non-streaking as well. After one application though it went on darker than the other two self-tanners and it did streak. That streak? It left a mark for about two weeks that no amount of scrubbing would take eliminate. My daughter was convinced I had a boo-boo that was near fatal. This was very disappointing as I wanted this more natural self-tanner to really work. It comes in an SPF 8 version as well and has no artificial colors or animal ingredients. It goes on as a light tan in seconds and hours later is much darker. Fair-skinned people need to be aware of this factor. It colors your hands fast too-watch out! The upside is that a little goes a long way and it does not have that awful sunless tanner odor. I found that applying it with my daily body lotion made it a bit lighter in color, less drying and streak-free. A combination like that helps put it in second place despite the initial streaks.
Overall the Neutrogena one works best on fair to medium skin types and I’m sure it will for dark complexions too. It has a bit more of a scent than the Kiss My Face version but goes on smooth, doesn’t dry out your skin and the color is great! All of these self tanners can be found at amazon.com or drugstore.com for varying prices under $10.
Here’s to a healthy glowing summer!