Casper would be jealous of my skin.
I'm not supposed to be this pale. My family has firmly medium skin. They also all have thick, dark hair and lush, full features.
I'm the only one with skin so fair it's practically transparent.
Needless to say, I'm always looking for ways to look tanner without being forced to head to the beach. One, because the beach and I don't mix. Two, because it's damn cold and I haven't been on a tropical vacation in years.
Naturally, my journey takes me down the self tanner route. Personally, I love the simplicity of using a bottled tanner. It's easy to apply alongside my post-shower moisturizer and if done right, looks totally natural. Just wash your hands before leaving the house.
In the name of science, I recruited several co-workers to get their glow on with the latest and greatest.
Check out the before and afters and judge for yourself.
For the contour junkie: Vita Liberata Trystal Self Tanning Bronzing Minerals.
Scent: “Didn't smell like anything. Just a powder. Like a regular bronzer."
Application: "I added a bit more to the contours of my face to make them look more dramatic, but for the most part it was very natural."
Look: "I thought it would cake on and make me look like Snooki circa "Jersey Shore" season 1, but it actually did the opposite. It added a subtle bronze to my face that didn't look overdone."
For the very, very gradual girl: St. Tropez In Shower Gradual Tan.
Scent: “You couldn't smell it. I mean, you're also in the shower. It was a very watered-down version of what self tanner smells like."
Application: "In order for the product to work, you need to turn off the shower completely. Then, you slather the product on your body and stand in the shower, naked, for three minutes. I had no idea when three minutes had gone by because I was naked in a shower with no access to a clock. So, I was forced to sing "Bad Blood" to myself in hopes that song was somehow exactly three minutes long."
Look: “It's a lot of work for little color payoff. It's great if you have really fair skin and are worried about looking overdone, but it didn't really show up on me."
For the girl who prefers natural tans: St. Tropez One Night Only Wash Off Face & Body Lotion.
Scent: “Like suntan lotion, but less strong."
Application:"It's a little intimidating at first, but once you put it on, the color blends into the skin as a beautiful natural tan color. The color it gives you is very natural and not orangey at all."
Look: "Of all the self tanners I've tried, this one gives me the color that's closest to the natural tan I get in the summer."
For the girl who Instagrams her skincare routine: St. Tropez Self Tan Luxe Facial Oil.
Scent: “It didn't."
Application: "It looked beautiful in the bottle, but said to apply 2-3 drops all over the face and decolletage. Those few drops don't go far."
Look: “I didn't notice a tan."
For the blending ninja: Jurlique Sun Specialist Sunless Tanner.
Scent: “The scent wasn't noticeable."
Application: "The only piece of advice I have is move FAST. This stuff dries into splotches if you're not careful."
Look: "I loved Jurlique because the color was exactly right for my skin, and it had very little smell."
For the glitter lover: Origins The Great Pretender Shimmery Self Tanner For Body.
Scent: "I smelled it all day."
Application: "It's super dark, sparkly and smelly. Not to mention, my bottle was leaky. I did not enjoy slathering it on my body."
Look:"On the upside, once it dried the color was nice and it made my arms look thinner than usual."
For the budget babe: Australian Gold Instant Bronze Self Tanning Lotion.
Scent: "Didn't have that strong of a smell, but it smelled pretty good! Kind of like coconut and vanilla."
Application: "It was easy to apply, I only needed to apply it once and saw the effects. I saw more color on the second application. It came out of the bottle as a brown lotion and foamed white when applied."
Look: "It gave a natural, non orange glow. I liked this one best!"
For the girl who wants results ASAP: Xen Tan Fresh Tanning Mousse.
Scent: "It smelled very strongly of vanilla and chemicals. It lingered on my sheets."
Application: "Came out of the bottle as white foam. It was easy to apply, saw more color on the second application."
Look: "My legs definitely looked orange after the second application, but the color got back to a more normal looking tan after I showered."
For the girl who's ready for an upgrade: Clarins Self Tanning Instant Gel.
Scent: "I didn't smell anything. Then again, I was super congested all week, so that's not saying much."
Application: "This went on as a totally clear gel, so it was a little hard to tell where I was applying. It also took a little while to dry down, so I didn't know if I f*cked up until that morning (if I applied at night)."
Look: "I looooooved this. It didn't appear patchy and gave me enough of a glow to make it look like I'm not pale as f*ck."
For the girl who knows how to take it slow: Vita Liberata Self Tanning Night Moisture Mask.
Scent: "I didn't smell anything -- but again, I was congested."
Application: "I applied this three times. The first time, I lathered on a ton because I was drunk and thought this would work like my night cream would. I woke up the next morning looking like an Oompa Loompa and had to wash and scrub it all off. The next two nights, I used a pea-sized amount over my face and it left just a bit of glow, which is way more manageable."
Look: "My co-workers all said I look extra glowy, which is reason enough to add this into my skincare routine."