Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Rockstar Groupie, He-Shi Express Liquid & Xen Tan Dark Lotion – Self Tan Trio

The third in my Beach Body Blitz series...Three high end self tans. Three weeks devoted to trial each one. My thoughts on whether one of these products could be right for you… 
Self tan is not a one suits all product, anymore than foundation is. All skins suit a different colour, tone and effect. Most of us like a self tan to make our skin look as though naturally tanned. (Though the 80s Orange Streak remains popular of a Saturday night!)
Porcelain skins don’t suit the just-back-from-Barbados look, but a light golden glow? Go for it!  Olive or darker skins can look stunning enhanced by deep bronze shades.
Experts can use self tan to contour the body for a more streamlined, muscle defining or slimming effect. Please do not try this at home! :)
If you’re happy in your own skin, au naturel, good for you - it will save you a fortune and a lot of faff.  Personally, I feel more attractive and confident with some colour on my skin and the older I get, the less time I want to risk further sun damage.
I’ve done the whole 2 weeks from dawn til dusk on a sun lounger more times than I care to remember. These days I’d rather fake it and spend my time doing more fun stuff!  Plus the threat of a toddler pulling at your bikini as you pose showing your best angle on a sun lounger is rather disconcerting, not to mention unrealistic.
So on to the self tans… I put three high end brands to the test:
  • Rockstar Tan Groupie Self-Tan Mousse
  • He-Shi Quick+Easy Express Liquid Tan 
  • Xen-Tan Dark Lotion
Rather than babble aimlessly about each one, which you know by now I’m more than capable of (!!), I’ve divided my thoughts into categories: Company blurb, application, smell, lasting power, overview & facts. I really hope this will help you to judge whether one or more of these products could work for you and your skintone.
My normal skin is light to medium. This is me, sans tan:
NB Main swatch pictures of each brand were taken in the same place in natural light at the same time of day.

Rockstar Tan - Groupie self-tan mousse
Like all true rockstars, this product  has a celeb following – and rightly so!  
Blurb - Irish company, Rockstar Tan has created a unique tanning formula using the finest organic and natural ingredients to nourish, hydrate and firm the skin. Designed to adjust to each skin pigment for a customised colour, the products are non-comedogenic, paraben and animal testing free. They contain no ethanol or rubbing alcohol and are made with facial quality ingredients, suitable for face and body.
Application - This pale golden mousse is one of the easiest applications I’ve ever come across.  I used the accompanying mitt and found it surprisingly foolproof and fuss free.  The mousse was the perfect consistency – quite fine bubbles and not too wet, but didn’t dry before blending. Because the colour guide is so light (just enough to see where it’s going and give you a hint of colour) I’d be happy to be seen in public wearing this. Only you will know!
Smell - Made with Raspberry & Almond essences, Groupie smells perfectly pleasant on application.  It’s supposed to stay odour free, but while it’s not offensive, I definitely noticed a little whiff as the day wore on. (I’m a tan-by-day girl – I like clean sheets!)
Colour - Described as light to medium. I’d say just medium. It’s a gorgeous golden shade, no hint of orange and no streaks.
Lasting power5-7 days before starting to fade, without patchiness.
Overview - Incredibly natural golden shade and really easy to use. The colour suits my fair to medium skintone.  I’ve photographed it here with just one coat, but an extra coat gives greater depth of colour.  I received numerous compliments on my tan despite not being in the sun before using this and people were shocked that it was not natural (why do I always confess?!)
Facts - Medium golden colour 250ml 29.99euros.  Local girls – Rockstar Tan is available at Debenhams and will soon be at House of Fraser, Belfast.
Not mahogany by any means, but a definite light golden glow.
I’ve included the pics above and below as I feel they show the truest colour of this self tan.
Outfit of the day and face of the day pics, both taken wearing Groupie
005 - Copy (2)
085 - Copy (2)<<< what a squirt looks like
Please click pics to enlarge for ingredients list, further product details and application tips.

He-Shi Quick+Easy Express Liquid Tan
He-Shi Express Liquid Tan 150ml
Blurb - Another Irish product, He-Shi Express Liquid Tan is a self tanning bronzer which can be used on both the body and face and tans instantly on contact with the skin. He-Shi is quick drying, non-streaking, easy to apply with the Tanning Mitt and is suitable for all skin types.
Application  - Again I applied this using the He-Shi mitt and got a bit of a shock at first… I knew this product was liquid (I’d describe it like cold coffee, minus the smell!) but underestimated how running it would be.  I’d recommend pouring it out very gently and cup the mitt beforehand so that it doesn’t run all over the sides, the sink and you!
Besides that, application is pretty easy – it gives an instant deep tint – which left me a little aghast as it’s really quite dark!  Obviously the tint washes off – it’s just a colour guide. It goes on smoothly and easily, which is the important bit!
Smell - I didn’t find the smell offensive at all on application though it did become more obvious after a few hours.  No matter what they say, I’ve never come across one that doesn’t!  It doesn’t bother me to be honest, but I know it does some people.
Colour - Dark! I do like this colour, but couldn’t stop staring at my arms and legs next day as I’m just not used to being this brown!  It’s the kind of colour I like for after a holiday, rather than on pure white skin.  I find self tans that are toooo dark for your skintone seem to show the white undertones through them, if that makes sense? Like wearing a black chiffon blouse over a white bra?!?!  It’s darker… but you can still see it! (nb this could well just be me!). I loved the colour once I had a base tan and would describe it as a deep post-holiday style golden tan.
Lasting power - Pretty good – definitely 5 days+ before wearing off.  Not noticeably patchy, though a few bits gathered around my ankles, which tend to be quite dry.
Overview – A great post holiday self tanner for already tanned skin or those which are naturally medium to dark in tone.  A fair price for the quality. (I’d love to try the mousse, which I imagine would be a more gentle colour so if anyone’s tried it please let me know your thoughts!)
Facts - Medium to dark colour 150ml £21  Widely available including at www.he-shi.eu where you’ll find excellent videos on application techniques (in a Northern Ireland accent like mine!)
Legs in the same light.
084 - Copy (2) <<< what a dribble looks like. Runny!
118 - Copy
Apologies for poor quality pic and flash in mirror – no-one was around to help! I just think it gives a better idea of what the colour looks like ‘on’ if you see it from a wider perspective.
Xen-Tan feel good all over
Xen-Tan Dark Lotion
Blurb - This A-list favourite is packed with rich moisturisers and premium ingredients. Dark Lotion glides onto skin and leaves it feeling nourished and silky smooth. Enriched with coconut and walnut oils, (not suitable for nut allergy sufferers) it helps achieve a natural olive tan that's exceptionally longwearing.
Application – I used Xen-Tan’s own tanning mitt to apply this product and must say I struggled the first time I used it. From what I’d read I expected it to be easy, but it took me an hour to apply! I just struggled to ‘move’ the product on my skin.  I now think that this had more to do with the mitt than the lotion itself. I’ve since tried it using a plastic glove and while it was an improvement, it still took a lot of work to rub in. 3rd time lucky – I wore the plastic glove and used the mitt (wore glove inside mitt). Bingo! The inside of the mitt is not plastic coated (unlike He-Shi & Rockstar’s) so it was really difficult to grip. Sorry to drone on about this but it could actually make the difference between you loving or loathing this product – Xen-Tan please take note!  (On a positive note, the mitt is nice and slim and dark brown, so doesn’t look grim after use!!)
Colour – Dark mahogany! I actually loved the colour of this on my skin as I like a dark tan in the height of summer, but others didn’t agree! My husband and sister just didn’t think it was ‘me’!  She has olive toned skin and tested Xen-Tan on my behalf… begrudgingly I admit that it looks better on her, which is probably why it’s still in her bathroom!  In fairness, the lovely people at Xen-Tan did advise me to try one of their lighter toned products and it was me who wanted to go dark.
Lasting power – Not as long as expected. The website says it lasts up to 10 days and it’s described on the bottle as ‘weekly tanning lotion’, so I expected this to last a bit longer than usual. In my experience it lasted around 3-4 days before it needed a top up. I got around this by using Xen-Tan's amaaazing Transform gradual tan, which I'll review separately.
Overview – Once I got around the application issues, this product felt and smelt luxurious to use.  Admittedly the colour was a little deep for me but it was my self tan of choice on holiday when I wanted to look really tanned.
Facts - Dark colour, suitable for olive skins, 236ml £28.99, widely available www.xen-tan.co.uk NB CONTAINS NUTS, SO NOT SUITABLE FOR NUT ALLERGY SUFFERERS.
045 - Copy (7)
Xen-Tan Dark Lotion – one coat
082 - Copy (2)<<< a blob: dark, thick, gel-like
Xen-Tan Dark Lotion – taken in the same changing room as above (I clearly spend too much money time in Zara!). This pic is with 2 coats, looking rather dark (I still can’t help loving the colour!)
036 - Copy (7)039 - Copy (7)
Please click to enlarge pic and read full details.

Self tanning formulas are definitely improving and while I'm happy to stick with the likes of Dove or St Moriz during the winter or for everyday use, I do think high end tans are worth the money for special occasions, holidays or hot weather when more skin is exposed than usual.
Out of these three, Groupie was best suited to my skin, though I'll definitely use the He-Shi for when I want a deeper colour. Xen-Tan is a touch too tango-in-the-dark for me but looks great on olive skins.
So that’s it! I hope you've found this review useful and would love to know your opinion if you have tried these self tans – or what your favourite is? I've also heard great things about Sienna-X and know some beauty bloggers rate Lauren's Way self tan very highly. 
(Apologies for the inconsistent formula in the text and layout of this post - I've spent HOURS trying to fix it with no joy - Blogger was not playing ball!)
*product samples provided for review.... opinions 100% genuine*


  1. Loved your review, I've still not tried He-Shi or Rockstar. I do like Xen-Tan but find it's not quite dark enough with one application for me so always have to do 2. Also love the smell on application but not after a few hours (Hence I always put it on before bed). I think I'll have t try the He-Shi though! I'm currently loving Lauren's Way Mousse, so once I've worked my way through that He-Shi will be next!! Love Mel xxxx

  2. Thanks Mel, glad you enjoyed the review. I think you'd like He-Shi! Have heard several good reports on Lauren's Way.
    Nic xx

  3. I love all three of these brands, I tend to use different brands for different parts of my body now as I need a different strength of colour for a natural look.

    I think that the high end tans seem to have a much better formula and last longer on the skin but it could just be me?

    Great idea using a changing room to take your pictures! I must try that out next time.

  4. Thanks for your comment Madame Gourmand and good point re different brands for different parts of the body! I too find that I sometimes need different strengths for different parts, eg my chest and face which don't tan as well naturally, don't seem to 'take' self tan as well. I sometimes do an extra layer in these areas or top up with instant tan.

    I don't have a decent full length mirror at home so am in the habit of taking advantage while in changing rooms! :)

    Nic xx

  5. BRILLIANT review, so thorough. Really helps with making decisions on tan. I, like you, chained myself to a sunlounger for many years. Lately I've been rocking the pale and interesting look, esp as it's too hot hot here to sunbathe. I chickened out of a St. Tropez spray tan last week as worried about bedsheets, fading away patchy and looking dirty! Xen Tan is easiest one to get my hands on so might give it a go, although I'm still scared! This posts calms me down a little! Xxx

  6. All of these look fabulous..I think you have the application skill because I can't see a single streak! Like the Xen Tan best though I think.

  7. Simone, glad I'm not alone & hope you love Xen-Tan - let me know!

    British Beauty Blogger, thank you - I've been practicing a long time! ;-)

    Thanks so much for your comments ladies - much appreciated!

    Nic x

  8. omg so the last pic - dark xen tan, yes? I LOVE it! And on your skin tone it must be an amazing one as it's really suiting your usually gorgeously pale complexion! I love this outfit you're wearing too - seem so you x but yes, confirm what this last one is. i may have to get for a wedding coming up - never have luck with my legs taking to any fake tan that i use. they always look so much more pale than my top half. Grrrr. maybe it's because my legs never see daylight, aside from a month or two, sporadically, in the summer?!
    Veebs x x x

  9. PS I don't think it looks too dark for you! (the xen tan). I love it. Obvs not in the depths of winter but for s/s ---- wooohoo loving it.

  10. Hi V I'm glad you like the look of Xen-Tan and reckon it could be worth a go. It's the one I'm wearing in the last pic with white tee & camel trousers. Captions were also playing up on me - must try and fix those now incase others haven't been clear on this.

    Thanks hon - let me know how you get on if you try this.

  11. love this! so detailed. I did think you might find the Xen Tan a little too dark mahogany - but I think it looks fab on u!



Please leave a comment - I love to read them & hear what you think! Nic x

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