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
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 power – 5-7 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
<<< 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
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.
<<< what a dribble looks like. Runny!
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 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.
Xen-Tan Dark Lotion – one coat
<<< a blob: dark, thick, gel-like
Xen-Tan Dark Lotion – taken in the same changing room as above (I clearly spend too much
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*