Pale People Review At-Home Self-Tanners

Spring is one of my favorite seasons. (I would say favorite, but I really enjoy fall as well.) I love to look outside and see the trees turning green and the flowers blooming. It just gives me a sense of rejuvenation. Like this is the time to say “See ya later!” to the past and hello to the future.

Since spring gets me forward-thinking, I can’t help but to think about summer. Summer is alright. I really enjoy some parts of summer, but I really don’t enjoy others – the sun for instance. It’s hot and burns me. The desired “golden glow” of summer is just not something I have ever been able to achieve. So, I decided to try a couple of at home self-tanners.

I had never used an at-home tanner, so I was a little nervous. To calm my nerves, I did what any normal, nervous adult would do and asked my co-workers to do it with me. They reluctantly agreed and I made my way to Target to grab a couple at-home tanners. I chose L’Oreal Paris Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Mist and Jergens Natural Glow Instant Sun Sunless Tanning Mousse.

Read our thoughts below!

Brent Profile

When I was a little boy and someone would ask me what I wanted to be when I grow up, my response was “tan”. Or an Astronaut, same thing. Flash-forward to adulthood with a career and a child and you find out that sometimes it’s hard to get some sun! So when I heard the office was going to test some self-tanner I decided to help out (mainly because the group needed a male Guinea pig). So for some background information about me: I’m of Irish and Cherokee descent. The Irish makes my beard grow red and my skin glow white. The Cherokee makes it very easy for me to tan when I’m in the sun, which isn’t enough. I’m a Web Developer, so I spend WAY too much time in front of a computer screen each day. Before this experiment I had never used a fake tanning product of any kind. Now enough about my sad sunless existence, on to the tan!

Brent's Legs

L’Oreal Paris Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Mist
Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Would I Recommend to a Friend: No.

As soon as I began applying the spray mist I thought two things: A) What am I doing with my life, and B) how are you supposed to see where you are applying this stuff?! The instructions were clear on how to turn your skin tone from “sickly ghost” to “attractive human,” but unfortunately the product itself came out completely clear. When you’re spraying a mist that STAINS YOUR SKIN you would hope you could see where you’ve already applied it to avoid looking like a potato. As I was applying the product I noticed it had a distinct scent, not necessarily a bad smell, but I personally didn’t enjoy it. After my leg was on its way to becoming “so hot” and the product was drying, I noticed the self tanner wasn’t sticky or heavy on my skin in any way. When I woke the next morning the misted leg was patchy in color, although the look was natural and made me feel like I don’t spent 8 hours in front of a computer every day. Being a guy, I do have hairy legs and I honestly think the hair affected the result, possibly blocking the mist from completely reaching my skin and creating the patchy look. Overall I wouldn’t recommend this one. Not being able to see where/how much you’ve applied makes your legs less “Bronze God” and more “Blotchy Gross Dude Trying to be Tan”.

Jergens Natural Glow Instant Sun Sunless Tanning Mousse
Rating: ★★★

Would I Recommend to a Friend: Yes.

On to the mousse. I heavily recommend getting some disposable gloves for this stuff, as it gives instant color and tan palms will never be cool. I started with three pumps of the product and started at the knee. Immediately, I noticed how easy it was to see where the product was applied, thanks to the bronzer. In total it took six pumps to cover leg from knee to ankle. The instant tan didn’t look fake at all, but the transition from where I applied to product to where I did not was jarring and made the tan look obviously fake. Now I’m not sure if the ladies noticed the mousse feeling sticky but it matted my leg hair to my leg where it uncomfortably remained for the rest of the day. I’m pretty positive that the hair prevented the tanner from drying completely, but this did not affect the outcome. The next morning all of my dreams had come true; my leg was attractive. Seriously though, this stuff gave an excellent look. The color is natural and not blotchy or streaked and makes me feel like a better person. Out of the two products, this is the one I would recommend hands down.

Just for fun, here’s my sock line:

Brent Sock LinePlease don’t tell anyone I did this.

Dest Profile

I try to be real with myself – you might even call me a realist – and one thing I’ve noticed in my 20+ years of life is that tanning just isn’t for me. I burn and peel. That’s it. My translucent skin just isn’t a fan of the sun. I blame it on my Scottish/Norwegian heritage. Thanks mom and dad. 🙂 To save the world’s eyes from my blinding white legs, I figured I could give at-home self-tanners a try.

Dest Legs

L’Oreal Paris Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Mist
Rating: ★☆☆☆☆
Would I Recommend to a Friend: No.

The “ProPerfect Salon airbrush” promise is what sold me on this product. Well, that and the simple directions. 1. Clean and exfoliate your skin. 2. Spray mist at an arm’s length and do not rub in. 3. Let the mist dry before putting on clothes. Seems easy enough. As I began to apply, I immediately noticed the interesting “fresh citrus scent” that didn’t smell like any citrus I’ve smelt before, and the fact that I couldn’t see where I was applying the mist. Like, I couldn’t see the mist at all, actually. I had no idea if I was covering the same area once or 15 times. After covering my entire leg (I think), I let the mist dry and un-scrunched my leggings, because I’m gonna be honest with you, I only did this from the knee down. As you can probably imagine, I happened to cover a few areas a million times and a few not at all leaving my leg nice and golden in some parts and super white in others.  Although the color that resulted wasn’t terrible, I wouldn’t recommend using this product, solely because I cannot see a reasonable way to ensure you’re actually covering all of your skin in the “no rub, quick dry, streak free” mist.

Jergens Natural Glow Instant Sun Sunless Tanning Mousse
Rating: ★★★
Would I Recommend to a Friend: Yes.

The fact that this was described as a mousse is really what made me want to try it. They recommend that you use a “mitt” to apply the self-tanning mousse, but I didn’t really read the directions before purchasing it, so I didn’t get a mitt. I was just gonna go for it and apply with my hands, but Brent suggested we get gloves. Buzzkill.  Smart guy. You’ll definitely want to wear gloves, unless you’re cool with tan palms. I pumped three pumps of the mousse in my gloved palm and gagged. Yeah, I gagged. The mousse is a really weird, frothy consistency and a very interesting color that resembles something you don’t want in your palm, so my baby gag reflex kicked in. Once I overcame the weird appearance, I began to apply to my leg. I ended up using 6 pumps of the mousse to cover one leg from my knee to foot. I actually liked how this one applied. You could clearly see where you were applying the tanner, minimizing the likeliness of streaks. When I woke the next day and checked to see how my legs were looking, I was totally cool with what I saw, a nice bronze color. I would recommend this self-tanning mousse. The application is simple and the color that results is a natural looking.

Merr Profile

We reluctantly sauntered outside, armed with bottles of self-tanner promising to naturally bronze our skin.

I traveled to Florida in March and came back with a healthy glow across my cheeks and a sun-kissed tan on my shoulders. My legs, though, were still pasty (imagine the stark white underbelly of a sea lion), so when Destanee invited me to try out a couple self-tanning products, I agreed and mentally calculated how many new pairs of pants I would need to buy should something go awry.

Merr Legs

L’Oreal Paris Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Mist
Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Would I Recommend to a Friend: No.

I turned the bottle over in my hands. “Says it’s streak-free and dries quickly,” I mumbled. Maybe this will work out after all, I thought to myself.

I began spraying the mist on my leg at arm’s length, as the bottle suggested. The color was not apparent, and I couldn’t tell if the application was even. (Spoiler alert: It wasn’t.) Just in case I didn’t get my whole leg, I thought, I’ll spray just a little more. So I did. And I still couldn’t see it.

A few hours later, I went home and changed into shorts and sandals to run to the store. When I got home, I took off my sandals and had the coveted Chaco tan – the one that insinuates you spent the whole summer outside biking and hiking.

The next morning, I woke up and had patches of tanned skin. My shin had a bronze glow, but the back of my leg was just as pale as it was the day before, save for a couple blotchy brown spots. I hopped in the shower, hoping to eliminate the smell of the mist and even out the color. The smell lingered for the rest of the day, but was gone after my second shower the following morning.

Overall, I wouldn’t use this product again because the mist takes several hours to appear, so it’s hard to tell if it’s evenly applied or if you’ll wake up with streaky brown smudges on your pale legs. Plus, it took too long to dry, and I’d rather get my Chaco tan naturally – biking and hiking all over Tulsa.

Jergens Natural Glow Instant Sun Sunless Tanning Mousse
Rating: ★★★
Would I Recommend to a Friend: Yes.

It seems this product was named once the manufacturers had all tried the mousse and assessed the results. “Great natural glow,” said one. “Completely instant,” another chimed. Aside from the wordy adjective-laden name of this sunless tanning mousse, I was excited to give it a try. Thankfully Brent grabbed a few latex gloves from our Surgical Technology lab on campus, so if you don’t have a Surgical Technology lab in your house, you might want to grab a box from Target before you get started.

I squeezed the first pump of the mousse onto my hand, and a foamy, copper-colored mountain formed in the center of my hand, mocking me and my pale legs. As I rubbed the mousse into my skin, color began to form. The mousse was soft and nearly scent-free – nothing a quick shower couldn’t fix.

The next morning, I woke up with a golden glow that suggested I had spent the previous afternoon dozing on the back porch, the sun high and warm.

I had to do a couple touch-ups around my knee and ankle, which may have been more user error (first time!) than the fault of the product. I also somehow missed a patch on the back of my calves, so find a friend who will be willing to put on a latex glove and get the spots you can’t see. (Don’t have a friend like that? Me either.)

Overall, I enjoyed the color and ease of application from this product. It’s just like they said: natural and instant.

I don’t see myself using self-tanner in the future, but if I did, I would definitely use Jergens Natural Glow Instant Sun.

Jess Profile

I’m what you might call “indoorsy” and, as such, generally rather pale. It’s not my fault, baby, I was born this way. See, I’m part Scottish, part English, part German, part … Other Ambiguously Pale Nations, probably, and have never had much luck at tanning. A superbly severe sunburn as a child that left me super sick (yes, actually physically ill) changed my relationship with the sun to one that was mostly fear based. That’s when I learned about the pale scale, and how while my less fair-faced friends could frolic in the sun, I would have to spend the better part of my 20s asking friends and family if they were sure I was pulling off the sun hat I was wearing.

So, if I want a tan, it’s going to have to come from a bottle. I think my mother once said the same thing to me about being blonde.

Jess Legs

L’Oreal Paris Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Mist
Rating: ★★★
Would I Recommend to a Friend: Yes.

The application process was simple but nerve-wracking. I’m sure this is old hat to seasoned fake-tanners, but I found not being able to see what I was spraying really, really off putting. I was rather, and rightfully, terrified of what the tan was going to look like when it finally showed up some 24-hours later. So color me completely surprised (read: relieved) the next morning when I tore the covers off my legs to reveal an even, natural looking sunny glow. Yeah, I nailed the application. Never doubted myself. I finally had the legs of an … average human female who is able to spend more then 15 minutes in the sun without furiously reapplying a special order of SPF4000.

The spray dried quickly and took 30 seconds or less to apply. The final look took several hours (overnight) to show, but was even and well blended even though I only did half-leg application. The color was natural, and not orange whatsoever.

Jergens Natural Glow Instant Sun Sunless Tanning Mousse
Rating: ★★
Would I Recommend to a Friend: Probably not.

I’m going off script here, because I know the rest of my coworkers preferred this one, but it honestly wasn’t my favorite experience. The “mousse” was an unfortunately frothy texture that I hated touching, even through gloved hands. The smell was really strong and powdery, which is all well and good unless powder-scent is your least beauty product favorite scent — guess what my least favorite beauty product scent is?

Moving past my incredibly picky nature, the core of why I wouldn’t use the product again is because it left my leg looking very unnaturally tan. Like orange tan. Since the other product left my leg looking slightly sun-kissed and natural, the orange tint in this bronzer was harsh and a little ugly in comparison. The product also felt heavier on my skin and took longer to dry, leaving my skin feeling sticky for most of the afternoon.

The saving grace was the perk of being able to see the color in the moment. It made applying it less scary. I also have to wonder if some of my less pale-to-begin-with friends would have less of an orange-i-fying experience with this product? But for the fellow fair-faced (and legged) out there, I would be wary.

All in all, both products provided a much simpler process than expected and even I learned a few things through the experience, like 1) I don’t have good eye-to-streak coordination, 2) I’m a little allergic to latex gloves and, at the end of the day, I probably wouldn’t use either product again* because 3) I kind of like being pale.

* but if I had to, it would be L’Oreal and I’m waving that flag proudly in my camp of one. Come to the dark-side, we have cookies (and sun-kissed legs).



Well, there are our thoughts. Have you used self-tanner before? What did you think?