The Pale Girl's Guide To Sunless Tanners

If you’re pale, nearing translucent, or in my case the same shade as a piece of white printer paper, then you know what it’s like to be surrounded by friends who step into the sun and magically turn the “perfect” shade of gold. We pale girls have never had this experience; we are more worried about lathering on sunscreen in hopes of avoiding the painful lobster look.

So, what is the solution? Tanning beds are out of the question, spray tans are too expensive, and the sun causes us to turn more pink than tan. The only viable and safe option left is self tanner. Self tanner definitely has a stigma and has become almost taboo to speak about. Personally, I am very inexperienced with self tanner (and when I say inexperienced I mean I’ve never touched it before in my life). But in hopes of being able to wear a foundation that wasn’t called “alabaster,” I decided it was time to dabble in the world of self tanner.

Because no adventure is complete without friends, I wrangled my two roommates, who also happen to be members of the pale girl club (hey, we have to stick together) to test out three different self tanners. Would we end up looking like someone had thrown orange paint on us, or would like we just returned from a tropical vacation? Read on to find out!

Tanner #1: Jergens Natural Glow

Usage: I used the Jergens Natural Glow tanner. This product is a daily moisturizer that adds color gradually with each use. I used this product five times and showered normally.

Pros: Overall, I think this self-tanner worked well. The application was simple (the same as a normal body lotion) and I did feel as though it moisturized my legs. The tan that resulted wasn’t too dramatic and I enjoyed how it worked gradually so the results are easily controlled.

Cons: It was hard to control around the ankles. I felt as though the top of my foot looked a tad orange no matter how little product I applied.

Tanner #2: Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs

Usage: “I used the spray once in the morning before I headed off to work. The bottle says to spray it in your hand, but I ended up spraying it directly onto my legs”

Pros: This product will make you look tan; I felt the color looked relatively natural (not too orange), but if you know me then you could tell it was quite the drastic change.”

Cons: “This stained my towel when I was washing my hands afterwards, and it is not for everyday wear.” 

Self Tanner #3: Neutrogena Build-A-Tan

Usage: “I used the Neutrogena Build-A-Tan for a total of four days. After the initial use, I skipped a day because the results were too dramatic for my taste. Going forward, I used minimal product.”

Pros: “I enjoyed that the product felt like lotion and didn’t feel oily. I was worried there would be a sticky residue and was pleasantly surprised when there wasn’t one. After I started using a lighter application the resulting tan wasn’t too orange and looked pretty natural!”

Cons: “When you use slightly too much the tan is too orange.”

Overall Results

Do you have a favorite self-tanner? Let us know in the comments!