time to glow fake tanning garance dore photos

8 years ago by

Okay, so, a couple of things: 

1.  Right now everyone wants a tan about as badly as I want a pair of Maryam Nassir Zadeh shoes (which is very badly). No one wants to invite their pale winter skin to their debut beach moment but, well, that pasty skin is coming whether we invite it or not. 

2. I am unabashedly, unashamedly a sun worshipper. I could spend the ENTIRE day at the beach (as in 9:00am to 9:00pm) and be happy as a clam. I love they way I look with a tan. I love the way I feel with a tan. Tan is to my skin what heels are to my wardrobe: confidence boosting and, let’s face it, not entirely good for me. My college friends have a story they love to tell about me wherein we’re talking about our weekend plans and maybe meeting up the next day and I replied (insert vapid, whiny voice here) “You guys, I wanna come but I have to wake up so early tomorrow and tan.” Not write a paper. Not cram for a test. Not try to make a 7:00am yoga class…but tan, as if it were some sort of laborious, tedious task, like how I imagine sitting through an episode of Downton Abbey might be. 

On a recent trip to Naples (no, not that Naples) Naples, Florida (just as glamorous, I assure you). I dedicated my days to building up my “base color,” which was…well…red

BUT seeing as how I just turned 37 (it actually hurts to type that), I’ve noticed sun damage—these vague blotchy discolored spots on my forehead and cheeks that I just can’t dismiss as freckles. I spent the good part of a cross-country road trip with my man last summer looking in the passenger seat mirror as the sun hit my forehead just right, illuminating my age spots (???) while I asked him in a panicked voice if he could see them like, ten times in a row. 

All this to say that it seems like the perfect time to look into some healthier (are they healthier?) ways to feel and look all glowy. When I told some girlfriends over drinks that I’d be venturing into the wide world of fake tanning and that aside from a spray tan I got when I was living in Arizona (I had probably just turned 24, which was the year I decided that everything was “over” because I would be turning 25 the next year) the only thing I had ever smeared on my body in pursuit of a golden hue was SPF 4, they exclaimed “Oh my god, you’re a self tanning virgin!!! You’re perfect for this!”  

I blushed. I mean, I really love being perfect. But honestly, I’m really just perfectly unsure and skeptical of the whole thing. All I remember from my spray tan experience is feeling awkward and weird and cold and having to put on an unsettling pair of disposable underwear while a machine sprayed some stuff on me. I felt like a car in a carwash. So, like, totally sexy.  Then I went home, trying not to have my skin touch anything (which, as you can imagine, is impossible) for fear of rubbing my orangey brown fakeness all over things. It happened anyway. Eh. Not really for me. 

Still. It’s a new day. There are new advances. Self-tanning is easier and more foolproof than ever etc. etc. etc. That doesn’t mean that I’m still not as wary of it as Justin Bieber is of t-shirts (or any shirt, really). They say knowledge is power so I hopped online to learn a little more about the stuff. The world wide web told me that I should exfoliate, wear gloves, and apply evenly—not exactly rocket science. I also found out that the majority of self-tanners contain dihydroxyacetone or DHA (now we’re talking rocket science). DHA is a colorless sugar that, when introduced to the top layer of your skin, darkens it, or in some unfortunate cases, turns it orange (just ask the cast of The Jersey Shore). The orange color happens when you layer on too much product—technically an oversaturation of DHA—so overzealous self tanners would be wise to start with a product that has lower saturation levels. Okay. I’m feeling pretty good now. But there’s no substitute for talking to an actual expert, so I asked Joanna Vargas every single little thing I could think of about tricking everyone into thinking I just got back from Tulum:

Joanna Vargas

Facialist and Founder of Joanna Vargas Salon and Skincare.

What’s the best route for a beginner aka the most foolproof?
Swap your regular moisturizer for a self-tanning body lotion. It’s very easy to use and gives you a pretty glow without looking orange!  I love using it in preparation for a vacation.

What are the pluses and minuses for each type of tanning product?
I have found over the years that people have an easier time applying a mousse rather than a lotion or spray. Sprays are hard to control when applying to one’s own body and mousse has a lite texture that is easy to spread without unevenness. Lotions are the most common, but they need a bit of practice before perfecting them. For all of them, the rules are the same: you need a well lit room and exfoliated skin. Gels are also a great easy consistency for application and technically better for dryer skin. 

Home or in salon spray tan?
I always opt to start with a salon tan and then maintain it at home. 

What should you absolutely NOT do?
Never apply with product like body oil or moisturizer already on the skin or it will streak. Never do it unless you exfoliate first. Never wear tight clothes over a fresh application and never wash it off too soon. Never wear light clothes over a fresh application. Never apply heavily to your knees elbows feet and hands. 

What should you absolutely do?
Exfoliate first! Apply onto clean skin and wear loose clothing. Spend eight hours in it before showering. Wear dark clothes, use dark sheets and wear gloves. 

How easy are these? For real? 
They are not too hard if you do it slow and steady. If you take your time, you can do it easily at home.

Should I invest in some crappy sheets?
 Yes!!! It can make a mess! 

How long will they last? 
A week to ten days, unless you re-apply. We always encourage clients to take a tube of self-tanner home so they can keep it up during a vacation. 

Any disaster stories?
My best friend decided to go to one of those booth spray tanning places. She did the whole thing wrong. She was wearing white. It was one of those hot humid days in NYC, so she left the place and walked home. By the time she got home her clothes had all turned brown, she smelled and was streaked everywhere. I had to come over with a loofa and help scrub her all over so she wouldn’t look crazy the next day. We have never laughed so hard! 

What are the benefits?
The sun is the worst culprit in skincare. The benefits of a  sunless tan is a better aging process for skin! 

Is this bad for me?
Some products cause breakouts and clog pores on the face. Always buy a high quality product and make sure you exfoliate first! 

Tell me about DHA and erythrulose.
DHA can be chemical or natural. The natural version is derived from sugar or beets and interacts with the amino acids in skin to create the color in a sunless tan. Erythrulose is derived from raspberry and also creates a reaction with the proteins in your skin to produce the color. Color change is quicker with DHA than with Erythrulose, but oftentimes a product will contain both. They are natural and safe, but remember they don’t protect against a sunburn!

Are there any new notable advances in self tanning? 
We now have more of a choice in the type of sunless tan we use. Traditionally sunless tan has been full of chemicals to make us darker. I have been using organic ingredients for the sunless tan product I use in treatments, but now we carry a whole line of sunless tan that actually has skincare ingredients like hyaluronic acid and botanicals for the skin, called Vita Liberata. 

Okay. So there’s my crash course. Will I be trying one of the three kinds of self-tanners I bought that have just been sitting in the same plastic CVS bag for a week now? Maybe. 

Will you? Have you? If you have, how did it compare to sun tanning? 

Help a sister out, would you? 

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Add yours
  • Thank you for addressing this and advocating for safe tans. I am a 9-9 type of girl at the beach too :)

    Warm Regards,

  • Merci pour cet article très instructif! Je ne connaissais pas ce type de produit!
    J’ai une peau mate mais dès que je m’expose au soleil, j’ai rapidement des tâches brunes moi aussi! Donc j’essaie de faire attention, je mets des crèmes SPF pour me protéger un minimum.
    Bonne soirée

    Le monde des petites

  • I love the sun …in my childhood i will pass the all day at the sun with no problem…but today with all we hear and see ..i make sure it’s not in the worst time 11-4 so i try to go early when it’s not so dangerous or after 4..and you know what
    lots of people who don’t expose to sun lack vitamine D….
    Yael Guetta

  • So many products to fake everything !

    Yes to beach tans !

    – A.

  • I’m in your club Lisa! “I could spend the ENTIRE day at the beach (as in 9:00am to 9:00pm) and be happy as a clam.” Ha, same for me, day after day. And if there’s no sea, no problem, lying in bikini in the park works for me.

    I started using selftanner last year, you know to ease the transition from winter white to bikini body. And I was amazed how satisfied I was with the results! Of course I exfoliate, but I admit I dont use gloves, instead just washing my hand after. I used l’oreal bronze milk, but always added a bit of body lotion to it (I was too nervous about orange skin). And like this I keep on using it for some evenings until I’m satisfied with the tan. And then maintaining it by using it 2 or 3 times a week. And the nice thing is: people notice the tan, but not that it’s fake. Oh and as a sunscreem I use the tan optimizer of Lancaster (SFP 30 or 50); it really notice tanning faster.

  • j’adore le ton et le rythme de l’article, je rigolais devant l’écran alors qu’en vrai pour moi je me fous complètement de l’autobronzant et des contraintes de bronzage, mais c’est tellement bien écrit et drôle qu’importe le sujet, j’adhère !!
    (encore !!)

  • I have always loved Bliss – A Tan for all Seasons. It is a spray but has never made me orange. I don’t use gloves, but scrub my hands really well with soap afterwards, and then spray a little on the back of one hand, and run it in with the back of the other hand. Dries in 10 min. Great brown color – not too dark, you can reapply the next day, and you can get dressed pretty quickly. :)

  • Great tips!
    Passa a trovarmi VeryFP

  • I’m a self-tan addict. Over the years I went through practically every self-tanning product on a UK market and can talk about them at length. I’m forever searching for the elusive, cafe latte shade. My no 1 is Cocoa Brown, which gives a great natural golden colour. I’m very fair skinned and this is probably one of the few products available that doesn’t give me an orange tinge. I also love Vita Liberata because it doesn’t smell at all and it stays on for 3 weeks (but it’s expensive). I used to use St Tropez but the smell floored me every time. They recently came out with a self-tan, which you put on in the shower for 3 minutes. I’m quite tempted to try it out (in fact there’s no question of not trying it out).

  • Hi Lisa, your article had me smiling, I love the way you write, a lot of humor like Garance mentioned! Welcome to the Doré team!

    On the subject of fake tans… I tried it once and it was a text book disaster and so I have decided to embrace my pearly whiteness (see, calling it that makes it a little bit less bad… Or so I try to convince myself). I don’t tan well naturally at all so I figured I’d just have to accept it.
    If you wanna have a good laugh at someone else’s tanning disaster I recommend this clip from Friends with Ross :D

  • Dorte S Cortes May, 21 2015, 11:38 / Reply

    I have fair skin and red hair! And I love the sun! So I have always used spf 50 for face and body. La Roche Posay is the best. For a golden glow I use Vita Liberata warm untinted gradual self tan lotion, it’s so easy to use with the glove and gives a natural color, not orange!

  • Je ne suis pas concernée pas le sujet, mais j’aime beaucoup le ton et l’énergie de cet article qui m’a fait sourire. Good job Lisa! :)

  • I would buy Eau lactée from Clarins, I think it is very rare to find a water look like product to tan ;)

    Bisous from France, where the sun is shy ;)



  • Anonymous May, 21 2015, 1:06 / Reply

    Loved the post, Lisa. I started using self-tanners many years ago and am thankful for the time I’ve not wasted damaging my skin. Everyone I know who tans by the pool (my age) all look so much older than I do – I’m amazed at the difference in our skin texture – and grateful that self-tanning products keep getting better. That being said, there is a learning curve to all of this. Last year I bought Vita Liberata and loved it but found it absolutely does not last as long as advertised. But that’s my only complaint – otherwise it’s a brilliant product (applied with a mitt). NO scent. It’s IMPERATIVE to read their instructions; they’re lengthy and well written (especially about applying to one’s feet) but in the tiniest print! I had to blow them up on the photocopier. But this year, I’m alternating between the VL and Josie Marin’s Argan Liquid Gold (applied with a mitt). It gets mixed reviews and it does have a smell to it but one I’m ok with. It seems to last fairly long (for about a week).

    The tips you posted from Joanna were EXCELLENT – thanks so much!

  • arianedauble May, 21 2015, 1:17 / Reply

    Le mieux reste quand même, à mon sens:
    1/ les gelules autobronzantes. On prend une teinte très jolie et forcément uniforme au printemps, c’est super. Peuvent juste causer de tous petits soucis… heu.. digestifs…
    2/ l’autobronzant progressif, ou alors les gouttes de chez Clarins à mettre dans son lait pour le corps/crème visage habituelle. Du coup, pareil: pas de traces puisqu’on y va petit à petit.
    C’est léger, mais au moins on n’est ni carotte, ni zébrée!

  • Cecilija May, 21 2015, 1:42 / Reply

    Oh, I don’t know what I would do without self-tanners! No way I would wear short skirts and shorts with such confidence with pasty white legs! They are imperative for me April to October, and I also use them in cold weather when I know I will not be getting enough sleep – you wake up with glow that perfectly mimics fresh, healthy girl who eats and sleeps like an angel.
    I have become more confindent with practice and now I opt for dark and medium skin tone (I am naturally pale), because it just gives you quicker, and still natural looking results. Yes, they look very natural nowdays and I don’t remember ever turning orange or streaky. I don’t use gloves, just wash my hands real good after the use. And Vita Liberata in dark is my firm favorite, because they develop the most intense color that really lasts longer then other ones and looks like I have miracoulously hopped to an island for a week during the night. Loreal is a good, cheaper option too. Some high-end brands did not thrill me- even Chanel has that heavy smell I am willing to stand for a day or two for a naturalfake tan, but would much rather avoid. I say- give it a go and never look back!

  • Moi aussi j’adore être bronzée. Tellement que je ne suis plus jamais toute blanche. En plus je vais à la piscine toute l’année et je déteste être en mode aspirine ! Mon truc c’est une crème Mixa bronzage progressif (ta deux teintes moi je prend la plus foncée). On en met tous les jours jusqu’à la couleur désirée puis on entretient tous les 2 ou 3 jours. Rien de plus simple. En hiver j’utilise la teinte plus claire…
    J’espère que ça t’aura aidé ! En tout cas depuis je ne me mets plus au soleil, trop peur du cancer, d’autant qu’il u a eu beaucoup de cas dans ma famille…

  • St. Tropez Express foam with the glove! The best! I lose 5 pounds immediately. ;)

  • Anonymous May, 22 2015, 9:27

    Hahaha – great comment … SO true about the -5!

  • I am so careful to only go to the beach before 10am and after 4pm! Even then, I wear 50 spf! I see how the sun has damaged the skin of my mom and so many of there friends. (They all have those dark spots on their faces.) I also try to avoid unevenness of tanning so don’t really intentionally sit in the sun to tan and I prefer a more natural skin tone. My beauty routine takes so much time already (haha), that I’m not so sure I would find the time to add this extra self tanning process, as well. This seems like an excellent product for those who are unlike me and desire a tanned look!

    adorn la femme

  • I have tried a bunch and there’s nothing I like as well as Jergen’s Natural Glow — the gradual ones. They take a few applications to show up, but they’re so natural (I’m ridiculously fair, so I use the Fair to Medium shade) and easy and they just WORK so well. I use the Natural Glow for face every other day, and it gives me such a nice even tone that I can skip foundation most of the time. If I do the Jergen’s face and body a few times a week — just like I do any other moisturizer — I can get away with so much less makeup on my face, and my legs and arms look a hundred times better. Absolutely my secret weapon.

  • Tell me about it! It looks like a tan is on the top of the list for everyone during this time of year. Too bad I burn way to easily, haha.

  • claire May, 21 2015, 4:44 / Reply

    I’m way older than 37. (You’re young, trust me.) I now wish I had not stayed/played in the sun so much without protection. In the sixties, my parents always had umbrellas at the beach and I had to wear my Dad’s shirts when I got too much sun. Even then, they knew the sun wasn’t good for your skin. Alas, I took in too many rays anyway.
    Now, after using a gazillion self tanners, I use Clarin’s self tanning milk. It’s perfect for me – gives just a little tan look to my legs without looking fake.
    For my face, I use a little Nars tinted moisturizer in St. Moritz. It gives just the right glow.

  • Hi Lisa,

    I use the most wonderful tanning lotion that doesn’t smear on sheets and you can wear clothes after about 2 minutes (the time it takes to brush your teeth). It is Ecotan. I have olive skin and it give such a lovely healthy looking tan on my colouring. I love it and recommend it – it is moisturising and has no nasty chemicals – a win win in every sense.
    Australia is the home of sun worship and so many of our beautiful women age before their time, and also get skin cancers (scars are not pretty). I was once of them and have had two carcinomas removed on my face – lucky near the hair line. Take care of your self and your health too.

  • Francesca May, 22 2015, 3:10 / Reply

    Safe tanning is and has always been beyond-important! Thanks for this amazing post!

  • “BEESLINE Suntan oil , rich in carrot oil, deep tan. Made in Lebanon.” ( written on the product label )
    It’s a thickish oil, smells marvellous and even on pasty skin leaves a lovely healthy glow .
    If I had to apply this Beesline product and lay in the sun for 15 minutes a day 10 days, I’m tanned ( okay so I do live in Saudi Arabia where the glorious sun shines every day) I did it before so I know it works and I recommend it for emergency tans – tempting, but not wise for all summer and all year long.
    Note- It will turn white clothing items orangy in colour at the edges where it is immediately in contact with freshly applied oil , but seems to wash out.

  • tatite May, 22 2015, 5:43 / Reply

    I use the Dove tanning milk on my body, it is cheap and gives a nice golden colour…I don’t really like the smell but it’s ok. The thing is, I even prefer this tan than my natural tan: I tend to tan quite dark/brown, and with fake tan I get goldy, so much nicer! I think I will use a lot of it this summer and be careful with the sun. It gives me pimples and wrinkles anyway…but I still love the beach!

  • Article très intéressant merci beaucoup !

  • I’ve been investigating this topic too and so far this spring, my favorite drugstore self-tanner is Loreal’s Sublime Luminous Bronzer. With pretty instant effects, without being too scary, it lives up to its “luminous” description by giving you a charming sparkle on the skin (also without being too scary).

    Thanks for sharing the interview with Joanna Vargas–very helpful & educational. Take away: exfoliate! :)

  • Adelaide May, 24 2015, 8:02 / Reply

    I tried several products at home but I was never satisfied by the experience and/or the result. But thanks God one day, Bioderma Spray showed up on my drugstore shelf. It is the only product that I ever used successfully. Every year for 4 years, I have begun the sunny season with a one month daily morning application (after having a shower + exfoliation). The result is perfect and nobody knows it is a self tanning result.

  • sophie May, 24 2015, 5:43 / Reply

    Je te conseille les gélules autobronzantes d’Oenobiol ou Doriance (trouvables sur Amazon ou autres sites type parapharmacie). Les packs sont déjà épuisés en France dans toutes les pharmacies où je suis allée! Il faut prendre 2 gélules par jour, matin et soir pendant 2 mois pour un résultat hâlé naturel et uniforme. Au moins pas de risque de marque, effet zébré etc! C’est un peu comme les gélules préparatrices au soleil sauf que celles-ci sont beaucoup plus concentrées en carotène. Il faut compter bien 15 jours pour commencer à voir une différence.
    J’avais déjà tout essayé en autobronzant: douche autobronzante qui a fini en gommage extrême et douloureux après 4 jours car cela s’effritait dans les coins, autobronzant spray qui font des tâches sur les jambes et ne s’en vont que quelques jours plus tard donc aucun moyen de sortir les jambes nues pendant ce temps!, crème bronzante instantanée qui part à l’eau mais qui tâche les vêtements et pas top s’il pleut…
    Donc les gélules sont ma solution miracle!!

  • It’s been a few years since I stopped self tanning during my pregnancies, but I used to alternate between 2 of the L’Oreal ones. I would start with the lotion for fair skin and after 3-4 applications I would use their gel formula and start alternating. This gave me a very natural tan that was neither too yellow nor too orange. I’ve never had it run, streak, or get on my clothes. I did, however, have a problem with my hands getting pale from normal washing. That’s why I didn’t get back to it – I didn’t pick it back up. I was fine with sunscreen the last few years but since I was diagnosed with rosacea last fall I’m not sure what I’ll do (I’m having trouble finding products that don’t make my skin burn.). I love the sun so much. When I was a kid and it was too cold to go outside I would hang out and nap by the window like a cat.

  • Jennifer May, 28 2015, 1:00 / Reply

    Congrats on 37 I am about to turn as well. I’m going with Garance’s 40th birthday posts for inspiration.

    I have eczema so tanning isn’t the best for me even safely as I react to most sunscreens. I have finally found a few. But in the meantime I love This Works Perfect Leg Miracle Serum, it has a light golden tint to it and helps keep my skin clear and add a bit of colour.
    I did try the spray tanning a few times and it was ok.

    As for sun spots, try Decleor’s brighting foam face cleanser. The large sun spot that has been on my face for ever is gone. Seriously one of the best products.

  • Oonagh July, 23 2015, 1:09 / Reply

    Neither Naples, Italy nor Naples, Florida are glamorous. The original Naples is gritty and real. The one in Florida is naff.

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