Pros: Goes on evenly, no self tanning odor, lightweight feel
I love the idea of using a self-tanning product to get some healthy-looking color without exposing my skin to a lot of sun. However, I hate the odor that most self-tanning products produce when they work (chemical reaction by the active ingredient, dihydroxyacetone and amino acids in our skin). Either my nose has become more sensitive, or my body chemistry has changed over the past couple of years making this odor more noticeable than in the past. The smell is repulsive and strong enough that I would rather be as white as a ghost than use self tanning products.
Last fall I read in a magazine that St. Tropez makes self tanning products that have been specially formulated to reduce the self-tanning odor. There was no doubt that I was going to try it when it got to be warm enough to have any part of my legs showing. Fortunately, I stumbled on some St. Tropez products that were on clearance at Bath & Body Works last winter (didn't know they even carried the brand). Now that it is the end of May, I have gotten to try my St. Tropez Self Tan Bronzing Mousse a number of times and it's true--it doesn't stink!
No Self-Tanning Odor!
Most self tanners contain dihydroxyacetone, and when it is applied, it reacts with amino acids in the top layer of skin, resulting in darker skin. This chemical reaction also produces an odor that I absolutely cannot stand (smells like really stinky feet)! Usually the smell develops along with the "tan", so most products smell great when first applied, but become stinky after an hour or so. For me, the smell lasts (although not as strong) well into the next day after showering. People experience this problem to varying degrees. I suppose it depends on the amount of melanin in our skin, our pH balance, the amount of self-tanner used, and the specific brand of self tanner used. I have tried many different types and brands of self-tanning products and have experienced this odor with them all (until now).
St. Tropez claims that their "innovative Aromaguard™ fragrance technology eliminates the tell-tale self tan aroma by a minimum of 70%". I'm not exactly sure what they do differently since the product still contains dihydroxyacetone, but they are right! I don't even smell anything offensive when I put my nose next to my skin and take a big whiff--not after an hour, not after 4 hours, not at all!
While St. Tropez Self Tan Bronzing Mousse is not even close to being a natural product, at least it does not contain parabens, sulfates, or phthalates. The foam feels very light and weightless, and provides my skin with little moisture. It doesn't, however, make my skin feel overly dry.
St. Tropez Self Tan Bronzing Mousse is a self-tanning foam that contains a bronzer as well. I like that it contains a bronzer because not only do I get a bit of subtle color right away, but the color in the product helps me apply it evenly.
It is recommended to exfoliate before using this (or any) self tanner. This helps ensure a more even and longer lasting tan. Wearing gloves is optional, but it is a good idea when using a product that contains a bronzer like this one, because even multiple hand washings don't always get the brown stains off of my palms.
My legs are paler than the rest of my body, so I often use this product only on my legs so that I can wear capris or bermuda shorts to work. I use two full pumps of foam for each leg. I have found that foams sometimes dry quicker than self tanning lotions or creams, so it is important to use enough product to ensure that an even coating can be applied and blended before it dries. I like the drying time of St. Topez foam because I have enough time before it begins to dry to rub the product evenly from my ankle to the top of my legs, yet I only have to wait a minute or so before I get dressed. The foam goes on smoothly and I am able to get even coverage every time. The foam feels light, and once dry, I can't tell that I have anything on my skin (except for the nice color). The foam is very lightweight and the smell of the product itself is light and fresh. Once dry, I can only smell it when I put my nose very close to my skin and all I smell is the subtle fresh scent of the product--no odor. I will admit that my skin smells slightly different than when I first apply the self tanner, but it is not stinky or offensive in any way.
Does it Work?
The foam is a medium brown color, but is more subtle looking on my skin. It tints my skin only a shade darker--just enough to get rid of my pasty white color. The color that develops from the self tanning component is a bit darker than the bronzer. The color that develops is not all that dark, but since I have fair skin I like the color. It looks very natural.
Because St. Tropez Self Tanning Bronzing Foam contains a bronzer, it is difficult to tell exactly how long it takes to develop a tan. I would estimate that it takes about four hours for it to fully develop, but I'm sure some color is evident after about an hour. The directions state not to shower or swim for at least four hours after application. The bronzer in this product washes off in the shower, but the "tan" stays for a few days. My tan is a very natural golden brown. It doesn't have that fake-tan orange look. The color is on the lighter side, but because this product doesn't make me stink, I have no problem applying it two or three days in a row in order to achieve a darker tan.
I have not had any problems with streaks or an uneven tan. I am careful to apply less product to rougher areas like elbows, knees and ankles. I also carefully blend the foam from "tan" areas into non-tan areas like the backs of my hands.
I maintain my "tan" by moisturizing my skin daily and I avoid exfoliating for about three days after application. This helps my skin stay tan longer. I find that my tan lasts for three to five days. To keep a nice golden tan, I use my St. Tropez Bronzing Foam every 3 days or so.
Water (Aqua), Dihydroxyacetone, Ethoxydiglycol, Pentylene Glycol, Glycerin, Decyl Glucoside, PPG-5-Ceteth-20, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Cetyl Hydroxyethylcellulose, Potassium Sorbate, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Bisulfite, Citric Acid, Fragrance (Parfum), Benzyl Salicylate, Cinnamal, Cinnamyl Alcohol, Citronellol, Eugenol, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, Geraniol, Hexyl Cinnamal, Hydroxycitronellal, Isoeugenol, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Linalool, Hydroxyisohexyl 3-Cyclohexene Carboxaldehyde, Caramel, Yellow 6 (CI 15985), Red 40 (CI 16035), Blue 1 (CI 42090)
This product gives doesn't give me a deep, dark tan, but it does give me a light to medium, natural-looking tan with no streaks. Best of all, it produces no odor for me. St. Tropez Self Tanning Bronzing Foam is expensive at $25 for a 4 oz. bottle, but I would gladly pay that to be able to have a natural looking tan that doesn't stink!
Tips on applying a self tanner (updated 2010)
My other tanning product reviews:
Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs
Loreal Sublime Bronze Self Tanning Lotion
Neutrogena Sun Fresh Sunless Tanning Lotion