Ask Jean: Clean Self-Tan?
Dear Jean, I’ve swapped out just about every beauty/personal care item I had for clean, non-toxic alternatives—except my self-tanner. I use it on both body and face, and…I’m sure it’s not good for me. Why aren’t there clean self-tanners? And is the chemical that tans you bad for you?—Kelly C.
Dear Kelly, My self-tanner obsession has to be one of the most intense of all time. I have tried them all, and I love very few. What I want in a self-tanner is almost impossible: Imperceptible beyond the occasional, “Did you go on vacation? You look so well rested!” but perceptible enough to make bathing-suit shopping an appealing proposition—if that makes any sense. (Self-tanner is slimming and smoothing and revivifying.) I want it not to smell, streak, be too dark, or too light, and I want it to last as long as possible. You’d think since the active ingredient in self-tanner is always the same (DHA, a sugar derivative that stains the top, dead cells of your skin—I know, so appealing-sounding), that most would give similar results; this is not the case at all.
A clean, non-toxic self tanner, I imagined, would be harder to blend, it might smell funny, might be a weird color, either too dark or too light…not as advanced. Why I thought those things I don’t know—what I do know is I was dead wrong. This Organic Pharmacy self-tan smells subtly and cleanly of lemons; it smooths in streak-less-ly; the color is neither an aggressive tan nor a pale nothing, but truly, the perfect healthy glow. It also sinks in quickly (which many self-tanners do not), moisturizes like crazy, and the glass pump it comes in is easy-to-use and pretty.
It’s as brilliant for a quick leg-reawakening on that first day you wear a skirt without tights as it is for a bit of glow-y life in your face, or a full-on I’m-going-to-the-beach-tomorrow tan. (Having a tan before arriving at the beach not only makes me look better, it also makes me not hesitate to slather on my SPF 30 from Beautycounter, a perhaps even greater benefit for any pale-skinned person.)
TIP: Ignore the over-given advice to do a major exfoliation before (unless you love exfoliating and are doing it anyway). Instead, before or after smoothing in the tanner (this goes for any self-tanner), put a bit of thick moisturizer or balm (I like the No. 1 edition from Olio E Osso) on your ankles, the rough parts of your toes, your knees and elbows, and anywhere your skin is significantly thicker/drier. Those spots pull in more tanner and so turn darker; the moisturizer easily prevents (and perfectly blends) it.