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Do Self-Tanning Drops Actually Work?

Do Self-Tanning Drops Actually Work?

It’s safe to say I like to be bronzed. I went to a tanning bed almost every day for five years. FIVE YEARS. And the few times I wasn’t in a tanning bed, I was “laying out” with my friends, slathered in Hawaiian Tropic.

Being tan was a verb. It’s how I felt my best. Except instead of a healthy bronze glow, I looked like a hidden cast member of MTV's Jersey Shore. These photos are proof: 

I know what you’re thinking: WTF and how much skin damage does this girl have? Thankfully, my days at Sun Connections (the tanning salon in my college town of Manhattan, KS) are behind me. I got smart and traded my JWowww indoor tanning lotion for a broad spectrum SPF and of course, a self-tanner.

For the most part, buying a self-tanner is like going on a blind date. Because even if it looks good in the description, you still don’t know what to expect. Also, like dating, it’s easy to get tired of the entire process. I’d rather be pale than spend another hour in front of the bathroom mirror, only to come out with an orange, streaky “tan” that smells like burnt garbage. 

Then Self-Tanning Water hit the market. From drops to sprays, this water formula is everywhere. At first, I didn’t believe a clear liquid could achieve bronze status. Good try, marketing team! Then I did my research. The color of the formula doesn’t change the end result. In fact, most self-tanning products only add the bronze color for easier application. (Ironic, huh?) If it includes the active tanning agent, DHA (Dihydroxyacetone), which Self-Tanning Water does, that’s all that matters. 

I chose Self-Tanning Drops from Isle of Paradise because their packaging is nice. Similar to a serum, the product comes in a small glass bottle with a dropper applicator. It’s cute. But it was the scent that sold me. I didn’t just love it, I wanted to smell like it. The only way I can describe it’s light and fruity scent is if there were a cucumber melon–flavored Starburst.  

Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, you can choose between three options: Pink (light tan), green (medium tan), and purple (deep tan). It all depends on your color preference and skin tone. It’s summer, so I went with the medium.

Since it’s clear, I used it before bed to bronze in my sleep. But first I made sure to exfoliate with my dry brush. Always remember: It’s an important step in self-tanning to prevent uneven streaks. Then all I had to do was add 1-2 drops to my moisturizer and massage into to my skin like normal. No weird technique. You don’t even have to wear gloves, the label just says to wash your hands after.

I kept thinking that even if this product didn’t give bronze color, I’d still continue to use it. The coconut, avocado, and chia seed oil in the formula made my skin feel nourished and literally glowing. It’s a nice change from the skin-drying alcohol in some other self-tanners. 

The result? Unstained white bed sheets and the streak-free bronze I wanted. Nothing major, just the type that makes people stop and ask, “Wait, did you just go on vacation or something?” My skin looked that natural.  It lasted about three days and then faded gradually. Then I used it again. I’ll probably graduate to the purple (deep color) within the next few weeks. 

If you're as lazy or impatient as I am, you need this (or 5 of the other self-tanners you need to try) in your life. The only way I’d be happier is if it were actual drinking water with bronze benefits, but let’s give these beauty scientists  a few more years, shall we? 

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