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Sunless Tanners For People Who Don’t Like Sunless Tanners

By Amalah

Hey! I have an idea! Now that summer is basically over, let’s talk about sunless tanners.
(Good one, Amy. You jackass.)
So I deftly avoided the whole topic all summer, mostly because I hate sunless tanners. All of them. And I have tried all of them. (I may be exaggerating here, but seriously, I have tried an INSANE number of sunless tanners.) I hate the messy application, the waiting-for-it-to-dry part, the inevitable smears, the orange palms, the smell, and I particularly hate how much my husband complains about the smell.
I found that mixing tanners in with body lotion solved a few of the problems, and then even sort-of liked a couple tanners that came pre-packaged with a body lotion in a fancy double-pump kind of thing, but still. I never found one that I liked enough to really stick with using faithfully.
Well, newsflash, moron. Now everybody in the whole world makes a gradual sunless tanner and body lotion IN ONE. Maybe you should try them out. You know, for the people.
It’s crazy, how many of these lotions are out there now. Dove, Aveeno, Jergens, Olay, Almay, EVERYBODY MAKES ONE.
dove.jpgMy foray into this exciting new world (where new = 2005, probably; I haven’t been paying attention), began when Dove shrink-wrapped a sample of their Energy Glow Daily Moisturizer to my beloved body wash. It was actually the moisturizer for medium to dark skin tones, which I do not consider my pasty self to be. So I tossed it in a drawer and forgot about it for awhile. Then I forgot about the medium-to-dark part and started using it anyway. (I am VERY easily distracted.)
Nice! True to the product’s promise, after about 24 hours I noticed a definite golden tone to my skin — nothing outrageous and nothing orange-ish. I realized it was possible to still get streaks from this stuff (mostly on my feet and the extremely pasty underside of my arms), but I chalked that up to the fact that I was using the wrong shade for my skin. But after a few uses I also noticed that *smell.* Jason noticed it too.
Still, I was pleased, and when the sample ran out I purchased a full-size bottle for light skin tones.
Not nice. Day after day of application yielded little to no results. My skin looked the same, yet STUNK of self-tanner. After a full week I finally thought I saw a little color, but then I accidentally skipped a day and was immediately back at my natural whiteness.
aveeno.jpgI went back to the store and stared at the wall of options, and somewhat randomly decided to go with Aveeno Active Naturals Continuous Radiance. I like Aveeno body lotions, and since Curel doesn’t make a tanning version, I figured this one might actually moisturize enough for me to use it through winter. I also went with the one for medium skin tones.
Nice! Nice nice nice! Love this one. The color shows up quickly but again, isn’t orange or fake-looking. It never really gets THAT dark, although a solid week of use will definitely give you a summer-level glow. I never had any streaking problems, and there’s no drying time needed. You can get dressed as soon as you normally do after moisturizing, and I never noticed any color transfer to my clothes — even white capris.
The moisturizer is thick and long-lasting (still not Curel-winter-eczema awesome, but I think I could probably get away with using Curel in the morning and Aveeno at night) and the best part? ABSOLUTELY NO SELF-TANNER SMELL. Instead, it’s got a very light, generic lotion-y fragrance. 100% Husband Approved.
One thing that seems to be true about all these lotions, however, is that unless your skin is truly alabaster, you probably want to go a shade darker than you think you need. And I wonder if the “medium-to-dark” color would work as well on someone who actually HAS a medium-to-dark skin tone. But for under $10 (most of the lotions are in the $6-$8 range), it’s probably a worthwhile thing to try, especially if you’re shelling out big money on high-end self-tanners in order to avoid all the complaints I mentioned before.

(Remember! These lotions DO NOT contain SPF and offer NO SUN PROTECTION. Just because you feel tan and glowy doesn’t mean you’re invincible to the sun. Wear your sunscreen, chickies.)

About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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