The weather is warming up and soon we'll all be bearing more skin -- be it in our bathing suits, shorts, tank tops, or warm-weather dresses. But is our winter skin ready for all that exposure? If you're like me, your love affair with the sun has fizzled. You knew sun bathing would catch up with you sooner or later, but these days you know it's more likely to be sooner. For me, that happened at age 24, when I started to notice my first tiny smile lines around my eyes. That's when I started reducing the time I spent in the sun and amping up my skin care routine. I started buying eye cream, including SPF more diligently into my skincare routine, and experimenting with (and relying on) sunless tanners.
The first self tanner I ever used was Jergens Natural Glow gradual self tanning moisturizer. I had no idea what to expect, but the thought of building a gradual tan seemed like a safe bet for a newbie. What I didn't know was that self tanners have a distinctive smell that's particularly unpleasant (caused by DHA, the active ingredient in tanners, reacting with your skin). If I had to describe it, I'd say it's like a chemical B.O. I learned this the hard way because I used my Jergens Natural Glow like I would a regular daily moisturizer. I applied it after my morning shower and spent the day wondering about that odd smell following me around. Ick!
Fast forward to today and you'll still find a bottle of Jergens in my self tanner drawer along side some tried and true high-end favorites (hello St. Tropez). But even though I always liked the results I got from Jergens, I found myself using it less and less in favor of products that didn't smell as strongly (ahem, Nivea Sun-Kissed Radiant Skin). So, I was particularly pleased to find out that Jergens updated its formula to address the funk.
I went out and bought the regular gradual tanner and the three-days-to-glow and here's what I found:
Regular gradual tan formula: The odor is in fact significantly reduced. I could get away with wearing it during the day without the telltale smell offending those around me (and myself). I did notice a faint scent after running errands all day in 80 degree weather. But it wasn't something bothersome and you'd have to get uncomfortably close to me to notice it. (Read: If you get that close you might get smacked) If you're extremely sensitive to smells, you may notice it more than I did. But no one I was with noticed it -- and these are people who would notice and speak up.
Accelerated formula (3 days to glow): The odor in this one is more noticeable, although significantly less pungent than its predecessor. But unlike the regular gradual tan formula, I don't think I could wear this one out during the day. The aroma is still a bit noticeable to me (but still faint when compared to older versions). Perhaps there is a higher concentration of DHA in this particular formulation in order to get the tan to build faster, which would explain the stronger smell. On the plus side, the significant odor reduction means it won't stink up my bed sheets as badly as the former three-day formula did, so I won't feel gross when I'm sleeping in my bed (and can do laundry less often).
Update: I have since worn the accelerated formula out of the house and the odor was barely noticeable. It seems to be more noticeable when you first apply it and fades as you wear it. I still feel that it smells just slightly stronger than the original formula. But,with more use, I feel like the smell is fainter than I originally thought.
The new formulation hasn't diminished the product's efficacy. So you can continue to expect a reliable, nearly natural tan that you can build to your liking. I say nearly natural because compared to higher-end products or an airbrush tan, Jergens can be the slightest bit more orange. But, it's important to note that if you choose the right hue for you, you'll find the results will look more natural.
If you're aiming for a dark tan, but you have light skin, try starting out with the fair to light lotion and when you achieve some color, then move to the medium to dark.
I like using this for every day (at least until I build the color I want). But I also use it often to extend the life of an airbrush tan when I go to the salon, as well as to extend the life of my higher end tanners. I'll apply the department store brand and get the color I want, and then use my drugstore gradual tanner to keep it lasting longer. It really helps me go longer between purchases, because let's face it, spending $10 (or less) at the drugstore is a lot easier to stomach than having to constantly replace a $40 bottle.
If you've never used Jergen's Natural Glow, here are a few things you should also know, some of which will also be useful with other self tanners:
- Jergens doesn't have a color guard, so every once in a while, as you get used to applying it, you might miss a spot or two and you won't know until the color is already developed and you have a discolored spot.
- Unlike regular moisturizers, you want to apply the least amount of product on your drier areas such as knees, elbows, and ankles.
- Wash your hands A LOT throughout application so you don't end up with tanned palms.
- Exfoliate well before applying
- Apply using the palms of your hands (as opposed to rubbing in with your fingers) to avoid streaking