Since I’ve given up tanning in favour of not being wrinkly, I’ve been working my way through the brand new world of fake tan. Here are two of the more interesting new gradual tanners I’ve tried.
St Tropez Gradual Tan In-Shower Lotion (Golden Glow Medium)
St Tropez Gradual Tan In-Shower Lotion is an innovative tan that’s rinse-off – it incorporates a bunch of penetration enhancers that get enough of the tanning agents to sink into your skin in 3 minutes that you’ll see the effects hours later, when the deposited ingredients have had time to react. You apply it to your clean damp skin at the end of a shower. After 3 minutes (during which you should wash your hands if you don’t want orange hand syndrome), you rinse it off and pat dry and you’re done.
Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Dihydroxyacetone, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Diethylhexyl Sodium Sulfosuccinate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Glycerin, Decyl Glucoside, Ethoxydiglycol, Sodium Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Parfum (Fragrance), Propylene Glycol, Sodium Chloride, Phenoxyethanol, Coco-Glucoside, Glyceryl Oleate, Isohexadecane, Pentaerythrityl Tetra-Di-t-Butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate, Glyceryl Laurate, PEG-18 Glyceryl Oleate/Cocoate, Polysorbate 80, Caramel, Hydrolyzed Jojoba Esters, Melanin, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Decylene Glycol, Caprylyl Glycol, Sodium Hydroxide, Geraniol, Linalool, Limonene, Alpha-isomethyl Ionone, Coumarin.
The In-Shower Lotion contains the usual dihydroxyacetone (DHA) as the main tanning agent (check out this post for the chemistry behind how DHA causes tanning), as well as erythrulose, which can undergo a similar reaction (but less intensely) to give a more natural overall look. The featured ingredients for pushing the DHA into your skin are hydrolysed jojoba esters. Sweet almond oil also makes an appearance as a moisturising agent, since well-hydrated skin tans better and fades more evenly too. There’s also a special fragrance incorporated into this product from the huge fragrance house Givaudan. St Tropez claims “the notes that work well with the DHA… the DHA is brought into the fragrance and concealed, making it undetectable”. It acts as a mood enhancer as well. I found that I could still smell a distinctive smell while the tan was developing, but it wasn’t exactly DHA smell – it was very similar, but more pleasant.
This product is really made with lazy people in mind (hello!). Combined with water remaining on my skin from the shower, it has the texture of a runny, slightly bubbly conditioner and is very easy to spread with my hands, especially since you don’t really need an even layer. It’s also awesome that you can put your clothes on immediately afterwards without feeling sticky or waiting around, and the lotion is hydrating enough to double up as moisturiser. However, a word of warning: make sure you rinse it all off – run your hands over all your skin. Don’t do what I did and forget to rinse off your feet, you’ll end up with an accidental tattoo.
I tried this out in Thailand where it’s been around 30 °C, and standing around waiting was completely fine (I did a hair mask during this time too), but I’m hesitant to try this now that I’m back in winter mode, since freezing naked and slippery in the shower is not how I envisioned my death.
If you want people to think you came back from a 3 month holiday in the Bahamas, this product isn’t for you – it gives you more of a “couple of afternoons on the beach” glow. It’s recommended that you use it for 3 consecutive days for the best results, and shows up better on pale people. One of my favourite things about St Tropez products is that the colour is very natural, and the In-Shower Lotion doesn’t disappoint in this regard.
The price you pay for the convenience of the In-Shower Lotion is that you go through the product quite quickly since you need more than you would for a regular tanning lotion or foam, and the In-Shower Lotion retails for $39.99 for a 200 mL tube, which isn’t the most budget-friendly.
Hand Chemistry Glow “Oil”
Hand Chemistry Glow “Oil” is particularly cool because it doesn’t contain dihydroxyacetone, which shows up as the key staining ingredient in like 99.99% of fake tans – instead, it just uses erythrulose (the raspberry-based keto-sugar referred to on the packaging), which works slower but supposedly also lasts longer, and gives a more natural colour. The fact that it’s DHA-free also means that it doesn’t have the same “fake tan smell”. Instead, it smells almost cloyingly sweet when you put it on (supposedly from the watermelon extract), but it fades to a slightly sweet scent after an hour or so.
Ingredients: Propanediol, Aqua (Water), Erythrulose, Titanium Dioxide, Dimethyl Isosorbide, Ethoxydiglycol, Mica, PPG-26-Buteth-26, Glycerin, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Parfum (Fragrance), Acetyl Hexapeptide-1, Citrulline, Citrullus Lanatus (Watermelon) Fruit Extract, Polypodium Vulgare Rhizome Extract, Cetraria Islandica Thallus Extract, Sphagnum Magellanicum Extract, Dextran, 1,2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol, Phytic Acid, Citric Acid, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Phenoxyethanol, Tin Oxide, Citral, Citronellol, Eugenol, Farnesol, Geraniol, Limonene, Linalool.
The Glow “Oil” isn’t actually an oil – it’s actually a water-based product, but it spreads quite well, absorbs quickly and doesn’t end up streaky. Despite the lack of oil, it has a strong humectant effect which hydrates the skin. There’s also “golden prisms” which are very fine shimmer particles that sink into the skin and don’t look obvious even in the light. I tried this out on my face and found that I needed the recommended twice-a-day-for-three-day application to see a glow appear.
The downside… it’s quite pricey at $39.99 for a 100 mL bottle. But it’s a unique product in a market full of DHA-based tanners, and a little goes a long way. The top of the ingredients list is also nicely free of oil-based moisturising ingredients, so it fits in nicely as the first step of my facial routine, and subsequent products haven’t caused patchiness so far (touch wood).
Are you into fake tan? What’s your favourite product?
These products were provided for editorial consideration, which did not affect my opinion. This post also contains affiliate links – if you decide to click through and support Lab Muffin financially (at no extra cost to you), thank you! For more information, see Disclosure Policy.
14 thoughts on “Fake Tan reviews: St Tropez In-Shower Tan and Hand Chemistry Glow Oil”
Try Xen Tan. I love this one. This is the only self-tanner I’ve ever used that is Golden Olive Brown, no red base of any kind. All the others self-tanners I’ve tried are more or less bronze (orange/red base).
All through the first summer I paid my local spa gal her regular price to do full body spray but I would buy and bring the gallon of Xen Tan with me for her to use. After that first summer she began offering both St. Tropez and Xen Tan to all her clients, fast majority switched to Xen Tan after seeing pictures. I recommend you give it a try, you can get it in a home use form that you smooth on with mitt. (I am not affiliated in any way with XenTan and receive nothing in exchange for this mention – I just really love their product.)
Thanks for the recommendation, it sounds like a great product! I’ll have to keep an eye out for it, I don’t think it’s very easy to find in Australia unfortunately.
It made me quite proud to see your comments on Erythrulose, as this was my “baby” when we marked this self-tanner ingredient in 1998 (IFSCC conference in Cannes). As the molecule Erythrulose has one C-unit more than dihydroxyacetone, it is less reactive and has more time to penetrate into the skin, before it reacts with a protein. Therefore the colour reaction is slower but longer lasting. By the way, we produced it by fermentation, but maybe the source of Erythrulose in this product is from a new supplier. Best regards from Switzerland and keep on writing, I love your blog, Roland
It’s so cool that you read my blog! Congratulations on making such a great ingredient, I’ve seen it as a minor ingredient in most of the mid-to-high end fake tanners I’ve tried. Thanks for the explanation of how it works!
Yes, you are right, most of the time it is used as additional self-tanner together with dihydroxyacetone, because consumers are used to see a tan within 6 hours. Erythrulose takes almost 24 hours until you see a tan and for must poeple this is too slowly. The other big advantage of such a slow tanner as Erythrulose is, that you have much less strikes / unevenness because you re-apply the next day before the full tan has developped! Try it out!
I really like your tanner reviews. I’m southeast Asian so I’m already naturally on the tan side. I moved up north and I’m paler than I like being, because I think being tan helps my skin look more even -white scars, hyperpigmentation scars, stretch marks, they seem more obvious when I’m pale. but real tanning isn’t the fix! so far I’ve used a few gradual tan products but I haven’t been impressed with any-I might not be their pale target market. I tried a spray from loreal and just got it all streaky and ridiculous and haven’t tried again!
From my experience as a rather lazy tan user, I’ve found that applicator mitts are a must for any sort of sunless tanning product, including sprays and “just use your hands” style products (except for these two, surprisingly). Otherwise I just end up with splotches.
Great reviews Michelle! I must admit that for the most part, I am to lazy for self-tanners (though I find gradual tanners easier to work with) but I think I will give the St Tropez tanner a go (once it gets warmer in Aus!). It just sounds to good to be true! In regards to the Hand Chemistry Glow Oil, could you use it on your body, or would you just run out of it way to quickly?
It’s designed for the body, but I haven’t used it on my body because the bottle’s so small! That said, it seems to spread really well and I’ve only gotten about 2 mm from the top after applying it to my face about 8 times.
Thanks so so much for this! I love that you did a review of both and were nice enough to spend your money on these to try them out for us. I love self tanners but I’ve never been brave enough to try them. My skin is on the olive tone side so it is slightly a warmer color than most but I am just worried about getting a streaky tan. I love that you include the price as no one seems to do that, and it keeps me from having to look up each product just to see the price! Again, thanks for sharing!
Your comments about not wanting to wrinkle are relatable. It’s nice that you found a product with quality ingredients, despite the high price.
I ended up being allergic to this way or formula. The color is nice but something in the ingredients did not sit right with my body.
I had an allergic reaction to the Glow Oil. I’ve tried so many natural fake tans and always get a nasty rash – burning, angry, itchy hives-like reaction. Tried the Glow Oil in case it was the DHA but still no luck. Maybe I’m destined to be pasty white forever!