Testing Fake Tan Remover: How Does It Work?

Testing Fake Tan Remover: How Does It Work?

If you’ve ever used fake tan, you’ll know that after a few days it can start to flake off, and if you’ve applied it unevenly you’ll want to buff out the stain ASAP.

I was pretty excited when I saw Bondi Sands Self Tan Eraser ($19.99 AUD for 200 mL). It’s a product that claims to remove fake tan – as someone who has had a lot of fake tan mishaps, I had to know whether it worked or not!

Testing Fake Tan Remover: How Does It Work?

A quick refresher on how fake tan works, from my previous post on the topic (The Science of How Fake Tan Works): fake tan contains ingredients (usually dihydroxyacetone or DHA) which reacts with amino acids in the top layers of your skin to form a variety of brown compounds via a Maillard reaction over the next 1-3 days. This stains the top layers, and the tan slowly fades as your skin sheds (or desquamates, if you want to be fancy).

There are generally three types of tan removing product:

  • Immediate removal: These are generally just cleanser, which washes away the fake tan before it has a chance to sink into the skin and react.
  • Scrubs (physical exfoliants): This mechanically buffs away the dead skin cells faster than they would normally drop off. Unfortunately, this usually requires you to scrub your skin raw to really get rid of the tan.
  • Chemical exfoliants: These loosen your dead skin cells and helps them come off faster than they normally would.

Bondi Sands Self Tan Eraser is in the third category. The (not so) secret ingredient in it, and most other similar chemical exfoliant fake tan removers, is urea. Urea is naturally present in your skin as part of the hydrating natural moisturising factor, and acts as a humectant moisturiser as well as a chemical exfoliant that helps loosen the top dead layers of your skin. Urea’s an ingredient that doesn’t get a lot of love, and it tends to be (in my opinion) massively underused in skincare products. It’s a bit more popular in Europe for some reason, and it’s in a few hardcore heel and hand creams like Du’it Tough Hands, PurSources Foot Cream and Eucerin Intensive Lotion.

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Bondi Sands Gradual Tan Comparison and Review

Bondi Sands Gradual Tan Comparison and Review

Bondi Sands make some of my favourite fake tan products. Here in Australia they’re pretty affordable and easy to find. Since I’m pretty slapdash at applying fake tan, I much prefer gradual tan products – that way all my uneven applications can average out over a few days, and no one has to see me as a splotchy oompa loompa (although that tends to happen regardless). Bondi Sands has a huge range, including 6 different gradual tan products at the moment, all of which contain both dihydroxyacetone for rapidly developing colour, and erythrulose for a longer-lasting tan. Here’s my review of 4 of them: Everyday Gradual Tanning Milk, Everyday Gradual Tanning Foam, Everyday Gradual Tanning Foam for Men, and Everyday Liquid Gold Gradual Tanning Oil.

Bondi Sands Gradual Tan Comparison and Review

Everyday Gradual Tanning Milk

Everyday Gradual Tanning Milk (375 mL, $17.99 AUD at Priceline, $29.99 at Amazon) was my first Bondi Sands product. As I’ve reviewed before, has a light cocoa butter scent that effectively masks fake tan smell. It dries quite quickly, and is reasonably moisturising, which is important because well-moisturised skin makes the tan apply more evenly and fade more slowly.

Since I last reviewed the Everyday Gradual Tanning Milk, Bondi Sands seems to have changed the bottle from round to flat. It still has the convenient pump lid that’s a winner when you’re trying to juggle mitts and sticky skin. It also applies nicely with your hands as well, if you don’t have a mitt handy.

Ingredients: Water, Dihydroxyacetone, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Cocoglycerides, Bis-PEG-18 Methyl Ether Dimethyl Silane, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Laureth-7, Isopropyl Palmitate, Glyceryl Stearate, Phenoxyethanol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Isobutylparaben, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Fragrance, Polyacrylamide, Ethylparaben, Cetyl Phosphate, Triethanolamine, Erythrulose, Methylparaben, Butylparaben, Propylparaben.

Everyday Gradual Tanning Foam

Everyday Gradual Tanning Foam (270 mL, $19.99 AUD at Priceline, $29.99 at Amazon) has the same cocoa butter scent as the Everyday Gradual Tanning Milk, but in a watery foam format. It’s a clear liquid that comes in a bottle with a foaming pump on top. It works a lot better with a mitt than bare hands, since the foam dies down into flat liquid pretty quickly. I found it easier to spread than the milk but it didn’t give quite as intense a tan, probably because it was very easy to apply a lot less. Applying two layers made a big difference, and didn’t take any more time because it dried so quickly.

This performed surprisingly well moisturisation-wise, even though I wasn’t expecting too much from such a light textured product. Price-wise it works out to be dearer than the Milk, but the convenience factor makes up for that in my opinion.

Ingredients: Aqua, Propylene Glycol, Trideceth-9, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Polysorbate 20, Dihydroxyacetone, Ethoxydiglycol, PEG-5 Ethylhexanoate, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Erythrulose, PEG-12 Dimethicone, Sodium Metabisulfite, Tocopheryl Acetate, Panthenol, Parfum, Benzyl Alcohol, Disodium EDTA.

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Gradual Tanners: Bondi Sands, Dove, Fake Bake & St Tropez review

gradual-tanners

You can’t tan without exposing yourself to wrinkles and melanoma, so fake tan is the way to go if you want to go brown. I’ve recently tried 4 gradual tanners widely available in Australia:

gradual-tanners

  • Bondi Sands Everyday Gradual Tanning Milk
  • Dove Summer Glow Gradual Self Tan Body Lotion (Fair to Medium)
  • St Tropez Gradual Tan Everyday Body Mousse
  • Fake Bake Sport Daily Tan

If you’re not confident in your ability to apply fake tan smoothly, or you’re scared of people asking you why you became a super dark tanned glamazon goddess overnight, then gradual tanners might be for you! These contain a lower percentage of dihydroxyacetone (DHA), the staining ingredient in fake tan, so the tan builds slowly over a few applications. (You can read all about how the dihydroxyacetone in fake tan works in this post.) Here’s how they fared:

Colour

Criteria: Not too orange is pretty much my only criteria. Getting a decent amount of colour after 2 applications is good too.

Results: All 4 were surprisingly comparable. I used a different tanner on each limb, and at the end they all looked pretty much the same. Fake Bake was a touch darker than the rest, and Dove was a touch lighter (Dove also has a Medium to Dark version which I haven’t tried). Dove and Fake Bake were a bit more yellow, while St Tropez and Bondi Sands are a bit more pink/brown, so they’ll look a bit more natural if you don’t have a yellow undertone.

Winner: Bondi Sands and St Tropez for a more natural colour for people without a yellow undertone, Fake Bake if you want a faster result and your skin works well with yellow.

Ease of application

I like my fake tan to be easy to apply in awkward places (middle of the back, especially!). I want it to spread evenly with minimal effort.

Results: Bondi Sands and Fake Bake are runny lotions, Dove is a thicker lotion, and St Tropez is a foam. The foam was by far the easiest to apply, though the runny lotions weren’t that difficult, especially when I started using a mitt. Dove was the hardest to rub in, but again it wasn’t too bad with a mitt.

Winner: St Tropez, though a mitt makes anything possible.

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