I’m going to count this as makeup, because there are some makeup products with self tanners and self tanner in many ways is like makeup, makeup that stays with you. There are so many reasons this is on the list. Color, texture, authenticity.
Color: Let’s go right to the one everyone immediately thinks. ORANGE. There, now that’s out of the way. Just because you don’t resemble a carrot doesn’t mean you’re home free. There are many self tanners out there, many different shades of what looks like a lighter version of a piece of pumpernickle bread. There’s also a sort of camel colored finish that some give. Of course getting your exact color when you tan in a bottle is next to impossible, but it shouldn’t be that far off.
Texture: Very rarely does it go on evenly. Ignoring the hands for a moment, even those are the most complained about. There are just some areas that are hard to reach, like getting all of, and completely around the backs of your arms. There are some areas with some really challenging contours (knees, elbows, ankles) Those are dead giveaways if you’re wondering if someone uses self tanner.
Depending on when you apply the self tanner, if it dries properly, sleeping patterns as it dries, the point is there are a lot of variables into this will dictate the finish. I remember despite my best efforts after showering I’d apply the self tanner on my arms and it would always settle heaviest at certain parts. Leaving a really inconsistent pattern. It was funny at the time there was a girl that I sat next to in college that had the same marks only hers settled at the wrists.
Something else worth mentioning is the condition of your skin while using self tanner. The beginning of summer/spring is when people start going for self tanning, when you don’t even have a base or trace of color, but it’s probably the most challenging time to use it after a long, drying winter. It’s known any dry patches on your skin eat up moisturizer. Imagine the moisturizer being colored. That’s what you’re dealing with when using self tanning lotions. Before you get a chance to rub it in, it’s sunk in. These areas are commonly the back of the arms, cheeks, sides of thighs, tops of the feet, just to name a few. Dryness varies and where it occurs also varies. Make sure to moisturize and moisturize well before using self tanner. I’d go over those dry areas about 15 minutes beforehand with a plain lotion or cream to help with application.
Authenticity: By this I just mean does it appear to be real. If it’s the dead of winter with subzero temperatures and no sun and you’re bronze it’s going to look a little out of place. If you’re naturally fair and suddenly you come into work/school/etc. getting gradually, but very noticeably tanner as time passes it’s not going to look right. Now if neither of these concern you, then by all means. Just something to take into consideration. Not everyone lives on the beaches of California or Florida and therefore you won’t look it. If you’re going to do it right think if it ties into where you are, how you look without the tanner and the season.
To conclude: I think that if done correctly they can look great and really make anyone look better with a little color. There were just some things that when done make me cringe. They look like self tanner, not a tan. You shouldn’t look like a color, you should look like you have color.