Putting self-tanners to the test

April 30, 2009 4:31:59 PM PDT
Just in time for summer, if you're looking for that tan of the islands, minus the cost of a plane ticket, you may want to try a self tanner. But before you buy, you should know the higher price tag may not give you a better bronze.For many women, the most sought after accessory for summer is a golden tan.

Tan tester Ashley Sinkiewicz said, "I do like to have a little bit of color."

"I do like to be tan in the summer," admitted tan tester Kimberly Davis.

But to avoid the risk of skin cancer, doctors say the only truly safe tan is a fake one, and there are plenty of sunless options out there.

UT Health Sciences Dermatologist Dr. Paul Friedman, MD said, "I think for somebody who wants that bronze look, I think this is a nice alternative."

We decided to put some of the self-tanners to the test. We went to a Houston area beauty supply store and grabbed four brands -- all with different formulas and different price tags. We found four busy moms looking for a no-fuss fake tan and gave each of them one of these products.

  • Mystic Tan sunless lotion - 5 oz. bottle - $38.00
  • Tan Towel Full Body - 5 towelettes - $25.00
  • Neutrogena Micro Mist Sunless Tan Spray - 5.3 oz -$9.00 (on sale from $10.59)
  • Hawaiian Tropic Island Radiance Ultra Crème - 6 ounces - $9.99
  • Our testers sprayed, rubbed, wiped and smeared. About four and a half hours later, they came back to tell us what they thought.

    Amy Beasley tried the most expensive product -- the $38 Mystic Tan lotion.

    "I didn't like the smell," she said. "That would probably be the thing that I didn't like the most."

    Kimberly Davis used the $25 Tan Towel brand towelettes. She liked her results, but says she had to use two of the five towels in the box to get a full application.

    "I don't think it's the best, but I probably would do it again, though," she said.

    Ashley Sinkiewicz used our $11 Neutrogena Micro Mist sunless spray.

    She said, "It really actually is one of the better ones that I've tried, because I have tried more expensive ones before and they were not nearly as good."

    Our happiest tester by far was Cherish Bradshaw. She used the cheapest product of all -- the Hawaiian Tropic Island Radiance Ultra Cream for just $10. "I love it," she said. "No streaking, perfect just golden tan."

    This product boasted a fresh smell with odor blocking technology and Cherish says it delivered.

    "It smelled great, just like a lotion a citrusy smell," she explained.

    Cherish wasn't the only one who liked it. After comparing their results, all of our testers agreed this bargain was the best.

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