I stopped sun-tanning after living in Japan. Seeing the Japanese girls wear sun-protecting gloves and carrying white umbrellas on a sunny day made me think that I might have been too lax when it comes to sun-damage protection. Even the way Japanese girls talk about tanning reflects how cautious they are about exposing their skin to UVA/UVB rays. I’ve actually heard a friend say that she doesn’t want to go outside cause she ‘doesn’t want to get the sun’. As if it were a disease! On the other hand, I’m very pale and have dark brown hair so without a tan in the winter I get a Corpse Bride look. So I’ve decided to give self-tanners a go.
I tried Jane Irendale Tantasia (which although advertised as a self-tanner gives only an instant tan) and MONUspa Golden Glow. The second one was quite good but I was looking for a paraben-free product. And then I started reading about self-tanners… It turns out that parabens should be the least of my worries when it comes to self-tanners.
Dihydroxyacetone, DHA is the main ingredient of most of self-tanners. It’s an active ingredient responsible for the ‘tanning’ of your skin. DHA is considered to be ‘safe’ by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). But then so are parabens.
I won’t attempt to summarise the entire DHA debate here – you can always read up on it. The point is that according to several studies DHA can be harmful. It can increase the chances of getting cancer and it can seriously damage your skin. Here is how. According to a research conducted by Gematria Test Laboratory in Germany, DHA increases the amount of free radicals in your skin after sun exposure by 180 percent. Having spent a lot of money on various serums and creams that protect my skin from free radicals I don’t want to use a product that reverses the effects. It’s counterproductive.
Lavera Self-tanning Lotion
I looked for a paraben and DHA free self-tanning lotion and found one that I can really recommend. It’s contains 100 percent pure and natural active ingredients derived from plants. It’s also vegan. It’s an award winning product (Best Sunless Tan 2008 award by GorgeouslyGreen.com Beauty Awards, Winner of the Special Innovation Prize 2002 by Oekto-Test Magazine, product of the year 2003). Ecco Verde, a European natural beauty online retailer, has this to say about Lavera’s product: ‘Comparative tests have always resulted in best marks for the lavera self-tanner’. The brand itself beat (first place) Dr Hauschka and many other brands in 2008 OEKO-TEST review of Greenest Beauty Brands. So it has some credibility.
I’ve used this self-tanner for 3 weeks now and can say I really like it.
Scent: Smells nice and citrusy. Only a hint of the terrible self-tanner scent.
Application: Applies easily and evenly. It doesn’t absorb straight away so you have some time to blend the product out and make sure it’s evenly distributed.
Colour: The product itself is white. There is not instant ‘bronzed’ effect. Once developed the colour is nice and brown. Not orange. You’ll need to apply it twice (two days in a row) to get a really deep tan. I actually think that’s a good thing. The application is simple and hustle-free and as I don’t have that much experience with self-tanners I think it’s safer to start with a product that doesn’t give drastic results.
Staying power: It lasts for a couple of days. Below are some photos of how my skin looks after two applications and two days without it (so that’s day 4: applied the product for 2 consecutive days and then left it to fade for another two days). The next photo shows the result of one ‘refreshing’ application (day 5). Photos don’t do it justice. It’s a subtle difference and doesn’t show up so well on camera.
Practicality and availability: This product is suitable for both face and body. I use it only on my face so I think it will last me for a looong time. It’s £13.50 from Naturisimo with free worldwide delivery (here).
I really like this product. It gives a very natural tan while posing no risk to your health and helping to maintain your skin looking young. No negatives.
Friday: New Smashbox Favourite
Monday: New Favourite Foundation