Jergens Natural Glow 3 Days to Glow Moisturizer

Three Days to Glow is Jergen’s mid-way product between their gradual tanner and their instant tan. I was excited to try this out because I’ve been happily using their gradual tanner for at least a decade (click here for my review on it) so my expectations for this self-tanner were high.

Although the price-point of 3 days is generally the same as the gradual tanner ($8-10), the bottles run a little smaller, likely due to a higher concentration of DHA needed to make your skin tan faster than the gradual tanner. The product is easy enough to get out of the tube, but it doesn’t give you enough to cover a whole limb, and it’s also not the most easily-spread of self-tanners I’ve used in the past. I had to go back to the bottle for more product quite a few times. The lotion dries down clear, until the color results are produced later on in the day. Since it’s not instant tan, the instructions don’t call for a mitt or for gloves, but I still experienced the usual color build-up in between my fingers despite scrubbing my hands, so I would recommend a mitt, personally.

Day 1 of application won’t bring around many changes, as expected. But I was actually already a little frustrated with the product by day 2. I was seeing the colorful results of inconsistent product drying. I noticed obvious tan/not tan color gradients on my arms and legs, and dark color deposits in areas that I don’t usually experience — like, my shoulders!? That’s a new one! Of course, some of this can be blamed on user error, since I’m not the most careful self-tanner-applier in the world. But also think it lends itself to the fact the lotion is not easy to spread out, and of course, there’s no color-guard since this is moreso intended to be a body lotion.

In general, the color itself, even after three days, was not particularly distinguishable. I’d say it was maybe half a step up from my regular color. I thought this was strange, since I see better results from the gradual tanner in the same amount of time. The good news is this tone did seem to stick around for about two weeks, which is pretty impressive for self-tanner longevity.

One other thing I’ll give 3 days credit for is that it doesn’t smell nearly as bad as the regular gradual tanner, which is bizarre, because I would assume 3 days had a higher DHA concentration, thus it would smell worse. I did a side-by-side of the ingredients of 3 days and the gradual and they are… identical. The only explanation is that, possibly, the concentrations of other ingredients that cancel out the smell in the 3 days are also higher, but I’m no scientist. Something I do know, though, is that there are no drying alcohols in this product! In general, this should not irritate the skin too much, so long as it is kept away from your face.

My conclusion to this review is one I didn’t really expect. If you want darker color, use Jergen’s Gradual Tanner. If you want something extremely subtle and want to dial down the DHA smell, use the 3-day product: but be prepared for the almost inevitable color-pooling. ~A

Perceived efficacy: 2.5/5

Longevity: 4.5/5

How much I actually like this product: 2.75/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: Yes


Tanwise Self-Tanning Face Gel

This stuff works, but at what cost? The cost of your beautiful, blemish-free skin! This self-tanner is king at clogging pores.

This is a cheap find at Sally’s for $7. I went in to Sally’s a few days ago and noticed that the packaging for all Tanwise products had changed since I bought my bottle, so I’m not sure if that infers an ingredient reformulation was done as well.

This comes out as a white gel-cream. The smell is a little tough to describe, and there’s nothing “flowery” or “fresh” covering it up: you know that smell you smell, when you walk into a hair salon…? That’s what this is. It’s easy to spread, you really only need two pea sized dollops to cover your whole face.

The gel will very quickly develop on your skin and turn your skin a reasonable shade of brown, I’d say about 2-3 levels darker than your base even after the first usage, which to me is a pretty good result. And, it’s not orange! I never had an issue with the color getting blotchy or streaky, even after layering other products over it. Which brings me to my next point, this lotion works very well with anything else you use before or after it, moisturizers or makeup. The staying power of this self-tanner is pretty good too, even if you wash your face frequently — two to three days will pass before you’ll need to go in with another application.

The bad news: this stuff makes me break out like crazy! I see benzyl alcohol has snuck in the second line of ingredients. So that might be the culprit (or it might not be, but I’m blaming it on that!). After a day of using this, I tend to wake up to find 4 or 5 brand new spots on my face. Not good.

It’s really too bad because this is a really nice facial tanner otherwise, and it lasts much longer than anything else I’ve tried before. Heck, it doesn’t even devolve into that infamous DHA stink after 12 hours! But it’s definitely not worth the breaking out for. ~A

Perceived efficacy: 5/5

Longevity: 4/5

How much I actually like this product: 2.5/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: No

St Tropez Gradual Tan Tinted

I think this is my HG instant tan. “But it’s a gradual tanner!” If I had a separate category for “Doing what it says”, this would get 0 stars. But like many other beauty products, this functions perfectly as something other than it’s intended use.

Get the gloves or mitt on for this one: it will stain your hands. Unfortunately this dark brown lotion isn’t incredibly “runny” so you’ll need quite a bit of product if you’re looking to tan your entire body, it’s probably about a month or two’s worth of product if you use it two times a week. Price tag is $30. Stacked against other tanners, this is… not horrible, but still a pricy venture. But keep reading — I think it’s worth it.

This lotion has probably one of the most phenomenal, most foolproof guides I have ever encountered. They’re incredibly dark brown, and you can see it within 15-20 seconds of spreading the lotion. This is quick enough to “notify” you that you need to do a better job spreading the product, because at that point, the lotion hasn’t fully absorbed yet. I am extremely careless when applying self-tanner, and don’t do a great job of checking myself over so it’s good to have a reliable guide. A lot of self tanners I’ve tried are notorious for having the guides show up way too late (well after the lotion has dried), or the guide is simply too light.

Speaking of dry times, this one does have about a 30 minute wait to set. I can generally start moving around a little more after the 15 minute mark, but 30 is probably safest to mitigate the risks of streaking. Also, if you notice any over-applied spots during this time (super pigmented spots in between your fingers, on your feet, knees, etc.), you can easily blend it in or remove some of the product.

Streaking only truly occurs, for me, after 3-4 days of wear and showering. Any splotchiness is caused by me rubbing my skin too hard against something, NOT the lotion itself, and furthermore this lotion DOES NOT cling to dry patches. Loving Tan mousse, for instance, had a tendency to spontaneously crack open once dried on the skin for no real reason. But St Tropez is remarkably resistant to a lot of direct interaction with the skin.

I personally like the color. It’s not orange, it’s a closer to dark brown. It’s not the darkest you’re ever going to get, but the difference is pretty dramatic if you’re originally an NC 10/15/20. The initial smell is a bit like cocoa butter, and fortunately this didn’t descend too quickly into extreme-DHA smell (no matter what anyone says, no matter what product you’re using, you’ll never escape that smell completely!)

As for the ingredients, well, let’s just say that I have lower expectations for the safety and comedogenicity of all self-tanners. There’s a lot of weird stuff in the ingredient list to begin with, but on a very basic level I can say DHA can be a controversial compound — it’s better than actually tanning, but is the forcing your skin to turn over and interact with melanin any better? I’ve also been googling “anisyl alcohol” for fifteen minutes, and can barely find any literature on it in regards to skincare. I didn’t experience any rashes with this product on my body, but my face didn’t tolerate this as well, and I had a few breakouts from it.

Onto the gradual tan vs instant tan issue: I don’t think this works AT ALL as a gradual tanner. Using it day-over-day will cause splotchiness, or at the very least, show evidence of day one looking lighter than day two’s application. But as an instant tanner, if your skin is more on the pale side? This is great! The color is evident after the first 30 minutes of wear, and as I mentioned before, the color fades out naturally in a few days, without tell-tale zebra stripes. That’s everyone’s instant tan dream, isn’t it?

That was a long review, but I think it was worth it to defend my favorite instant tanner that’s in the disguise of a gradual tanner! ~A

Buy St Tropez Tinted Gradual Tan here:

Perceived efficacy: 4.5/5 (as an instant tanner!)

Longevity: 4.5/5

How much I actually like this product: 4.5/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: Maybe