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Why Tan-Luxe Is Our New Favorite Self-Tanner Brand

These days it seems like all beauty innovations hail from Japan or Korea, but our new self-tanner obsession comes from straight across the pond. Tan-Luxe, which first launched in the UK last year, has recently made its stateside debut on HSN. So what sets them apart from the (many, many, many) other self-tanners out there? A lot, actually.

First off, there’s the unexpected formulas. Of the four products in the line—look for two more to come early next year—the self-tan drops and self-tan mist are truly game-changers. The former is available in two separate versions for face and body (the two are similar, though the body formula also contains cellulite-fighting ingredients like caffeine). Mix the drops with your favorite moisturizer or serum, and how tan you get depends on how many drops you add. The directions say two to six, so we started with two, swirling the amber-colored drops with a dollop of plain moisturizer in the palm of our hand before rubbing it across our legs. Happily, there was no tell-tale tanner smell (it actually smelled kind of good, slightly fruity), and the end result was a subtle radiance and warmth that enhanced our natural skin tone.

The self-tan water looks like any other facial mist, which is another distinguishing factor. “Other products add brown color to aid in application, but it has no impact on the end result. It’s messy and can stain, and often contains drying alcohol,” says Tan-Luxe founder Marc Elrick. This clear spray contains purified and filtered water, coupled with vitamins, oils, and DHA (dihydroxyacetone, the active ingredient in self-tanners). As with the drops, how much you spritz determines the level of darkness. We started with about four sprays, though it was definitely tempting to use more since it goes on completely clear. Ignoring the directions to blend with a tanning mitt, we used our hands instead. This worked totally fine—just remember to wash your hands afterward. (It’s easy to forget this step when your palms look completely clean.) The spray instantly gave our skin a pretty sheen and we noticed a slight glow within an hour, at which point we wiped down with a white towel…just to see what would happen. Like Elrick said, there was no staining or smudging, which was reassuring as we climbed into our white sheets that night. Within four hours we were definitely tan, noticeably darker than when we used the drops. Our verdict: The drops make it easier to look subtly sun-kissed, the water is ideal when you crave a back-from-the-beach tan.

Beauty blogger Marianna Hewitt demonstrates how to get a J.Lo-worth glow:

Secondly, there’s the fact that these products don’t smell like self-tanner—like, at all. To explain the products’ lack of stink, think back to high school chemistry class and the pH scale. “We formulate the DHA at a lower pH than other brands. The reaction with the skin is then gentler, resulting in a more natural-looking tan and no harsh odor,” Elrick says.

Speaking of DHA, this is what also sets Tan-Luxe apart: The kind they use is naturally-derived (Elrick is quick to note that not all DHA is created equal and the quality can vary greatly), following the brand’s policy of keeping parabens and alcohol out of all their formulas. What the products do contain? Nourishing ingredients like vitamin E, raspberry seed oil, and aloe, to name a few. “We take a customized approach,” explains Elrick. “You should be able to control the color of your self-tanner, but it should also be multi-functional, something that can easily be incorporated into your skin-care routine.” So as the temperature cools down and summer begins to feel like a distant memory, consider trying out these new British imports. In our book, they certainly take the gold when it comes to getting bronzed.

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