This Is The Fastest Working, Least Messy Self-Tanner We’ve Ever Tried

My post spray-tan or self-tanner scenarios often go as follows: I cover my body in a formula infused with DHA (the ingredient that makes your skin appear to have a bronzed color) and wait at least eight hours for the shade to develop before showering. Sometimes this happens during the day, and no matter how many brands claims not be stinky, they always are. My husband doesn’t want to snuggle up to me when I have that telltale chemical scent on my skin. And my perfume can’t mask it. Or the product transfers to my clothes and sheets (if I leave it on overnight), making the case to do an extra load of laundry. St. Tropez, one of the more high-end self-tanning brands, is solving these problem with a revolutionary launch.

St. Tropez is taking us into the future with its recently-launched Gradual Tan Pre Shower Mousse ($20), a formula that is applied before you shower, left on the skin for one to five minutes, and then rinsed off so you don’t have to walk around with the feeling or scent of self-tanner on your skin all day. After trying it, I can confirm that it’s pretty amazing.

It comes at a time when self-tanner is blossoming into a multi-texture category in the beauty space. Currently there are self-tanning dry oils, face mists, foams, creams, serums, sheet masks, overnight masks, body sprays, and even coconut-oil balms. Previously, St. Tropez attempted an in-shower, self-tanner that you use in a similar way to a body wash, except that it has DHA and turns skin bronze. However, as a tester of it, it didn’t give me the deep tan color I desired. The Pre-Shower Mousse, however, is an alternative to that product, even easier to use, and actually gave me a healthy-looking glow after three consecutive uses.

St. Tropez Gradual Tan Pre Shower Mousse is a unique, streak-free mousse that is applied directly to dry skin for one to five minutes (with or without a mitt) before showering,” explains Sophie Evans, St. Tropez’s Skin Finishing Expert. “It is so easy to use and perfect for the self-tanning pro or the beginner.”

She goes on to explain how it works: “Tan enhancers allow the vegan-friendly and 100-percent naturally derived DHA to penetrate the surface of the skin deeper and faster. The result is a quick, natural-looking glow, which will gradually develop over the next eight hours. There is no guide color, unlike what you see when you get a spray tan or use our classic mousse, however a subtle sheen will be left on the skin once the white mousse has absorbed.”

Here’s how I personally use it. Before showering, I strip down to my birthday suit, and apply the mousse to dry, clean skin. It absorbs quickly and leaves a pearly sheen on the surface, so I know where it has been applied and where I need to add formula. I even use it on my face, and it doesn’t cause breakouts or reactions (and I do have sensitive skin). Then, I wait five minutes and take care of another task — such as brushing my teeth or applying a pre-shampoo hair treatment (like Phytopolleine Botanical Scalp Treatment). Once I step into the shower, the mousse rinses off, and when I emerge, there is not stain nor a scent on my skin. But the product is still working, and eight hours later, a streak-free, subtle golden color appears where I had applied the mousse.

“You will get the best color if you rinse off the product gently in the shower following application,” Evans notes. “I would try not to use a loofah, exfoliate, or shave after as it can take away from the color. You should exfoliate and shave first so your skin is prepped for the tan, and the color will last longer!”

I recommend shaving the night before; then wake up in the morning, and apply the Pre-Shower Mousse to your hair-free legs before showering again. While I do apply body and face moisturizer after rinsing, you don’t necessarily have to. “This product has nourishing jojoba esters and vitamin E for moisturization,” Evans adds.

It is important to use it a few days in a row, since you may not see much color after just one trial. I found it definitely built up over time. “For best results, use three days in a row for a tan that looks like you just spent a week on the beach!” Evans advises. “If you add this product to your daily shower routine, you will achieve a deeper tan after three days. Using regularly helps you to control the depth of your tan. For a deeper glow, let the product sit for up to five minutes before showering.”

At the end of the day, everyone’s skin responds to self-tanner uniquely, so what gave me specific results might differ for you. That said, this product saved me time and potentially messy white sheets, and for that, it’s going to be a summer staple in my body-care routine.