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This Self-Tanner Kit Is the Only One That Doesn't Turn Me Into an Ooompa Loompa

St Tropez Self Tan Starter Kit | $25 | Amazon
St Tropez Self Tan Starter Kit | $25 | Amazon
Graphic: Ana Luisa Suarez

Hello, I feel I need to start this off by confessing I am a reformed tanning bed addict. The year I graduated high school, Jersey Shore was all the rage, and I truly lived a GTL lifestyle. Okay, only GT, because I barely did my laundry back then. I used to hop in a tanning bed for 12 to 20 minutes, seven days a week, sometimes stopping at the tanning salon twice a day. Yes, I know I damaged the hell out of my skin by doing this. And while I haven’t fake and baked in years now, I still do enjoy being tan.

The desire to be tan probably all comes down to where I live: New Jersey, where everyone strives to be as tan as can be. You can’t go to the shore in June through August without finding the sand packed full of people wearing no sunscreen at all, or worse, tanning oil. I’ve given up that habit, and if I do lay out, I wear SPF 50 and I apply every 80 to 100 minutes. I don’t want to look older than I am, and around here, tanning excessively really ages you drastically.

On the right, 18-year-old Ana, in the height of her tanning bed addiction. At the time, I didn’t think I was tan enough. On the left, my poor friend Kelly, wondering what I did to my skin.
On the right, 18-year-old Ana, in the height of her tanning bed addiction. At the time, I didn’t think I was tan enough. On the left, my poor friend Kelly, wondering what I did to my skin.
Photo: Ana Luisa Suarez

In order to maintain a glowy tan for all of the photos I am in at the many weddings, bridal showers, and bachelorette parties I attend each year, I decided to turn to self-tanner. Initially, I wasn’t sure what brand I could trust. I’ve tried various self-tanners over the years that promise a “bronze glow” but really turn you into a Cheeto. It isn’t too hard for me to get a tan since I am Puerto Rican and have olive skin already; natural sun-based tans are easy, but product-based tans are always a gamble.


A friend of mine, who has much fairer skin than me naturally, suggested I try St. Tropez, which she swore by. When I first checked it out, I saw that one bottle cost a whopping $44—totally out of my price range. But on Amazon, I found a St. Tropez Self Tan Starter Kit that only costs $25. Knowing how easy it is to return products I don’t like to Amazon, I decided to give it a try.

The starter kit comes with four products: a 1.69 oz. bottle of classic bronzing mousse, tan-enhancing body polish, tan-enhancing body moisturizer, and a tan applicator mitt. The instructions for the kit are extremely simple and easy to follow:

Step 1: Exfoliate 24 hours prior to use with our Tan Enhancing Body Polish. Immediately prior to application, using our Tan Enhancing Body Moisturizer, moisturize any dry areas including elbows, knees, ankles and feet.

Step 2: For best results, apply the Classic Mousse using our Tan Applicator Mitt in long sweeping motions, starting at the ankles and working your way up. Then for your back, turn the mitt back to front and start applying in the same way. Ensure all areas are covered before lightly gliding any excess tan from the Mitt over your hands and feet.

Step 3: Wait until touch dry before getting dressed.

Step 4: Allow 4-8 hours before showering to reveal your developed tan.

Step 5: To prolong and maintain your tan, moisturize daily, exfoliate regularly and reapply as desired.

I learned when I was a teenager to not apply self-tanner if your skin is really dry because it clings to those spots and they become awkwardly darker than the rest of your skin. So, the exfoliation and moisturizing steps made perfect sense when prepping to tan. I loved using the mitt because I didn’t have to worry about my hands getting orange after applying the tanner.

Kelly and I again, 10 years later, both a more acceptable shade of tan.
Kelly and I again, 10 years later, both a more acceptable shade of tan.
Photo: Kelly Wewers

After applying everything in order, I left the tanner on for eight hours. It has a beach-y scent, which is pleasant and not overpowering. I will say, you do feel sticky for an hour or two after applying the bronzing mousse, even when you are technically dry. After the first time I used this, I determined it was best to only apply the self-tanner when I knew I wouldn’t be doing anything that made me sweat at all. AKA, I put this on an hour before bed and just jump in the shower as soon as I’m awake. I am happy to report that this has never left any residue on my clothing, bed, or shower at any point in the application process.


Once I had washed off the residue, any skepticism I had for this brand was gone. I had a nice, natural-looking tan. I only needed to use it one to get a sun-kissed glow and twice to get a deeper tan. Since buying the set, I’ve used it six or seven times and can still feel there’s at least 1/3 of the 1.69 oz. bottle of classic bronzing mousse left, which is more than I expected for a starter kit.

In order to get a good “glow,” I only need to use this kit one time, if I’m trying to self-tan between May and September. I use it twice (a few days apart in one week) between October and April. For a little added extra color, I will use the St. Tropez tanning kit at night and then the tinted body lotion the next day.

Since buying this kit, it’s now my go-to during wedding season, and I’ve begun to invest more in the brand overall, having since purchased the St. Tropez Gradual Tan Tinted Body Lotion for touch-ups after using the self-tanner. And best of all, I no longer look like Snooki.


Ana works as the senior commerce editor at The Inventory. Her dream job is to make her senior Yorkie, Tyrone, Insta famous.

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