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My Body Is Dulce De Leche Because of This Self-Tanner

Updated: Sep 27, 2022

See my one-month results using a $12 European drugstore tanning lotion.

To self-tan or not to self-tan? Thanks to celebfluencers like the Kardashians—who try on skin tones like they do fashion trends—that is a political question in 2022.

I have complicated feelings about the degree to which people like myself tan their skin. There’s nothing wrong with getting a suntan, of course, but painting yourself in three layers of Loving Tan Ultra Dark is not a suntan. Like, think about it…

  • Who made changing your skin tone a trend? Celebrities and influencers.

  • Why? To sell products and make money.

  • Does this harm people with naturally deeper skin tones? Yes.

BIPOC who naturally exude the brown skin, full lips, and curves that Kardashians pay for do not benefit from these “trends” while they’re in, and they are directly harmed by these trends when they go out. Speaking of which, maybe you’ve noticed the Kardashians dissolving their BBLs, adjusting their fake tans to be “white again,” and bringing back ‘90s waif ribcage? Yes, you did.

While I have all of these + more feelings on tanning, I am NOT the person to give you an essay or any sort of resolution on the topic. My bottom line is just: be informed, trust no brand/celebrity/influencer, support BIPOC beauty/business, and don’t be a jerk.

So without being a jerk (hopefully), I’m going to tell you about a gradual self-tanner that mimics my natural beach tan to a T.

TBH, I’m really happy with my natural beach tan and don’t feel the need to go any darker. My dad is half Puerto Rican and his Sazón DNA + a beach vacay with plenty of SPF gets me to the below shade.

Three weeks on Italian and Portuguese beaches. Take me back!

I want to always look like I just got back from lazing on an Algarve beach bed… Enter: Garnier Summer Body.

I’ll say this up front: You have to order this product on Amazon ($12) and it’s kind of sketchy. My last order came with the tape around the bottles; it was clearly shipped from an individual who bought it and resold it. If that creeps you out, I have also seen it on Boohoo ($22).

It’s a European market product and you can buy it for 5 euro at Boots. I stocked up last time I was in Europe and I will continue to do so every time I go BECAUSE LOOK.

This is my Garnier Summer Body tan after one month. I used the Light Sunkissed shade every other day, but in the past I’ve used the Deep Sunkissed shade and applied it every few days.

And here is my natural tan vs. my Garnier Summer Body tan.

Real Tan vs. 1 Month Using Garnier Summer Body

The picture on top was taken when I got home from Portugal with my natural tan. The one on the bottom is a little over one month later.

I actually think the Garnier tan is more golden and less orange-y than my natural tan (it's the Sazón).

I say all of this as someone who was previously a devotee of Isle of Paradise foaming tanner (the kind you need a glove for but do not need to wash off). But my Garnier tan is as good or better than my Isle of Paradise tan.

Plus, gradual tanning lotion is SO much easier to apply than regular self-tanner. You just put it on like lotion and wash your hands after. I’ve never had streaks or issues with application—and I’m pretty lazy and haphazard about application.

I even apply it to my feet and there are no weird streaks or color spots.

That said, here are a few tips if you’re using gradual tanner for the first time:

  • Don’t tan the tips of your elbows too much

  • Do tan the tops of your hands and feet

  • Don’t tan your vag; tanning products are for external use only so better safe than sorry

  • If the tanner oversaturates around your feet or ankles, try applying lotion to those areas beforehand. You can also do this on your elbows.

I apply one long, thick line down the length of my arms and legs and blend in like lotion. Then I use a quarter-size blob each for my neck/décolleté, stomach, back, and bum.

Using the product every other day, I was able to get a full month’s use out of two 250 ml bottles in the light shade. I could definitely stretch one 400 ml bottle in the deeper shade for a month as well.

I have used other gradual tanning lotions by Jergens, Bondi Sands, and Dove. This one blows them all out of the water. The evenness of the tan, the goldenness of the color, and the quickness of the formula! I saw results after two applications.

Maybe I'm an outlier, but this tanner is so good and so seamless that I've never had an issue with it scraping off and leaving white spots. Not once have I done a full-body scrub down to ctrl alt delete my tan and start over. I just keep applying every other day or every few days and the tan stays even and perfect.

Basically, if you see me looking dulce de leche scrumptious this winter, it’s because of Garnier. I will never be without this tanning lotion.

I’m headed back to Ireland in October so I’ll be buying more Garnier Summer Body—as much as I can fit in my always-overpacked suitcase.

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