Three Sunless Tanning Creams: Which Works Best?

Three Sunless Tanning Creams:  Which Works Best?
By: Lauren Keith

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. --Three sunless tanning products---three lovely ladies to test them for us. First, the cheapest product of the three, which is actually a moisturizer. The $5 Jergens Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer tells you to use it as a lotion and each day you'll get a bit darker.

That interests Ilene Davis, who hasn't been too happy with self-tanning products in the past.

"It's usually one extreme to the next, you're this color and then darker. I don't use tanning beds," says Ilene.

But Stephenie Taylor does use those tanning beds. I fact, she's never tried a sunless tanning cream.

"Fake 'n' Bake! Yeah, I watched the news this morning, you're not supposed to use the beds anymore," says Stephenie.

She applies the $8 Neutrogena Build a Tan cream.  It's Allure magazine readers' first choice, so we're expecting good results here.  Meantime, our next tester Kate Broeckling talks about her previous experience with sunless tanners.

"I've done self-tanning products in the past, but I've never bought one that's $30. I'm hoping it will work better," Kate says.

Kate is excited to use Clarins Self-tanning Instant Gel.  Not only is it more expensive, but it's also a gel, which kate likes so far. This product is all the rave on the internet, so Kate will let us know if it works.

"Avoid eyebrows and hairline, wash hands and nails thoroughly after use," notes Kate as she reads the directions.

We follow those directions, and now it's time for the girls to take each product home for a week.  We'll check back and see who's the tannest and hopefully not the orangest.

Here's what we found.  You'll remember Ilene used the Jergens product.  A "before and after" picture using the same lighting each time reveals she is a bit darker, but Ilene's not exactly raving about the experience.

"Since it's a daily moisturizer, I didn't expect a drastic difference and it was gradual. I'm extremely pale and there's a little difference, but I wouldn't use it as a daily moisturizer because it's greasy and doesn't soak in," she says.

Ilene prefers something more light-weight. Meantime, did Stephenie build a tan with Neutrogena?

"It actually worked really well, very fast, if you can handle the smell, it's a good product," she says.

Stephenie's "before and after shot" reveals she, too, is a bit tanner. She says the tanning started almost instantly with this product, but it wasn't as fast for Kate and the $30 Clarins gel.

"I couldn't tell a difference for about two days with the gel I used," says Kate.

But after the two days, Kate noticed a tan. She also says make sure you allow enough time for any self-tanner to dry---something she learned the hard way.

"I wore dress socks a couple of days after I applied it, and this lotion adhered more here than anywhere else leaving a bit of a ring around my ankles. It comes off when I rub it, but I wanted to at at least show it for the Does it Work test," says Kate.

Still, Kate says this gel applies more evenly than any other tanning products she's used in the past, and it looks the most natural, as we can see in her "before and after" shots.

"It did do a good job, and I was impressed. It didn't turn me orange, " says Kate.

So, let's color up some grades here. On the Jergens Natural Glow, Ilene says:

"It was average, give it a C," says Ilene.

Meantime, the Neutrogena Build a Tan stacked up some high marks from Stephenie.

"I'd probably give it a B+, because of the smell, but it does work well," says Stephenie.

As for Kate and that more expensive tanning gel---it's looking pretty golden on this review, even though Kate points out you might go through one bottle pretty quickly.

"I'd give mine an A, an even A," says Kate.

I bought the Clarins Self-Tanning Instant Gel at the Clarins cosmetic counter in Macy's.  I bought the Neutrogena Build a Tan and the Jergens Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer at Wal-Mart. Since I aired this report, many of you have emailed me saying a different product works great.  So, per our viewer's choice, you may want to try the Estee Lauder Self-Tanning towlettes for yourself, which you can also buy at Macy's.