Aside from gradual self-tanners that can be layered day after day for darker color, there are bronzers on the market that add color to the skin, but that wash off at the end of the day. As anyone that has tried gradual self-tanners or bronzers knows, finding a formula with a color that looks natural, doesn't reek, applies evenly and won't stain skin or clothes is like finding a needle in a haystack.
Especially because I am fair-skinned, I have to be super careful with what I apply to my body, else I can end up looking like one of the following: 1) bruised, as though someone stood close range and threw golf balls at me; 2) like Snooki; or 3) like I have jaundice. Therefore, I've become quite the product patch tester in order to avoid all three of those unfortunate scenarios.
The three bronzers that I've tried are the St. Tropez 'One Night Only' Instant Glow Body Lotion, Lorac's 'TANtalizer' Body Bronzing Luminizer and Pacifica's 'Coconut Crushed Pearl' Bronzing Body Butter.
I swatched each of the three formulas on my arm for an easy comparison. There is a dark, more concentrated swatch of each formula paired next to how the it looks once sheered out on the skin. Just to show the hue, amount of pigment and shimmer of each one, the comparison pictures were taken in outdoor shade, direct sunlight, and indoors.
(Outdoor shade. From left to right: St. Tropez, Lorac, Pacifica)
St. Tropez - This product already has a cult following, and it has been endlessly mentioned from magazines to blogs, but this is my first experiment with the brand. I must say, I'm a believer. The addition of a green pigment to the formula keeps that dreaded orangey pigment at bay and creates very natural-looking color. I love that, unlike some clear formulas, you can see where the color is being applied when you put it on your skin, and even though the color looks dark against my own skin, it can easily be sheered down to a lighter wash without getting splotchy. Of the three formulas, this one was the only without any shimmer to it. Another plus? The scent is wonderful, as it smells like a light Ralph Lauren perfume. Finally, the price of $18 for five ounces of product really can't be beat.
Lorac - This bronzer won Allure's Best of Beauty award last year, so it's had it's fair share of acclaim. The main reason that I gave this brand a go was because while I was in Sephora, I saw that a fair-skinned redhead had applied product to only one of her legs, leaving the other intentionally bare so as to compare it to her natural skin tone. It looked amazing. I wouldn't have been able to tell that she wasn't naturally as tan as the 'TANtalizer' made her look. On the small swatch I applied to my arm, it looks slightly more red-tinged when compared with St. Tropez, but once sheered out, it looks uber-natural. 'TANtalizer' doesn't contain any glitter, but it does have a shimmer-sheen to it. The scent isn't off-putting, but it does smell artificially fruity, a bit like how scented ChapStick smells. The price is $32 for a 5-ounce tube.
Pacifica - This particular product seems to be more moisturizing than the other two, with less pigment, almost as though it is a body lotion first and the bronzing element comes as a perk. The color is a reddish bronze that, while not necessarily unnatural looking, does contain glitter pigments that would alert onlookers to its faux-ness. This lotion can be sheered out to the point where only the teensiest amount of color - with plenty of glitter - remains. The smell, unfortunately, turned me off of it almost entirely, as it smells like old, fake, stale coconut. I don't even know if coconuts can get stale or what a stale coconut actually does smell like...but I imagine it would be something akin to the scent of this lotion. The price is $24 for an 8-ounce tube.