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Test driving the season’s new sunless tanners

The Kardashian line Sun Kissed.

With their makeup line being rebranded to end a trademark battle, the Kardashian sisters haven’t had the greatest luck shilling cosmetics to the masses. But their latest venture, a sunless tanning line called Sun Kissed, may change that. The collection boasts five products, covering three critical steps — prep, tan, extend — available at Ulta stores.

In a test run, we picked two products from the lineup: the sweet-scented Body Exfoliator ($12.99) scrub and Instant Sunless Spray ($19.99). Following a thorough scrub down (the exfoliator is a fairly decent product on its own) came a very messy tanner application thanks to a sputtering spray valve and rogue mist that stained the bottom of a porcelain tub. However, the dry time is accurate, setting within minutes, making it great for folks on the go.



We were fairly happy with the warm bronze glow that immediately developed after a quick spray. The color did not deepen as promised. (Full disclosure: We did skip the final Tan Extender With Bronzers product that allegedly creates a long-lasting darker effect.) On the plus side, it didn’t melt off on clothes during an active day and evening. But the love was fleeting: That evening’s shower rinsed away the faux glow.

Next up was Clarins Self Tanning Instant Gel. At $34 for a 4.4-ounce tube, a full body and face application seemed like a rather expensive ritual to partake in — but Clarins was also one of the few brands that we felt confident slathering on our face for an extended period of time.

Application was easy enough, the gel felt dry but moisturizing, smoothing over knees and elbows, leaving no scent behind. A little stickiness remained, particularly around the neck, but color developed quickly and evenly. The effect — though probably not intended — is actually a lot like spending the day at the beach, returning home with a warm tan and a thin layer of atmospheric residue on the skin. We suppose you could wash it off, but we lived with it until the next morning when it finally sank into the skin.


The real benefit of this product was the even look to the skin that only one application left behind. We were able to forgo our everyday face foundation and left the house looking well-rested and (dare we say it?) well-traveled with just a quick swipe of lipstick and mascara. The tan subtly faded over the course of three days and two showers, and no breakouts ensued.


Tarte’s Brazilliance Skin Rejuvenating Maracuja Face and Body Self Tanner (yes, that’s its full name) has been on the market since last year when it was a QVC exclusive, but it’s making its debut at brick and mortar retailers this summer. At $37, it arrives with a rather cute, large foam mitt with which to slather on the product. Shockingly, it works and best of all, it makes the process fast and seamless.

The gel, which boasts a so-called “skinvigorating” formula, is packed with rich ingredients the brand is known for, including maracuja and sunflower seed oils, that leave the skin looking and feeling healthy and supple. Yes, it has a scent, which may be a downside for the super sensitive. But for those who aren’t, it smells nice enough. We were able to dance around in a white T-shirt within minutes and saw the shade truly develop several hours after initial application. Bronzed and beautiful? Sure. But for how long? About three active days after application it had washed clean.


Perricone MD.

We opted to test drive Perricone MD’s No Sun Tanner last since the bottle recommended reapplication over a series of days to build a subtle tan. Leave it to the skin-focused experts at Perricone to create a sunless product with a pump spout (a major bonus for the germ-conscious) and an exclusive formula that claims not only to add color, but firm, tone, and tighten. (A 4-ounce bottle rings in at $69.)

The lotion, like many of the others, has no color during application but goes on easily and evenly enough. To our despair, we washed our hands after the first application and saw residue stains around our wrists that lingered for several days. But on the other hand, that hiccup is a testament to the staying power of the product, which, following the three-day application, lasted nearly a week.

Rachel Raczka can be reached at rraczka@boston.com.