Why Some Self Tanners Work Better Than Others

Self Tanning ProductsIf you think all self tanners are created equal, think again. Because if you don’t, you could end up with the wrong product, or worse orange, streaky skin!

For some reason, the idea that all self tanning products are the same has been floating around the internet for awhile now.

But for anyone who’s tried more than a few self tanners, you know that’s complete nonsense.

In fact, of the thousands of self tanning products available, there are vast differences in price, ingredients, color produced, smell, and effectiveness.

And it doesn’t matter if you’re talking about self tanning lotions, gels, creams, pads, mousses, or sprays.  The differences apply to ALL of these products.

So let’s take a few minutes to go over what makes these products different, and what you should look for when buying one.

This could make the difference between getting a beautiful, even year round tan… and ending up an orange, streaky, smelly mess!

It’s The Ingredients, Stupid!

The number one factor that determines how good (or bad) a self tanning product is, is it’s ingredients.

Not only what ingredients are included, but what combination of ingredients are used.

Now, I know what some of the so-called experts are going to say.

They’re going to say that all self tanning products use Dihydroxyacetone (DHA) as their “active” ingredient.

And that’s true…

But DHA is just one of several dozen ingredients found in most self tanners.

Just because all self tanning products have one ingredient in common, doesn’t mean they’re all the same.

That’s like saying a Bentley is the same as a Nissan because they have the same tires!

So yes, all self tanners share at least one ingredient, DHA (although they all have different concentrations of DHA).

But what about all the other ingredients?  And what about what the concentrations and combinations used in these products?  And what about the quality of these ingredients?

Believe me when I tell you, these all play a HUGE role in how well your self tanning product is going to work for you.

To show you how important all this is when choosing a self tanner, I think a comparison is in order.

A Tale Of Two Self Tanners

For comparison’s sake, let’s take a look at the ingredients of two different self tanning products we’ve reviewed in the past.

The first, Neutrogena Build A Tan, is an inexpensive (about $9), “drug store” brand that doesn’t work very well.

When we tried it, we found it to smell bad, be a little streaky, take a long time to dry, and produce an unflattering orange color.  When we checked around the web, we found similar reviews on a number of different websites.

The second one we tried, Tanceuticals CC Self Tanning Lotion, is a more expensive (around $25), premium brand that has a very good reputation all over the internet.

When we tried this one, we found it very easy to apply and pleasant smelling.  It dried quickly and produced a nice golden tan.  In addition, the color lasted nearly 7 days- which is great compared to most other self tanning products.

So what accounts for the difference in these two products?

They both contain DHA.  And they both contain a few standard cosmetic ingredients that are found in every product.

But that’s where the similarities end.

We’d bet good money that the Tanceuticals product has a much higher concentration of DHA than the Neutrogena product.

That probably accounts for the big difference in the color achieved.

To explain the rest (better smell, better evenness, easier application, better feel) take a look at this chart of some of the other ingredients used:

Tanceuticals CC Self Tanning Lotion Neutrogena Build A Tan
Vitamin E C12 15 Alkyl Benzoate
Pomegranate Extract Magnesium Aluminum Silicate
Aloe Vera, Acai Berry Extract, Shea Butter, Mango Seed Butter Ethylparaben, Butylparaben, Propylparaben, Isobutylparaben

As you can see, there are some noticeable differences.

You tell me, would you rather have C12 15 Alkyl Benzoate (a fatty acid) and Magnesium Aluminum Silicate (a thickener) in your self tanner?

Or Vitamin E and Acai Berry Extract?

That’s no-brainer.

And one other thing to note.  Some of the other ingredients in the Neutrogena product are all parabens- which have been shown to cause allergic reactions in quite a few people.

The Bottom Line: You Get What You Pay For (Usually!)

After using and reviewing hundreds of self tanning products, I’ve come to a simple conclusion…

When using self tanning products, you generally get what you pay for.

I know that’s probably not what you wanted to hear.

You wanted to hear that all these product s are the same.  That they’re all easy to use, are good for your skin, produce even color and smell nice.

But if you think a cheap $5 self tanner from Wal-Mart is going to give you the same beautiful, natural tan that a higher-end product can, you ‘re sorely mistaken.

Now that doesn’t mean there aren’t some lower-priced products that can work wonders for your particular situation and skin.

I’m sure there are (and we’ll post and review them as we find them).

But for most people, you’ll get much better results spending a few extra bucks for a premium product that uses quality ingredients, quality manufacturing and uses the right combination of ingredients.

That’s the recipe for self tanning success, and like many things in life, it usually costs more for better results (although there are exceptions)!

Speaking of results, we just published our ranking of the best self tanning products currently available, click here to see which products made the cut!