Fake tanning, your face especially, is like playing with fire, which is why, until recently, I left all fake tanning to the professionals. Once a week, I would shower, shave, exfoliate, then pop over to one of the three spray tan joints I frequented, whichever had availability since I almost always booked last minute. After years and years of this, out of nowhere, my skin decided to revolt by way of a full-face breakout. One month and one healed complexion later, I was in a state of denial and decided to test the water one more time because there was no way that it wasn’t a fluke.

It was not a fluke, I broke out again, and for the last three months, I’ve been living with a debilitating fear of fake tanning, and also a constant state of paleness. On some people, being sheet-white is attractive, even preferable to a having a little color. I am not one of those people. I wouldn’t even call my natural complexion pale, it’s more overall sallow accented with a light, bruise-like blue under my eyes, both of which have always been easily negated by the tans, but now, much to my dismay, were my new-normal. I promised myself, despite all of the negatives of pale-living, never again would I self-tan. It’s not worth the breakouts, I repeated like Bloody Mary into my bathroom mirror, doing my very best to ignore the sickly complexion looking back at me.

My willpower lasted a whole two months before I came across a new Charlotte Tilbury product launch. Not makeup- which she’s most widely known for- but a face mask called Overnight Bronze & Glow designed to give the user a “soft, subtle tan” while you sleep. I always tell people if I had to choose one beauty brand to use for the rest of my life, it would be Charlotte’s, hands down. The formulations, the color payoffs, the longevity- she clearly is one of the best artists in the biz for a reason, because her products all work beautifully. Knowing that, you can probably imagine it didn’t take a lot of arm-twisting to get me to break my streak and start using the mask. Plus, it was May and starting to get to the point in the year when I couldn’t blame winter for looking ill all the time.

I apply to a clean face and neck like a moisturizer before bed on nights when I’m not using active serums or exfoliators like retinol, then wash my face as usual the next morning. It took two nights for me to see color starting to show, but by morning three, I was quite literally glowing. There was a noticeable warmer tone overall, but not even a hint of orange, and best of all, no breakouts! Not one.

Since the color builds so gradually, you don’t have to be as careful with the application as you would be with a more traditional self-tanner, but if you’re consistently sloppy, it can build up in crevices, like by your nose or along your forehead, so try not to rush if you don’t want to risk dark spots. Oh, and don’t forget to wash your hands! Orange palms are not a great look- speaking from experience.

Now go forth, mask and be tan! Or go forth and don’t mask, if that makes you happy. But now, whatever you decide, you’ve got options!

Credits

Photography
Greyson Tarantino