Tested on animals:Yes
Hoola Zero Tanlines is a sheer body bronzing gel that delivers instant color. As a spinoff of Benefit's cult-status Hoola bronzer, we had high hopes for this product, but it turns out the formula has some major issues that kept us from recommending it.
The chief problem: The potency of alcohol as the third ingredient, which irritates skin immediately and over the long haul. Making matters worse, the lingering fragrance is another red flag for persistent irritation. (See More Info for an in-depth explanation of both of these issues.)
As for the claim that Hoola Zero Tanlines offers streak-free color, we had variable experiences. For larger surface areas (i.e. legs) it took a substantial amount of blending to achieve a smooth layer of color (whether applying with the included sponge or our hands). We also noticed an unpleasantly tacky finish when applying a generous layer in an effort for stronger color.
Such weak spots are unfortunate given the advantages this self-tanner alternative has, including no wait time required for the color to develop and the absence of the dreaded self-tanner smell. We also love how natural the sheer tan color looks (no orangey hue) and the transfer-resistant wear that lasts well throughout the day.
As is stands, the application challenges and formulary concerns are considerable enough to hold Hoola Zero Tanlines back from our recommendation. For a better (and less expensive!) alternative, check out Sally Hansen's Airbrush Legs.
- Imparts natural-looking sheer tan color instantly.
- Transfer-resistant wear.
- Problematic duo of prominent alcohol + fragrance.
- Tricky to get streak-free coverage over larger surface areas.
- Leaves a tacky finish when applied generously.
Alcohol-Based Products: A significant amount of research shows alcohol causes free-radical damage in skin even at low levels (Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, 2012). Small amounts of alcohol on skin cells in lab settings (about 3%, but skincare products contain amounts ranging from 5% to 60% or greater) over the course of two days increased cell death by 26%. It also destroyed the substances in cells that reduce inflammation and defend against free radicals—this process actually causes more free-radical damage. If this weren't bad enough, exposure to alcohol also causes skin cells to self-destruct (Alcohol, 2002).
Research also shows that these destructive and aging effects on skin cells increased the longer skin was exposed to alcohol; for example, two days of exposure were dramatically more harmful than one day, and that's at only a 3% concentration (Alcohol, 2002). In fact, the effect of inflammation in the skin is cumulative, and repeated exposure to irritants contributes to a weakened skin barrier, slower healing (including of red marks from breakouts), and a dull, uneven complexion (Aging, 2012 & Chemical Immunology and Allergy, 2012).
For more on alcohol's (as in, ethanol, denatured alcohol, and ethyl alcohol) effects on skin, see the Paula's Choice Research Team's Expert Advice article on the topic, Alcohol in Skin Care: The Facts.
Irritation from High Amounts of Fragrance: Daily use of products that contain a high amount of fragrance, whether the fragrant ingredients are synthetic or natural, causes chronic irritation that can damage healthy collagen production, lead to or worsen dryness, and impair your skin's ability to heal. Fragrance-free is the best way for all skin types to go for all skin types (Food and Chemical Toxicology, 2008 & American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, 2003).
The sneaky part about irritation is that research has demonstrated that you don't always need to see it or feel it for your skin to suffer damage, and that damage may remain hidden for a long time (Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, 2008).
In fact, the effect of inflammation in the skin is cumulative, and repeated exposure to irritants contributes to a weakened skin barrier, slower healing (including of red marks from breakouts), and a dull, uneven complexion (Aging, 2012 & Chemical Immunology and Allergy, 2012).