Solar Tan Self-Tanning Primer

$60 - 1 fl. oz.
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Makeup > Sensitive Skin Products > Foundation Primer
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This product is designed to be a self-tanner and foundation primer in one product, but this mix doesn't make for a great union. The formula does have some of the ingredients typically seen in primers, and it also contains dihydroxyacetone, the ingredient 99% of all self-tanners use to turn skin a shade of brown. Although that might sound clever, there's a problem: A primer is designed to go on before foundation and help make it look smooth and even, but a self-tanner is meant to change the color of your skin gradually over a period of time. That means as the day goes by your foundation will begin to not match your skin color, creating a strange appearance.

Even if you wear the primer by itself during the day, your skin will change color right before the eyes of the people around you—not exactly subtle. When all is said and done, self-tanner is best applied at night and primer is best applied under foundation. Our recommendation is never the twain shall meet.

  • The silky texture makes skin feel soft and helps foundation apply smoothly and look better.
  • Fragrance-free.
  • Used as a foundation, primer defeats the purpose of self-tanning.
  • Skin will change color and become different from the shade of foundation you are wearing.
  • When worn during the day by itself, your skin will change color over time, confusing those around you.
  • Potential for "masked" appearance by day's end.
  • Overpriced.

More info:

If you opt to try this product, it is best to use it at night, so there are no surprises on your face by day's end. However, considering that there's nothing truly special about this formula (the ingredient dihydroxyacetone is in most self-tanners), you'd do just as well layering a recommended serum and self-tanner at night, for a fraction of the cost.

Cyclopentasiloxane, Ethoxydiglycol, Glycerin, Phenyl Trimethicone, Dihydroxyacetone, Oleyl Alcohol, Ethylhexyl Salicylate, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Bisabolol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Isopentyldiol, Phenoxyethanol, Benzoic Acid, Silica.

According to founder Carisa Janes, Hourglass Cosmetics are "homegrown luxury cosmetics." Sounds like an intriguing marketing angle—but what does that mean for the consumer? The "luxury" element becomes overly apparent in the price tag, and the "homegrown" aspect seems to be related to the brand's humble beginnings as a small storefront in 2004. Other than those points, there is really nothing inherently special about this relatively small line of makeup, which is now available at most Sephora stores nationwide.

The most hyped product in the Hourglass line is their Veil Fluid Makeup SPF 15. This liquid foundation gets a lot of chatter online as being a "must-have" product, but that doesn't mean it's the only one or even the best option out there. In reality, although this foundation has a beautiful, lightweight texture that provides good coverage with reliable sun protection, it has a serious problem in that it noticeably separates in the bottle, which really puts into question the stability of the sunscreen. For $60 an ounce, this really should be perfect!

What you should know about any cosmetic product is that expensive doesn't necessarily mean better; there are good and bad products in all price ranges. Unfortunately, many consumers find it hard not to expect a line like Hourglass, with its luxury price tag, to be far better than "bargain" brands. But, even when an expensive product is great, you can almost always find a more affordable alternative that is just as good (if not better!) than the expensive one. The bottom line: In making the decision to purchase any cosmetic, you shouldn't rely solely on how much it costs, and Hourglass is no exception.

Case in point: Hourglass's exquisite, expensive makeup brush collection. Yes, these are soft, beautifully made and completely luxurious brushes, but so are plenty of other Taklon (synthetic hair) brushes that are available for far less money. Or even consider Hourglass's silly Oxygen Mineral Powder, a pressed powder that overhypes its mineral content (it's a stretch to call this product "mineral" at all) and makes unsubstantiated claims that it can deliver oxygen to the skin. But, worst of all, this $46 product seriously underperforms when compared to many $10 powders at the drugstore (Neutrogena, L'Oreal, Sonia Kashuk, and Rimmel come to mind).

Hourglass's underlying philosophy (and brand-name symbolism) is meant to speak to the benefit of using well-formulated products that ward off the ever-marching effects of time. Unfortunately, this lofty goal is nearly unattainable for any makeup company. For Hourglass, it extends only to their foundations with sunscreen, not exactly earthshaking given the number of companies who can provide this benefit, and it certainly doesn't take super-expensive products. In fact at Hourglass's prices, it's unlikely you'll apply these as liberally as needed for adequate sun protection. Just another example of how expensive doesn't mean better!

For more information about Hourglass Cosmetics, visit or call 310-392-7799.

Member Comments

Summary of Member Comments

  1. How would you rate the results? (4 = Best)

    3 / 4 Good
  2. Was this product a good value? (4 = Best)

    2 / 4 Average
  3. Would you recommend this product? (4 = Best)

    3 / 4 Good
Page of 1
  1. Natasha
    Reviewed on Saturday, December 13, 2014
    • Value
      3 / 4
    • Results
      3 / 4
    • Recommend
      3 / 4
    Will NOT change your colour dramatically in 8hrs
    • I have to disagree about this changing your face colour in front of people & looking like a mask. This is a very light & gradual tanner(like a daily self tan) I have fair skin & even using it for 2 days my skin hardly changed. On day 1 you probably won't even notice, day 2 you might see your skin looking a bit healthier, Day 3 a nice glow BUT this isn't a WOW after 4 hrs tan. TBH you could use this for 5 days & then every other day to keep the healthy glow. You will defo NOT look scary/weird x

  2. Rachael
    Reviewed on Friday, August 30, 2013
    • Results
      4 / 4
    • Value
      2 / 4
    • Recommend
      3 / 4
    Don't fear!
    • It is a gradual tan product. You will not look strange or as if you have a mask on at the end of the day, as Paula's review suggests. This product is definitely not inexpensive, especially as you do need to apply it for a few days (or nights) to achieve the desired results. You will not, however, be drastically different at the end of the day, do not worry.

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About the Experts

Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books on skin care and makeup. She is known worldwide as the Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula's Choice. Paula's expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international television including:

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The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to helping you find the absolute best products for your skin, using research-based criteria to review beauty products from an honest, balanced perspective. Each member of the team was personally trained by Paula herself.

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