Tested on animals:No
We're going to be completely honest here: At first glance we very skeptical that St. Tropez's Gradual Tan In Shower Lotion would work given its unusual application method…but after a week of using it, we were converted! Not only is it less prone to streaking than your typical self-tanning body lotion, it offers other traits that give it an edge over the competition. As impressed as we were with this product, it unfortunately has a couple things holding it back from our top honors, but before we delve into all of that let's cover how it works…
To review a self-tanner, you really have to put it through the paces to determine whether it can live up to its claims and so we did just that. The directions state to shower as normal, then shut off the water and "generously apply the product in circular motions with your hands to wet skin to create an even coverage." Doing so produces a silky lather that glides over skin and makes the formula less prone to streaking (and applying while still wet means the product doesn't grab on to dry patches of skin).
Once you've slathered yourself with the lotion, wash the palms of your hands to avoid undesired staining, and per the instructions, wait three minutes before rinsing the product off your body. If you find standing in the shower for that amount of time boring, we found it helpful to save our hair conditioner step for that time, and/or you can hop out of the shower and brush your teeth. At the end of three minutes, rinse with warm water (no soap), and then gently pat yourself dry with a towel. No more waiting after that, you can get dressed and go!
The result? A light tan with initial use and gradually deeper color with successive applications—all thanks to the self-tanning agent, dihydroxyacetone. This isn't intended for someone who desires deeply bronzed skin in just one application, but rather it caters to those who like the idea of building smooth, even color gradually. We found the ideal color developed after the third or fourth time using Gradual Tan In Shower Lotion—those with fair skin may prefer experimenting with less frequent application, while those with deeper color more.
One of the unique advantages this formula has over other self-tanners was that shaving your legs right before application didn't present a problem. With some self-tanners, you can end up with tiny dots of darker color that accumulate in the follicles of the shaved hairs, but through several rounds of testing Gradual Tan In Shower Lotion, not once did we experience that result. One potential issue might be if you have sensitive skin, the combination of shaving your legs and immediately following up with this highly fragrant formula could present cause some noticeable irritation. While we didn't experience visible irritation, those with sensitive skin should proceed carefully.
Speaking of the fragrance, this has a sort of a soapy-floral scent that lingers on skin after you rinse off. We wish that weren't the case because highly fragrant formulas have the potential to damage skin in a number of ways (see More Info). With occasional-use in body formulas such as this, it's a little less concerning, but still not great news for the health of skin. We're guessing St. Tropez included fragrance to mask the typical smell that self-tanners can have as they interact with skin, which on its own can be a bit off-putting for some.
As far as the other ingredients go, the inclusion of sweet almond oil is a nice, moisturizing touch and we did notice that our skin felt softer than usual after showering.
What are the downsides? Although Gradual Tan In Shower Lotion is less prone to streaking than most self-tanners—it's still not completely foolproof. The first time one of staffers used it, they ended up with a couple of streaks on their feet, perhaps from some of the product spilling during initial application. That's user error, which could happen with any self-tanning formula, but it's a good lesson to give your feet and heels an extra rinse at the end.
The bigger issue is how quickly we went through this product. By the sixth time of using Gradual Tan In Shower Lotion, the squeeze tube was nearly empty! Applying generously to wet skin—a necessary step to get the results it promises—means you end up using more product than you would if you were applying it to dry skin. That skews this product toward the pricier side for consistent use, but that's not a deal-breaker for everyone. (For such smooth-looking results, you may find the price justified.)
In the end, Gradual Tan In Shower Lotion's unique qualities and smooth, tan color surprised us in a good way—but due to its lingering fragrance and how quickly you go through the bottle it fell just short of our highest honor.
- Silky lotion glides smoothly over wet skin so the color doesn't "grab" in drier areas.
- Builds your self-tan gradually and evenly.
- Doesn't accumulate in the follicles of the shaved hairs (like some self-tanners do post-shave).
- Moisturizing formula leaves skin soft with sweet almond oil.
- Towel off and go! (The color doesn't transfer on clothes.)
- You can run through a bottle in as little as six or seven uses.
- Fragranced formula lingers on skin.
- Some may find the three-minute wait in the shower annoying.
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).