Self-Tanning Gel

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Almost the Real Thing Self-Tanning Gel

Orange is not the new tan. No “fake and bake” here. This silky gel glides on creating a natural looking tan. Without the sun’s harmful rays.
Item #: 300

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  • For All Skin Types
  • Tinted for mistake-proof application


CAUTION: This product does not contain sunscreen and does not protect skin from sunburn. Daily use of a sunscreen rated SPF 15 or greater is recommended.

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Almost the Real Thing Self-Tanning Gel

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Customer Ratings:

80 out of 100
(Based on 177 Reviews)
« Prev Page of 8 Next »
  1. MARINA E.
    Reviewed on Monday, June 24, 2013
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Brilliant, best I've ever used
    • This is by far the best self-tanner I've ever used, and I've tried nine or ten of them. It's also a quarter the price of most of the high-end brands I've been disappointed by. The colour is subtle and completely real looking, there's no horrible smell, and my legs look great! Thank you!

  2. Monica S.
    Reviewed on Sunday, June 23, 2013
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Another Amazing PC Product
    • I feel like I'm starting to sound like a "broken record" but, this is yet another EXCELLENT product offering. I'm still new to PC products and I haven't found one that I haven't liked. This I love too and incredible colour for using so little. I have officially found my one stop skin care shop. YAY! And heed the advice on the how to use tab for anyone new to self tanners. I'm fair and this is nowhere close to orange (fake bake) colouring. Awesome! And getting darker as I type this... :-)

  3. CATHERINE R.
    Reviewed on Sunday, June 09, 2013
    20 out of 100
    • Rating
      Worst / 4
    Not me me, unfortunately
    • I wanted to love this product, because I love so many other of Paula's products . I followed the directions to the letter. The color really didn't "take," especially on the backs of my thighs. I waited 12 hours and applied a second coat, this time without the thin coat of moisturizer. It still didn't take in places and blotched in others. - and it is noticeably orange on me. It may work well for others, but I got smoother results and more natural color with other brands.

  4. Elaine S.
    Reviewed on Saturday, June 08, 2013
    80 out of 100
    • Rating
      Good / 4
    Tanning gel
    • I used the tanning gel and followed the directions, and really like the results. Don't like how it feels kind of sticky on my legs though I worked around that. It doesn't smell, at least until the next day and then only slightly. Good natural color. Not too dark or light, or orange. I used it two evenings in a row and will probably need to touch it up in a week or so. I don't need or want much color, just to reduce the white of my whiter than white legs. Oh, and my legs feel very smooth too.

  5. P. M.
    Reviewed on Monday, June 03, 2013
    20 out of 100
    • Rating
      Worst / 4
    Too orange for me!
    • I was hoping for something that would give my legs some color, but iodine-orange was not the color I had in mind! I had to wear pants and long skirts until it wore off. The second time, I tried applying it much more sparingly and got no color at all. The tube now gathers dust on my shelf, and I'm pretty disappointed. I really liked that it didn't the have the gross, rancid-butter smell that too many self-tanners have, and it goes on very smoothly. Too bad the color is so horrid.

  6. Tracy W
    Reviewed on Saturday, May 25, 2013
    40 out of 100
    • Rating
      Poor / 4
    A little disappointed
    • I was very excited when I read the reviews but not as much once I tried it. Although I find the color good I found that my ankles ended up orange or looking like they had way more color than anything else. Also on my wrist the color was deeper. I thought that I had applied evenly but it didn't appear so later. I used to use a brand name product from the drugstore and I am sad to say I think I prefer it. I am a big fan of Paula's products in general just not this one so much.

  7. Caley S.
    Reviewed on Wednesday, May 22, 2013
    80 out of 100
    • Rating
      Good / 4
    VERY effective!
    • This self-tanner REALLY works - even my boyfriend asked me if I'd gotten sun! It's easy to apply and dries pretty quickly. Just be careful washing it off, because it can get streaky (exfoliate).

  8. Nancy P
    Reviewed on Sunday, May 19, 2013
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    the best self tanner ever!
    • I have used this tanner for years and love it! My teenage daughters remark at how natural it looks. Some people have posted that it is too dark. I find that if I want a lighter look, I simply use less tanner & mix it with moisture lotion and I get just the color I want. to those who say it doesn't last: it lasts very well for me. Tanner on my legs lasts several days. Tanner on my face doesn't last long because I wash my face more often and use exfoliants.

  9. Janet S.
    Reviewed on Sunday, May 19, 2013
    80 out of 100
    • Rating
      Good / 4
    Janet
    • This is a great procuct. I am chemically sensitive so the no smell is wonderfull. Two coats every 4 or 5 days and it stays. Love the color.

  10. KA
    Reviewed on Thursday, May 16, 2013
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Best sunless tanning product I have tried
    • This is by far the best sunless tanning product I have used. I don't know what other reviewers are talking about when they say it isn't aroma free - for me, I smell nothing (unlike other products I have used which absolutely stink!) There is much less streaking with this product, it looks more natural, and is easy to apply. One trick I have learned is to use a nail brush with soap around my cuticles after I apply it, and this helps prevent discoloration in the nailbed and cutile area.

  11. RACHEL P.
    Reviewed on Wednesday, May 15, 2013
    60 out of 100
    • Rating
      Neutral / 4
    Nice color, satisfactory application, but...
    • Easy to apply and get results that are natural in color and lack of streakiness. I can put it on my face and it isn't too emollient for my oily skin. But it definitely is NOT fragrance free. Maybe there is no added fragrance, but this has the same nasty smell and sticky feeling after application that most self-tanners have. It definitely does NOT "dry fast"; it even says on the back to wait ONE HOUR before dressing, who has the time for that? This is OK, but still searching for my perfect one.

    Customer Service Response
    Replied on: Wednesday, May 15, 2013
    Thank you for your review and we're very sorry this product wasn't a fit for you. Unfortunately all self-tanners have the potential to create a scent when the tanning agent (dihydroxyacetone) reacts with skin. This is specific to the individual biology of the wearer which means that the scent you experienced is unique. Even so, we certainly understand that if you don't like the aesthetics of a product then it isn't for you! Please contact our Customer Care team for help with a credit or exchange at your convenience.
    —Admin
  12. JESSICA E.
    Reviewed on Tuesday, May 14, 2013
    40 out of 100
    • Rating
      Poor / 4
    Way too dark for very fair skin
    • I was so excited to try this product after reading the reviews. I needed something that was going to add some color to my very fair skin, and look natural. The application was easy, it dried quickly, and smells great. However, the color is WAY too dark and also VERY orange. Maybe PC needs to create a product with a more build-able color, or something that is made for fair-pink based skin tones. Probably looks great for those who have more olive based skin colors. Won't be continuing use.

  13. J S C
    Reviewed on Saturday, May 11, 2013
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Great Color
    • I am very conscious of sun exposure, but love to look than. That's where this product comes in. Very easy to apply, even for a fist timer and does not smell like most self tanners. Love that you get a decent amount for a fair price too! When I apply this over the weekend my co-workers think I went to the beach, they never believe me when I tell them the tan came from a bottle.

  14. Meghan S.
    Reviewed on Thursday, May 09, 2013
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    ABSOLUTE FAVORITE!
    • I have done a lot of research and tried a LOT of self tanners and this is far and away the best I've used especially at this price point. The gel is easy to apply and I've never had a problem with streaking. I have recommended this to several friends who are now converts as well. Thanks so much for a great product!

  15. Stephanie C.
    Reviewed on Friday, April 26, 2013
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    BEAUTIFUL TAN
    • Here I am back for more. This is an excellent product with zero smell and NO orange look. Warm sun glow that out does anything on the market. I will reorder this again and again.

  16. KATHERINE C.
    Reviewed on Friday, April 19, 2013
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Best EveR !!!!
    • I have tried MANY and this is a keeper !!! Hope you never discontinue this winner Paula !!! great color, goes on even. Best to exfoliate in shower, then apply lotion lightly, then I apply this and let it dry as I blow dry my hair, makeup, etc..... OR I have applied in evening 1hr before bed... I use mostly for legs... Go easy - lite on knee area. Have nice color by next day ~ Thank you Paula & staff !!!

  17. Tora
    Reviewed on Sunday, March 31, 2013
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Best Self-Tanning product I've tried
    • This tanning gel is the easiest to apply and delivers the best color of any similar products I've tried (and I've tried most of the popular ones.) I have super pale skin with pink undertones, and there was no orange color. It made me look like I had a tan that I had been working on for about two weeks or so after the first application.

  18. TOMASZ S.
    Reviewed on Thursday, January 03, 2013
    20 out of 100
    • Rating
      Worst / 4
    No so Good
    • I realized I never wrote a review for this product so I decided to since I hope voices are heard. I love Paula's products but not this one. I am a self tanner junkie and have tried practically everything on the market. From brands to textures to formulas. This made me orange/gold. unfortunately no good. So far though poor reviews from Paula and I must agree with her....St.tropez wins in terms of color. Ingredients not so good for sensitive. But the color is amazing. I think its the combo of dies they put in...but the color is literally brown/tan/bronze. Please make something similar...BUT GOOD FOR UR SKIN not without their harsh ingredients.... Thank you Customer Care Response: Thank you for your review. We will definitely pass along your feedback to Paula and her Product Development Team and will note your comments. We hope that in the future we can offer a self-tanner that meets your needs but until that time, please be sure to check out www.Beautypedia.com for other options. Please contact customer care with any questions or concerns.

  19. Anonymous
    Reviewed on Wednesday, December 12, 2012
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Amazing!
    • This self-tanning gel is as good as a self-tanning gel can possibly be. I've tried them all and nothing compares. It has a very elegant consistency, goes on very smoothly, dries within seconds, does not streak, and has a tolerable smell for a self-tanning gel. As importantly, it is very very potent, produces as realistic of a color as possible with a self-tanning gel, and the color lasts for many days. I work out at the gym daily and it is the only self-tanning gel that I don't sweat out in a day or two. Given it's potency, it does takes some experimentation to figure out how often to apply it and how much to apply to areas that grab too much color, like ankles, knees and elbows. As with any self-tanning gel, applying too much or two often will result in orange color. Definitely follow the instructions. For example, I've learned that taking a long shower before application increases how much color the skin produces. Paula, please don't ever stop making this product!!!

  20. Yves
    Reviewed on Sunday, December 02, 2012
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Fantastic
    • I am thrilled with this self-tanner. Being a guy, I hate fragranced product and prouducts that are greasy. This one gives a fantastic colour to my fair skin and noone notices it comes from a bottle. I simply love it :)! Btw, there are a few customers here that say this product is difficult to spread or that it does not absorb easly. A word of advice: Less is more! Cheers

  21. Patty
    Reviewed on Friday, November 30, 2012
    20 out of 100
    • Rating
      Worst / 4
    No very good
    • I'm beginning to think Paula screens her reviews and doesn't post the bad ones! This will be the third time I've tried to post about Almost the Real Thing Tanning Gel. It takes forever to dry. It smells bad. It streaks. It doesn't last until the next day. The color takes several hours to develop and be careful not to get it near your hairline of your face if you highlight your hair: it will dye your hair. Customer Care Response: Thank you for your review and feedback of this product. We will certainly share your concerns with Paula and her Product Development Manager. In the future if a review you have submitted is not posted, or replied to please contact customer care and we are happy to assist you. We also encourage you to check out www.Beautypedia.com for other brands of self-tanners. If you have any questions please let us know, we are happy to help.

  22. Donita
    Reviewed on Saturday, November 17, 2012
    20 out of 100
    • Rating
      Worst / 4
    Not for me
    • I obtained some samples of the self-tan. It is quite orange on my skin and I don't like the smell. Paula says not to use St. Tropez, but that brand gives a nice natural color and smells good so I'll continue to use it or Jergens.

  23. Carol
    Reviewed on Sunday, October 14, 2012
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Did it right the 2nd time
    • It pays to follow directions closely. The first time I used this product, I ended up with orange-y streaked legs. But I did like that it didn't have that overpowering smell like other tanners, so I gave it another shot. I had a Fall wedding and my daughter forbids me to wear pantyhose with sandals(even that sandal toe one). I did everything the label told me and did it gradually and voila! tan legs. I will use this product again.

  24. Karyn
    Reviewed on Sunday, September 16, 2012
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Fantastic - worth a try!
    • I have used Jergens natural glow for years and get okay results. This year I tried Paula's and was so impressed. I had many people comment on my lovely tan. The colour was rich and real. When I ran out mid-summer, I reverted to my old Jergens and couldn't believe the marked different. The Jergens was paler and uneven, and didn't give me anywhere near the rich tone from Paula's. I just threw the Jergens out and reordered Paula's again. Well worth it.

  25. alvina
    Reviewed on Thursday, August 30, 2012
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Love it!
    • I have fair asian skin that tends to burn then tan. I haven't had much sun this summer and my legs tend to be paler than my arms, so I normally self-tan my legs. Previously I was using Loreal Sublime Glow. It worked well, but I'm always left with that chemical smell that I don't enjoy. My previous self tanning holy grail (Neutrogena Sun Fresh lotion) is discontinued so I was on the hunt for a new product. I tried this tanning gel on a whim when it was 50% off. What an amazing product! Blends in really well and NO SMELL! I find that it does turn me orange if I use it too often, so I end up only applying once/week and it's the right amount of colour for me. I exfoliate and moisturize and apply the gel. For my feet, I apply a small amount with a cosmetic sponge that I can use to blend. This has resulted in a streak free application that looks very natural. Will definitely repurchase!

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What makes this product unique?
With Almost the Real Thing Self-Tanning Gel you can achieve a natural-looking bronze glow without the harmful effects of sun damage. This lightweight self-tanner dries quickly and has a natural caramel tint so you can easily see where it has been applied. No need for separate products for the face and body; it works beautifully on both making it cost effective and convenient! Women who have used this product have said it makes their skin look better than any tan they used to get from the sun.

This product is 100% fragrance-free.

Who is this product for?
Almost the Real Thing Self-Tanning Gel is formulated for all skin types.

Sources to support the claims made for Almost the Real Thing Self-Tanning Gel

The British Journal of Dermatology, August 2003, pages 332–340; American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, Volume 3, 2002, pages 317–318; Chemical Engineering News, June 2000, and http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm049090.htm#DihydroxyacetoneDHA.

Key Ingredients: silicone, dihydroxyacetone

Product Ingredients:

Water, Cyclomethicone (skin conditioning agent/silicone), Butylene Glycol, Propylene Glycol (water- binding agents), Dihydroxyacetone (self-tanning agent), Dimethicone Copolyol (skin-conditioning agent/silicone), Diazolidinyl Urea (preservative), Caramel (natural coloring agent), Sodium Metabisulfite (stabilizer), Methylparaben, Propylparaben (preservatives).

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Take a quick shower; do not soak.
  2. Use a body shampoo or shower gel to prevent soap film.
  3. Gently exfoliate in the shower, be careful not to overdo.
  4. Towel dry completely.
  5. Apply a light layer of moisturizer.
  6. Apply the self-tanner evenly and smoothly, one area at a time.
  7. Wash hands thoroughly to avoid tan palms and cuticles.
  8. Use no additional skincare products at least an hour before and after application.
  9. Wait an hour before dressing or getting into bed to avoid stains.
  10. Your "tan" should develop within 1–3 hours and may continue to deepen for a few hours after that. If desired level of darkness is not obtained after one application, simply reapply and your "tan" will deepen. Once you are satisfied with the results, reapply self-tanner every few days to maintain depth of color.

Did You Know?
Self-tanner can collect over creases and dry or rough skin, so use less over those areas or use a paper towel to dab off the excess. Self-tanners do not protect from sun damage so you must still apply a sunscreen.

How long does the color last?

That depends on how well it "takes" on your skin. Results often vary widely with the same self-tanner. On some the color may last a week or more, while others find it lasts 2 days or fewer.

How does using an AHA or BHA affect the results I get from using Almost the Real Thing Self-Tanning Gel?

There are pros and cons to combining any exfoliant (AHA or BHA exfoliant or topical scrub) with a self-tanner. Our self-tanner contains dihydroxyacetone (a derivative of sugar that turns skin cells a shade of brown), which affects only the uppermost layers of skin. Exfoliants affect these same layers and, as a result, the exfoliant sloughs off the skin cells affected by the self-tanner, thus reducing how long your "tan" lasts. That's the negative. The positive is that when the skin is smoother (the benefit of using a well-formulated exfoliant) you get much more even-toned results from the self-tanner. Unless you're willing to avoid using an AHA or BHA product or a topical scrub when trying to obtain and maintain a self-tan, the only solution is to compromise. That may involve using the BHA or AHA lotion less often (such as two or three times per week rather than daily) or applying Almost the Real Thing Self-Tanning Gel more often to maintain the level of color you like.

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