Self-Tanning Gel

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 168 Reviews)
Page of 7 Next »
  1. Stef P.
    Reviewed on Tuesday, April 08, 2014
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    A Winner
    • I normally steer clear of self-tanners because I can never achieve anything resembling a reasonably natural looking tan. This stuff works really nice. Lovely texture, no smell, natural looking, albeit a little too tan for my fair/light skin. I used only on my legs and would not recommend putting on your face unless unless you're at least a medium complexion. There is no gradual tan with this product. One application and bam, instant tan. Happy I won't have milky white legs this summer :)

  2. ERIKA L.
    Reviewed on Monday, April 07, 2014
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Have used for many years--LOVE!
    • I have used this since the original one came out, and I am in love. It's the only non-fragranced self-tanner I can use on my face. I am fair and like to add color year-round. In the summer, I look quite tan. In the winter, I go lighter. I only use it for my face, and one tube lasts about a year. It doubles as a moisturizer after a toner and antioxidant serum in summer, followed by sunscreen. I stocked up over my last two purchases and hope it's not being discontinued. Please don't!!!

  3. CAROLYNE
    Reviewed on Friday, March 28, 2014
    60 out of 100
    • Rating
      Neutral / 4
    Decent product
    • I would say that this a dupe for the Clarins tanning gel that is really popular and much more expensive. It works well for my face because it is several shades lighter than my body, and i have a very golden skintone. However, I used this on my entire body and it made me bright orange. I think there should be a green tint added to this product to avoid this.

  4. Laura G.
    Reviewed on Wednesday, March 19, 2014
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    LOVE this!!
    • I am so happy I found this stuff, because I'm in love with it!! I use it just on my face, and it hasn't caused any irritation or break outs. It nice and silky and goes on so smooth and looks very natural. I also love it because I wanted something that wasn't going to wash off after just one time of washing my face. My only suggestion would be to put one layer on, wait about an hour, then put another layer on before bed or before putting on make-up. Other then that, no complaints!

  5. John A.
    Reviewed on Wednesday, March 12, 2014
    20 out of 100
    • Rating
      Worst / 4
    Sorry Pauls.. Thumbs down.. Orange face/arms ..ugh
    • First.. I love Paula's Choice Products! A few issues with some of the pumps but nothing incorrect/wrong else UNTIL THIS ARRIVED.. I am sorry to say it is the worst self tanner I have ever used. I live in FL and use self tanners so I don't have to tan outdoors.. I have used different products $$$$ to $. I am experienced with these types of products and of course followed the directi

    Customer Service Response
    Replied on: Thursday, March 13, 2014

    Hi John! We're sorry to hear of your experience and that the Self-Tanning Gel didn't live up to your expectations. Be sure to contact our Customer Care Team and they will be happy to help with a refund or exchange.

    —Admin
  6. Marie M.
    Reviewed on Tuesday, February 25, 2014
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Sunshine-y glow in the dead of winter
    • Nothing really tans like good ol' fashioned broiling in the sun coated with baby oil and iodine. But, we all know the sun is bad, bad, bad and so we turn to self-tanners for tropical miracles. Used as directed and with some common sense, it gives nice color. A "heavy-hand" with tanners will always look reality show BAD. Lightly used, it gives a 'natural' spot of color to break up northern, winter skin gloom. You'll be happy if you understand it's limitation.

  7. Jane B
    Reviewed on Saturday, January 18, 2014
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    I've tried them all,, this is the b
    • I have been using self tanners since they first came on the market, after reading all the reviews I was skeptical about this one. I love anything in the Paula products so decided to try. not big on following long directions, I just applied like I always do, tried a small amount the first time, got into my pj's , no waiting 1 hour, and when I woke up, I looked like had just gotten back from a week at the beach! next time I used more, and it is now my favorite! just apply and spread evenly, simple

  8. Kat K
    Reviewed on Sunday, October 27, 2013
    80 out of 100
    • Rating
      Good / 4
    Lovely Natural Tan
    • I'd been using L'Oreal for years (didn't realize the alcohol was bad!) and compared to that, this is so smooth, even, streak-free, and smells much better. And I'd rather wait to put on clothes than damage my skin with alcohol! I apply at night, first putting moisturizer on elbows/knees, and wake up with a (usually, unless I miss a spot) nice smooth tan. 4 stars because the tan is more gradual: I liked getting darker overnight w/ L'Oreal. Oh well fewer streaks though!

  9. TERRY K.M.
    Reviewed on Tuesday, September 17, 2013
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Pleased with PC SunCare Self-tanning Gel
    • This is my top pick for tanning gels with the following tips that enhance outcome. Daily, light exfoliating begins 5-6 days ahead of a weekend gel application using a shower glove and PC -10% AHA Body Lotion afterwards. I shave legs1 day in advance of gel application. The day of, I take a light shower & then quickly & lightly apply body lotion. Two thin layers of gel with 5 hrs between coats achieve the desired depth in color. A little gel goes along ways! Perfect look for our evening out!

  10. SANDRA S.
    Reviewed on Sunday, September 08, 2013
    20 out of 100
    • Rating
      Worst / 4
    My husband didn't like it
    • I stopped using this for two reasons. When it faded, my husband asked why did I have lizard skin? Also, it made me itch. I went back to using the Clarins self tanning gel as much as I hated doing it. Other than that, the color was nice but in order for me to ensure that I got color the next day, (I apply at night before bedtime) I had to apply it, wait and hour and apply it again to get the tan the next day.

  11. TAMARA M.
    Reviewed on Monday, September 02, 2013
    80 out of 100
    • Rating
      Good / 4
    So many compliments!
    • The best way, I believe, to know how well a new dress, haircut or self tanner works is when you receive compliments on it. And after using this product I received all kinds of compliments from my co-workers. The most common compliment I received was that I have a healthy glow to my skin. When I said it was a self tanner, everyone wanted to know where they could purchase it. And I directed them to this site. The only down side is the one hour wait for drying. Still worth it!!

  12. Esther
    Reviewed on Monday, September 02, 2013
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    First natural-looking tanning gel
    • I have used many tanning products. This is by far the best one. It looks natural even on face and it lasts for a couple of days if you don't scrub your skin.

  13. Judi M
    Reviewed on Thursday, August 29, 2013
    20 out of 100
    • Rating
      Worst / 4
    Itching
    • Made my face itch something awful. Never had that happen before and I have tried them all,

  14. AMY K.
    Reviewed on Friday, July 05, 2013
    20 out of 100
    • Rating
      Worst / 4
    Did not work for me
    • I've used Paula's Choice products for years and love most of them. I've used several self-tanners and have a pretty good technique in application. I found this product to be one of the worst I've used. Even after following the instructions under "How to Use", I still ended up with streaks, uneven coverage, and an orangey color. The caramel color fades too quickly when applying. It also dried very slowly. I wish I would've tried it within 60 days of purchase so I could've gotten my money back.

  15. Carol M.
    Reviewed on Thursday, June 27, 2013
    40 out of 100
    • Rating
      Poor / 4
    Too orange for me
    • This works but the color is too orange for me and my fair skin. Also, it is difficult to apply evenly without streaking or bare spots. The "caramel" color (again way too orange) does nothing to help avoid streaking or bare spots. I won't but this again but I have used nearly the entire bottle over 2 summers.

  16. 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!

  17. 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!

  18. 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... :-)

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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).

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

Page of 7 Next »

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 skin-care 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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