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)
« Prev Page of 7 Next »
  1. Suzanne
    Reviewed on Monday, July 16, 2012
    40 out of 100
    • Rating
      Poor / 4
    Disappointed
    • I have not had success with self tanning products and was hoping this product would prove to be different. I am very fair and it may be that it is impossible for me to apply a product that does not end up a streaked mess, which is what happend. I tried it twice with the same results. I would like to point out that the color was not orange, and there was no odor. My dissatisfaction may be a result of application and my fair skin. I paid particular attention to the application on my second try and the results were no better. Unfortunately, this product will be returned. For someone less fair, this product may be okay. As I mentioned, the color itself was not orange but more of a bronze, which would have looked nice had it not been so uneven and streaked looking. Customer Care Response: We're sorry this wasn't a fit for you; you are welcome to check out Paula's suggestions at Beautypedia to see if you find a self-tanner that works better for you. In the meantime we will leave an in house credit for the product on your account which may be used on a future phone order. Please contact customer care with any questions, we are happy to help.

  2. Trish
    Reviewed on Monday, July 16, 2012
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    O.M.G.
    • I have never had this type of success with a self-tanner before. And since it is made by Paula, it is the only self-tanner I dared put on my face! This product gave my very fair (blonde hair, blue eyes, pink undertones) skin the kind of glow it usually takes me a week at 45 SPF to obtain. And this is all without skin damage of any sort! This is what self tanner is intended to be like. I use Paula's 10% AHA Skin Revealing Body Lotion as the prep base for this self-tanner, and the results are incredible.

  3. Roxanne
    Reviewed on Sunday, July 15, 2012
    60 out of 100
    • Rating
      Neutral / 4
    Not my favorite
    • I liked that the fragrance was minimal. I didn't notice much color for the first few hours and then it turned me a bit too orange. Loved the other products I ordered! Customer Care Response: Thank you for your comments. We will be sure to share your feedback with Paula and her Product Development Manager. They do take customer feedback seriously. In the meantime we will credit you for this product and encourage you to contact customer care so we may discuss how the product was being applied. If you have any further questions or concerns please contact customer care, we are always happy to help!

  4. Cartermai
    Reviewed on Thursday, July 12, 2012
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Fantastic, natural looking colour
    • Absolutely LOVE this product! By far the best sunless tanner on my skin. It gives me the most natural looking, rich, golden colour.

  5. S
    Reviewed on Friday, July 06, 2012
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Works really well
    • I'm a very lazy person, so I don't know why I purchased this product - I've only used this once since I got it, but I have to admit that it is extremely effective.

  6. Claire
    Reviewed on Sunday, July 01, 2012
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    AMAZING, NOT ORANGE!!!
    • I love this product!!! I just used it for the first time today and it was an easy application with flawless results. I think it helped that I used the Skin Revealing Body Lotion for a few days prior to applying this product (not on the day of, however). Beautiful color, no streaks (I used non-latex gloves to apply), and no smell!!! The rich carmel color of the gel makes this an easy, flawless application experience!

  7. Janet
    Reviewed on Friday, June 29, 2012
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Self Tanner
    • I love this product. I am very chemically sensitive and this has absolutrely no smell. I also love the color. Two applications to my legs gave me the color I wanted. NOT ORANGE!!!!

  8. Marcy
    Reviewed on Monday, June 25, 2012
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Best Sunless Tanner I've Ever Used
    • I'm blonde/blued eyed and VERY fair. I have tried every sunless tanner you can imagine and this one is by far the best I've used. The color is very natural and its nearly mistake proof with the caramel coloring agent. I've read other reviews that say they got streaks with this formula. All I can think is that they are using too much product and its not being fully massaged into skin. As with any sunless tanner it's always best to exfoliate your skin prior to use as that creates a nice, smooth base. Other huge pluses about this tanner: no smell when applied or after it dries, dries quickly, no sticky residue, does not rub off on clothes or sheets and like I said, GREAT, natural color. I hope they continue to make this product. A+

  9. Renee
    Reviewed on Friday, June 22, 2012
    60 out of 100
    • Rating
      Neutral / 4
    streaky!
    • I applied 2x and my legs got streaky and the color was a little on the orange side. Hardly had any smell which was great. Unfortunately I'll be returning though. Customer Care Response: We're sorry this wasn't a fit for you, but you may consider checking Beautypedia for other self-tanner options. We have left the purchase price of this product on your account which you may use on a future phone order. We will note your experience and feedback with the product with our Product Development Manager. Please contact customer care with any questions.

  10. Debi
    Reviewed on Wednesday, June 20, 2012
    20 out of 100
    • Rating
      Worst / 4
    What a disaster!
    • I guess I should admit that I have never tried a self-tanning product before. But I have to say that after my recent experience I will probably never try one again. I followed the directions and used a very thin layer, just because I was a newbie, and ended up with a uneven, splotchy mess that I pray doesn't last too long. The product was on sale so it wasn't a huge purchase but I certainly cannot recommend it unless you are used to using this type of product and have some secret application method that I am unaware of. Customer Care Response: We're sorry this wasn't a fit for you, but you may consider checking Beautypedia for other self-tanner options. We have left the purchase price of this product on your account which you may use on a future phone order. We will note your experience and feedback with the product with our Product Development Manager. Please contact customer care with any questions.

  11. Amanda
    Reviewed on Wednesday, June 13, 2012
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Love
    • The best self tanner I have ever used! Very natural looking with no orange!

  12. Silvia
    Reviewed on Wednesday, June 13, 2012
    40 out of 100
    • Rating
      Poor / 4
    Only for very fair skin
    • I am sorry to give this tanning gel a low rating because I love almost all other Paula's Choice products and I imagine even this gel can work for the right person (most reviews are so good!). However, it did absolutely nothing for me! I have medium/fair skin (my skin is pretty light, but the undertones are darker and I would tan easily if I didn't use sunscreen). This gel didn't change my natural color at all! The next day I looked exactly like before. I tried it multiple times, thinking that maybe its effect would add up, but nothing changed. On the positive side, it was not irritating, did not stain my hands, and its consistency was pleasant, but none of that matters if it doesn't produce the desired effect. It might be goog for lighter skin, but I wish I had been warned about this and that Paula's Choice offered another option for darker skin. Customer Care Response: Thank you for your review. We are sorry to hear of your experience with this product. We do understand that each customer is uniquely different in how they will respond to products or ingredients. This along with everyday environmental factors can sometimes play a part in how someone will ultimately respond to a product or combination of products. For that reason, we have located your account information and applied an in house credit for the product which may be used on a future phone order. Please contact customer care with any questions and check out www.beautypedia.com for other self-tanner options.

  13. Jamie
    Reviewed on Wednesday, June 13, 2012
    80 out of 100
    • Rating
      Good / 4
    Great
    • This is Great Stuff! I use it on my face after I wash before my makeup and I really don't have to use makeup... just a little for spots. my skin tone is so great with this. and some said it smelled. at first it had a slight chemical smell, but hardly. and compared to other self tanners it doesnt smell. the glow is nice! the only reason I'm not giving this a 5 is cause you can't really see it when your putting it on.

  14. Elisabeth
    Reviewed on Wednesday, May 30, 2012
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Great Self-Tanner!
    • I am very fair skinned and have been looking for a self-tanner that will give me that sun-kissed glow...I have definitely found that with this product. I've received several compliments from family members and my husband. I'm very happy with this product and just placed another order, thanks Paula!!!

  15. Sara
    Reviewed on Monday, May 28, 2012
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Great Sunless tan
    • I'm an experienced sunnless tanner and so know a few tricks to applying it. I've been using Lancome sunless tanners for several years and have always liked them. But at $35 for a small tube...I'm willing to try anything new. Also after reading Paula's books I found out that these products contain alcohol. Paula's Choice is now my go-to product! It's half the price of Lancome and the results are far better than any others I've tried. After the first night I used it, people at work commented on how tan I looked and wanted to know if I had been to the beach! It dries after about 45 minutes and as it developes there is very little smell. I don't mind wearing it to bed because it doesn't contain all the bronzers that are in the other products I've tried and so doesn't rub off on my sheets. The color lasts at least 4 days on me before I need to exfoliate and reapply. Great product!

  16. Kimberly
    Reviewed on Sunday, May 27, 2012
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    The best of self-tanners
    • WOW! I love this! I have tried too many self-tanners to count, and was not happy with any of them. I simply followed the directions on this, and used 2 light applications. Voile, a beautiful tan with a wonderful price!

  17. LisaG
    Reviewed on Saturday, May 26, 2012
    40 out of 100
    • Rating
      Poor / 4
    Didn't do much for me
    • I've used this several times and first of all didn't understand why it said to wait so long before getting dressed when others I've used allows me to after 5 minutes with no staining. And second, I didn't get any color from it. I've been using sunless tanner for years and don't usually have that problem. Oh well, I do love all her sunscreen :-) Customer Care Response: We love that you love our sunscreens, but sorry that this didn't work for you! Email us at custserv@paulaschoice.com, and we will help you with a refund!

  18. Janelle
    Reviewed on Friday, May 25, 2012
    40 out of 100
    • Rating
      Poor / 4
    Better Options at Drugstore
    • I am a huge fan of Paula's Choice and have always liked what I got. This was an exception. Read the application instructions before you buy--requires that you shower (not bathe) and then wait for two hours after applying before getting dressed. I don't have that sort of time and I bathe. I tried it on my face but felt it made my face a little greasy and caused a few pimples. The spray tans at the drugstore work better for me. Paula's Choice did refund my money for this and stood by their product as always. Customer Care Response: Thank you for sharing your experience, Janelle! We are sorry this wasn't a fit.

  19. Kat
    Reviewed on Wednesday, May 16, 2012
    80 out of 100
    • Rating
      Good / 4
    Natural color, but tacky and takes too long to dry
    • This really is a great self tanner, and one of the only ones I feel comfortable using. Good natural color, but I hate the feeling of it. It takes way too long to dry and I feel tacky. It gives a very subtle color, which can be good and bad. I don't like to have to put it on multiple times to get a deeper color, but the lighter color helps hide any mistakes. However, another good thing is that is fades well, so that is a huge plus not looking like a leper when it's fading. As far as smell, it truly is fragrance free, until the tanning sets in, then you do have the typical self tanner smell, but it is MUCH better than a lot out there and if I can stand it, anyone can.

  20. Jalex
    Reviewed on Wednesday, May 16, 2012
    80 out of 100
    • Rating
      Good / 4
    I keep coming back to this product!
    • Living in the south, I am surrounded by tanned people. I have used this product since its inception. I am medium-toned, so the color is perfect. It does take a long time to dry (1+ hours), but it lasts and lasts and the color deepens in Day 2. I have had this tan last for almost a week, so I'm not sure why one reviewer said that it doesn't last. It does!Please please please make a spray version that truly does dry in 5-10 minutes.

  21. Elena
    Reviewed on Sunday, May 13, 2012
    80 out of 100
    • Rating
      Good / 4
    Just a little bit of a browner color please
    • Nearly perfect except it gives me a slight touch of orangeness (nothing compared to most self tanners, so it's still always in my rotation of products). I don't find it as absorbent as some other formulas I've tried (Purminerals, St. Tropez originals, Jergens Natural glow and Neostrata are my favorites for absorbency and color)but that's because it's so silky and blendable, you get tons of blend time with this which is great for novices at self tanning but I am very quick and proficient at blending my products. I find it gives me a sheer touch of color rather than maximum darkness, which I like to have on hand for times when my tan is already nicely built up and I just want to maintain the color. My particular favorite thing about it is the fact that it's the only thing gentle for the skin on my legs post-shaving. I usually epilate rather than shave, but when I need a completely smooth finish and an extra dose of tan, this is my go-to.

  22. Christine
    Reviewed on Sunday, May 13, 2012
    80 out of 100
    • Rating
      Good / 4
    Good Stuff!
    • I have tried expensive French tanners, top-reviewed drugstore tanners, you name it. This one has the best price and results. It is not perfumed and does not have that gross smell, however it does have a bit of tanner scent after a few hours, which I believe is simply the active ingredient in all self-tanners. As a very fair-skinned person I was happy with the colour on my face and body after one application. I will wait for a few more applications over the next couple of weeks before giving it five stars, but at this point I have no complaints and would recommend it to my friends.

  23. andi
    Reviewed on Saturday, May 12, 2012
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    AMAZING FOR THOSE SENSITIVE TO FRAGRANCE!
    • I just applied my self tanner for the first time and had to go online and take the time to send in a review. I am not sensitive to product by HIGHLY sensitive to fragrance and masking fragrance. I am impressed that this tanner has no smell or fragrance at all. Please DO NOT discontinue, I will be a customer for life. There is no other good self tanner on the market without a TON of fragrance. Thanks!

  24. Sun f.
    Reviewed on Monday, May 07, 2012
    100 out of 100
    • Rating
      Best / 4
    Just Right
    • I first purchased a sample of Almost the Real Thing because I've had so many disasters with other self tanners, I appreciated being able to sample it first. I am half Caucasian and half Asian so most tanners turn me a weird orange. This didn't. I put it on before bed and woke up with a nice not-too-brown face and neck with no lines. I perspire a lot so I don't use tanners in the daytime to avoid streaking. I also liked the fact that it doesn't have a 'funny' odor like so many of the other tanners do. I put it on two days in a row to get just the right amount of tan. It lasts about four days and makes gives me that healthy glow without the sun damage.

  25. Holly
    Reviewed on Saturday, April 28, 2012
    40 out of 100
    • Rating
      Poor / 4
    not so good
    • I love paulas products,and decided to try the self tanner.I followed the instructions and unfortunately my skin turned orange.It's not worth paying the postage to return it.I wish I had the results everyone else had. Customer Care Response: Thank you for taking the time to review this product. We are sorry to hear the product did not produce more favorable results for you personally. Regarding your purchase with us, we will be sure to credit your account for the purchase price of the product. Please contact customer care with any questions, we are happy to help.

« Prev 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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