St. Tropez – natural-looking self tanners, honest!

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase.

photos: we heart this

Summer is just about here, the weather is improving and, for many of us, it’s the first chance to pull out our lighter wardrobes and begin to show some skin. Nothing feels better than the first day I finally get to wear open toed shoes to work again! I gleefully step outside with a new spring in my step, knowing the cold weather is a distant memory. While I’m happy to have open toed shoes, skirts, and capri pants make their way back into my wardrobe, they present a new problem…my pale, dull, winter skin. What’s a girl to do, you say? The answer is simple, pull out the self tanners, and who better to reach for than the legendary St. Tropez.

If you aren’t familiar with St. Tropez, they are a BIG name in the bronzing world. Over the years, I’ve seen them featured in many beauty magazines and they’ve been given award after award for having some of the best self tanners out there. We tested the Bronzing Lotion and their Everyday Gradual Tan Mousse. All of their products use the main self tanning agent, dihydroxyacetone (DHA), which is essentially a colorless sugar that interacts with amino acids on your skin, staining it, temporarily creating a tan. The nice thing about DHA is it has no known toxicity, so it’s even safe during pregnancy. What makes St. Tropez unique is they combine DHA with a very expensive ingredient, Erythrulose, found in raspberries, which adds moisture, to create a more even, long-lasting tan.

I must be honest and tell you I haven’t worked with many self tanners. There’s a certain degree of dread when it comes to applying it. I worry about streaks, weird patches, and looking like an orange stained mess. But St. Tropez took the fear factor right out of it, with products that are easy to apply and incredibly forgiving.

The first time I applied the Bronzing Lotion, I was sure I’d make a mess and would look terrible. Not so! Within a couple hours, I had an AMAZING amount of color, I could barely find a streak, and I didn’t look orange at all. The lotion itself is almost the color of mud (and I mean that in a good way) and contains a small amount of green pigment, to take away any resemblance of orange. It’s perfect if you need to look tan right away and can be applied every couple days to maintain it.

The latest from St. Tropez, the Everyday Gradual Tan Mousse is meant to be used daily, to give you a more gradual, build up to color. I found that by using it in between Bronzing Lotion applications, it gave me a healthy glow and a decent amount of color. The mousse is colorless and comes out as wonderful burst of foam, which was even easier to apply than the lotion. You can rub it onto arms, legs and face so fast, and it feels like a refreshing lather of suds. I absolutely loved the ease of application and, within hours, I could already see its effects.

The other amazing thing about the St. Tropez line is the innovative ingredient, Aromaguard, which makes the whole self tanning experience much more enjoyable. Aromaguard is a breakthrough in fragrance technology and takes away that awful, tell tale smell you get from self tanners by at least 70%. I’m not going to say I didn’t smell at all, later on, but it was way less compared to any other time I’ve gotten a spray tan or used a self tanner. If you need to be somewhere for the evening, you could definitely get away with using these self tanners as part of your “night out prep time” and then heading out the door.

After years of being afraid to use self tanners, I can honestly say, St. Tropez has made me a believer. I am so impressed with their products, that my only disappointment is I didn’t try them sooner! It feels great knowing I can have a beautiful, natural looking (not to mention almost scent-free) tan without ever leaving my living room. Give them a try, I promise you will love them!

Do my fellow we heart this testers look like they have been on a long tropical vacation? Check the comments and see. And if you’ve tried St. Tropez, let us know what you think.

Get ready for summer at Sephora:
St. Tropez Bronzing Lotion, Available in two sizes, 4 oz for $30 or 8 oz for $40
Everyday Gradual Tan Mousse, 4 oz for $30

Erin is a secondary science teacher who adores makeup and fashion. She spends her free time pursuing her other passions which include cooking, antiquing, and decorating.

Disclosure: This review includes products that were provided by the manufacturer/PR firm for our consideration. It also contains an affiliate link, a link that gives us a small commission if you purchase the item. For more info, or any questions, please see our disclosure policy.


  • Erin

    Erin is a secondary science teacher who adores makeup and fashion. She spends her free time pursuing her other passions which include cooking, antiquing, and decorating. skin tone: NC30 skin type: oily to normal favorite beauty product: lipglosses and bronzers


  1. As I confessed in a previous post, I spent my youth frying myself in the sun and am now paying the price: spots, freckles, uneven skin tone, and, most recently, pre-cancerous spots frozen off my face and back. I am never tanning again, but that doesn’t mean I want to go through the summer looking ghostly!

    I love self-tanners and have tried every one I can get my hands on, and I am mighty impressed with St. Tropez! I tested the tanning cream, which turned my legs from “winter white” to a natural-looking brown within hours. Not a hint of orange, which is a rarity with the self-tanners I’ve used in the past. Even better, the color gradually faded away in about a week. No scrubbing off flaking patches of color with a washcloth!

    I agree, @spitfire77, the smell is less obvious than with other self-tanners, and the lotion was a breeze to apply. As with any tanning lotion, it takes awhile to dry completely, and will stain light-colored fabrics if you’re not careful. But for me, it’s all about the color, and I’ve never seen a prettier or more natural faux-tan than the one I got from St. Tropez!

    I’m ready for summer now! 5 stars!

  2. I tried the Everyday Gradual Tan Mousse. I’m lucky to have a nice olive skin tone already. The first couple of times I used this, I could hardly tell I had put anything on, but gradually the tan started building up into a beautiful golden hue after about a week of use on me. For lighter skin tones, I’m sure it would work much faster. I also agree that the fake tan smell was not as bad with this and I’m extremely sensitive to it. Can even tell when one of my friends is using a self tanner because I can smell it a mile away. This product didn’t make me want to run and jump into the shower afterward, so that’s a huge plus in my book. My only wish is that they had different strengths of this. I could use a little stronger color to begin with. Overall, I would buy this again. It’s a great product and gives you a beautiful natural looking tan overtime. Absolutely love that that it’s a mouse. So easy to apply! 4 stars from me.

  3. As you can see from my photo, I’m very pale. But I’m not a fan of tanning beds (although I’ve been known to give in on occasion). So I’ve gone through quite a few self tanners. I even used St. Tropez’s mousse years and years ago. With that said, I’ve experienced quite a few stinky, streaky leg days.

    I tried the St. Tropez tanning lotion and I think it is great! I mean, GREAT. It does not streak and the color is so natural. The smell is minimal and the gradual build of color is fantastic. I highly recommend St. Tropez products. They are worth the money if being tan is important to you! It’s becoming less important to me as I get older but some days a girl wants to look like everyone else and feel pretty, right? :) That’s when St. Tropez steps in.

    I have a tip for use. I don’t like using my hands to apply self tanner. It is more likely to streak and it can leave your hands with tell-tale splotches. I used to use a foam mitt that was intended for bathing. I can’t find an appropriate one anywhere now. So what I did to apply this tanner was put on a latex glove and then put my hand in a little suede drawstring bag (from Duchess Marden, if anyone else got that). The drawstring can tie and tighten the bag like a mitt. The suede (or microfiber? I think) gives you a completely smooth look with great coverage! And you hand comes out stain-free.

  4. Summer started early for me this year. I was invited to a fancy shindig last weekend in Corona del Mar, over looking the amazing Pacific ocean- a perfect day, weather wise and a perfect opportunity to look like I was kissed by the sun, prior to the weekend. I looked like I needed sun on my whiter than white body! HA! Anyone that knows me is aware of my stance on getting too much sun. It’s good in small doses only.

    Back to the birthday party (of great magnificence) for a darling little ONE year old boy who has no idea how much time, energy and money his parents had poured into the festivities. The kid is one and he had a Donkey, Pony rides, petting zoo, bouncy house (I could even play in), along with groovy music, bubbles, food and beer, champagne. oh, and cake and hand dipped ice-cream! Oh, yes, I needed a tan for this, in a bad way!

    What a perfect opportunity to use St. Tropez Gradual Tan Mousse, in Everyday prior to heading over to the shindig. It really is a gradual tan and nobody could smell this on me, I’m sure of it. I was so glad I tanned up prior to going, everyone there looked untouched by the sun too.. I shared with them my newfound, St. Tropez Everyday Gradual Tan Mousse with them all and talked about how great this product is compared to so many others out there. I have a hard time going out in the sun in the first place (usually wear so much sunscreen that I often look like I was dipped in milk!) and St. Tropez really was perfect. It’s super light mouse even smells nice to me, not at all like other self tanners! It was so natural-looking too.. I had a light golden tan going without the sun damage and it really looks amazing. I am a fan now and will be using this everyday to build up the golden color- and NOT ORANGE at all.. I am turning into a sun goddess without any sun damage! Great tip from @katieg on using a glove to apply this.. I’m going to do that! Five Stars from me!

  5. I’ve been rocking the “pale is the new tan” look for years now. I never tan, even when I try, so I just slather on the SPF and call it a protected day. However, your write up (and all the lovely ladies comments!) are making me reconsider! Perhaps I too can become a (fake) bronzed goddess. The foam looks so fun, I think I’ll try the mousse!

    Thanks ladies for breaking me out of a melanin rut!

  6. St. Tropez is hands down THE BEST Self-Tanner on the market. The Bronzing lotion comes out BROWN so you can see where its going and it gives such a natural color that lasts a couple of days! Plus it really has NO odor at all and I like that!

  7. In my twenties I wasn’t afraid of the sun warnings and, living in Arizona during that time, it showed. Now that I live in sunny-yet-health-conscious California, I have taken the time to experiment with a slew of self-tanners.
    Self-tanners really have come a long way from the orange QT foam of my youth. Micro-mists from companies like Neutrogena work really well, but can be a little messy. Drying times can be awkward (standing naked for ten or fifteen minutes at a time). The results, for the most part, are really good, I think.
    Last year I tried some of the gradual tan lotions by Jergens and Dove. Both worked well. I liked the gradual-tan idea so that I didn’t go from pasty-white to over-baked. But it was still a lotion and took a while to soak into your skin. While I may not have left dark orange trails on towels, bathrobes and sheets, it did rub off.
    But now…St.Tropez! This gradual-tanning mousse is perfect! I really mean it is perfect. The consistency is light. Rubbing this mousse into the skin it becomes watery in texture (this is good) and thus spreads and absorbs super-quickly. When I first read the directions it says to wait “a minute or two” before dressing. I thought, “yeah, sure,” but it is true. Literally a minute or two before you can get dressed with no sign of orange residue on your clothes.
    There was absolutely no streaking. The first application is so gradual that there can be no mistakes. I went from pasty white to a pale golden hue. Really, it just erased my sickly pallor for a more healthy-looking paleness. Since this was the early-spring color I was looking for, I used this once a week for maintenance. I’m sure as spring rolls into summer and my skirts get shorter and sleeves disappear, daily use of St. Tropez will give me that sun-kissed glow I will be seeking.
    Decidedly, this is my new go-to self tanner. 5 big stars.

  8. Completely agree with everyone. This is my new go-to tanner… best five star rating I can give!

  9. I too have been hearing great things about this line, it seems to be everywhere right now! I got to test the Gradual Tan Mousse. I liked it, but, I didn’t love it. I liked that it was a mousse, better then applying a lotion. And the color was very subtle and not at all orange. What’s the problem then? I did get some weird streaks on the backs of my arms. In the products defense, I may have not rubbed as well as I should have. And although the scent, like everyone said, is WAY better than with most tanners, it’s still there. Had I not tested Xen Tan about a year about, I probably would have loved this. But comparing the too, I like Xen Tan more.

    Still, this is the 2nd best tanner I’ve ever used! I give it a strong 3 stars.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *