I recently (and rather rudely, I should say) helped myself to some pretty pricey self-tanner my super suave aunt had lurking in her bathroom when I stayed with her in Dallas, Texas. By which I mean I slathered a bunch of it all over my body and then climbed directly into her all-white bed. (If I’m related to you, I’m clearly a terrible houseguest.)
The self-tanner in question was from a new-ish line called Vita Liberata. My god, was it dreamy! I loved it, name-checked it in my “Life Lessons From Liberace” post a few weeks back, bemoaned the fact that I couldn't afford it, and moved on.
Then I got the kindest email from the Vita Liberata PR team, urging me to let them send me some of their product so I didn’t have to furtively steal it from my aunt. I started to demur, because it seems that accepting anything from a PR flak is a slippery slope. They send you one crappy item and them harangue you about it for 500 million years. But I acquiesced, and boy, am I glad I did.
For the record, this marks exactly the 2nd thing I’ve gotten for free in 10 years as a costume designer and 2 years as a fashion writer/blogger. (3 if you count the weirdo Facelift Bungee thingEmily sent me from her reject swag pile at xo.)
The Vita Liberata line is ridiculously great. Worth every penny I did not pay. But the joke is on me, because they only sent me products for the body and I loved them SO MUCH, I promptly took to Sephora to buy myself both versions of their face-specific self-tanner. If you are keeping track, this post has actually cost me $73.00 so far. (Only I could make getting free shit take money out of my pocket.)
The stuff I stole from my aunt is Vita Liberata's flagship product -- their pHenomenal tan mousse. It's lightly tinted and promises a tan that lasts 2-3 weeks. (Most self-tanners start to fade within 2-3 days.) You accomplish this by layering the product daily over the course of 2-3 days, showering in between applications. And it best last 2 weeks or more, because it's $54.00!
Let me stop here and tell you the main reason I hate every self-tanner in the known universe and why I have just accepted the fact that I will walk around with this leg color for the rest of my days:
It's because they all smell like boiled butt. Just a terrible, nasty, chemical smell that reminds me of dirty little kids. It's so awful to go to all the trouble to shower, shave my legs, condition my hair, apply perfume and then midway through dinner catch a whiff of disgusting self-tanner. And I don't think it matters how much you spend on the product, they all stink!
Unless it's this stuff. There was ZERO foul smell associated with any of the Vita Liberata products I used. The day after applying it, I could catch the faintest whiff of a scent, but it wasn't bad nor was it at all overpowering like most self-tanners are.
But back to the pHenomenal tan mousse. It was my least favorite of the 3 products they sent me, probably because it takes the most dedication to use. I can't be bothered to lather, rinse, and repeat! (They suggest repeat applications in 3-24 hour intervals.) But it's way worth it. The resulting tan is par excellence, and lasts for weeks. I just happen to prefer the slacker girl's way of self-tanning, so I am swooning hard over their self-tan lotions, which come in both a tinted and untinted version.
You may be wondering which version makes sense for you -- I sure was. The sad news is A COMBO OF BOTH THE TINTED AND UNTINTED LOTION IS THE HOLY GRAIL OF SELF-TANNING. (But the bright side is that the lotions are $17.00-$21.00 cheaper than the pHenomenal mousse!)
I used the untinted self-tanning lotion right before bedtime every night for a week. I didn't even smear it in all that well -- and there is a big part of my back I can't reach because I broke my shoulder as a kid. It didn't matter! It's completely non-streaking. It also never left any brown stains on my sheets or jammies, and I am one severely impatient troll -- I only let it dry for 5 minutes, tops.
Every morning, I woke up a little more glow-y than when I went to sleep. I was pretty glad I'd been hitting the self-tanner all week when my jeans ripped wide open on set yesterday. At least my whole thigh that was hanging out for all to see was tannnnnnnn as could be.
I then decided to branch out and apply the tinted self-tanning lotion right before a party I attended. (It gives you instant color while it works.) Every single person I talked to that evening asked me if I'd been on vacation -- when in fact, I was fresh off of 10 months on a dark, dreary soundstage.
I don't know how the tinted self-tanning lotion doesn't come off on your clothes. Again, I only let it dry for like 5 minutes before dressing, but it absorbs quickly and doesn't streak or smear. It's nothing short of miraculous.
The other main beef I've always had with self-tanners is that they all say never to apply moisturizer beforehand -- and I cannot live without slathering my body head to toe with lotion when I'm fresh out of the shower. The tinted and untinted self-tanning lotions solve this problem because they are, in fact, lotions themselves. I put some heavy duty cream on my feet, elbows and knees, and let the Vita Liberata lotion suffice for everywhere else. It's very emollient.
A bit of advice: Be sure to spring for the tanning mitt if you order any Vita Liberata products. It saves your palms from certain death, and makes it so much easier to apply all their products. It's the smartest $6.50 you'll ever spend.
All Vita Liberata products are free from parabens, alcohol, and perfumes, and are not tested on animals. But duh, you already knew that.
Is this is really the world's most expensive self-tanner? I realized that when you add up how much everyone's beloved Tan Towels cost, Vita Liberata's products actually work out to far less $$$ per use. And to answer my other question: Yes! I DO indeed believe that this could be the world's very best self-tanner.
I'm on Twitter: @IveyAlison.