Q: What’s really tan and deceptively skinny all over? A: ME! About an hour after applying the greatest self-tanner ever.
Publish date:
May 19, 2011
shoppables, beauty, Lancome, self-tanner, drugstore awards, how to look hot, l'oreal paris

Oh, Lancome Paris. They are the best best best when it comes to self-tanner; they really are. And I know this because the original (to borrow a phrase from one of my all-time favorite magazines) DON DIVA of all things self-tanner is my former boss at Lucky, beauty director Jean Godfrey-June. Yup, we love her, right? Bitches know! She is a Boss. Before I met her, I looked, well, disgusting! Pale. Like a maggot. Corpsebride! Like a dead stripper -- that pasty.

Anyway, JGJ is a self-tanner aficionado and expert, and yeah, she is the one who put me on to the brilliance of basically all such products by Lancome. Years ago as her assistant, I'd regularly call Lancome PR to send over bags and bags of it for Jean's personal stash, so devoted a user was she. And while I'd never been a self-tanner person before -- I thought it was weird, and that it smelled -- after working for Jean for a few months I was a convert. Because Jean ALWAYS looks good! Her whole look was to be self-tanned (she uses the same Lancome on her face and her body; she taught me that was okay, too -- and it's true, I don't break out) and then get away with wearing very little makeup, since her skin always looked naturally tawny and perfect. (In case you can't tell, I sort of creepily worship her and copy everything about her -- including the "you could be better-looking" in the title of this post, a beauty story concept shamelessly stolen [in an HOMAGE-y way!] from Jean's book that OMIGOD, you have to read if you're into beauty and fashion magazine culture and all that : it's called Free Gift With Purchase and it's why I became a beauty editor.)

Back to the tan thing. So I know that pale is an ideal look for many people. Why, our own Ms. Emily McCombs rocks pale beautifully – like a milkmaid! A sexy milkmaid, really good, creamy skin. Clear skin! With a lovely and very pale tone. I, my friends, am not so lucky. I’m GOONY when I’m pale. Really gross, with oddly colored eyebrows (I look in the mirror a lot – a LOT; it is my JOB to look at myself – and one notices such things), plus occasional smatterings of acne to throw the whole color scheme to f%&king hell all over again. And I used to just pile on the bronzer; sometimes even a SPRAY BRONZER; I throw up a little in my mouth just thinking about it.

Pre-Jean and pre-Lancome I was, like I said, disgusting. Disgusting-looking and disgusting inside, because I couldn’t love myself! No, not looking like that. You see, I only love myself when I’m extremely good-looking, and thus the beauty product stakes are always high. So you can always trust my recommendations.

FACT: The best beauty editors always feel this way about themselves, even if they won’t admit it.

NO, I’m lying. Most beauty editors are not nearly so shallow. They are, however, better at putting on self-tanner than you, and since I've been a beauty editor for many inauthentically tan years now, so am I. Here’s what I've learned:1) You don’t have to do the whole exfoliating thing every time you’re going to self-tan. I mean, it helps, but whatever. You can just jump in the shower, soap up and rinse off and usual, then apply self-tanner when you’re dry. (If you are going to exfoliate, I like a good salt scrub – lately, this one by Bliss, aka the beauty company can do no wrong. EVS. And that's slang for "ever".)

2) You don’t need to be all paranoid about streakiness when you’re self-tanning. Slap that shiz on like it’s lotion, mang! And blend a little bit, but really, you don’t need to be sooo anxious. The best formulas are designed to not be all streaky and terrible.3) When in doubt about a product to start with, use Lancome Flash Bronzer Tinted Leg Gel! Many beauty editors would not sit here and tell the whole world-wide Internetz that the only brand of self-tanner they would die for is Lancome, but that’s because they are open-minded and fair. Me, not so goddamn much! This stuff is amazing; plus, is goes on sheerly tinted and it smells good! Go glob it on your arm all secretively at a Sephora or something some time. I'm telling you.

4) A safe second choice is anything manufactured by the parent company of Lancome, which is L’oreal Paris. Yes, L’oreal produces so much that is good in this world, including my favorite new drugstore self-tanner, L’oreal Paris Sublime Bronze Clear Self-Tanning Gel, which similarly does not smell! And it sprays on, so you can get your back and all that. I go through bottles of this stuff like I'm supposed to go through bottles of, like, water. Except I don't drink it, durr.

5) One of the best tips Jean ever taught me is to finish off by washing your hands to get all the color off -- then put a little on the back of one hand and rub it onto the back of the other, so the back of your hands match the rest of your body but your palms don't. Hotness!

And OK! That's all I've got today. What are your favorite self-tanners? Self-tanner tips? Let's hear 'em.