Once upon a time there was a bridesmaid who was looking a little pale from an entire winter’s worth of staying indoors and ordering from Seamless. Spring had finally sprung, and the poor, sallow bridesmaid needed to get a spray tan before the big event that weekend. She shelled out more money than she would care to admit to get what she hoped would be a nice honey-brown glow at a local salon. She stripped down in front of her very tan, very toned spray-tan...artist? Spray-tannist? Tanning engineer? Doesn’t matter. Of course, it felt like it went on evenly and didn’t look too drastic, but after it developed overnight, the bridesmaid woke up to a streaky, orange mess. (It was me, you guys. The bridesmaid was me.)
Oh, the horror of a bad fake tan. Especially when you have an event coming up and the damage has been done. So you spend hours in the shower trying to exfoliate your skin raw. And you’re supposed to be able to trust the experts — it’s the best way of avoiding at-home tanning which, to me, is way scarier because I’m clumsy and was never really able to color inside the lines as a kid (same thing, right?). So already, the L’Oréal Paris Sublime Bronze Summer Express Wash-Off Face Bronzer Cream had exactly what I needed to feel comfortable with a DIY tan: the ability to wash it off at the end of the day. Or, if things went south, immediately.
The cream looks like an extra-brown foundation as soon as you squeeze it out, but once you massage it into your face, the color really diffuses into a very subtle, natural bronze with just a hint of shimmer. It dries pretty quickly, so you have to do your blending on a mission, but even if you miss a spot, the color is so light that you won’t notice any streaks caused by fumbling fingers. The formula has vitamin E for a hit of hydration that you can actually feel, and it has SPF 20, so I was able to skip the sunscreen that morning (although, I would have been way more comfortable with SPF 30).
And the ultimate sign of a good at-home tanner: It smells really pretty. It’s floral with a hint of vanilla, so no chemical headaches from being locked in your bathroom with the bottle for too long. It stayed put really well while I applied my makeup on top of it, and it washed off that night without any extra-tough scrubbing.
My only real complaint is that the bottle is too small to cover my entire body, but my face sure looked bronzed and fabulous. Maybe because of the fake tan or maybe because I wasn't wearing that oh-my-God-the-wedding-is-tonight panicked expression. Maybe both. Who’s to say?