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OK, I’m going to level with you here: the question posed in the title of this post has both a long, rambling answer, and a short and obvious one. I, naturally, am going to give you the long and rambling one: but, before I do, I’m going to take pity on those of you who’ve just arrived here having Googled some variation of the words ‘St. Tropez Gradual Tan in Shower Lotion Review’, and are just looking for someone to cut right to the chase.
Well, here you go, folks: the short answer to the question, ‘Can you get a fake tan in the shower?’ is…
Not really, no.
Quelle surprise, non?
For those of you, meanwhile, who have a bit of time to kill, and no better way to do it, let me begin this review by telling you how much I hate using fake tan. I hate it for all of the usual reasons, obviously – the weird smell, the streakiness, the fact that it normally makes me look like I have orange knees – but, most of all, I hate it for the tedious application process.
I mean, let’s face it: there’s really no good time to apply fake tan, is there?
Do it first thing in the morning, say, and you then have to struggle into your clothes afterwards, feeling them snag on your still-sticky skin (Yes, I know you’re all about to comment telling me about the awesome fake tanning lotions you use which dry instantly and don’t make your clothes feel icky and horrible, but I just… I don’t believe you. Sorry, but I don’t.), and knowing that your tan has already been ruined – along with your clothes, come to think of it. Apply the tan last thing at night, though, and you’re basically turning your bedsheets into Turin’s shroud, aren’t you? Yes: yes you are.
There are solutions to this problem, of course: they involve things like loose, dark-coloured clothes, hanging around your house naked for a couple of hours, and – as I recently learned – sleeping inside a spare duvet covet cover, in order to protect your bedsheets. Even if you can find a solution that works at home, though, what happens when you go on holiday, and don’t want to have to hang out in your hotel room for hours waiting on your fake tan to dry, or have to restrict your summer wardrobe to black, black and more black?
I know some of you only need the fake tan to last until a real one replaces it, but I never tan for real, which means that any fake tan I decide to go for has to be maintained while I travel: and ain’t nobody got time for that, obviously, which means I get to be one of the few people on earth who comes home from a beach holiday even PALER than when she left. Yay, me!
It’s a problem. And, when I came across St. Tropez Gradual Tan in Shower Lotion shortly before our trip to Florida last month, it was a problem I thought had finally been solved. A fake tan that you apply in the shower, and then immediately wash off? Sounds legit, right? Well, readers, I bought it…
This is, as the name suggests, a gradual tanning lotion, and, yes, you really do apply it in the shower, and then immediately rinse it off before getting dried and dressed. This was the big selling point for me: I loved the idea of a fake tan that would fit right into my daily routine, and which wouldn’t leave my skin feeling sticky and smelling like… well, like fake tan, basically. Because no one loves that distinctive ‘biscuits-with-feet’ scent, do they? Didn’t think so.
As it turned out, though, the name is ever-so-slightly misleading, because while you DO apply this lotion in the shower, it’s not like a shower gel or soap, which you apply with the water running: I mean, obviously not, or it’d just get washed right off, wouldn’t it? No, instead you shower as usual, and then, when you’re done, you switch the water off – or just angle the shower head away from you, if your shower is large enough – apply the lotion to your wet skin, and then wait three minutes before stepping back into the shower and rinsing it all off.
You’ve already spotted the catch, haven’t you? Yes, it’s the three minutes spent standing there shivering in the shower with the water off, isn’t it? Well, I have to admit, I didn’t love that idea, either: it is, however, only three minutes out of your day, and if it gave me a flawless, no-fuss tan, then I was more than willing to put up with it, so I pressed on with my experiment.
As some of the reviews I’d read of this product mentioned that it can take a few days for the tan to be noticeable, I decided to start using it the week before our holiday, despite the certain knowledge that the size of the tube, combined with the instructions to use a ‘generous’ amount of lotion with each application, would almost definitely mean I’d run out of the stuff by the time we left. Still, if it worked, I guessed it would be worth it, (I mean, it’s almost £15 per tube, so it’d have to work really, REALLY well for me to be able to justify a bottle a week, obviously, but a girl can dream, and, in this case, I was dreaming of sun kissed skin, beachy hair, and all of those other ‘summer’ cliches the magazines like to trot out every year, and which I fall for every single time, despite the fact that, for me, ‘beachy hair’ just means looking like a poodle who got caught in a sandstorm. But I digress.) so, telling myself that I could always buy some more if I loved it, I got into the shower to give it a go.
The first time I used it, it made absolutely no difference whatsoever to the colour of my skin. This was fine, though: it is, after all, a gradual tanner, and it does say on the instructions that it might take up to three applications to become really noticeable. It was also really easy to apply: the fact that you’re putting it onto wet skin means that it’s really easy to distribute it, and rub it in. The three minute wait, meanwhile, passed pretty quickly, and while I wouldn’t call this fragrance-free exactly (I could detect a very faint scent, even after rinsing it off, as instructed), the scent wasn’t nearly as obnoxious as most other fake tans I’ve tried. Best of all, you get to wash it all off within minutes of applying it, which mean I was able to get out of the shower, and get dried and dressed right away, without worrying about ruining either my clothes or my tan: ideal. OR WAS IT?
The second time I used it, it STILL made absolutely no difference to my skin.
Or the third time, actually.
By this stage, I was starting to get a little bit frustrated. It is, as I said, an expensive product, and I seemed to be going through quite a lot of it, without seeing anything in the way of results. Still, I’d started, so I figured I may as well finish the bottle, and, sure, enough, on the fourth day I woke up with a tan…
… on my FEET.
Well, on PARTS of my feet, rather.
Yes, it seems that, despite my best efforts to make sure I’d distributed the lotion evenly and rubbed it in properly, some of it had obviously dripped onto my feet without me realising: and it was still there, in the shape of a series of dark brown marks, randomly distributed over both feet. The rest of my body, meanwhile, was still as white as the driven snow: with the exception of one area on my right calf, which was now a bright, orangey-brown. Awesome.
This, my friends, is why I always, always recommend self-tanners which have a guide colour: i.e. they go on brown, so you can see exactly where you’ve put the product, and which bits you’ve missed. I really did try my best to smooth this one on perfectly, but I obviously messed up at some point. hence the heavily patterned feet.
The good news: the colour on my feet lasted for almost the entire duration of my two-week holiday, even after I’d scrubbed repeatedly at it with soap, shower gel, and – please don’t scold me, because I was desperate – on one occasion, even nail polish remover.
The bad news: er, see above, really – it lasted for TWO WEEKS. TWO WEEKS, people. And, I mean, obviously that would’ve been a fantastic result IF the tan had looked good. As it was, though, it just prompted my irrational decision to run out and buy ANOTHER fake tan to try and cover it up, only to end up with orange knees and elbow – also for the duration of our trip. GOD.
I’m not going to be rushing to re-purchase either of them, needless to say. And I’d like to say here that I’ve learned my lesson, and will, in future, be practising what I preach and remaining pale and interesting: but what would be the fun in that, I ask you?