YOU HAVE FINALLY figured out what to wear to a Sunday afternoon barbecue, cocktail party on the patio or lunch alfresco with former colleagues. But, then, oops, you see your chalky calves sticking out from your fabulous, colorful summery dress or skirt. You look more closely and realize the issue is not just your pallid legs. If you’re like me, you’ve got also got some discoloration, a bruise or three, some patchy dry spots and whatnot. My usual solution is to give up and put on yet another pair of pants. But then a friend sent me an email asking if I had any suggestions for hiding spots and pallor on her legs, and I decided to rethink it. Over the years— with varied success— I have tried several solutions, the majority of which have belonged to the self-tanner camp. Reluctant to rely on my own completely random trials, I asked the MyLittleBird team to chime in with their experience. LittleBird Stephanie Gardens, recently back from a week in Florida, where she got a glorious glow but was now sitting in her office gradually growing pale, had some thoughts about her trials (and errors). Here are nine products we think are worth giving a chance. Summer’s too short to let it go by without showing a little (or a lotta) leg.
FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: I don’t use self-tanning products on my face. Rather, I prefer to use those intended for the face on my body, hoping to get a more subtle effect. That could be a pretty pricey indulgence in the case of ByTerry’s Terrybly Densiliss Sun Glow ($92.80, Dermstore). In the spirit of full disclosure, I received a sample from the cosmetics company a year or so ago. Because it reportedly blurs skin imperfections and blemishes, I tried it on my legs and got just enough of a bronze color to hide the parts I wanted hiding. Irishwoman Alyson Hogg was making skin care products when her friends (very pale Irish lasses looking for something to darken their skin) convinced her to come up with a tanning product. One of the results is her company Vita Liberata’s Body Blur Instant HD Skin Finish ($45, Violet Grey), a wash-off face and body makeup that gives you a bronze glow, reflects light and reduces the appearance of spider veins and age spots. Several years ago, I bought something from James Read that gave my gams some shine. Although it did leave a slight dark stain on the inside hem of my skirt, the dry cleaner resolved it. I’d give the company’s Tan Instant Body Mist ($38, Dermstore) a try. The spraying part sounds appealing, although you’d have to be careful not to miss. The best thing about pads/towelettes, like those fromTan Towel, is they’re easy to apply and don’t leave spills all over the bathroom. I first I discovered them in one of those jars of samples Bluemercury in Georgetown keeps around the cash register. Last summer I swiped the Total Body Tan Self-Tan Towelettes (set of 5, $29, Ulta Beauty) on my legs before I set off for a beachy vacation. With several applications, I built up enough coverage to wear a sundress. It dried quickly and didn’t smear on my clothes. As opposed to my method, Stephanie used St. Tropez Instant Glow on her face, even though it’s meant as a body tanner. “It’s temporary color, but does not run or streak even in the hottest weather, yet washes off easily with soap or cleanser. It appears they no longer make it.” Alternatively, there’s St. Tropez Tanning Essentials Gradual Tan Everyday Tinted Body Lotion ($30, Sephora).
FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: “SugarBaby Radiance Wash off Bronzing Moisturizer Cream ($11.39, Amazon) got good reviews on Amazon, and I agree,” says Stephanie. “It’s a temporary body tanner that I use on my face—it’s very dark, but believable if you’re not too pale or have a base tan. And cheap. I’ve also used Sublime Bronze Hydrating Self-Tanning Water Mousse ($14.99, Ulta Beauty), but to my nose it is toxic. It does, however, give excellent color and dries quickly.” Stephanie has gotten good results from Dennis Gross Skincare’s tanning products, such as Alpha Beta Glow Pad for Body (set of 8 pre-soaked pads, $45, Dermstore), but decided to find something less spend. She reports: “I scored Jergens Natural Glow Wet Skin Moisturizer at Harris Teeter the other day—half price, around $5,” she says. (It’s $10.99 at Ulta Beauty.) “I’m using it on my legs and belly; I hate a pale stomach. So happy I went back and immediately bought another tube in Medium Tan, because that’s what I currently am. It goes on smoothly over damp skin; you pat dry, and it leaves no smears or streaks. Moreover, there’s only a very mild, inoffensive scent, as opposed to their old gradual tan stuff which positively reeked. It IS a little yellowish, but my Florida tan (why are tans from different places so different?) is a bit yellow.”