The Tan Lab

I’m fair in complexion; actually, I’m fairer than fair. To be blunt, I’m so pale I’m transparent – you can see the blood flowing through my veins. Now, all my fellow pale people will understand that summer can be difficult when wearing shorts or a dress that doesn’t come all the way to your ankles – your legs reflect the sun like a mirror and you can potentially blind someone! Yes, pale skin can absolutely be beautiful, but you can’t help chase after that elusive bronzed skin. And with summer fast approaching, I felt that all too familiar tug again.

I’ve never been a fan of self tanners – I’ve tried quite a few over the years and it just never turned out well. I was either orange, streaky or both and after a few days the colour would start to go patchy. Not a good look if you’re running around in your cozzie trying to look all kinds of fabulous. Besides looking like a tragedy, I have always found that self tanners have a very unpleasant smell that literally does not disappear until the tan does. My other gripe is that I always feel sticky for hours on end after application which makes not showering for 8-10 hours afterwards a near impossible task.

Now that you know why I hate self tanners, let’s get to the crux of the matter, what you really came here for. I had heard a lot of positive things about The Tan Lab from fellow bloggers but being a self confessed self tanner-phobe, I did some research, I wanted to know why The Tan Lab was so different to all the other self tanning products that had failed to impress. The Tan Lab has a bit of a different approach to sunless tanning. They discovered that the reason so many self tanners streak or go orange is because they only contain Dihydroxyacetone (DHA) and not a combination of DHA and Erythulose. The main reason for this is that Erythulose is more costly and incorporating it into products would also mean that the tan would take a longer time to develop. The Tan Lab played around with different concentrations and finally came up with the perfect formulation – one that will develop within the normal 8-10 hours but also won’t streak. How’s this for awesome though, even after showering the product off later, the tan will still develop which means it will last a lot longer (without going blotchy) than your average self tanner.

This all seemed to make enough sense to me and it seemed like it was worth a try. I popped The Tan Lab a mail, asking where I could purchase their products in Johannesburg and which shade they suggested for me (they have three: dark, medium and light). After deciding that medium was probably my best bet until I felt more confident, they offered to send me some products to test out.

tan lab

I was pretty nervous to try another self tan, especially after all of my previous fails, but I comforted myself with the knowledge that if it didn’t work so well, it’s winter and I could just cover it up. I found the application really easy – the consistency of the self tan wasn’t too runny which was great, I find that when the product is too watery, it leaves horrible streaks everywhere. It also absorbed really quickly into my skin which meant that I didn’t have to wonder about for ages with sticky skin, petrified that the colour would transfer onto everything. The cherry on top was the smell – it wasn’t that horrible synthetic coconut fragrance, it was a lot more subtle and has a bit of vanilla in there somewhere, it wasn’t offensive at all.

After tanning my entire body (how do people do their back without help?!), I hopped into my pyjamas and flopped into bed, dreaming of waking up a bronzed goddess in the morning. (Just a note: I slept on white linen and the tan didn’t transfer at all.) The next morning the colour was perfect and completely natural, even after showering, I was so impressed! There was no streaking at all and zero orange, it was a tanning miracle!

I’m happy to say that after just under a week on, my tan is still going strong and there hasn’t been any patchy-ness. It has faded ever so slightly but I’m still very much tanned and not anywhere close to my natural pale complexion. I have found that my skin is definitely a lot more dehydrated (a known side effect of self tanners, but winter is also partly to blame) but the Hydrating Lotion does such a great job. Its very lightweight so doesn’t feel very heavy on your skin which will be great in summer. It also has light reflecting particles in it so I can’t wait to slather it on my legs when i wear shorts in summer – I’m going to look like Malibu Barbie! Don’t worry, its not over-kill so you wont look like Edward Cullen in the sunlight.

If you are an inexperienced tanner like myself, here are some tips that I have picked up along the way:

  1. Exfoliate before applying your self tan, and not just a fairy touch exfoliation, really get in there, you want to remove all the dead skin cells. I would advise against an exfoliator that has any oil in it – vigorous dry brushing is a really good option.
  2. My problem areas are my feet, Achilles heels and elbows, I find what really helps is to apply some body moisturiser to those areas before applying self tanner, it almost dilutes the product making sure that your feet aren’t three times the shade of your legs.
  3. I tan my face as well, I find it looks a bit funny if I don’t. I mix some self tanner into my moisturiser (usually 1 part moisturiser, 2 parts self tanner). Don’t forget your ears and make sure to blend into your hairline!
  4. Moisturise, moisturise, moisturise – this will prolong the life span of your tan.
  5. If your tan has completely faded and you are going to reapply, don’t skip on the exfoliation before hand to ensure that you get a smooth application.

To find out more about the products that The Tan Lab offers, and to find out where your nearest stockist is (you can also order online), click here. Thanks again to The Tan Lab for sending me these amazing products to try out, I am hooked!

Just a note: the “blotches” on the inside of my knees aren’t from the product, they’re just scars so the colour looks a bit different.


You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    August 7, 2015 at 7:25 pm

    This was great. I am just as fair as you. It has been the brain of my existence my whole life, self tanners even more. I may try this out.

    • Reply
      August 7, 2015 at 7:26 pm

      Stupid Autocorrect. Bain not Brain.

    • Reply
      mascara & mimosas
      August 8, 2015 at 8:27 am

      Oh man, I have had some TERRIBLE times with self tanners Celeste, this has by far been the best. Just make sure to exfoliate properly and “dilute” the problem areas. Good luck and let me know how it goes! x

  • Reply
    August 25, 2015 at 10:48 pm

    Haha – I can so relate on being so pale that it’s bordering transparent! Glad I’m not alone. I actually have some Tan Lab goodies in my self-tan basket (yes, basket – I tend to hoard self-tanners; it’s one of my favourite types of product, but I’m SO lazy when it comes to applying them!), and this post provided the ease-of-mind to actually give it a go! It’s good to learn a bit more about the ingredients and how they actually work, so thank you for that! x

    • Reply
      mascara & mimosas
      August 26, 2015 at 6:49 pm

      I have had so many self tan catastrophes, The Tan Lab is such a win. Plus the moisturiser smells incredible. x

    Leave a Reply

    Pin It on Pinterest

    Share This