When I was in college, lathering myself in sunscreen to lay on the beach while surrounded by bronzed bodies, I often wondered why a sunscreen with self-tanner hadn’t been created?
I wanted color, just not the damage.
In my head, it seemed like the best of all worlds: a sunscreen with self-tanner would allow me to lie out safely in the sun, and still go home with color.
I was so naive…
Cue to today: flipping through a magazine I see an ad for a product that does exactly this, at least for the face.
A self-tanner with an SPF-40 was exactly what I had wished for all those years ago, and now that I see it is actually exists, my brain instantly thinks of all the reasons why this is a TERRIBLE idea.
Now that I’m older and wiser, I can more readily appreciate the art entailed with self-tanner AND sunscreen application. There is definitely skill involved in achieving a natural, cohesive fake tan, and there is definitely skill involved in not getting sun-burned. Unfortunately, the two action-plans do not complement each other. At all.
With sunscreen, the only art is to apply, reapply, reapply, and reapply some more. The only way you can mess up is miss a spot, or not apply enough product.
Self-tanner is totally different. While you also don’t want to miss any spots, over-applying product will leave you blotchy and discolored, and that is never a cute look.
Also, sunscreen can be reapplied, worry free, to any area that feels like it needs extra protection. Can you imagine what your face would look like if you applied sunscreen self-tanner to your nose 10x through the course of the day, and only to your entire face twice?
Additionally, if you are outdoors taking advantage of SPF-40 protection, what happens when you begin to sweat? Not only will your fake-tan will be ruined, but getting sunscreen in your eyes is bad enough – can you imagine getting sunscreen/self-tanner run-off in your eyes? Youch!!
Or, what if you're outdoors and wearing a hat? Any area where the hat is against the skin will potentially rub off the self-tanner and leave you looking like this guy.
What about the fingers that would be applying and reapplying the sunscreen/self-tanner? Are you supposed to run to the ocean or pool to wash off your fingers every time you apply some more sunblock?
Perhaps you choose to reapply with a different sunscreen. Does that dilute the self-tanner before it’s fully kicked in, or smear the color-causing ingredients to places you don’t want?
Are you someone who touches their face a lot? Since most people absent-mindedly rest their chins on their hand, hold their phones against their face, or even drink beverages out of glasses versus straws, there a million ways to mess up self-tanner applied to the face during the course of an average day.
In short – an SPF-40 with self-tanner creates way too many things to worry about and not enough benefit to make it worthwhile.
Obviously, since this was a product-combination I desired in my younger years, I can see the surface appeal, but the skin professionals who actually researched, manufactured, and are now marketing this product (and they shall go unnamed in my efforts to not promote such an idiotic skin care product) should know better! Ugh.
Learn from my rookie skin mistakes: if you want to look tan and have pretty, healthy skin, the formula is easy. Apply as much sunscreen as you possibly can during the day, and at night (when you’re not going anywhere) take the time to carefully self-tan your face and body to perfection. Yes, this requires two-steps (and two products) instead of one, but I literally cannot think of any situation where sunscreen / self-tanner works out well for you.
Now my brain is playing devil’s advocate and coming up with random scenarios where this product would be perfect, but my common-sense is still prevailing. Even in the thick of winter, when you would only want to protect your face and wouldn’t have to worry about constant reapplication, do you really want your face to be a completely different color than the rest of your body? If you can think of a situation where this would a good product, please let me know. In the meantime, I’m happily and confidently rocking my About Face SPF-50, J.Crew rash-guard, Benefit bronzing powder, and St. Tropez self-tanner. #nosundamagehere