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Scrolling through TikTok the other day, I heard a distinctly Kardashian voice posing a question: "Honestly, who can say they don't want to be tan?" Uncovering the original audio proved it was Khloé in her confessional on one of the earlier seasons of Keeping Up with the Kardashians. The audio then shifts to Kim and Kourtney, who go on to talk about the merits of a good fake tan.
On this point, I can relate to the Kardashians. While our natural complexions are very different — them, Armenian; me Irish and one teeny-tiny fraction Italian — I too feel more confident when my skin reads half a shade darker than normal and I magically see subtle definition I didn't know I could have.
Of course, the importance of sun protection cannot go unstated, so I only do the fake stuff. On my body, I'll try different brands based on good reviews. Recently, I've been using a Sugared & Bronzed mousse: I apply it with a mitt at night before bed and shower it off the next morning. The tan is very subtle, but noticeable, and will stick around for four days or a long weekend if I remember to keep moisturised, especially on my chest and ankles. On my face, however, it's been challenging to find the right serum that doesn't look orange or patchy. Then, based on rave reviews, I found Tan-Luxe Hyaluronic Acid Super Glow Serum.
The product name is a mouthful, but the HA mention is what hooked me. My skin is super dry and reacts really well to hyaluronic acid. With the Super Glow serum, instead of adding a step to my skin-care routine, I just mix a few drops in with another serum I like, SkinCeuticals H.A. Intensifier, and then press the blend into my skin. I let it all "sink in" for a few minutes and then I'll add my Victoria Beckham x Augustinus Bader moisturiser over top and then add sunscreen. About an hour later, my skin is still dewy and a tiny bit tan. I like the resulting colour and finish so much that I usually won't even put on any face makeup, maybe just tinted lip balm and mascara.
I asked NYC-based dermatologist Hadley King, MD, to peek at the serum's ingredient list and get to the bottom of why this particular self-tanner was such a good match for me. Beyond the active dihydroxyacetone (DHA), which delivers the colour, there are other properties that make the serum well-suited for dry skin.
"This serum also contains humectants to hydrate the skin, as well as a few oils that have emollient and occlusive properties to support the skin barrier and help to lock in moisture," Dr. King explains. The oil composition might not be the best option for someone with especially oily or acne-prone skin; a self-tanner with a touch of glycolic or lactic acid would help to minimise the risk of clogged pores. "However, if you have normal to dry skin," Dr. King says (and mine is the latter, especially heading into the hotter season), "this formulation may work really well for you."