I Tried 3 Different Self Tanners To See Which Ones Are Worth The Money

I am a WHORE for a good self tanner. I love having a bronzy glow, but melanoma runs in my family, plus it’s just bad for you in general, so no tanning beds for me.

I wanted to test two self tanners against the one that I got into the habit of using.

My go-to self tanner is the St. Tropez mousse in “classic.” I mean, it’s a solid, reliable self tanner that will get you cute and glowy instantly.

This tanner runs at $42 a bottle plus about $6 for the mitt applicator.

The second tanner I tried was Ulta’s brand of self tanner, the Ultra Dark Express Tan Tinted Mousse. This one was $14.99 for the bottle and another $11 for the mitt.

Finally, I tried the Jergen’s Natural Glow Instant Sun Tanning Mousse in the shade “deep bronze,” which is listed at like $15 on this link, but I got it in the store and it was around $10. This one didn’t come with a mitt so I just used the St. Tropez one.

Body prep

Before each time I applied any tanner, I shower, like a DEEP shower. Everything gets shaved and everything gets a hardcore scrub down several times.

I exfoliate my face with my First Aid Beauty facial radiance polish and make sure makeup is nowhere to be found in my pores.

I exfoliate my body with The Better Skin Co. lava magik. I think this is technically for your face, but I used it on my face and it felt like I lost three layers of skin, so I use it on my body and she really scrubs off that dead skin. Btw, this was in one of my FabFitFun boxes.

After the shower I throw on a small amount of facial moisturizer and wait about 20 minutes until my body is FULLY dry and my moisturizer has had time to sink in.


Then comes the self tanner. I get my lower body all done first and then do the right half of my upper body (because it’s harder since I have to use my left hand) and then I do the left half. For my back, I contort myself in any which-way necessary to get it covered.

After I’m lathered everywhere, I throw on the biggest t shirt I own and wait about an hour or two until it’s dry to throw on other clothes if I want to.

I will jump in the shower either the next morning and rinse off my body with ONLY water. Or, in the case of one of these tanners, I will rinse off in a couple hours after application once it gets to my preferred shade.

St. Tropez review

This has been my favorite self tanner for a while now. I’ve always used the classic shade to get just a dash of color for my pale body and it’s been a good, trusty tanner.

One of my biggest issues with this tanner is how quickly I go through it. If I use it 2-3 times in a month it will be almost empty.

Secondly, this tanner is a tad pricey. At $42 a bottle I would want it to stay on for three weeks and last for more than just a few applications.

One thing I don’t love about this tanner is the color. If I am too pale, the tanner looks more cool toned on my skin which looks almost green undertoned. If I am tanner, like in the photo below, it almost just enhances my tan to look more dark and glowy.

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aaannnndd broke. . . . . . #f21xme

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Yes, this is an old photo but it definitely shows the color of the tan the best.

It does not streak at all which is one of the top things you want in a self tanner, obvi.

It has a color guard so you can see where you haven’t hit with tanner yet.

It has a pretty solid longevity over all. When I applied it for this specific ~experiment~ it lasted me about eight days

When it does start to fade, it does not ripple or separate on your skin to make you look like you have some sort of skin problem. It literally just fades off of your body.

Is it worth the $42? Yes. BUT I just want more product in the bottle!

Ulta’s Ultra Dark Express Tan Tinted Mousse

Guys. I had high hopes for this one, not gonna lie. Low price point, Ulta products typically hold up well, and mousses are usually the better route as opposed to lotions or sprays.

I have a love-hate relationship with this one, though.

For this one, you have to keep it on for several hours and it gets darker, then when it’s at your preferred tone you rinse off the color guard.

It smells good. The St. Tropez kinda has a harsh self-tanner smell when you put it on but the Ulta one has a nicer more tolerable fragrance.

The color is gorg. This tanner is my FAVORITE color wise. It’s more of a rich, tan undertone, while the St. Tropez one is more cool toned.

Stays on decently well. I made sure to try each tanner twice before reviewing, and this one stayed on for about 5-7 days.


The application SUCKS. I get so hot after I finish applying this because it takes so much effort that I actually need to step outside midway through so I don’t sweat my tan off.

You have to RUB this tanner into your skin. And if you don’t rub it in well enough…

It STREAKS. You just have to be super overly thorough when applying this tanner. However, after you wash the color guard off, the streaks aren’t there? So what I gather is as long as you get the color everywhere, regardless of the streaking of the color guard, the excess color will wash off. Weird, I know.

It’s sticky. This one takes a while to dry on your skin, so make sure you don’t sweat or get wet before you are dry and then wash off.

It separates when it starts to fade. Unlike the St. Tropez tanner, this one doesn’t fade nicely off your skin, it ripples and starts to get patchy on your wrists and ankles and insides of your elbows and knees, not a cute look.

Overall, this one has a really really nice color and stays on well, BUT it the application process sucks and it looks a little patchy near its end.

Jergen’s Natural Glow Instant Sun Tanning Mousse review

As I said earlier, I got the “dark bronze” shade in this tanner.

This one has definitely become my backup tanner. I’m not in love with it, but it does what it needs to do when I don’t have a solid tanner on hand.

In contrast to the Ulta tanner, this one is easy to apply.

It’s very light and more wet than sticky, if that makes sense?

The color is nice in this tanner, but it’s not as rich as the Ulta one.

This tanner also takes a WHILE to dry. But unlike the Ulta one, you don’t have to rinse this off after several hours and it doesn’t transfer to clothes or anything.

In order to get the color that I wanted from this tanner, I applied one coat and then applied a second coat the next morning after I rinsed off the original excess color.

One thing I liked was that it did fade nicely and it did not

This tanner was definitely my least favorite of all three. It’s fine, it’s alright, especially for the price, but I would rather deal with the super irritating application process, than have to do a second coat the following day to get a decent color.

Overall thoughts

I think that these tanners are all good for different situations. Need a quick glow that will hold up really well that you don’t need to wait for the color? St. Tropez. Need a super beautiful tan look that’s pretty cheap? Ulta. Need a quick tan that’s cheap but don’t want too much color? Jergens.

Despite my difficulties, out of these three tanners, the Ulta one is going to be my new go-to. Yes, the application sucks, BUT I just cannot get over how the color turns out. I’m obsessed.

I know these photos aren’t within a close timespan, but I chose them within the time I was trying the new tanner (not all of my blog post trials happen within a specific timespan if they don’t have to).

As always, hit me up if you have anything you want me to try out or if you have any questions on these tanners!

Thanks for stopping by ☆


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