As I sit here tonight after having just applied self tanner, I dream of the skirts and dresses I will be wearing over the next week. After all, what fun is a tan if you can't show it off! And what fun is a tan if it fades a day or two after application?

A good self tanner will hold color for a week. Mine sure does. Want to know what I use? I thought you'd ask, so I came prepared. Here are three self tanners that provide deep, rich color for a whole week (or longer).
Beautisol Summer Glow
You will love this product for many reasons. (1) No awful processing smell. (2) It's easy to apply (rubber gloves included). (3) It provides a deep, bronzed color both instantly and after you shower. And (4) The videos by Sinead are so helpful! Beautisol makes self tanning fun! Exclusive bonus to you ... get 20% off your order with code: MyStyle.

St. Tropez Self Tan Bronzing Mousse
First off, I love that it's a mousse. The color makes it easy to see where you are applying the product. It dries quickly and leaves soft, golden kissed skin.

Kymaro Sunless Tanning System
New to market, this self tanning kit delivers a dark tan with ease. The lotion is not tinted, so you don't need rubber gloves. However, you need to rub the product in well for an even application. The light wand is supposed to show you places you have missed. Though, I don't really think it's necessary. It's scary to see your skin under purple light anyway. While the smell is potent, I have to say the color is rich.

It's resort season. Time to get your skin prepped and ready for that bathing suit. Here are a few self tanners, out of the many, tested here at [my] style files. Enjoy! Aqua Tan, St. Tropez Whipped Bronze Mousse, Xen-Tan Transform, Tan Towel
This post is for you Suz.

Obviously I am behind in posting this, I realize, as we are approaching Fall. Well, at least in my world we are approaching Fall. My mind continually drifts off to any opportunities to wear jackets and coats all day long. And I am already working on my predictions for SS08 (translation: Spring/Summer 2008). I digress ... to get back on topic, one thing I love no matter the season is a healthy glow. Unfortunately, the only glow coming off of me is the halo of pastiness that is the color of my skin. Hey, I don't sunbathe, what can I say!

I do love a fake tan, though - right out of the bottle. I have been experimenting with self tanning lotions since the early 90s. I am extremely picky and I refuse to put on anything that leaves that "self tanner of days past" smell. Over the years, and specifically the last two, companies have perfected the self tanner. We are offered an array of tanning pills, sunless or self-tanners, and bronzers via sprays, lotions, gels and towelettes. And bronzers, in the form of powders and moisturizers, can be applied to create a tan that can easily be removed with soap and water.

Did you know that Coppertone was the first company to come out with a sunless tanning product? It was called QT or Quick Tanning Lotion and came out in 1960. If you are old enough to remember that, then you remember the lovely orange hue produced by this lotion. Thank goodness there have been advancements on the self-tanning front.

Many people wonder why self tanners don't last but a couple of days. Well, we slough off millions of dead skin cells daily. And as they are worn away, so to is our tan. This is why a "tan from a bottle" gradually fades. Hence the importance of reapplying self tanners. I have heard that gels, lotions or sprays that contain DHA are more reliable. However, there are dozens of other types of products on the market. Although there is no scientific data available to support this, tanning accelerators (such as lotions or pills with amino acid tyrosine) claim to stimulate and increase melanin formation, therefore accelerating the tanning process.

Just today I read an article on the premise of self tanning products and their effectiveness. The outcome? The panel was not willing to give the faux glow a good college try. I was taken aback by the fact that the seven products tested weren't even on my radar screen. Really, who chose the products because clearly they hadn't a clue about what truly delivers! Mix up my favorites on a panel and see what happens! And while I am on my soap box, the faux glow is the safer way to go. So there! After road testing many self tanners, here are my short list of favorites (and please post yours in the comments): for a daily gradual tan, St. Ives Healthy Brilliance Firm & Glow Body moisturizer totally rocks! So easy to apply, looks good and never fails in the streak department. Bonus = no yucky smell. This is actually the best smelling gradual daily tanner in my book! For a light (very light) tan that lasts well over a week, GlowFusion is great. It is a clear spray and doesn't smell or stain at all. However, a bit pricey. Per the advice of my friend "K," I bought L'Oreal's Sublime Bronze Tinted Self Tanning Lotion and Self Tan Spray. Both excellent products that deliver. And I liked the fact they weren't too light. I got a nice bronze effect from both. And my new "ultimate" fav, the Tan Towel. I tested this just two days ago and I love this product. It's not cheap (I think $2-3 a pop) but wow! Check this out ... visualize a wet wipe - a clear wipe that you easily swipe all over your body. It dries almost instantly and does not smell at all (how in the world is that possible?). And get this, after 3 hours my tan appeared and though there were absolutely no streaks, I could see that an area around my ankle wasn't quite as tan as the rest of my leg. So guess what I did? I reached into the trash can (yes, I did) and re-wet the tan towel and applied it to the area around my ankle. Three hours later, perfection! My jaw dropped. This is absolutely brilliant formulation in the self tanning world. I am hooked!

How self-tanning lotions work:
skin is made up of two main layers: the epidermis on the outside and the dermis on the inside. The epidermis is where the action occurs. However, the epidermis is also made up of layers. The deepest layer of the epidermis, called the stratum basale (basal layer), is affected during sun tanning. The stratum corneum (horny layer) is the outermost layer of the epidermis, and this is the layer that is affected by most sunless-tanning products.

Please note:
most self tanning products do not protect you from the sun's UVA and UVB rays, unless they contain an added sunscreen. And even so, you should always apply a sunscreen or block over your self tanner daily.