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I Tried a Fancy $136 At-Home Tanning Kit and These Are My Honest Thoughts

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FAKE TAN

 Amy Lawrenson

Long ago, I resigned myself to the fact that my skin tone is pasty. Even in summer, there isn't a person on this planet who would describe me as tanned, and I can't be bothered to fight what Mother Nature gave me. Having said that, every now and then when I can muster up the energy to methodically swipe each and every limb with a fake tan-loaded mitt, I will. There is usually some reason for this, be it a wedding or a beach holiday. These days, it's just a ritual that gives me joy while I'm cooped up indoors. So, when a friend of mine and a makeup artist both waxed poetic about the Amanda Harrington tanner, my interest was piqued. With nothing but time on my hands, I decided to give it a try—and I'm so glad I did. Not only is it one of the easiest tans to apply, it doesn't look streaky or patchy, regardless of how precise you are when you buff in the tan. It's a fake tan miracle, and one I'm very happy to share.

Star rating: 4/5

Best For: Everyone from tanning novices to tanning pros.

Uses: The kit contains a primer that doubles as a gradual tan, the fake tan mousse, and a Kabuki brush that you could definitely use to apply other products, like body highlighters.

Active Ingredients: The primer and tan are packed with ingredients like hyaluronic acid, green tea and hydrolyzed collagen to hydrate and nourish the skin.

BYRDIE CLEAN: No; the Pre-Colour Body Primer contains PEG-35 Castor Oil.

Price: $136

About the Brand: Amanda Harrington is a British tanner who has been described as "the Michelangelo of tanning”. Having worked as a tanner for for 15 years on film sets like Tomb Raider and known for giving The Rolling Stones a glow-up, she has funelled her knowledge into her product line. Celeb fans include Nicole Scherzinger, Melanie C and Charlotte McKinney.

About My Skin: Fair and Breakout-Prone

So, along with being fair, my skin is also breakout-prone. When it comes to fake tanning, this a blessing and a curse. Because my skin doesn't get parched easily, the tanning agents (which can often be dehydrating) don't seem to have too much of a drying effect. I do sometimes find fake tans can block my pores, but this miraculously doesn't cause clogging or those specks you can sometimes get, especially on the legs and bikini line.

The Body Set
Amanda Harrington The Body Set $136
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Ingredients: Super Skin-Nourishing

The Body Set contains a primer, the tanning mousse and a Kabuki brush, which is Amanda's point of difference. Rather than apply the tan with a mitt, you blend it in with the large, fluffy Kabuki brush; I am pretty sure this is why the tan is so fool-proof. It's so easy to buff into the skin and allows you to gradually build up the intensity.

The primer, which you apply as you would a moisturizer, contains hydrolyzed collagen, hyaluronic acid, avocado oil and Shea butter to nourish the skin and prep it for the tan. It also contains a very low level of tanning agent, so you can apply this between tanning sessions to keep your color looking even and glowing. It even contains retinyl palmitate (a form of vitamin A) to boost skin cell renewal and prevent any unwanted patches of product build-up.

As for the tan, it comes in three shades: Natural Rose, Natural Honey and Natural Olive. I opted for Natural Honey, and while I should have probably opted for the rose hue, I like how this color doesn't end up too dark, but rather gives my skin a welcome golden glow. The mousse has a cocktail of skin-nourishing ingredients including more hyaluronic acid, hydrating aloe vera, COQ10 to firm the skin, as well as the reviving and protecting antioxidant green tea.

Okay, disclaimer: the brush is made from natural—not synthetic—hair, which is definitely not for everyone.

The Feel + Scent: It Smells Like Fake Tan

I'm not going to lie to you, this smells like fake tan in the bottle and on the skin. The scent doesn't linger too long and completely goes when you shower off the guide color, however.

The primer is a light lotion texture and the mousse is fluffy and super easy to blend into the skin. I used small, light strokes and circular buffing motions to ensure an even application.

The Before + After:

As you can see, the texture of the mousse is super lightweight and dewy. You apply one layer of primer with your hands and then, with gloves on, apply a layer of tan, using the brush to buff it in as you go. I don't have gloves right now and am in self-isolation, so I applied the tan using the brush and it worked really well. It's buildable so once you've applied one layer, you can go back in and apply another for a darker tan. Or, you can try contouring! There is a video tutorial showing you how to apply the tan and how to use it to contour, here.

TAN BRUSH

Below is just one layer of the color applied to one leg. Impressive, right?!

TAN LEGS
BEFORE AND AFTER

As you can see, before I applied the tan I was very fair, but afterwards I have a golden glow you usually get after a week on holiday. The tan tends to take better to my upper body than my legs, something I notice with a lot of fake tans. If you find this too and want your legs to be really tanned, then definitely go in with another layer on your lower body.

Before + After:

BEFORE AND AFTER

The Results: Impressive!

I've used this tan a few times now and haven't had a single streaky or patchy wrist, knee or elbow. It's pretty much foolproof. I also really like that it has a guide color, as this further minimizes the chance of mishaps.

The Value: Pricey

Okay, this kit is not cheap but you're essentially getting a gradual tan, fake tan, big Kabuki brush and a chic wash bag that you can use for travel. It is so easy to use, the tan lasts well and looks beautifully natural. Not sure you want to commit to the kit? You can buy the products individually, too.

Similar Products

  • Tan Luxe The Water ($47): This isn't a mousse and it doesn't have a guide color but don't let that put you off, this is one of the most foolproof, natural-looking fake tans I have ever used and it has zero fake tan smell. I switch between this and Amanda's kit as my go-to tanning products.

Our Verdict: Give it a Try

Having a (faux) glow has the power to boost your mood, and that's something we could all do with right now. If you don't want to stretch to the kit, you could try the mousse and use it with your regular tanning mitt. If you have the Fenty Beauty Kabuki Brush already (which is synthetic), you could definitely try buffing the tan in with that. Oh, and if you sign up to the newsletter on Amanda Harrington's website you get 15 percent off your first purchase which is a nice bonus.

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