Easy to apply
Results last for a week
Vegan, Byrdie Clean formula
Not ideal for dry skin
Can transfer onto clothes
Has a slight fake tan smell
St. Tropez Self Tan Classic Bronzing Mousse
We put the St. Tropez Self Tan Classic Bronzing Mousse to the test after receiving a complimentary sample from the brand. Keep reading for our full product review.
St. Tropez is undoubtedly one of the best-known self-tanning brands worldwide. Their Classic Bronzing Mousse was one of the first premium tanning products I tried roughly 15 years ago (!), and at the time, I considered it to be among the best out there. When it launched in 1996, turning yourself Oompa Loompa orange was a real fear so St. Tropez’s innovative green-based formula (designed to deliver a natural-looking tint) set it apart from the competition. Since then, a lot has changed. There are now dozens upon dozens of tanning brands on shelf, and formulas have come a long way. Now you can pick up fake tan in lotion, gel, oil, spray, mousse, or drop form, many of which come in light, medium, deep and extra-deep variants to suit all skin tones. So, the question is, does St. Tropez's Self Tan Classic Bronzing Mousse still stack up against the rest? Read on for my honest review.
Best for: Most skin types, but may not be ideal for dry skin.
Uses: An easy-to-apply self-tanner that creates an even, sun-kissed finish to last for about a week.
Active ingredients: Dihydroxyacetone (or DHA), a natural tanning agent.
Byrdie Clean? Yes
About the brand: The USA’s most trusted premium tanning brand, St. Tropez, offers tanning products to suit a myriad of skin tones. The brand had a large part in reforming self-tanners' formerly undesirable image, and products are known for creating a more subtle, natural-looking finish.
About My Skin: Pale and not as cared for as my face
Listen, if my body skin ever gets wind of how much pampering my face gets, it’s gonna be mad. Aside from nightly body brushing and the occasional slathering in almond oil, my limbs are consistently neglected. (By contrast, my mug is treated to nourishing, healing, and protective daily skincare routines I rarely waver from.) The reason for this is simple: my body's skin gets along just fine without much help. The dry body brushing keeps it smooth and ingrown-free, and sporadic moisturizing is enough to prevent dry and scaly lizard legs. My face, on the other hand? Left to its own devices, it quickly gets dehydrated, dull, and red with dermatitis.
Given we’re talking fake tan, it’s worth mentioning I have pale skin. While I can tan in the sun, I haven’t for years. I live in Australia, and I’m passionate about preventing skin cancer—it’s known as our "national cancer" because it accounts for about 80% of all newly diagnosed cancers. (Fun fact: I founded an educational platform, Call Time On Melanoma, to educate on the risks of overexposure to UV for young people.)
Fake tanning isn’t something I do regularly anymore, but I did the whole weekly tan regime thing in my twenties. I’d exfoliate on a Wednesday, tan on a Thursday, and moisturize daily until it was time to start all over again. So I’ve had years of practice—I know my way around a tanning mitt and a bottle of bronzer. St. Tropez was one of the first premium self-tan brands I ever used, so it was nice to revisit. Like seeing an old mate!
How to Apply: Prep correctly and use gloves
Most people who’ve self-tanned before will be familiar with the method the majority of brands recommend: exfoliate with an oil-free scrub (the oil-free part is important to the development of the tan), apply moisturizer to dry bits like elbows and knees, then use a mitt to apply the tanning mousse in upward circular motions, overlapping layers to prevent missing spots. To that, let me add a few of my own pointers.
- If you shave or wax, remember to do that 24 hours beforehand to prevent the tan from going blotchy, highlighting pores or potentially causing irritation.
- This formula develops in four to eight hours, so I apply before bed and marinate all night long, showering when I wake up. You can wear it during the day, but I wouldn’t recommend it. The formula has a built-in color guide which is great for application (it allows you to see where you’re applying it) but isn’t ideal for, um, living life. If you must, please don’t sit on a white couch.
- If your fingers get stained when using a mitt, try washing up gloves instead. Pump the mousse into a gloved hand, then rub it into the skin until it’s absorbed. Next, go over your body with a mitt to buff it all in. I’ve used this hack since 2010 and can confirm it works.
- When you’re done, apply a little extra moisturizer to dry bits, especially your hands and ankles. It’ll help to prevent that telltale tan build-up. Another pro trick!
The Results: A natural-looking, sun-kissed glow
This self-tanner has never let me down. It has a green base which ensures a natural finish—the rules of color theory mean you’ll never end up looking orange. The mousse is lightweight and easy to apply too. It doesn’t "stick" or stain the skin if you don’t rub it in quickly, which is great news for beginners. I find it more comfortable to use than a tanning lotion, but you might prefer the latter if you have dry skin. I know some people say mousses are drying, but I think the vast majority of self-tan formulas are (it’s the DHA!). To counteract dry skin, ensure you’re hydrating your skin every day and exfoliating every other day after tanning.
Like most (all?) mousse formulas, it feels slightly tacky on the skin. That doesn’t bother me because I sleep in it, but I would hate to wear it during the day. As the tan finishes developing, it can get very dark thanks to the built-in color guide. (Something to be aware of!) But once I wash that off, the color is very natural on me.
I get a good week of bronzed skin out of it with gradual fading. I find the product wears away evenly if I keep up with exfoliating and moisturizing, but if I don’t? I get dry patches and that telltale fake tan build-up in the creases of my legs and arms. To be fair, this happens to me with all tans, so it’s not St. Tropez-specific at all.
St. Tropez's Self Tan Classic Bronzing Mousse is one out of a few formulas I feel comfortable using as a white woman. In recent years I’ve become aware of blackfishing, and it’s always on my mind when trying out a new tanner. I never want to make my skin look darker than it would naturally tan. There’s also something to be said about fake tanned skin being part of a problematic beauty ideal because it essentially promotes the aesthetic of unhealthy suntans. (A real tan is proof that sun damage has occurred, and that’s what causes skin cancer and melanoma.) I understand that many people (of all skin tones) use tan as a semi-permanent makeup of sorts, evening out bruises and veins and camouflaging cellulite and stretch marks. Again, I don’t have the answers, but I think these points are important to consider when discussing tanning.
The Value: Worth it
To me, fake tan isn’t something I’d want to skimp on. It involves so much effort to apply and maintain that I want to be sure the product I’m using will give me a return on that investment. For that reason alone, I think St. Tropez's Self Tan Classic Bronzing Mousse is worth the coin. I know it’s never going to streak on me or make my skin go Fanta orange.
Similar Products: You've got options
Elle Effect The Self Tanning Mousse: This self-tanning product from Elle Effect ($45) provides a deeper color, so it is great for those with darker skin tones. The base is red, which sounds weird but is actually extremely natural-looking. As a bonus, it smells like real roses. It also fades like a dream.
Isle of Paradise Glow Clear Color-Correcting Self Tanning Mousse: From popular self-tanning brand Isle of Paradise, this tanning mousse ($29) is such a great product at a great price—I’m a fan. This formula comes in dark, medium, and light variants, so there’s something for every skin tone. In addition, the color correctors make skin glow in the best way.
After all these years, I’m still a fan. St. Tropez's Self Tan Classic Bronzing Mousse is just good—it does what it says. (Aside from the bit about not having a smell, which, to be honest, I don’t think any brand has ever fully achieved.) I will continue to use it when I fake tan.
- Product Name Self Tan Classic Bronzing Mousse
- Product Brand St. Tropez
- Price $42
- Weight 8 oz.
- Full Ingredient List Water, Dihydroxyacetone, PPG-5-Ceteth-20, Propylene Glycol, Glycerin, Ethoxydiglycol, Coco-Glucoside, Caramel, Phenoxyethanol, Parfum, Sodium Metabisulfite, Hydrolyzed Jojoba Esters, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Tocopherol, Decylene Glycol, Caprylyl Glycol, d-limonene, Anisyl Alcohol, Sodium Hydroxide, Linalool, Hexyl Cinnamal, Benzyl Salicylate, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Citronellol, Hydroxycitronellal, Alpha-isomethyl Ionone, Coumarin, CI 14700 (Red 4), CI 19140 (Yellow 5), CI 42090 (Blue 1).