This New Self-Tanning Moisturizer Gives Me a Sun-Kissed Glow and Hydrates My Skin

Plus, it keeps my skin breakout-free.

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Self-Tanning Moisturizer
Photo: Tan Luxe/ InStyle

As someone who's been using self-tanners since middle school, I've only known them to dry out the skin, causing my normally clear skin to break out. So when Tan-Luxe sent me their new self-tanning moisturizer, The Crème, that promises to hydrate, improve the skin barrier, rejuvenate skin cells, and give me a flawless sun-kissed glow, I was intrigued, to say the least. After weeks of use, I can officially confirm that The Crème has left my skin smooth, hydrated, pimple-free, and provides a nice golden glow.

To get the inside scoop on the product, I talked to Tan-Luxe CEO and Co-Founder, Marc Elrick, and Head of Innovation & Product Development, Laura Daly. The two said the Crème was created after conducting many months of research from consumers, retail partners, and focus groups to see what product shoppers wanted to see next.

What they discovered was a desire for a rich, hydrating moisturizer customers could mix with the brand's already-existing (and best-selling) Illuminating Self-Tan Drops. "The big requests were, 'Can I get a moisturizer to mix your drops with?' and 'Can I have a daily gradual tanner for my face?'" Elrick said. "So, we were like, 'Let's just combine both together.'"

Once decided, the brand spent over two years in their in-house lab to come up with what would be a rich, anti-aging moisturizer mixed with a gradual self-tanner. During the process, it created their Penta-Cell Complex, a combination of antioxidants, natural amino acids, and skin-mimicking lipids — made specifically for the Crème. The formula features squalane, rice bran extract, and birch bark extract, which work together to improve the skin's moisture barrier, provide hydration, reduce signs of aging, and protect against environmental aggressors.

Like all other Tan-Luxe products, this product was made with the spirit of customization. It includes 4 percent DHA meant to "ensure that you could use this product daily, one, without becoming too dark for your skintone, and two, give you enough of a glow that you would get recognizable results," according to Daly. But if you want your skin to be a darker shade, you can always mix in their Illuminating Self-Tan Drops to create the shade that works best for your skin.

"I think if there's one piece of advice we could give to people, you don't choose the tan, the tan chooses you," Elrick said. "Choose your tan like your makeup. And if you're light in your makeup, go light. If you're medium in your makeup, go medium. And if you're in doubt, always go lighter."

The Crème is meant to be easily integrated into your skin care routine and should be used exactly in place of your moisturizer. "Wherever your moisturizer would fit into your routine, this is exactly where you could slip this product in," Daly said. I use the Crème right after applying a vitamin C serum and get even results.

The Crème, much like the feeling of my daily moisturizer, has a rich, soft texture, glides smoothly across my face, and sinks into my skin instantly. I use a dime-sized amount on both my face and neck. There's no stinging, no scent, and perhaps most importantly, no immediate 'orange-looking' bronze effect. This means that I can literally apply it and head out if I need to — making it great for my already busy schedule.

Timeline of Results:

Self-Tanning Moisturizer
Courtesy of Olivia Hanson

1:30 P.M. February 28, 2022 — Skin Before Application

Self-Tanning Moisturizer
Courtesy of Olivia Hanson

2:00 P.M. February 28, 2022 — Skin Immediately After Application

Self-Tanning Moisturizer
Courtesy of Olivia Hanson

8:00 P.M. February 28, 2022 — 6 Hours Post-Application

Self-Tanning Moisturizer
Courtesy of Olivia Hanson

10:00 A.M. March 1, 202220 Hours Post-Application

Self-Tanning Moisturizer

Shop now: $49; and

If I apply it in the mornings, I can expect to see a slight golden tint by the evening and full results when I wake up the next morning. I can also apply it in the evening without the worry of it coming off on my pillow cases and wake up feeling like a golden goddess. According to Elrick, the formula is "very much a slow-release formula" that's supposed to develop within four to six hours, but that timeline can depend upon your skin type.

I've used the Crème for over five weeks now and have never seen a pimple pop up. With most tanning lotions, mouses, and spray tans, I've always had some sort of facial break out due to the DHA in their formulas (and I have fairly clear/normal skin). So for me, the difference between average self-tanners and this self-tanning moisturizer is clear. Because the product includes such healthy, hydrating ingredients, it continues to keep my skin happy, healthy, and glowing.

One word of caution: Aside from being a moisturizer, this is still a self-tanner and should be used on your face and neck mindfully. While most moisturizers can be passively thrown on, with this one, if you miss a spot on your skin, it will remain tan-free.

You can find the Crème at both Sephora and Ulta for $49, a hefty price tag, but worth it because a little will go a long way — not to mention the skin protection, hydrating ingredients, and flattering bronze glow.

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