Jergens No-Odour Self Tanner: Sniff Test

by Janine on 11 March 2013 · 22 comments

Dolce&Gabbana women SS 2013Every year as we start trying to erase evidence of winter on our lacklustre skin, someone comes out with a self-tanner that supposedly smells great. Often that new formula does smell nice (unless vanilla-esque notes are involved, but that’s just me), when you sniff the stuff in the tube and when you first put it on. But later comes that smell, that distinctive, musky, chemical odour, plus whatever potent perfume the brand used as a scent mask. Ack. But this year, one collection is going beyond the “smells-great” strategy. Jergens Natural Glow is making a new no-odour self tanner claim.

jergens no-odour self tanner

“The main colourant used in self-tanners is dihydroxyacetone, also known as DHA,” says Alisa Smith, senior manager of skin care research and development at KAO US, which owns Jergens. “The odour occurs at the same time as the colour is developing, and it’s as a result of the DHA interacting with the proteins that are in the skin.” That’s why it’s so hard to make that smell go away — it’s physiological. So a no-odour self-tanner claim is big.

Body chemistry dictates just how pungent That Smell can get. Some people found success when gradual self-tanners launched — the reduced amount of DHA in the mix was enough. Others do very well with formulas that contain fragrances designed to camouflage self-tanner’s signature notes. And then there are people like me, whose body chemistry puts up a smelly fight every. single. time. whatever the formula. Just like it is with perfume, “it’s all about the chemistry of the body and how the formulas interact with the skin, so it does vary from person to person,” Smith confirms.

Jergens no-odour Natural Glow MoisturizersHowever, the reformulated no-odour self tanner in the Jergens Natural Glow lineup doesn’t rely only on pleasant, nose-distracting fragrance. Rather, it focusses on blocking odour that arises as the chemical reaction begins in the skin. Ingredient details are proprietary, but according to Smith, the Jergens Natural Glow no-odour technology includes “materials that absorb the odour and materials that help block odour that may be left over.”

Does Jergens no-odour self tanner work? For some people, it will. For me, it didn’t quite. Within an hour or two of having applied the no-odour Jergens Natural Glow Foaming Daily Moisturizer in Fair to Medium ($12.99, drugstores), that darned smell slowly began to waft up from my skin. But the odour-blocking technology does seem to work — the chemical scent did not reach the overpowering strength of any other gradual formula I’ve used. That’s something. Something promising.

Does your body chemistry put up a smelly self-tanner fight? Would noticeably reduced odour be enough for you? Have you tried Jergens no-odour self tanner yet??

Jergens Natural Glow (from $8.99 to $12.99) is available at drugstores and mass retailers.

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

YouLookHotToday 12 March 2013 at 9:21 am

Interesting. The smell really is what turns me off all of the products that I’ve tried. I find that after an hour or so, I have to wash it all off because I just can’t handle that weird smell anymore.

I might just give this stuff a go. Is there a difference in smells for the foam stuff or the lotion-y stuff?


Janine 12 March 2013 at 5:45 pm

Do you mean the formula’s fragrance, or the chemical-reaction smell, You? Either way, should all be pretty much the same :-)


Nicole 12 March 2013 at 1:50 pm

Ironically, I usually use Jergens anyways as it’s the one with the least offensive smell for me. I’ll definitely be trying these ones :)


Janine 12 March 2013 at 5:44 pm

So even LESS of a scent is a bonus for you, Nicole, yes?


Beauty Reflections 12 March 2013 at 10:37 pm

Cool! I am like you-the smell ALWAYS happens no matter what. I will try this one for sure!


Janine 14 March 2013 at 7:17 am

I’d be interested on your take, Tracy. At first I was peeved at smelling the odour at all, but when I realized it wasn’t a horrifying enveloping cloud as usual, I felt better. *grin*


Lina 15 March 2013 at 9:20 pm

I’ve used St. Tropez in the past and have found it to be the least smelliest. Available at Sephora.


Janine 16 March 2013 at 5:07 am

St. Tropez is one of the brands that works hard to create a scent that works with self-tanner odour notes to mask the smell overall, and it does smell better for some people (beautygeek Liza is a fan). Unfortunately, it doesn’t make any difference with my body chemistry — the chemical-reaction odour is as overpowering as any other self-tanner I’ve tried.

Jergens is the first to be bold enough to put “no-odour” on their label, and it seems to work for some people too. Do you think you might try it to compare?


Martine 1 April 2013 at 7:41 am

I’ve been using it for 3 days now ( the lotion version) and there is no smell at all and I got a very nice tan :)


Janine 3 April 2013 at 3:23 pm

I can’t lie — I’m totally jealous that you get no smell at all! I did get nice colour though, so there’s that. *grin*


Jess 3 May 2013 at 12:49 pm

I just bought a combo pack at BJs with the odor-less express formula and the regular gradual one hoping they wouldn’t stink to high heavens as usual. I put the express on not 30 minutes ago and, I hate to say, I reek. I’m guessing because there is more DHA in the express. I had high hopes. I hate being white but can’t stand the strong smell. I prefer regular self-tanner over the daily, gradual ones because at least they are once and done. Maybe I’ll luck out and the new gradual won’t smell but the express isn’t working for me smell-wise. Sigh…


Janine 3 May 2013 at 6:13 pm

My fingers are crossed for you, Jess, that at least the No-Odour formula is more bearable. I’m guessing you’re not really into the temporary bronzers, the ones that wash off in the shower? Some nice ones are coming out this year…


Jo 8 May 2013 at 7:16 pm

Hello… I have body chemistry that causes me to smell like dirty laundry whenever I use sunless tanners. I was so excited to try this new Jergens formula today. I am sad to report, this formula is NO BETTER and I am going to wash it off and return it to the store. I give up! :’(


Jody 9 May 2013 at 10:38 am

I’ll never forget flying from Toronto to Chicago, the day after applying an old time-y self-tanner (probably in the early 90s), and being seated next to a young boy. Although neither he, nor his mother, said anything, the heat amd tight quarters (plus my t-shirt & shorts outfit) meant THAT odour was sickeningly potent and eveloping us all. I felt so bad for them. THAT smell is probably worse than strong perfume.

After that embarrassing incident, I vowed to, never again, use one of those products. Sure, I am NEVER in the sun (for all the obvious reasons, plus some personal ones), but I quite like my white, white skin. The down side is, no matter how much I may like it, I get an inordinate amount of negative judgement aimed at my ivory peau. (One of the funnier instances was a walk through Playa del Carmen, Mexico, where one of the buskers looked at my husbnd and me and exclaimed, “You look like chickens!”) Plus, there’s just no denying that muscles look more defined, and one looks slimmer, with a tan.

When I heard about the new, low-odour St. Tropez self-tanner (2008? 9?), I scampered to their web site and tried to order some. Whether it was a temporary glitch, or the fact I’m in Canada, my order just wouldn’t go through. At the time, I couldn’t find it sold in local stores. I gave up.

That brings me to the Jergen’s Natural Glow self-tanner.

I went to purchase it, and couldn’t find the term “no odour” listed anywhere on the package. As I stood in the moisturizer aisle, I pulled out my phone, and looked online. The images associated with “Jergen’s” and “no odour” showed the packaging I was looking at. I popped the cap and sniffed. It smelled unpleasant, with a hint of THAT smell. I just didn’t know what to think. (How could it ever be “no odour” if the smell is that strong in the bottle?)

I decided to give it a try, but am skeptical. I just applied my first “coat”, and THAT smell was no less strong while waiting for it to sink in, than it was straight out of the bottle. It’s been about an hour or so, and I must admit, sitting on the couch, I don’t smell it if I don’t move. When I do move, the waft of odour is tolerable. If I hold my arm up to my nose, the smell isn’t too bad.

So early-on, I can’t conclude anything. So far, it is better (maybe even significantly better) than the other self-tanners I’ve tried, in terms of odour. But “no odour” it ain’t. Only time, and a few more layers, will tell. The colour will also be up for scrutiny. Oh, and I now remember why I used to buy the “spray in any direction” kind of self-tanner packaging. Is everyone else so much more flexible, that getting thick lotion evenly applied between their shoulder blades isn’t an issue at all? ;)


Janine 13 May 2013 at 10:18 pm

Omigoodness, I totally understand that discomfort you felt sitting on that flight enveloped in that self-tanner smell. Yikes.

Re: the no-odour Jergens, I can pretty much guarantee that if it doesn’t say no odour on the packaging it isn’t the no-odour formula. There’s no way they’d not distinguish it from the others; the tube you’ve tried is their regular gradual self-tanner.

Right! The shoulder blades! They’re why I think every tube of self-tanner should come with someone to help apply it. All the better if he has eight-pack abs.


Jody 26 May 2013 at 7:07 pm

Hehehe! Btw…I applied the stuff every two days, which helped keep the scent to a minimum (on the off days). Still, after several applications, I could barely notice a colour change (it was minimal, at best). So, I gave up. The remainder (about half the bottle), is in the garbage now. What with the smell, the difficulty in applying it, and the risks of uneven colour, such a minimal outcome just isn’t worth all the effort. I keenly remember all the reasons I stopped using self-tanners, ages ago. ;)


Terri 21 August 2013 at 7:04 pm

this ‘no odor’ Jergen’s natural glow is a crapshoot to say the least. A supervisor at Kao, which we think is Jergens, says there are some good batches, some bad batches. I obviously got a bad batch, and I am a 3rd gen. user of the brand. This stuff smelled horrible after about 20 minutes, I showered it off, so I thought and the smell stayed in my skin for a very long time. Ruined a lot of my clothing, sheets, and I noticed on the Jergens Facebook site that they have removed the very bad comments left by others who encountered this problem. There was even someone who stated it ate a hole thru their jeans. That comment is nowhere to be found. My comments, and there were a lot of them are ALL removed. I have 3 burn scars from the product on my lower right arm and one on my chest. I am old enough to know how to use self tanners and never have had this issue with any of them before. There is now and FDA recall case against this product, and Jergens took that information down as well. Notice they changed the bottle? Notice there is no bright pink circle on the front of it any longer? And my particular bottle says NOTHING about having any smell in it at all, as in having a fragrance. It says nothing. Now they have blocked a number of us that have posted complaints against this horrible product. I have them all printed out though. My PHD Dermatologist looked at the ingredients and said there is nothing but acid in this! Now their insurance company is working with me and I am still taking photos of the burn holes/scars on my skin from this “bad batch” they put out. It stinks, it is bad for you, and if you got a bad batch, you will know it, sadly. Their facebook page is a farce, they have kept only the comments on there that are of consumers who have gotten a good batch, not those of us that have had a horrendous experience with this stuff. The entire Walgreens Corp. is also behind me and this FDA recall. If you have one that is bad, the FDA recall complaint # is 132306. Call your states FDA office and give them that number. It is time that the innocent consumers not be used in such a way by a multi-billion dollar corporation that is not as regulated due to their overseas ownership, Tokio Marine is their insurance company, in CA, and it is time ladies and gentlemen, for these companies to stop using us as their guinea pigs and to put out a safe product. I’d like to hear from them why the comments that are negative about this product have been removed by them on their page? Coverup??? I think so.


Chloe 21 March 2014 at 8:28 am

Nothing but my hands get the bad smell. It is so weird. It smells like I dug threw piles and piles of old Wendy’s food. It’s so frustrating. But like I said, it’s only my hands! When I make my boyfriend put it on for me, the smell isn’t there. I’m assuming maybe it’s because the skin on hands is so thin? I wash my hands immediately after with Dawn dish soap. I mean if it can kill fleas it should be able to kill this hideous Wendy’s smell? Yeah…in my dreams…


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