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Why self-tanners smell, the best self-tanners to try, and which one is best for you. The scoop on body bronzer, gradual self-tanner, same-day-colour self-tanner, shown on Canada AM
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JLo glows for Vogue

JLo glows for Vogue

After "orange!" the thing most of us think of when we hear "self-tanner" is "stinky." But nowadays it's not the self-tanner itself that smells funny. Pretty much every formula on the market has a scent designed to please. Pür Minerals Get a Little Self-Tanning Lotion ($24, Shoppers Drug Mart), for instance, has a pleasant citrus freshness; Victoria's Secret BeachSexy Self-Tanner has Angels-appropriate beach-sexy notes; and the St. Tropez range of self-tanners takes a high-tech fragrance approach to scent your experience and That Smell.

That funky smell is actually from the chemical reaction that starts when the dihydroxyacetone (DHA) starts to work with your skin's amino acids to change your skin colour. For some people, the fragrance added to self-tanner formulas is enough to mask that odour. For other people – me – fragrance doesn't help. If you have the same problem, your solution is bronzing makeup that washes off at the end of the day.

For others, fear of streaking is bigger than fear of stinky; your solution is gradual self-tanner, or daily glow moisturizer that gives you subtle colour that builds up over a few days to an even bronze shade. And if you're a fake-tan pro, all you have to worry about is not going day-glo, or Valentino orange, or Oompa-Loompa, or whatever your favourite fake-tan-oopsie term might be.

Here's a list of no-orange faux-bronze products I showed (above) on "Canada AM" this morning:

for people (like me) who don't want to deal with that self-tanner smell, ever

  • Scott Barnes Body Bling Moisturizing Shimmering Body Lotion (from $12 at, by the makeup artist who made JLo famous for her glow
  • L'Oreal Men Expert Hydra Energetic Moisturizing Sun Gel ($15.99 at drugstores), for guys

for people who don't want to worry about streaky results -- these have low doses of DHA and take about three to five days of use to develop full intensity. Bonus: reduced levels of DHA means less obvious self-tanner odour

  • Olay Total Effects Daily Moisturizer + Touch of Sun ($29,
  • JergensNatural Glow Daily Facial Moisturizer SPF 20 ($10, drugstores) -- one of the few with UV protection
  • Mary Kay Sun Care Subtle Tanning Lotion ($20 at
  • Kiehl's Facial Fuel Healthy Bronze for him ($32 at

for confident self-tanners and people who need colour to develop within hours -- most formulas also have skincare benefits

  • Rodial Brazilian Tan Face ($45 at Sephora) has anti-aging properties and gives skin an instant bronze while full colour develops
  • Victoria's Secret Beach Tinted Self-Tan Lotion ($14 at Victoria's Secret) has a bit of shimmer as well as a tint
  • St. Tropez Self-Tan Bronzing Gel ($38 at Sephora) contains a hit of green pigment that tempers any possible oompa-loompa orange potential, plus the lineup includes a foam mitt ($8 at Sephora) that helps smooth the product on without giving you orange palms

For body-prep tips from celebrity experts, visit this Self-Tanner How-To from Victoria's Secret Makeup Artist Christopher Ardoff and A Celebrity Guru Helps Liza go Bronze, not Jersey Shore. For a round-up of great self-tanners for face (you can use them on the body, too), visit Summer's Best Self-Tanners at The Kit.

If you're wondering about the latest in DHA + health discoveries, No More Dirty Looks is exploring the same subject.

What's your go-to faux glow? Does the formula's built-in fragrance help you avoid that weird, self-tanner odour?

Hair by Rob Dunne/The Alcorn Salon. Nails by Leeanne Colley/Tips Nail Bar. Image: Jennifer Lopez photographed by Mario Testino for Vogue US June 2012