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F is for Faux Glow: Safe-Bronze Picks for Bare Limbs This Season

Time to assume that we-lounged-on-our-yacht-all-weekend bronze. I featured the following self-tanners and body bronzers on BT Toronto with Melanie Ng.
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Kate_Moss_St Tropez

I'm so glad you couldn't see my legs in the BT Toronto safe-bronze segment I did this week. I committed the biggest self-bronzing sin. And in other news, it's high time I chopped off my hair. 

You can be the hair-length judge of this video clip; start at 6:24 am. (The segment-specific clip here cuts off the demo and giveaway basket.) Regarding my safe-bronze picks for the show, here's what BT Toronto's Melanie Ng and I discussed.

body bronzing prep

The first commandment of body bronzing is prep by buffing away dry skin in the shower with an exfoliating sponge, mitt or cloth, or an oil-free scrub. (A Clarisonic Plus with the brush attachment would work, too.)

You want to be free of dry patches or scaly bits so your colour results are as even as possible. That's important when you're using any tinted body moisturizer more than a shade darker than your natural tone. (If you have dry skin, it's also a good idea to moisturize after your shower, wait 15 or so minutes, then apply self-tanner or liquid bronzer.)

self-tanner prep

Featured on set:The Body Shop Skin Sponge ($8,, Exfoliating Skin Towel ($5, and Hemp Body Mitt ($10,; Avon Skin So Soft Satin Glow Body Scrub ($8,; white, granulated sugar, a longtime body-scrub fave of TV makeup maven Carmindy. "My grandmother is the one who taught me about using sugar as an exfoliant for face and body in the shower," she says. "I still do it to this day."

later-that-same-day self-tanner

Some people are highly accomplished when it comes to applying full-strength self-tanner. These are safe-bronze formulas you can put on once to have full, rich colour develop within a few hours. If you keep your skin well moisturized, the colour should last about a week; a re-application at that point will help you maintain.

same-day full-strength self-tanners

Featured on set:Biotherm Self-Tanning Gel ($30, drugstores and smells fresh in the tube and moisturizes, too. Victoria's Secret Self Tan Self-Tanning Tinted Cooling Gel ($14, Victoria's Secret boutiques), which smells sexy-sweet in the bottle and imparts a cooling sensation on contact. St. Tropez Self Tan Dark Bronzing Mousse ($44, and applicator mitt ($7.50, for smooth results sans orange palms.

More on St. Tropez's colour-balancing and fragrance technology here, plus St. Tropez celebrity pro Nichola Joss's how-to for erasing old tan lines before you wear that strapless dress.

five days to full colour

If you're like me -- inexperienced with self-tanner or super pale -- full-strength formulas scare you because the prospect of a self-inflicted faux-woodgrain finish looms large. Gradual self-tanners -- aka daily glow moisturizers -- are more your speed. Made with less DHA than the later-that-same-day set, these are easier to use without creating streaks, and take up to five days of applications to develop maximum colour. Daily use after that will maintain it.

gradual self-tanners

Featured on set:Jergens No Odour Natural Glow (from $8.99 at drugstores) answers no-more-That-Smell prayers for some lucky users. Here's how Jergens No-Odour gradual self-tanner peformed for me. La Mer The Face and Body Gradual Tan ($95, Holt Renfrew) is enriched with La Mer's signature Miracle Broth, calming algae extracts and skin-rejuvenating peptides. Olay Quench Plus Touch of Sun Body Lotion ($11, drugstores) is one of my go-to solutions when I want to turn down the white glare of my bare legs in summer.

wash-off bronze and glow

If you're just don't want to deal with That Smell at all, wash-off body-bronzing and body-glow formulas are for you. Look for "water resistant" or "waterproof" on the label if you're fond of splashing in puddles on rainy summer days. But know this: deep shades of wash-off bronze rely on the first commandment of body bronzing: prep the skin with a good exfoliation session. The sin I mentioned at the beginning of the post? I skipped that buffing step the morning of the BT Toronto segment (it was 4:30 am), and maybe I should have moisturized right after my shower and let it absorb. In my slap-dash haste, I created a patchy effect on my legs with Caudalie Divine Legs Tinted Body Lotion. Oops.

wash-off body bronzers

Featured on set:Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs Leg Makeup ($13.99, drugstores) camouflages blotchy skin and it's water-resistant, too. Prtty Paushun Skin Tight Body Lotion ($40,, a beautifully sheer, moisturizing formula, is a favourite with celebs such as Gwynnie, Cate, Anne Hathaway and Lea Michele, among others. (I learned of Prtty Peaushun via makeup pro Lynne Ryan, who used it on Canada's First Lady of Theatre, Louise Pitre, CBC's Over the Rainbow. I'd seen Louise at a taping and geeked out about how fantastic she looked; here's the full story and interview with Lynne Ryan and Louise for Aerin Beach Cream for Hair and Body ($50, feels silky on skin and delivers a delicate skin-enhancing sheen a bit too subtle to show up on the teevee. Smells light and lovely, and conditions skin and hair, too. Caudalie Divine Legs Tinted Body Lotion ($41, has a sultry-sweet scent, and, despite my application fail, can make pale legs look poolside-pretty as per this photo I took at the preview recently:

Caudalie Divine Legs Tinted Body Lotion_on skin

So which safe-bronze type are you? A full-strength self-tanner pro? A go-slow gradual-tan type? Or a wash-off glow girl?

Opening image: Kate Moss for St. Tropez.