Gradual Tan Firming Plus 4-in-1 Tan, Tone, Firm & Moisturize
Gradual Tan Firming Plus 4-in-1 Tan, Tone, Firm & Moisturize only has a 50% chance of successfully living up to its name. As promised, it gradually tans and moisturizes skin, but it cannot "tone" or "firm" skin. We wish it could, but such things are never as easy as they seem!
Let's start with the pros. As a gradual self-tanning lotion, this works great to build color over a few consistent applications. You can maintain tan-looking skin by reapplying regularly. True to claim, the formula moisturizes skin without feeling greasy and includes some beneficial antioxidants and soothing agents.
We're also impressed that this lotion doesn't emit the telltale self-tanner smell (anyone who has used self-tanner knows that distinct odor we're talking about). The downside is that the formula is masked with a floral scent, which is a red flag because fragrance is known to be irritating to skin. (See More Info to learn why it's better to choose a fragrance-free formula for the long term well-being of your skin.)
As for the firming and toning claims, there's nothing in this formula that can do that. Certain skincare ingredients can help firm skin, but the notable ones are absent here.
While this self-tanning lotion does a good job creating buildable, gradual color, we can't give it our seal of approval due to the misleading claims and potential irritation factor. Find better (and less expensive) options on our list of the Best Self-Tanners.
- Works great to build color over a few uses and with consistent use, you can maintain tan-looking skin.
- Moisturizes skin without feeling greasy.
- Includes some beneficial antioxidants and soothing agents.
- Doesn't develop the distinctive smell that most self-tanners do.
- Can't tone or firm skin as claimed.
- Highly fragranced formula can irritate skin.
Daily use of products that contain a high amount of fragrance, whether the fragrant ingredients are synthetic or natural, causes a chronic sensitizing reaction on skin.
This reaction in turn leads to all kinds of problems, including disrupting skin's barrier, worsening dryness, increasing or triggering redness, depleting vital substances in skin's surface, and generally preventing skin from looking healthy, smooth, and hydrated. Fragrance free is always the best way to go for all skin types.
A surprising fact: Even though you can't always see or feel the negative effects of fragrant ingredients on skin, the damage will still be taking place, even if it's not evident on the surface. Research has demonstrated that you don't need to see or feel the effects of irritation for your skin to be suffering. Much like the effects from cumulative sun damage, the negative impact and the visible damage from fragrance may not become apparent for a long time.
References for this information:
Biochimica and Biophysica Acta, May 2012, pages 1410–1419
Aging, March 2012, pages 166–175
Chemical Immunology and Allergy, March 2012, pages 77–80
Experimental Dermatology, October 2009, pages 821–832
Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, 2008, pages 191–202
International Journal of Toxicology, Volume 27, 2008, Supplement, pages 1–43
Food and Chemical Toxicology, February 2008, pages 446–475
American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, 2003, pages 789–798
St. Tropez At-a-Glance
Strengths: Good body wash and body scrub; well-formulated Skin Illuminator; some intriguing tools to make self-tanner application easier.
Weaknesses: Expensive, and the self-tanning products are not superior to those that cost a lot less; almost all of the self-tanning and bronzing products contain fragrance chemicals that cause irritation, which hurts your skin's ability to heal and act younger.
St. Tropez (pronounced "Saint Tro-pay") claims first and foremost to be all about getting a safe, sexy tan from self-tanners, but loading up your skin with fragrance that causes irritation runs a close second!
It isn't often that we rate self-tanning products poorly; after all, the vast majority of them use the same one or two ingredients (dihydroxyacetone and/or erythrulose) to turn your skin tan. And, most of them are formulated in pleasant, although basic, lotion, cream, gel, or liquid (aerosol) bases to make application smooth. Generally, the formulations of self-tanning products are a minor detail; much more important is your technique in applying it.
We rate almost all of St. Tropez's self-tanning options poorly because they contain numerous fragrance chemicals known to cause irritation. Examples of such ingredients are eugenol, citral, linalool, and limonene.
If a leave-on product contains only one or two of these fragrance chemicals and only low amounts, it's not a deal-breaker for your skin, but when several of them are present, even in low amounts, the combination can add up to an incredibly irritating product that hurts your skin.
What kind of hurt? Daily, chronic irritation from the litany of fragrance chemicals in these St. Tropez products can damage healthy collagen production, lead to or worsen dryness, and impair your skin's ability to heal (Sources: Inflammation Research, December 2008, pages 558563; Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, June 2008, pages 124135 and November-December 2000, pages 358371; Journal of Investigative Dermatology, April 2008, pages 1519; Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, March 2008, pages 7882; Mechanisms of Ageing and Development, January 2007, pages 92105; and British Journal of Dermatology, December 2005, pages S13S22.)
Given that this group of products is unusually expensive and that it puts your skin at risk of irritation: Why bother? Besides, there are hundreds of self-tanners and bronzers that do not contain these problematic ingredientsso you can enjoy a sunless tan knowing that you're continuing to take the best possible care of your skin!
For more information about St. Tropez, call (800) 366-6383 or visit www.sttropeztan.com.
About the Experts
The Beautypedia team consists of skin care and makeup experts personally trained by the original Cosmetics Cop and best-selling beauty author, Paula Begoun. We’re fascinated by skin care and makeup products and thrilled when they meet or exceed our expectations, but we’re also disappointed when they fail to perform as claimed, are wildly overpriced, or contain ingredients scientific research has proven can hurt skin.
Our mission has always been to help you find the best products for your skin, no matter your budget or preferences. Beautypedia’s thorough and insightful reviews cut through the hype and provide reliable recommendations for all ages, skin types, and skin tones.