I Self-Tan, Therefore, I am.

The other day I was out for drinks with my friend Amber, who showed up looking so bronzed and fabulous (with just a hint of rosy flushness) that I’d assumed she’d been on a mini-break somewhere warm and beachy. Her tan looked utterly authentic: as if she’d stopped tanning right at the point where she was about to burn, you know? The point where you’re on the safe side of the line with regard to a sunburn–and yet, because you’re approaching burn territory, it’ll fade out in a slower manner? THAT point.

So anyway, as I prepared my haven’t-been-on-a-legit-vaca-in-2-years/overworked self to be ragingly jealous of whatever Caribbean island or 5-star hotel at which, she’d spent a long weekend, she responded, “Nowhere, Amb. I haven’t been anywhere. This is Clarins Self-Tanner.” I was floored. “WHAT IS IT CALLED?” I shrieked. She told me: Clarins Intense Bronze Self-Tanning Tint ($32).

Amber recommended applying it twice a week (her days are Monday and Thursday) with your fingers, though the directions recommend you use cotton balls. Initially, I was applying it with the latter (I’m too Type A not to follow directions at least initially), but realized that though its formula is a thin liquid, I actually prefer to rub some in my hands and apply directly to my face and decolletage. You lose a bit of product due to its runny consistency in the sink (definitely apply it over a sink lest you stain your floors brown), but if you were to put it on with a cotton ball, it would absorb the same amount–leaving you with equal parts of wasted product. Note, however, that this is a more intense tan. It looks beachy and real, but it’s more dramatic than my go-to tanner DermaQuest Skin Therapy Derma Glow Self Tanner for Face, which is subtle for winter tanning, but doesn’t give me the oomph I crave for summer. The Clarins version is tinted going on, so it warms a copy paper white complexion instantly–but a richer tan sets in overnight (isn’t that always the way with self-tanners?).

Make sure to apply it after you’ve primed your face, neck and decolletage with a good moisturizer. Lately, I’ve been using My Blend Stress Management Day Lotion ($188 for the set) with My Blend Vitamin Emergency Booster ($45) mixed in. This combo is phenom for spring/summer as it’s an oil-free clarifying, mattifying hydrator.

Jim noticed my glowing beachiness at work and ended up buying one that week. It’s a must-have for your summer beauty repertoire.

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