Love that summer glow. Hate the skin damage. Sun Labs to the rescue! I recently had the chance to try out this Sun Labs gift pack which includes the Tan Overnight self-tanning lotion, Exfoliant Body Scrub and Hand and Body Tan-Extending moisturizer. (The gift pack comes in various sizes ($21-$51) and products can also be purchased separately.)

The Exfoliant – this gentle, green exfoliant relies on apricot kernels to remove dead skin and moisturize to prep your skin for the tanning lotion. The smell is invigorating, vaguely minty/eucalyptusy. It feels great on the skin, but use it with the included shower puff to make sure you get thoroughly exfoliated.

The Self-Tanner: I’ve tried a handful of self-tanners of the years, from drugstore bottle brands to celebrity-endorsed body sprays, and Sun Labs self-tanner is currently my top pick. Why it’s great:

Lotion formula – I’ve always had better luck with lotions than sprays since I feel more in control of where I’m applying and rubbing in. Plus there’s no residual spray floating around my bathroom.

Tinted lotion - so you can immediately see where you’ve applied. (See additional info about color below.)

Quick drying – a huge bonus since moms have limited time to take a shower much less hang out naked waiting for tanning lotion to dry.

Smell-free – old-school self-tanners left you surrounded with an cloud of stink, feeling like a walking billboard shouting “Hi everyone! I just self-tanned!” With this Sun Labs lotion, the smell is undetectable.

Realistic color – Let me warn you that the initial color is not super flattering. The “tint” in the lotion seemed to have a hint of an ashy-greyish-orangey-brown color that was not complimentary. Not horrible, but it had me a little worried. So don’t judge the product immediately after you apply. This particular Sun Labs product develops its true color over three hours and is meant to be put on at night or whenever you have at least 2 hours to spare before you need to go out. And the end result is gorgeous – I’ll even agree with the website’s description that it gives you a “super hot golden brown tan.” It was good enough to fool my So-Cal raised husband who asked if I spent the day at the beach. I have medium-light skin, but wondered how the product would work on someone with fairer skin. So I gave this to a fair-skinned friend to try for a week and she liked the end result too. Maybe liked it a little too much since she hasn’t returned the bottle yet….

Lasting – I applied the tanning lotion every 3 or 4 days and have been impressed with its staying power.

Face-friendly – Sun Labs makes products specifically formulate for your face, but I mixed a drop or two of this with my daily moisturizer and was happy with the results. It blended nicely, absorbed quickly and didn’t make me breakout. I know of someone who uses this full-strength on her face…I just wasn’t brave enough to try. Yet.

The Moisturizer – This is a general moisturizer and the least interesting of the pack. The directions instruct you to apply the tanning lotion at night and the moisturizer in the morning to help preserve your tan. It was moisturizing, but no better than my normal daily moisturizer. It smelled tropical, a bit like bananas. And as much as I love bananas, I wasn’t thrilled about slathering my body with the smell.

Some application tips….

Apply with gloves. The first time I didn’t and while I scrubbed with soap immediately after applying, my hands still had a slight tinge to them. The next times I used gloves and was much happier – I know all the product is getting rubbed into the intended area and not absorbing into my hands.

Don’t judge based on your first application. As with any new product, you have to get the hang of how much lotion you need to cover an area, how it spreads, how to blend, etc. My first application was so-so. My next dozen have been great.

Don’t apply right before you’re going out. The color in this lotion develops over the course of three hours so make sure to apply before bed or with a few hours before you’re heading out.

So slather on that SPF and protect your skin this summer (your future self will thank you!) and still sport a summer glow! Visit www.sunlabsonline.com or your local beauty salon or spa to purchase.

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