In the world of self-tanner, there are a lot of things that can go wrong, and therefore, a lot of variables to consider. Such as, Will using X self-tanner stain my clothes and/or sheets? Will it make me smell really weird for a few days? These are valid questions, but perhaps the most important one is how it will turn out. In other words, will using it make you look orange and unnatural?
All too often, the answers to these questions are yes, which is why tanning expert Jules Von Hep founded Isle of Paradise, a line of self-tanners with color-corrective technology (and without harsh synthetic ingredients). The brand’s latest launch, Glow Clear Self-Tanning Mousse, takes things up another notch.
Promising a natural-looking tan (courtesy of the same color-correcting tech the brand is known for), the new mousse claims to go on clear and stay that way — zero transfer onto clothes or sheets. “Most traditional tanning products have a guide color, but this often leads to the telltale signs of tanning troubles [like] stains, stinky smells, [and] transfers onto your sheets,” Von Hep tells Allure. “You want to pass on positivity, not your tan, so the clear formula allows you to have peace of mind with each application.”
Just like Isle of Paradise’s buzzy original Self-Tanning Drops, the Glow Clear Self-Tanning Mousse comes in three different options — light, medium, and dark. The light option is peach-colored, the medium option is green, which is supposed to help “balance redness and calm the skin,” and the dark formula contains a hyperviolet complex, which is meant to counteract orange/sallow tones. As an added bonus, all of the formulas also contain super-hydrating ingredients, including coconut and avocado oils. Also great is what’s not in the formula: no parabens, sulfates, mineral oils, or phthalates.
However, I’m not so sure about the color-correcting part, and neither is cosmetic chemist Ginger King, who says that based on the ingredient lists, the mousse contains the same active ingredient as all other self-tanners. “If the products are indeed ‘colored,’ [then] they omit the colorants used,” King explains. “One can argue there may be color from the extracts, but basing on the ingredient list, they look identical for all.”
Regardless, I agreed to test out the new clear mousse myself. As an avid user of self-tanner (at least three times a week, without fail), I’ve tried every type of you can think of. While I typically prefer sprays and mists, mousse is generally next in line. Also, Von Hep promised me that because it goes on clear, “you can put it on during your lunch break and go right back to work.” So, really what did I have to lose?
Because I’ve got medium-light toned skin (Italian with Irish undertones, if we’re being specific), I opted for the medium formula. After exfoliating dry-prone areas in the shower (knees, elbows, and ankles), and then moisturizing those same areas afterward, I applied a light layer of the mousse from head-to-toe using a tanning mitt, as instructed, including the recommended half pump on my face.
First thought: It is lightweight and absorbs into skin fast, which is what you want from a self-tanner. The tan takes four to six hours to fully develop, so I put on my PJs and went to bed (wild night, I know). Now, I don’t know how Von Hep managed it, but there is no self-tanner smell — like, at all. Nothing. The formula itself smells fruity and lovely when you pump it out, but then it absorbs right into the skin with zero trace of traditional self-tanner smell. Also true to his word, none of it rubbed off on my clothes or my bedsheets, so 10/10 there.