Every year, without fail, the airbrushed advertising gets to me. My pasty pale skin feels bare and I convince myself that my mottled limbs need a glow. The first time I succumbed I was 16 and preparing for a family holiday in the Canaries. I had an old fashioned fake tan applied in Arklow, where I was thoroughly exfoliated, moisturised and finally bronzed with Saint Tropez lotion. It looked great for the first few days but I had no idea I was supposed to continue to exfoliate, moisturise and generally work at maintaining the tan! Between the chlorine from the pool and vigorous towel drying, it faded terribly and I spent two weeks looking like I'd been rolling in dirt.
I flirted briefly with Lancome one Summer in college (a bad look immortalised in every photo where my body is "tan" and my face is ghostly white!) and I once had moderate success with Dove gradual tanning moisturiser (the palest shade) but I forgot to wash my hands so it gets chalked down as a fail.
Even a recent spray tan from a reputable salon in the Dublin 6 area (I was hoping it would mask some post-baby bulge) was a disaster. It pooled around the middle of my calves and the salon wasn't sure why...
But my annual false tan experiment is a tradition at this stage! So I decided to record it for the blog and to try two new tans.
I'd been hearing great things about Irish brand Bellamianta but I'm not brave enough to try a full-on tan so gradual tanning moisturiser seemed the best way to go.
Great big caveat here. I came at this with a bias. I REALLY wanted to love Bellamianta. Even the name rolls pleasantly off the tongue! It seems to be the bloggers' fave plus it's Irish which makes me patriotically compelled to try it.
However, it's not for me. My legs were streaky, the colour wasn't right and it really clung to my knees and ankles. Not a good look.
The colour was my biggest issue. I could probably have fixed the patchy knees and ankles with copious moisturising afterwards but nothing would correct the orangey hue. Maybe I'm too pale for the brand.
I did everything right. I applied it with a mitt in circular motions (with a light rub over my feet and knees at the end) and I waited a day after shaving, exfoliating and moisturising but to no avail.
On the plus side, it's not at all sticky. In fact it's quite fluid so it was easy to apply. It also has no nasty fake tan smell. Perhaps it would work on another skin tone or maybe as a top-up over a natural tan. It just wasn't working for me at all.
Once I had scrubbed the remnants of the Bellamianta off, I left it for a few days before trying the new Saint Tropez tinted gradual tanner. It's an update on their existing gradual tan moisturising lotion. It's now tinted so you can see where you're applying it but they're also marketing it as a skin perfecter (like Vita Liberata Body Blur I think...) by suggesting that you could apply this before a night out for an immediate glow.
Cons - it's really thick so it's hard to blend in. Much harder than the Bellamianta. Rubbing it in actually ripped my (admittedly very cheap) tanning mitt.*
But when you finally get it all blended, there is an immediate subtle glow which I liked. Crucially, the colour the next day was lovely. Pretty even all over and a believable light golden tone. Plus the actual moisturiser in this feels higher-end than the Bellamianta version. My legs are so smooth and soft! That thick gloopy texture must be packing some heavy duty moisturising agents.
So the upshot is that Bellamianta gradual tan is a no for me and I have an almost full bottle if anyone wants it...comment on instagram and I'll send it to you for free. Then report back!
I'll be curious to see how others get on with it, given the rave reviews the brand is getting.
Also, to be fair, if I was trying a false tan from a salon I'd still try Bellamianta. Maybe the rest of their range works better?
*I bought two fresh mitts and used one for each to get an accurate review. I also paid for both of these products.