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Every summer, I manage to get myself burned in my quest for a tan. That's why, after a lot of peeling and pain, I reluctantly decided that I needed to keep to the shade as much as possible during pool and beach days, as opposed to basking in direct sunlight all afternoon. (I know, it's what you're supposed to do, but as a born-and-raised California girl, it feels like it goes against my nature.) While it's good news for my skin health, it's not so beneficial for the golden tan I'm after.
So when I saw that the Bondi Sands Pure Self Tan Foaming Water was going viral on TikTok, I decided to try it out. As someone who had never used a self-tanner before, I was a little apprehensive. I've heard so many horror stories about self-tanning gone wrong — people turning bright orange or ending up with patches and tiger stripes. But I was pleasantly surprised that, as a complete newbie, I didn't encounter any of those all-too-common faux pas with this formula.
What is the Bondi Sands Pure Self-Tan Foaming Water?
You might already be familiar with Bondi Sands' bestselling Self Tanning Foam. But the company released a Pure line in 2021, which includes the viral Self-Tan Foaming Water, a popular Self Tanning Sleep Mask (more on that later) and a couple of other tanning solutions. The brand says it is its first sustainable line, and all the products are packaged in ethically sourced, 100 percent recyclable packaging. Plus, each one is made with hydrating hyaluronic acid, vitamin C and vitamin E, which nourish your skin as you tan.
The Pure Self-Tan Foaming Water is a colorless formula, made without dyes or fragrances and, according to the brand, is gentle enough to be used by those with sensitive skin. It comes in Light/Medium and Dark formulas and the color gradually appears over six hours and is completely developed by the 24-hour mark.
TikTok user @tashaclegg posted a video of her results after using the Foaming Water and it went viral, racking up more than 6 million views. "Not to be dramatic, but my life is changed," she captioned the video. While she said she used a different tanner from the brand prior to this, she called this one a "game-changer."
It takes less than 15 minutes to apply
You're supposed to apply the formula with a mitt, but as a complete tanning newbie, I didn't have one of those on hand. Thankfully, I'm staying at my sister's house and she's been using tanner since her teenage years, so she let me borrow hers. (I have since grabbed this one for $7 on Amazon for future use.)
The formula is supposed to come out like foam, but I found it to be more of a watery consistency, so I had to squeeze it onto the glove over the sink to keep it from dripping. But after that, the process was pretty seamless. I brushed it onto my legs, arms and torso using long sweeping motions and focusing on one area at a time as the bottle instructed. Since it's a completely clear formula, I was worried that I wouldn't be able to tell where it had been applied (and end up with those dreaded tiger stripes), but it was easy to see where my skin was "wet" and where it wasn't. It's quick-drying, too, so the entire process took less than 15 minutes in all. I did feel a bit sticky for the next hour, though.
It's quick to start working
I started seeing the color of my skin change over the next few hours and after the 24-hour period, I had a pretty noticeable glow. It wasn't an over-the-top difference, but my skin definitely had a new golden tone, similar to what it might look like after a few hours of laying in the sun at the beach — but without the burns. Except for a few splotches on the sides of my feet — which I chalk up to lack of experience and technique — I didn't have any major streaks or patches, which was a pleasant surprise.
All of my self-tanning fears were squashed
Because the formula is colorless, there's no transfer after application. Meaning you won't wake up with orange sheets or be walking around with stained clothing.
Even better, it doesn't need to be washed off. As someone who likes to have a minimal beauty routine, I typically avoid products that require a ton of steps. I love how the formula can be applied before bed or before heading out to lunch and I don't have to worry about remembering to wash it off in a few hours. Although, it's important to note that the company suggests that you leave it on for at least six hours before showering.
It has a light scent, but it's hardly even noticeable. You won't be left smelling like a tanning salon, which is another major bonus.
There's a face mask, too
For a truly convincing fake tan, you need to make sure the color covers every part of your body, including your face. That's why I also tried out the Self Tan Sleep Mask from the line, which has gotten some love on TikTok as well.
I applied the lightweight cream all over my face and neck right before going to bed. Unlike the foaming water, it doesn't require a mitt, though you'll want to wash your hands right after applying to keep it from staining. When I woke up, I had an even, natural-looking tan that covered my entire face (and matched the rest of my body). And just like the foam, it didn't leave any color behind on my pillow.
After a few days, multiple showers, a couple of dips in the pool and a decent amount of sweating, my full-body golden glow hasn't faded. I always thought self-tanning would be such a hassle, but these products made it so easy — and now my only regret is not starting sooner.
For more stories like this, check out:
- How to choose the best sunscreen for your face, according to a dermatologist
- Your skin care routine would benefit from a facial mist — a dermatologist explains why
- 14 hair perfumes and mists to give your tresses a luxurious refresh