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An Honest, Highly Scientific Test of the Viral Tan Drops All Over Instagram

Is Tan Luxe really worth the $50 splurge? We put it to the test.

Earlier this year, Jess and Cass decided they were due for a change: After a year inside, both were craving a little sun-kissed color and a natural-looking tan—without the sun's dangerous rays. When we saw Tan Luxe's Face Illuminating Self-Tan Drops all over Instagram (literally, it feels like they're everywhere these days!) they decided to give them a try—and document the process below to let you know if they're worth the nearly $50 splurge:

I don't know how I went about my life just being this pale. 

I don't know how I went about my life just being this pale. 

Coming from a tropical country, the Philippines, I never had to worry about my tan. I wasn't always at the beach but did spend enough time outside to have an even, healthy complexion. When I moved to L.A., I found myself spending less time outside. My skin got noticeably duller, but I never entertained the idea of using tanning drops until Jess mentioned the Tan Luxe Self-Tan Drops. When she sent me a link to the product, I immediately recognized them from a few of my favorite beauty bloggers and thought, what do I have to lose? When I get too pale I notice that the discoloration around my eyes makes me look a lot more haggard than I actually am. As someone who doesn't wear makeup daily, my hopes were that I would get a more even, sun-kissed skin tone that I usually resort to foundation for. - Cass

Observe! The pale complexion of a girl who refuses to stand in the sun.

Observe! The pale complexion of a girl who refuses to stand in the sun.

My tanning habits changed drastically three and a half years ago, and as a recovering sunbather, I now avoid direct sunlight at all costs. While I'm thankful for the protection from UV rays, I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss my sun-kissed skin from a tropical vacation (or generally from living in southern California). I thought a glowing complexion and avoiding skin cancer were mutually exclusive, until I saw quite a few influencers talk about Tan Luxe, and it immediately piqued my interest. After purchasing their The Face Illuminating Self-Tan Drops on Black Friday, I hesitated to apply them consistently (early December, while locked in my home, didn't feel like the right time to suddenly appear with a tan). But when Cass said she'd join me in a blog post to document our experiences, I managed to remember to use it (and take a selfie!) every single morning for the month. My hopes were simple: 1. Develop a gradual, natural-looking tan on my face, and 2. distract from the redness (see photo above and below–she is flushed) that has become more prominent with my paler skin. - Jess

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The first thing that stood out to me was the consistency. I was anticipating a thick oil-like consistency but it was actually a lot lighter and blended very easily with my gel moisturizer. It does have a scent which didn't bother me but is something to consider if you have sensitive skin. My SPF goes on top of my moisturizer and the drops didn't affect how the product went on or was absorbed. In terms of color, I started to see a very subtle change in the first week which, to me, was a good sign that these drops were buildable. Slowly but surely, I would get my dream tan. - Cass

Holy flushed!

Holy flushed!

First and foremost, I hoped that the formula wouldn't make me break out, and was pleasantly surprised to find that there wasn't a zit in sight after the first seven days (#smallwins). Each morning, I added one or two (alternated every other) drops to my moisturizer for an even application, and ensured I brought it down my neck to avoid an obvious change in tone at my jawline. The smell is...well...subtle self-tanner smell, and it took a few days to get used to, but by the end of the week I didn't notice it. The process was extremely simple, and well worth it if the end result wound up being glowy skin. - Jess

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Coming off of my initial excitement from Week 1, I started mixing in two drops instead of one. I thought I was blending it in pretty well but my neck lines told another story: A patchy tan started to reveal itself. As is the cardinal rule in makeup and skincare, you must always remember to carry your product down to your neck but this time, it did me dirty. After chatting with Jess, I decided it was smart to go back to the one drop a day routine. - Cass


A *slight* orange tint began developing (and a small zit, but I blame my period), so I brought the number of drops I was applying back to one a day, every day. I found I used less bronzer in my makeup routine, but otherwise, the difference was extremely subtle which I had hope for–gradual is good in my book! - Jess

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Overall, I like how gradual the change in my skin tone was. It didn't necessarily look like I had been baking in the sun for hours but I felt my skin come back to life. It can't be said enough, blend blend blend! After last week, I stopped going in so heavy on my neck and made sure to really mix in the product with my moisturizer before slathering it on my face. - Cass


There doesn't seem to be a noticeable difference from this particular picture. But after editing some photos from an at-home photoshoot, I began toggling with the saturation and noticed the intensity of the underlying orange tint of my face, and lack thereof on my chest (I've always said this is the gif that best describes me, but now it felt a little too accurate–yikes!). I got a bit nervous for how much more it would build in the final week, but opted to persevere for this extremely scientific experiment. - Jess

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Day by day, I didn't notice a big difference in my skin. It felt more like the drops were maintaining one level of a tan instead of increasingly building it. I thought I wanted the tan to continue building but then I started to see the slightly unnatural orange tinge. It wasn't as glaring as other self-tanners but did leave me wanting a little more bronze action. - Cass


At the four-week mark, I started to see the redness blend a bit and become less apparent (with the exception of my nose which is truly always flushed). I felt like I was at the very tail end of a fading vacation tan, but still hadn't solved the problem of my pale chest. - Jess

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Overall thoughts: We both wound up liking the product more than we anticipated, and would use it again if it was in tandem with a tanning body lotion for consistency. Application was very simple: The drops didn't affect the way any of our other products worked, and neither of us experienced any kind of irritation (something we both expected since we have sensitive skin). That being said, be cautious if you're sensitive to scents, as this does take a second to get used to. While it's a bit pricey at first glance, after a month we barely made a dent in ours, so a single bottle will have a pretty long lifespan. And of course, it's a better, safer option than tanning outside, so we're team tan drops!

Tips for application: The drops sink in pretty well, and didn't leave any kind of film on our skin. We recommend easing into them—start with one drop every other day and build your way up–and incorporate them into any daily moisturizer to ensure even blending. Don't forget your eyelids, eyebrow area, and hairline! Bring the product down to your neck, and if you have any skin creases there, be thorough with your application. 

Would you use it again?

Yes, but not on a daily basis. Maybe on holiday, a booster for a natural tan. - Cass

If it was in conjunction with their Body Self-Tan Drops, I would! - Jess


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