Product review: Beautisol Medium Self-Tanning Mousse

Product review: Beautisol Medium Self-Tanning Mousse
Disclosure: This product was sent for consideration by iFabbo and Beautisol. However I was not compensated in any way for writing a positive review and as always all opinions are my own.

I’m a pale person. Not so pale that I have to buy the “porcelain” shade of foundation, but pretty light nonetheless. So I was more than a little apprehensive when I opened this package from iFabbo and saw a sunless tanner marked “dark”. Gulp. Er, just how dark are we talking here, and what are the chances I’ll turn orange or streaky instead?

Besides, I kind of like being pale. I know that’s weird, but I think I look fine with pale skin, and since self-tanners are a bit of work, I tend to avoid them. The only time I can honestly say I’d like to be bronzed is if I were to hypothetically win an island vacation, and then it would be nice to have a product that could give me a natural tan that same day so I wouldn’t look so out of place on the beach.

Still, for curiosity’s sake, I gave this tanner a full test–and I’m glad I did, because it really exceeded my expectations. Read on for the details and before-and-after pictures!

The product: Beautisol Medium Self-Tanning Mousse; $29/4 fl. oz.; available through the Beautisol website

The claim: (From the Beautisol website) “A lightweight, quick drying self-tanning mousse for all skin colors and skin types which produces a natural looking tan. A light guide color allows you to see where you applied the product and where you missed to ensure a flawless application. Antioxidants and anti-aging ingredients help nourish and hydrate the skin. Contains an odor eliminating fragrance technology called PURE SCENT that helps to eliminate the unpleasant processing odor all self-tanners have!”

I tried it: The bottle comes with a handy guide card that suggests tips for pre-tanning prep and better application, as well as a chart showing how much mousse you’ll need for each section of the body. As with all sunless tanners, you’ll want to prep by exfoliating evenly in the shower and shaving your legs if necessary. After toweling I applied a bit of body lotion to my knees, ankles and elbows to protect those drier areas from over-saturation.

Like a hair mousse, this tanner needs to be shook up well before being pumped onto the included soft mitt for application. This protects your hands from turning orange and spotty during the application process. The mitt takes a little getting used to at first but it’s really not hard to use. You can simply wash it out later with a little soap and warm water, as you would any of your makeup brushes.

The mousse is super-dark but thins out very quickly and leaves only a subtle guide color; this color then develops over the next 6-8 hours to a deep, rich tan. The mousse absorbs and dries very quickly, which means you need to work quickly to avoid streaking. Because the color develops to such a dark shade, mistakes are very noticeable, or at least they were on my pale skin–so you’ll want to take your time with the application.

The easiest way to apply the mousse to ensure even coverage is to work in very small sections. For example, I found it easier to do each side of my calf separately, buffing in toward the middle and out toward the feet and knees, rather than trying to cover the whole calf at once as I would with a blob of tanning lotion. For the torso I covered each side separately, buffing in across the middle, then did my stomach and chest separately. You’ll want to cover the upper and lower arms separately and buff lightly across the elbows and shoulders. You get the idea; working in small sections seems like a tedious pain compared to slathering on a lotion, but you’re less likely to miss spots and you’ll get more even coverage overall.

Be sure you bend your knees so you don’t wind up with little white lines across the caps (oops!) and buff evenly around those little spots that you might overlook: your armpits, up around your hairline and ears, and across the backs of your hands and feet. Your can just use the leftover mousse on the mitt to do these areas, but take your time and get between those toes, etc.–it will be noticeable if you don’t. While Beautisol recommends using a separate tanner for the face, I used this mousse on my face and it turned out fine, but you’ll need to be careful applying closely around the eyes and the mouth so you don’t wind up with white “rims”!

The good news is, while application takes much longer than a traditional tanning lotion, the dry time is super-speedy, so you can get dressed sooner. It’s best to wear loose-fitting clothing so you don’t wind up with odd lines; I recommend using this tanner before going to bed, so you can just wear some loose old sweats and a tee. In the morning, you can shower off the guide color and touch up any spots you might have missed.

Here’s a before-and-after picture showing what I normally look like, left, and how I looked while my color was developing. I took my “after” picture next to the office window since that’s where I was sitting in the first picture, so the color would be most accurate. People love to point out to me that I look really pale but I guess I don’t really think about it until I see a photo of myself. The only makeup I’m wearing in the picture at right is a little tinted lip balm–no bronzer or anything like that. Typically it would take quite a bit of makeup magic to give me that tone! I guess I am a rather pale person.

I was pretty surprised to turn a deep bronze shade by the end of the day. No orange, no streaks, and only a few missed spots (hello, bellybutton!) that needed a touch-up. But as pleased as I was with my new color, I really wanted to know how I would look after using the tanner for a few straight days. Many self-tanners I’ve tried in the past have looked fine on day 1, but they’ve streaked, built up unevenly, or turned orange after a few days of application, preventing me from getting truly “tan”.

So in the interest of research, I spent the next few days alternating the Beautisol tanner with a regular body lotion on the “in-between” days. I do think that compared to some tanning lotions I’ve tried in the past, this mousse is not nearly as hydrating. This was good news for my face, since I break out easily, but not such great news for my body, since I have dry skin. If you have dry skin I recommend switching to a richer lotion or even body butter on your “off” days, or using it after showering off the guide color each morning instead of a lighter body lotion. Your skin will thank you for the extra hydration, and it will also help your tan wear more evenly.

So what did I look like after the weekend? Here’s a before-and-after to show you the difference. The picture on the left was taken a month or two ago, when I was still naturally pale.

(Why do all of my photos involve a garbage can? And my neighbor’s fence that is about three different colors down the length…I’m just now noticing this as I write this post. Le sigh. I need a new photo spot! On a happier note, look at how lush and green our grass turned in the past month! I thought it was just me until I went out by the highway and saw the explosion of color there too. It’s definitely summer!)

It’s crazy how bronze this stuff made me. This is the first time in years that my face has been so dark my foundation and concealer no longer matched! I honestly felt ready for summer; even though it was kind of chilly I had to wear shorts so I could admire how tan my bright, bright white legs had turned. I can’t even remember the last time I had this kind of a tan.

The trickiness with maintaining this color isn’t in avoiding orange–I think it did a wonderful job of remaining natural-looking. I had more issues with avoiding patchiness. You can literally scrub this color away with a loofah–excellent news if you get a bit heavy-handed on your feet and need to tone down the color, but no so excellent if you’re an absent-minded exfoliator. I got a bug bite on my calf and was vigorously scratching at it with the loofah one morning without thinking, and it was only when I got out of the shower that I realized I now had a large white patch on the side of my leg. Oops! If you use a scrub, a loofah or even a bath poof, you HAVE to exfoliate very evenly all over your body to avoid turning your color patchy. It’s much easier to just maintain than to fix those patches.

I had the worst time with my legs, because on top of the exfoliating, I also shave my legs (more exfoliating) and I seem to have much drier skin there than anywhere else on my body, and as any beauty nut knows, dry skin leads to patchy color. I think that if you were going to keep up such a dark color, you would have to be very diligent about exfoliating evenly and often, shaving on a schedule and moisturizing like crazy to keep skin soft. This isn’t a product you can use as an afterthought.

For some reason, my Alba Botanica Acne Dote wash and scrub did an amazing job of getting rid of over-tanned spots; both contain salicylic acid as their active ingredient, so if you need to banish a dark spot I would recommend using an acne wash and a loofah to do so. Then you can apply a spot of body lotion over that area to prevent the mousse from accidentally sinking in and just buff it into the lighter spots on your body to even out.

One note about the “Pure Scent” tech: you know how they always say that perfumes smell different on different people, because your body chemistry affects the end result of the fragrance? I have come to the conclusion that there is something in my body chemistry that reacts poorly to the active ingredients in self-tanner, because no matter which one I use or how stink-free it claims to be, I always smell terrible until my next shower. So I really can’t comment on whether or not this stuff is less stinky than any other product on the market.

Beautisol products are cruelty-free and vegan, and free of parabens, propylene glycol, and sodium laureth/laurel sulfates.

My verdict: Does this product require a lot of extra work? Yes, more so than any other self-tanner I’ve ever tried. However, it also delivers an amazingly natural tan in a hurry, which makes me think that the extra work is well worth it. If you needed an express tan for that hypothetical vacation, you could use this before bed, shower off your guide color in the morning and reapply under some loose-fitting clothes while you do your pre-vacay prep and packing, shower again that evening and reapply before bed, and be totally bronzed and ready within a brisk24 hours to fly out to the islands. I don’t know of many tanners that can be used on such an express schedule to deliver a dark tan and still turn out so flawlessly.

Will it make a tanning convert out of me? Probably not. At heart I am a lazy person, and as I mentioned, I like being pale. It’s just “me”! I almost feel like I look way too dark in that second picture. However, I would definitely recommend this to anyone who wanted a faux glow, and I would certainly use if it I knew I was going on a beach vacation and would be spending lots of time in a swimsuit.

Want more Beautisol? Find them on Twitter (@beautisol) or Facebook!


Disclosure: This product was sent for consideration by iFabbo and Beautisol. However I was not compensated in any way for writing a positive review and as always all opinions are my own.

Alphabet blogging!

Alphabet blogging!

Katrin from Land of Candy Canes tagged me to do this alphabet post, so here goes! (Don’t forget to check out her answers here!)

A: Attached or single? Attached!

B: Best friend? My husband. Here we are after our wedding! You can tell it was kind of chilly out there.

C: Cake or pie? Pie, preferably apple with a side of vanilla vegan ice cream. I have never been a big cake person, and I don’t know why. The exception is red velvet or carrot cake with cream cheese frosting–I need to find a vegan version ASAP so I can make this for my birthday!

D: Day of choice? Wednesday, because that’s my “weekend” day!

E: Essential item? A good book, moisturizer, coffee, and music.

F: Favorite color? Black. Or green, if I have to wear something more “cheerful”. Something like this would be perfect.

(image via Pinterest)

G: Gummy bears or worms? Worms. You can take mini clay pots and crushed Oreos and make awesome little edible spring gifts with them!

H: Hometown? A tiny town in the Midwest.

I: Indulgence? Curling up on the sofa with a some dark chocolate and tea and reading a whole book cover to cover. I rarely take that large of a chunk of time to do something so solitary and selfish.

J: January or July? July–the sun is out all day and the weather is great for a hike to the beach. January is so dark and cold!

K: Kids? Furkids: Max and Jiao.

L: Life isn’t complete without…? My husband and cats. What a sap.

M: Marriage date? May 19, 2011.

N: Number of brothers/sisters? One younger brother.

O: Oranges or apples? Apples. I eat one every day!

P: Phobias? I have quite a few, but I’m most scared of bugs. I could face anything else, just not that. I actually have nightmares about them!

Q: Quotes? I actually have a whole Pinterest board for quotes that I love, which you can peek at below. I’m always collecting new and inspirational sayings. But here are two of my faves:

“You have power over your mind, not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” (Marcus Aurelius)

“Fortuna audaces iuvat.” (Fortune favors the bold–Latin phrase.)

R: Reasons to smile? My family, including meine katzes. Animals are always so happy to see you, even if you leave the house for five minutes. Getting a surprise in the mail always makes me smile, even if it’s just a postcard. Sunshine makes me smile.

S: Season of choice? Spring and fall. The temperature is just right and nature is so beautiful as the seasons change.

T: Tag 5 people: I tag everyone who wants to do this! I can’t pick just five of you!

U: Unknown fact about me? I get tongue-tied and stammer easily, mostly around people I don’t know well or who make me nervous for some reason (like my boss). It’s because I’m very introverted. So if I know I’m going to have to meet someone new or have a conversation with someone I don’t know well, I go over the whole thing in my head beforehand so I’ll have some good questions to ask them to keep them conversation moving, and some answers to any questions I think they’ll ask me so I won’t look like an idiot.

I always thought this was the stupidest thing ever until I read that Winston Churchill had a horrible stutter and as a result thought through all of his debates beforehand so he would have snappy, witty and stutter-free remarks to make when the time came. (It’s kind of a cool story actually, if you want to Google it.) I guess if it’s a good enough tactic for one of the most famous leaders in Western history, it’s good enough for someone who’s severely shy.

V: Vegetable? Sweet potatoes! I also love sweet potato fries.

W: Worst habit? Tearing at hangnails, my cuticles, and those bits of skin around the edges of my nails. I wind up with really ragged-looking fingers.

X: X-ray or ultrasound? I’ve had X-rays before and they are cold and uncomfortable, plus it’s really hard to hold still for the tech when you’re cold and shivering. I haven’t had an ultrasound but I imagine they couldn’t be any better!

Y: Your favorite food? Chocolate, pizza, Pad Thai, strawberries…I have so many!

Z: Zodiac sign? Gemini. I’m not a horoscope person but I do think most of the descriptions of Geminis that I’ve ever seen sum me up pretty well.

(image via Pinterest)

Ten on Tuesday: 6/11/13

Ten on Tuesday: 6/11/13

1. I’ve been missing all of my regular linkups lately. :( It’s good to be getting back on track!

2. One of the reasons I’ve been AWOL: I’ve been in a painting frenzy. Photos to come soon (the paintings are still drying, but I should be able to hang them up this week).

3. My mom sent me this video and it’s awesome. I think the French accent just makes it funnier.

4. A while back I mentioned being bummed that the local movie theater had closed; well, a new owner has set it up as a discount theater, which means we’ll get to see all the big cool movies for $2 a pop after they end their run at the Regal and AMC theaters. Score!

5. And speaking of which, today we’re going to see G.I. Joe: Retaliation, which means this song has been stuck in my head. Anyone know where I can buy the track online? I didn’t see it on Amazon, which is where I buy most of my music.

6. Do you ever reach the end of a book or TV series and suddenly slow waaaaaaay down…not because it got boring, but because you just couldn’t bear for it to end? I’m dragging my feet on wrapping up the final season of Fringe because I know I’ll miss it once it’s done. Next up I think I’ll check out Sherlock and Copper–they both look pretty good!

7. I just had to share this photo. Too. Stinking. Cute. My husband cannot believe that I find baby bats cute; I say they look like little cats with wings. And claws! he adds. Well duh, honey. What do you think my cats use to shred everything in the house? Of course a winged cat would have claws.

(image via Pinterest)

8.One week left until vacation! Woot woot!

9. Because my birthday is this month, I’ve going to have a larger than usual giveaway coming up at the end of the month, so keep your eyes peeled for that!

10. Who says nice guys finish last?

(image via Pinterest via TheMetaPicture.com)

Julep Maven June ’13 box

Julep Maven June ’13 box

I’ve been skipping my Julep Maven boxes all spring, but when I saw this month’s selections I knew it was time to splurge. Why? Because one of the polishes included is named Martha…and it’s a pale pink (my fave)…and June is my birthday month! Happy birthday to me! I also thought a Maven box would be a good way to treat myself for hitting the end of my spending ban without buying any makeup. (Although, I have to admit–it wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it would be, after the first week or two was past!)

This month’s theme was “Sail Into Summer”, with a palette of Nantucket-inspired seaside colors. It was hard to pick just one polish set, because all of the colors were so gorgeous! But I finally settled on Classic With A Twist, which included Martha (a pale pink polo creme) and Kennedy (a khaki creme). As an add-on I picked Payton, a kelly green creme from the “Bombshell” box.

This was the worst week ever to try to do nail swatches–I’ve been painting and generally not taking care of my hands lately, so my cuticles are in rough shape. But you get the idea of how these colors look against my skin tone. Kennedy is a nice nude, though I think I need something with more peach in it to suit my skin tone. It would be really gorgeous against really dark skin! Martha is a cool-toned pale pink. Both of these polishes were opaque in two coats and had average drying time. I didn’t get a chance to swatch Payton yet, but I already have a feeling she’s going to be June’s polish of the month, so you’ll get a chance to see her next week. :)

This month, Julep added a tube of their new DD Creme to the Maven boxes. They’re really playing up the “DD” part of this product, calling it “delightfully dewy”, “daily defense”, “dramatically different”, “damage diminishing” and “dynamic do-all” makeup. This product retails for $36/1-oz. tube ($28.80 for Mavens). I’m not a big fan of BB creams so I’m not sure how I’ll like this stuff; my initial impression of it is that it’s going to be way too “dewy” for my combo skin, and while it makes my skin look really nice, I do still need concealer for my undereye circles and the redness around my nose. I’ll post a full review with pictures next week, once I’ve had time to properly test it.

So that’s it for my June Maven box! Did you get a Maven box this month? If so let me know, because I’d love to see your swatches and hear your thoughts on the new DD Creme.

If you’re interested in becoming a Julep Maven and getting a box with $40+ worth of polish and other goodies every month for $19.99, you can sign up using my affiliate link here. (I earn reward points when you sign up using my link. If you’d rather not use the affiliate link you can go directly to Julep.com to take the style quiz, browse the FAQs, and sign up!)

Ethical fashion: where do I shop now?

Earlier this week I talked about ethical consumerism and calculating your “slavery footprint” (you can read that post here). Today I wanted to talk a bit more specifically about ethical fashion, cheap chic chains, and some steps you can take to balance high fashion with ethical shopping habits.

In her book Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion, Elizabeth Cline points out that “cheap chic” retailers now churn out massive amounts of clothing at incredibly low price points, with Americans buying on average a new garment each week…but at what cost? She goes on to make the case that cheap chic fashion is damaging the economy, the environment, and the lives of the countless sweatshop workers who are employed to produce these goods. It’s hard to argue against her: roughly 900 thousand tons of clothing go into landfills each year, mostly from cheaply made garments that are purchased at cheap chic chains or outlet malls, worn a few times, and then discarded for something else. The workers who make these garments work for long hours in dangerous conditions are paid mere dollars a week for their work.

With the April collapse of the Bangaldesh garment factory that killed over 1100 people, the spotlight is being shown more fiercely than ever on the link between cheap clothing and the dangerous working conditions in third-world factories. The collapse was the worst in the history of the garment industry and the death toll is roughly eight times that of the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Fire in New York City in 1911.

What’s really sobering about all of the back-and-forth that has followed the disaster is this figure released by the Workers’ Rights Consortium:

We have a general cost estimate for the renovations, upgrades and retrofitting of buildings that is needed across the industry in Bangladesh to make the factories safe. The figure is $3 billion. That translates to about 8 cents per garment at factory price. 

The WRC goes on to lay out some different ways that $3 billion figure could be spread out and absorbed by consumers rather than retailers, and even at the high end, they estimate that most pieces of clothing would be marked up about thirty cents to absorb the bill. Try to wrap your head around that number for a moment, because I can’t. If you knew thirty cents per garment would guarantee better and safer working conditions for someone–including proper fire exits, better emergency alarms, and the closure of unsafe factory structures–wouldn’t you willingly pay it?

What happens now?

Public pressure on major retailers to change their production practices has led to the creation of a new legal accord aimed at providing Bangladeshi workers with a safer working environment. The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh requires a five-year commitment to conduct independent safety inspections of factories and requires retailers to pay up to $500,000 per year toward safety improvements in those factories.

However, there’s been a lot of resistance to the accord. While some brands have willingly jumped on board, others have refused, including:

  • Walmart 
  • Target
  • Macy’s
  • JC Penney
  • Sears
  • Gap
  • Kohl’s
  • VF Corp. (owns The North Face, Wrangler and Vans)
  • Carter’s (owns Oshkosh B’Gosh)
  • Nordstrom
  • American Eagle Outfitters
  • The Children’s Place
  • Foot Locker 
  • Cato Fashions

Some retailers (such as Walmart) have said they will work on their own initiatives to create a safer working environment for these factory workers, but what their plans are exactly remains to be seen.


Quantity vs. quality


I think we all need to reexamine the definition of “affordable” clothing. It’s true that I can go to a cheap chic chain with $100 in my pocket and leave with several new dresses, but that doesn’t mean those $25 dresses are any more “affordable” than a single $100 dress from a different store. It just means that I have to be more selective and only buy one new piece instead of an armful. That difference is what drives so many consumers into the arms of cheap retailers, but if you know what’s gone into the production of a piece, doesn’t it make you want to shop elsewhere–even if you emerge with just a few garments, instead of a whole new wardrobe?

Quality is something else to consider. While more expensive clothing is not always made of a higher quality–there are exceptions–by and large, investing in pieces that will last for several seasons is not only worth the extra cash, it’s a great way to keep from wasting money on items you’ll only wear once before throwing them in the trash. We’ve all bought jeans or shoes that broke down so quickly there wasn’t even anything left to donate to the thrift store! Why waste your money on those items?

In my opinion, a short spending ban could help wean you from the habit of dropping into the mall each weekend for a new blouse or skirt. Personally, while I used to frequent some of the fourteen stores listed above, I’m making it my choice to step away from purchasing their garments in the future. There are lots of places where I can shop for new clothes and crossing a few stores off of my list is not going to kill me. Going forward, I’m going to plan my clothing budget more carefully so I can buy a few new pieces each season that I’ll really love, instead of buying a ton of cheaply made items at the mall.


Where do I shop now?


The intersection of ethical consumerism and affordable fashion is a small one and it takes some work to find it, but it does exist. The best way to find ethically produced clothing is to dig through company websites and read the labels on the garments themselves. Look for items that were made in the U.S.A. If the company imports lots of their garments, read up on company practices involving overseas workers.

H&M, Mango and Calvin Klein are all signees of the new Bangladesh accord. On the Overdressed website, Elizabeth Cline points out that you can search “made in USA” on NeimanMarcus.com and Nordstrom.com to find domestically produced clothing at a range of price points; I also tried this on one of my favorite sites, Lulus.com, so it’s worth trying on different e-tail sites to see what you get. You can also find a full list of Cline’s recommend retailers here.

Some of my other favorite new sites to browse: EcoFabulous (highlights ethical and eco-friendly consumerism) and the e-tail sites Etrican, Fashion Conscience, One Mango Tree, People Tree and Shopanthropic (find the links below). While I don’t have the budget to go bananas on these sites the way I can in Walmart or Target, I think I’d rather save up for one or two nice pieces anyway and enjoy my splurge!



More eco- and ethical fashion options


  • I’m going to be putting together a wishlist of clothing picks next week so you can see some of the items I’ve got my eye on!
  • Thrifting is huge right now thanks to that ubiquitous Macklemore song. Upcycling clothing is not only wallet-friendly and eco-friendly, most thrift shops are run with the goal of funding local charities (like a homeless shelter or the local humane society). Even consignment shops are worth a dig, though the items there may cost more. The less new items you buy, the less you feed into the supply and demand cycle that keeps cheap chic retailers pumping out these cheap garments. So much win! I’ll be writing a post on thrifting later this month.
  • If you’ve got some basic sewing skills, sewing your own clothes or refashioning options from the thrift store is an awesome way to beef up your wardrobe! I’ll be posting more on refashioning later in the month, including some tips to make it less scary.



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