The (new) scent of self-tanner

The (new) scent of self-tanner

The fragrance of self-tanner has a bad rap—for good reason. But the times (and scents) they are a changing.

The flawless tan was not always the epitome of summer beauty. In fact, until the 1920s, creamy white, never-seen-the-sun skin was de rigueur and seen as a sign of luxury. So what changed?

Apparently, Cannes. The story goes that Coco Chanel got a little too much sun on her yacht one summer and came back to the spotlight with a glowing tan. And thus, another trend was born courtesy of Chanel. But it wasn’t until the 1970s that sunless tanning, aka self-tanner (all the colour without the cancer-causing rays), started to gain popularity.

My own introduction to self-tanner in the 1990s was a smelly, orange mess, so I can only imagine what a 1970s self-tanner experience was like. You know what I’m talking about—that overpowering medicinal, chemical smell that took over your bathroom and lingered on your streaky more-orange-than-sunkissed skin.

Luckily self-tanners have come a long way—in application, aesthetic and scent. We spoke to Jacqueline Burchell, EVP of global marketing and product development, and Dr. Paul Evans, SVP of technology and innovation at St. Tropez to learn about all things scent-related when it comes to at-home self-tanner.

But first, what made yesterday’s self-tanner smell so bad?

“The unpleasant scent is created when DHA (the tanning agent/ingredient) reacts with the proteins on the surface layers of the skin,” says Burchell. “It is a unique reaction and everyone has a slightly different smell—a common description is typically either of biscuits or nutty odours.”

The smell is often what holds people back from trying self-tanning products in the first place.

Since it’s the ingredient that makes your skin tanned that has the offensive smell, self-tan brands have struggled for years to make the scent more appealing.

What’s new?

St. Tropez has partnered with perfume giant Givaduan in order to address the smelly issue of self-tanner. The first step was identifying the molecules with cause that characteristically bad odor and isolating them in order to utilize fragrance technology to be effective against them.

“By using fragrance notes that work well with the DHA, the ingredient is brought into the fragrance and concealed,” says Evans.

Two years in the making, the brand has now released products where the DHA scent is virtually undetectable.

What does St. Tropez self-tanner smell like now?

“The fragrance is built around an idea of fresh flower petals and the softness of their texture,” says Burchell. Think bergamot, apple, lavender, rose, jasmine and creamy musks. “Put together, these fresh and floral notes invigorate your senses, transporting you to a place of sunshine and positivity.”

Pretty talk, but does it actually smell good?

Yep! We tested the St. Tropez Bronzing Mousse, Everyday Gradual Tan Body Lotion and the In Shower Tanning Lotion and there’s very little of that DHA smell that discouraged this editor from a little DIY sunless tanning. In fact, I’m so smitten with the Everyday Body Lotion that it’s become part of my regular summertime routine.

Inline_Self-tannerGradual Tan In Shower Tanning Lotion, $35 (200 ml), Bronzing Mousse, $54 (240 ml), Everyday Gradual Tan Body Lotion, $38 (200 ml),

Make sure to take a read of our latest issue for more summer fun.

PHOTO: St. Tropez
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Alexandra Donaldson is the editorial assistant at The Whale & The Rose and a freelance writer and content creator. Although she recently took up yoga in an effort to be a healthy adult, she still binge-watches cartoons on a regular basis and dreams of running away to a cottage in the woods. She has yet to nail down her favourite perfume, but knows that it smells green, earthy and maybe a little bit spicy, but definitely not sweet.