My tumultuous relationship with the sun began as a child, with weekends and holidays spent at the beach or playing sport.  Mum would literally slap sunscreen on us – you had to dig your feet firmly into the ground so as not to fall flat on your face.  A small but forceful woman from whom I inherited my skin genes.  Fair, with olive undertones, that tans well without too much burn. 

I pushed it to it’s bronzing limits during my teenage years and early 20s, when my sister and I would oil up and spend whole days baking to tanned perfection…and then some.  I never knew what it was to not have a permanent white bikini silhouetted on my brown naked body.  Sure, I knew the risks of skin cancer, my grandfather had died of a melanoma, but in my teenage mind (one without consequence), it was more important to look good now, than concern myself with the future.  Present vanity beat everything.  Even the threat of wrinkles and sunspots didn’t deter me…”Who needs to look hot at 40?”.  Please excuse me while my current 38 year old self goes back in time to slap teenage me around a bit.

Fortunately by the time 25 came around I had acquired some commonsense…and seen some shit.  Watching my other grandfather go through skin graft surgeries one after the other, as he became a walking patchwork, I started to see the potential health risks of excessive sun exposure and tanning.  I also saw the superficial effects on my older clients when I was up close and personal with their faces each day, not to mention my own struggle with stubborn pigmentation.  It didn’t take long for me to change my sun worshiping ways and fade to pale.  Big hats and parasols filled my wardrobe, and sunscreen became an everyday staple, not just for the beach.

Living in the city, where no one was particularly tanned, helped take my mind off my ever lightening skin.  Even my ‘surfer girl’ stage survived my sun protection commitment.  I’d just go at the shark feeding times of dawn and dusk, wearing a full wetsuit and mega block out sunscreen.  Sweet.  All was fine, until I moved to the Gold Coast.  Tan City.  My itch had returned and I needed to scratch it, badly.  As my hemlines rose and necklines dropped, I began to assimilate into my new environment, exposing more skin with my changing wardrobe of bikinis and mini skirts.  The skin needed bronzing, but I wasn’t prepared to damage it for the sake of a tan.  There must be another solution.  So began my obsession with self tanners.

I’ve tried a shitload…Almay, The Body Shop, Model Co, Magic Tan, Le Tan, Ella Bache, Clinique, St Tropez, Mystic Tan, Mecca Cosmetica, Perricone MD, Dr Dennis Gross,  Elemental Herbology, Sugar Baby, Naked Tan, Eco Tan, Sukin…some bad, some good, some great, but never perfect.

I don’t want to jinx it, but I think I might have found the perfect fake tan.  I thought I had with Sukin, even though my feet still looked dodgy, but I put it down to user error.  I will still use this one, when I want to keep things natural and I don’t have much time, but it has been surpassed by a new beauty that is lazy girl friendly and idiot proof.  Bondi Sands Self Tanning Foam in Light/Medium is an absolute winner in the self tanning stakes.  Whatever you have disliked about fake tans in the past, this one has not only remedied, but taken beyond your expectations.

Let’s start with the smell.  Fake tans stink.  Not only when you have the product on you, but even after you’ve showered several times.  Well, stop your whining, because Bondi Sands have made theirs smell like coconuts while it’s on, and nothing after you wash it off.   Not only that, but your bathroom, or wherever you apply it, will smell like coconuts for a couple of days.  It’s delightful, providing you like coconuts, which I do.  I could not, at any time detect that tell tale fake tan smell, as I was too busy looking for a Bounty bar, that I suddenly had a craving for.  If I wanted to, I could’ve left the house and popped to the shops for one, because this tan also dries super fast, and doesn’t leave you feeling sticky or like you’re going to leave a brown smudge like Mr Hankey everywhere you go – that was for the South Park fans.  Mind you, I still didn’t want to risk sitting on my cream fabric couch – a small price to pay.

I can’t remember the colour my naturally tanned skin used to be, though I seem to recall throwing yellow any time I had a bit of sun exposure, which is why I think Bondi Sands looks really natural on me.  It’s neither orange nor green based, and the guide colour when applied is pretty true to the shade you end up with, unlike some self tans which are a beautiful brown to begin with, but leave you looking orange post shower.  The fast drying action of this tanning foam allows you to get dressed quickly and leave the house, plus the guide colour is pretty inconspicuous, so you don’t feel like everyone is questioning your personal hygiene.  This is advantageous, since experience has shown me that going to bed in your tan is not ideal.  Not only can your sheets take a beating, but you can cause streaking where your body parts rest on each other while you sleep.  As for the actual colour you end up with, well, it’s lovely.  I chose the light/medium version, as I just needed to cut the whiteness, with more of a weekend at the beach shade, rather than a month of unlimited solarium visits.  Plus, I’m quite blonde and not a huge fan of the Barbie aesthetic those kind of extremes can create.  But that’s just me.  Overall, I am really happy with the golden tan that Bondi Sands left me with, and it passed the ‘broad daylight test’ with flying colours – some tans have left me housebound for days while they settle the f*ck down.  This one just made me want to wear a bikini everywhere.

The huge difference between the Bondi Sands Self Tanning Foam and other products I have tried, is the even finish and staying power.  It offers the streak free, perfect application of a spray tan, but fades like a natural tan without patchiness or that orange snake effect, where the last little bits hang on to your dry skin for dear life.  I have managed to get at least a week and a half of beautifully tanned skin, that is gradually fading back to my usual pastiness.  I am looking forward to my next application, when I will better prepare the skin on my feet, to see if this bad boy can score a perfect ten – right now, it’s sitting at a 9.5.

This leads me into a brief overview of my prep and application technique.  Obviously the better prepared your skin, the better your tan will look.  For this tan, I used the Aurora Spa Rituals Exfoliating Body Mitt on dry skin the day before, as it gets rid of flaky snake bits and leaves you with super smooth skin all over.  I followed up with more exfoliation in the shower just before applying the tan, with the Sukin Purifying Body Scrub.  This gives you another good polish as well as leaving the skin lightly moisturised, due to the product’s creamy base.  I massaged a very small amount of Thankyou Hand Cream into my elbows, knees and feet, and moisturised my face and neck with something something, can’t remember… I started to apply the foam with the Bondi Sands Application Mitt, but I found it hard to rub the product in, so I switched to my trusty favourite from Mecca Cosmetica.  The difference between the two, is that the Bondi Sands has a velvet finish, and the Mecca one is more like a fine mesh over sponge.  The latter just seems to work better for me to apply the product, but then I used the velvety one to buff the product into my feet, knees and elbows, which seemed to help with the evenness.  How’s that for a hot tip?  Well, that’s nothing, get this…the next day, after a couple of showers, my dry bits were still a bit too brown, so I took retro hair removal fave, the Silky Mit, and sanded away the excess colour.  If you have never used a Silky Mit before, it’s like a very fine sand paper that you gently, and I stress, gently, buff over your skin to remove hair and exfoliate.  It can be dangerous in heavy hands, but used lightly, can do all sorts of wonderful tricks, like, removing unwanted patches of fake tan.  Perfect.

So that’s my latest self tan love.  The brand, Bondi Sands, has a full range of bronzing products that I will definitely buy and try in the future, including a wash off, instant tan, that excites the lazy pants off of me, because although I have managed it this time, I don’t always have the opportunity for such maintenance.

Kind Beauty Points : Cruelty free.