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Isle of Paradise

  • Value: 17/20
  • Ease of Use: 19/20
  • Quality: 19/20
  • Overall Glow: 18/20
  • Streak-Free Results: 20/20
TOTAL: 93/100

After a few unsettling derm appointments, my sun worshipping days are long gone—to the point that when I first moved to New York, an editor looked me up and down and asked, with heartfelt curiosity, “If you’re from Florida, how are you so…fair?” Some may use the term pasty, and since I had my daughter, everyone from the grocery store checkout clerk to the client I’ve only met with over Zoom have deemed my look “tired.” Oof.

While I truly don’t care what Darlene in aisle three thinks of my ghostly pallor, I did want to feel a little more polished—without committing to a 12-step routine or gobs of foundation. (I’m less a skinimalist and more just plain lazy.) So, when I heard everyone from Chrissy Teigen to Ryan Gosling gets their glow from Isle of Paradise, I decided to give it a whirl.

I opted for Isle of Paradise’s Self-Tanning Drops in light—though devotees know it as “peach,” as all of the products for fair skin come in peach containers, with green for medium skin tones and violet for dark skin. They’re basically a tanning concentrate that you mix with lotion, which—as a millennial, I had some reservations (AKA terror flashbacks to the early aughts, when skin the hue of Kraft mac and cheese powder was all the rage) about. Thankfully, these fears were totally unfounded.

Isle of Paradise

So How Do Self-Tanning Drops Work?

The process is simple: Dollop half a teaspoon (roughly a quarter-sized amount) of moisturizer on your hand. Use the eye dropper to squirt anywhere from two to 12 drops of the tanning solution on top, mix together and—to paraphrase Buffalo Bill, put the lotion on the skin. Four to six hours later, you’re glowing like you’ve spent the afternoon lounging by a pool, with the kind of lit-from-within radiance typically reserved for ingenues who haven’t been beaten down by the world yet.

At least that’s how I felt, especially after colleagues suddenly started interrupting Zoom calls—or slacking me on the side—to ask about my skincare routine (yes, people actually do that! It’s not just a thing influencers say to shill products!). I got compliments at daycare drop-off, when hanging out with my friends, in the aisles of Target, and truly, the only thing that’d changed was my morning slathering of Isle of Paradise, mixed with BYOMA Moisturizing Gel-Cream (again, because an IoP insider said the $14 moisturizer was key to a dewy glow).

isle of paradise tanning drops review
CANDACE DAVISON

How Well Do They Work?

It didn’t give me a dramatic tan, largely because I only use three to four drops, but I loved that it was:

  • Totally streak-free
  • Evened out my skin tone (and minimized my sunspots)
  • Not sticky (ever feel your face crunch when you smile after using self-tanner? No thank you.)
  • Lightly scented—with only the faintest whiff of Dihydroxyacetone (DHA), the ingredient in self-tanners that creates that bronzed look (and often smells yeasty)

I love that I can control how tan I want to be, based on the amount of drops I use. As you can see, most days I opt for something that’s very subtle, just lightly sunkissed, like I get my vitamin D from the sun and not a bottle of vitamins. (Though I did fake my return-from-Key-West tan by going heavier on the application, since I’m a hardcore SPF 30 to 50 user.) Isle of Paradise recommends going for nine to 12 drops per half teaspoon—and yeah, let’s just say that anything higher than seven makes me look more like an NSYNC doll from the “It’s Gonna Be Me” video than an extra in the upcoming Barbie movie. I use it primarily on my face and neck, but the drops can be mixed with lotion and used all over your body.

So yes, while I’m still working on that whole “tired” thing (who can get in eight hours when Stranger Things, Umbrella Academy and Only Murders in the Building have dropped new seasons?!), this little faux-glow has been a big confidence booster, which I hear helps you genuinely, uh, glow.

BUY IT ($32)

RELATED: How to Remove Self-Tanner When Things Go Horribly Wrong

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