Review: The Tan Lab Innovative SelfTan in Dark

An innovative, homegrown self-tanning brand, The Tan Lab hails from sunny Durban. Aside from being Eco-Certified and vegan friendly, it’s main plus point is the fact it makes use of DHA* (the main ingredient in 99% of self-tanners on the shelf) as well as Erythrulose. When used to together, DHA and Erythrulose are a self-tan dream team in that the resultant colour lasts a lot longer and fades more evenly. You’d think every self-tan would be formulated this way but, as it’s a more expensive mix, many don’t.

The Tan Lab’s self-tan also works in two phases. The first is where the colour develops while you’re wearing the self-tan. Then, even after you wash it off, the Erythrulose that remains within your epidermis, continues to develop further for up to 24 hours!

The Tan Lab dark self-tan on the left and body lotion on the right.
The Tan Lab Innovative SelfTan in Dark on the left and their body lotion on the right.

While the brand offers in salon spray-tans, they have a home tanning line too consisting of gradual tanning and ‘regular’ tanning products plus a body lotion. I got to try their Innovative SelfTan in Dark (R240) and really, really liked it. Like, a lot!

Despite being super-duper pale, I like to opt for a darker type of self-tan. Not crazy, Woodock person dark, but just something that makes a very visible difference (I mean, that’s the point, right?) as opposed to just giving my skin a ‘glow’.

Anyway, The Tan Lab’s ‘Dark’ is the exact type of shade I adore – mid to dark and beautifully bronze as opposed to orange or yellow.

I'm still walking around with a big dot on my calf. Don't say I don't take one for the team.
A fully developed test patch without flash on the left and with flash on the right. I’m still walking around with a big dot on my calf. Don’t say I don’t take one for the team.

Application was a breeze – as the easy to spread gel-creme lotion’s tinted, you can totally see what you’re doing. The caramel-colored tint does diminish a lot as you spread it though, so don’t think it’s one of those self-tanners where you can apply it two minutes before a wedding and rock the tint as your tan before the real/fake one develops. It does develop pretty quickly though and I love that it feels like you’re merely wearing a light body lotion in that it absorbs really fast and doesn’t manifest that typical ‘self-tan smell’ as it develops. In fact, this is the ideal self-tan to slap on in the morning, put on your clothes and go about your day, tanning while you run errands as opposed to overnight while destroying your white linens.

Another big, big plus about this dude? All that shizzle about Erythrulose is true. The colour really lasts a lot longer than other self-tanners I’ve used in the past. Seriously. Your tan will look freshly applied on day two and you can still feel confident about it on day three and four but day six is going to be reapplication time.

Another product The Tan Lab sent me to try? Their Innovative Hydration lotion (R120), infused with hydrating micro-algae extracts as well as all the obvious moisturisers like glycerin, Shea butter and cetyl alcohol (a fatty, non-drying type – don’t stress.)

'Oh you know, just hanging around being tan...' (My arm up top sans flash and with it below. With flash you'll see the sparkle in the body lotion. 'Oh you know, just hanging around being tan...' (My arm up top sans flash and with it below. With flash you'll see the sparkle in the body lotion.
‘Oh you know, just hanging around being tan…’ (My arm up top sans flash and with it below. With flash you’ll see the sparkle in the body lotion.)

Many self-tanning brands offer their own body lotion and refer to them as ‘tan extenders’, as though they’re specially formulated in a way that’s different to any other body lotion. Thing is, most of these products, from a formulation perspective, aren’t any different to an el cheapo ‘regular’ body lotion you can pick up at Dis-Chem. Also, any body lotion would help extend the life of your tan.

The Tan Tab’s doesn’t make any of these rubbish claims regarding their body lotion and I respect them for that. They’re merely offering it as one of many ways to hydrate your body, tanned or not, and its an especially nice one. I like that the formula’s nice and light, absorbs well, leaves your skin with a slight sheen and has a soft, summery vanilla-floral scent.

Anyway, I’m a big self-tan fan and own what feels like millions of them but my short list of favourites isn’t especially long and The Tan Lab in Dark is now most definitely on it.

To give it a bash yourself, shop their website or use it to find a salon stocking it in your area.

Love, love


*That’s dihydroxyacetone if you want to be pedantic about it.

4 thoughts on “Review: The Tan Lab Innovative SelfTan in Dark

  1. I bookmarked this review for future reference next time I want to invest in a DECENT self tan, and I was wondering if you tried the Loving tan self tan yet, and what your opinion is…? Peeps have been raving about it, but it’s on the pricey side. Any advice?

    1. Oooh, I haven’t heard of Loving self tan yet. Will get googling later. Currently my two faves are The Tan Lab in Dark (perfectly suitable for medium skin, ignore the name) and Skinny Tan mousse.

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