Image credit: Instagram/bellahadid

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been evangelical about tanning drops. The concept is simple, but genius: they’re clear drops that contain a small amount of DHA (the active ingredient in self tanner) that can be easily added to moisturiser for a subtle glow. There’s no mess, no exfoliation, no need to stand naked in the bathroom for 20 minutes waiting for things to dry. Instead, you just get luminous, controlled colour that looks natural and is easy to maintain. They are a lazy girl’s self tan and I couldn’t recommend them enough.

In terms of beauty, I believe in the adage that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. But of course, there’s always exceptions to the rule. St. Tropez is one of my favourite “proper” self tanning brands, so when they recently released a Bronzing Water Serum my interest was obviously piqued. The concept is similar-ish to tanning drops, but instead this product comes in the form of a water-based serum. It’s essentially a skincare and tanning hybrid, loaded up with vitamin D, vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, Hibiscus Flower extract and Green Mandarin Water (the latter two being antioxidants to protect from environmental damages). There’s also a naturally-derived form of DHA – the same active as mentioned previously – so you get colour, hydration and protection all in one hit.

I tried for the first time a few weeks ago and chose to use in the morning, sandwiched between my regular A.M. antioxidant serum and day cream. The texture is light, not at all sticky. And because it’s water-based it sinks into skin immediately. I wore it all day and at about lunch time, I definitely noticed a light wash of colour (see images below and note I wasn’t wearing makeup). By evening, my face, neck and chest were glowing, but not in an obvious way (but be sure to take it behind the ears, down the chest and wash hands thoroughly after use).

It claims to have a tropical fragrance – this is mostly true, but it did develop a subtle “tan” smell, nothing offensive though. I was pretty enamoured with the glow after just one use so went two days between a second application, but this is something you could tailor to your personal preference. I haven’t yet used it at night because I tend to rotate actives (like BHAs and vitamin A) and can’t really see it fitting in, but if you had a last minute event and wanted a quick boost while you sleep, you could definitely wear it under a layer of thick, nourishing moistursier.

In summation, the colour payoff is somewhat similar to my tanning drops, but with added hydration and antioxidant benefits, it’s a smart swap (especially for anyone not already using a serum during the day). Bonus points too because it’s housed in a recycled plastic bottle and the ingredients listing is derived from 93 per cent natural ingredients. It’s also an accessible $34, making it much cheaper than most other serums and facial tanners out there.

So you heard it here first – summer is coming and tanning is hard. This product is the answer to your prayers.

See contributing editor Emily Algar before and after applying the St. Tropez Purity Vitamins Bronzing Water Serum below:

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St. Tropez Purity Vitamins Bronzing Water Serum, $35. SHOP NOW