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Tan Luxe The Face Illuminating Self-Tanning Drops Review

You can skip bronzer thanks to these self-tanning face drops

On left, glass bottle of self-tanning serum. On right, person smiling while applying serum onto face. Credit: Tan Luxe / Reviewed

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  1. Tan-Luxe The Face Illuminating Self-Tan Drops

    Pros

    • Easy to apply

    • Color fades evenly

    • Customizable tan

    Cons

    • Pricey or a single-purpose product

For many, bronzed skin is synonymous with a summer well spent relaxing at the beach or pool. However, the sun damage that results from baking in the sun is the furthest thing from high glamour. Not only can the sun’s UV rays cause signs of skin aging, such as dark spots or fine lines, but it can increase your risk of skin cancer. For those reasons, it’s best to apply (and reapply) a sunscreen for your days outdoors and leave your tan in the hands of self-tanners.

As Reviewed's beauty editor, I’ve tested many body self-tanners—Bali Body makes our favorite—but I’d never tried anything other than bronzer to warm up my face. So when I saw some rave reviews of Tan Luxe’s The Face Illuminating Self-Tanning Drops on social media, I decided to check them out for myself.

What are the Tan Luxe The Face Illuminating Self-Tanning Drops?

Person squeezing serum into palm of hand while holding bottle.
Credit: Reviewed / Jessica Kasparian

Mix the Tan Luxe The Face Illuminating Self-Tanning Drops into a moisturizer, serum, or oil for a tan.

The $50 Tan Luxe drops have one objective: to impart a glowy tan on the face. Like all self-tanners, it contains dihydroxyacetone, which reacts with the cells on the skin’s surface to darken them. The serum-like formula also contains raspberry seed oil, vitamin E, and aloe vera to moisturize and hydrate the skin. The drops come in light/medium and medium/dark shades, both of which are available in a mini 0.3-ounce bottle that costs $25 or a full-size 1.01-ounce bottle that costs $50.

The brand doesn’t provide any instructions on whether you should choose the color based on the skin tone you already have or what results you’re trying to see, but I chose light/medium, as I have very light skin and want to achieve a subtle tan. You can also customize your tan depending on how many drops you use, with two being a subtle tan and up to 12 for more dramatic results.

What I like about the Tan Luxe The Face Illuminating Self-Tanning Drops

Person displaying tanning serum swatches on arm.
Credit: Reviewed / Jessica Kasparian

The visual difference between the two-drop mixture (left) and four-drop mixture (right) is obvious.

It’s easy to use

Tan Luxe recommends mixing your chosen number of drops into a serum, oil, or moisturizer and applying it all over the face in an even layer. On one occasion, I mixed four drops, which the brand says should give a “sun-kissed” amount of tan, into a nickel-sized amount of The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 Hydrating Serum and coated my face and neck in a thin layer. The application process was a snap and it soaked in quickly, allowing me to move on within a few minutes to applying sunscreen and let the tanner do its thing.

Another time, I mixed the same amount of tanner into Facetheory’s Relaxing Night Cream but used way too much moisturizer. Though the amount of cream slowed down the application and absorption process, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the drops provided the same tanning effect and weren’t diluted or made streaky by the moisturizer. I’d say these are fool-proof.

The tan is, in fact, customizable

As Tan Luxe promises, the more drops you add into your serum, oil, or moisturizer, the deeper tan you’ll see. To demonstrate this, I applied two drops into my aforementioned hyaluronic acid serum and rubbed it into one area of my forearm and then coated another part in a mixture with four drops. The mixture with fewer drops gave my light skin a more subtle tan compared to the very bronzed hue that more drops provided. Though Tan Luxe says you can customize the tan up to 12 drops, I thought any more than four on my face may look unnatural. I recommend saving your product and reserving 12 drops for covering larger areas of the body, if you choose to use this tanner for that—or if you purchase The Body Illuminating Self-Tan Drops, which has the same ingredients in the same order on its label and costs $10 more for an extra 0.68 ounces (the larger bottle is also more cost-effective at about $36 per ounce compared to $50 for the face version).

The color lasts well on the skin

It took several hours for me to see the tan fully develop on my skin, but once it did, the color lasted about three days. While that may seem like a short amount of time—I’d be annoyed if a professional spray tan only lasted half the week—it impressed me, given that I wash my face twice a day with the Tula The Cult Classic Purifying Face Cleanser and use the Facetheory Porebright N10 Serum that chemically exfoliates with azelaic acid. More important to me than how long it lasts is how evenly it fades. I saw zero patchiness or flaking as this faded away, and because of the easy application process, I wouldn’t mind reapplying this mid-week if I was, say, on a trip and wanted the tan to last longer. If you’re heading on vacation, both bottle sizes are TSA-friendly, too.

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What I don’t like about the Tan Luxe The Face Illuminating Self-Tanning Drops

It’s expensive for what it is

The tan drops provide great results, but $50 for a single-purpose item seems steep to me. Sure, my favorite foundation, the Charlotte Tilbury Beautiful Skin Foundation, costs $44 and also contains only 1 ounce, but I value a foundation that provides coverage and a dewy finish to my skin more than a bronzing elixir—partially because finding a complexion product that looks smooth instead of patchy on my skin has been a huge challenge. But if a face self-tanner is a pain point for you—maybe you’ve never found a bronzer you love or your body self-tanner broke you out when you tried it on your face—this could be an excellent remedy. If you use a similar amount of drops to me and apply it twice a week, I estimate the 1-ounce bottle will last you two months. To me, that's not special enough to spend my $50 on, but it could be to you.

Are the Tan Luxe The Face Illuminating Self-Tanning Drops worth it?

Side-by-side photos of person displaying tanned skin after using product.
Credit: Reviewed / Jessica Kasparian

Though it doesn’t show up well in photos, I can see that my skin is deeper and warmer after applying the Tan Luxe drops (right) compared to before (left).

Yes, if you’ve been disappointed by other face self-tanners

I’m inclined to say this is a great option for this particular product category. It’s easy to use, buildable for a deeper tan, and fades away evenly. You can find more affordable alternatives, like the popular Drunk Elephant D-Bronzi Anti-Pollution Bronzing Drops that costs $36 for 1 ounce, but I can’t guarantee the same great results I saw with Tan Luxe. For that reason, I think this is worth a try if you want your face to match your self-tanned body even without makeup on. And hey, if you’re not a fan of it on your face, you can always use it all over the body.

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.

  1. Tan-Luxe The Face Illuminating Self-Tan Drops

    Pros

    • Easy to apply

    • Color fades evenly

    • Customizable tan

    Cons

    • Pricey or a single-purpose product

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