I tried the self-tanner with a 3,000 person waitlist—is it worth it?
I put Bluemercury's famed tanning body butter to the test to find out.
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If self-tanner and I were to have a Facebook relationship status, "It's Complicated" would fill the bill. Don't get me wrong, I yearn for the sun-kissed glow a self-tanner offers, but the road to achieving that is rather off-putting to me for a number of reasons. Namely: The notoriously strong “self-tanner” scent (a cross between musky vanilla and burning chemicals), the stickiness it imparts on my skin as it dries and lingers for however long before you’re allowed to shower (usually between six to 10 hours), and the often dehydrating formulas that my already-parched skin doesn't take well to. That said, between quarantining and closed beaches, I'm not getting much sun right now, and it shows.
When I caught wind of the $34 M-61 Hydraboost Gradual Tan Body Butter and its 3000-person waitlist, my beauty antennas perked right up. You should know that I'm the type of shopper that wants something even more if it's sold out—throw a mile-high waitlist on top of that and I'm itching to be at the top.
But, really, all it took was a skim-over of the tube covered in words like "body butter," "peptide," and "vitamin" for me to feel inclined to put it to the test. As a dry-skinned beauty writer who's on what feels like a never-ending hunt for my go-to self-tanning formula, I wanted to find out if this one delivered on its promises of giving a streak-free, natural-looking finish while leaving the skin feeling moisturized.
What is the M-61 Hydraboost Gradual Tan Body Butter?
As you can probably guess by the name, this product is a body butter first. Its formula contains all the fixings you'd want in such a product: peptides that claim to both firm the skin and mask any signs of fine lines, hyaluronic acid to plump and hydrate, and coconut oil and shea butter to smooth and moisturize. Then there's the self-tanning aspect, which the brand claims is effective at giving a tinted gradual tan without any streaks, sticky residue, or leaving behind the “typical sunless tanner smell.” It also promises to impart a radiant glow and minimize the look of cellulite all while making the skin feel baby-soft.
M-61 is a skincare line developed by Marla Malcolm Beck, the founder and CEO of the decade-old beauty haven destination, Bluemercury. The collection of M-61 products uses expert-approved skincare ingredients and leaves out controversial ingredients, like parabens, sulfates, and phthalates.
Does the M-61 Hydraboost Gradual Tan Body Butter do what it claims?
For the most part, it's an emphatic yes. I'm a big fan of skincare-infused products because my skin is extremely dry and, quite frankly, I need all the help I can get. For this review, I tested the product on the driest part of my body, that's also conveniently covered in scale-like dry patches, which would normally wreak havoc on getting an even self-tan: my legs. To really see if it made a difference, I only applied the formula on my right leg. My initial thought when applying the body butter was that it did indeed make my skin feel ultra-soft. In a blind feel-test, it would be a no-brainer to tell which leg I applied the product on and which leg was left bare. So far, the product got a big check mark in the "pro" column.
Now for the tan factor. For me, self-tanners are not just a way to make it look like I got back from a beach vacation, they're also a way to airbrush away any discoloration on my body, too. Though the body butter made my skin feel hydrated, the uneven tone, veining, and bruising on my leg was still apparent after one application. It truly was a gradual build-up to the tanned-skin look I was after—it took two days of nightly application for me to see the difference in color. I built on it for four nights in total until I reached my desired shade, and found it to layer beautifully without ever looking muddy or orange. That said, if you have lighter skin than I do (medium depth with olive undertones), you'll likely see a difference quicker. The tan itself was impressively even, even for a self-tanning-challenged beauty buff like yours truly.
Apart from its ability to douse my skin with moisture, I loved that I didn't have to worry about stained bed sheets (rest assured I tested this on a white towel before slipping into bed), uneven lines, missed spots, or greasiness with this product. Bonus points: I also didn't have to mentally prepare for a designated "self-tan night" or an evening of tossing and turning due to sticky discomfort. The M-61 tanning butter is convenient, doesn't require strategic application like traditional self-tanners (slather it on as you would a regular body butter), and essentially foolproof. And because the formula is so subtle and gradual, hard-to-tan areas like the knees, knuckles, and elbows were effortless to perfect—with no tanning mitt required to prevent splotchy palms.
The results aren't drastic and this won't be my go-to product before an evening that calls for deeply tanned skin (I'll bear the burden and opt for a solo tanning product like the St. Tropez Self Tan Classic Bronzing Mousse for a head-to-toe true tan). But to me, it works as an everyday body butter with the added benefit of adding color over time.
Is the M-61 Hydraboost Gradual Tan Body Butter worth it?
When I first began using the product and noticed it was pale white in color, I was skeptical about its tanning capabilities. Body butters are part of my daily routine anyway, so I figured if I use one that's tinted, it's an added bonus. That said, I was pleasantly surprised that this product made my skin look tanner (albeit, gradually and a few hours after application). Plus, it dried down quickly and didn't impart a sticky residue, as it promised. At $34, it holds a heftier price tag than standard body butters, which typically start at drugstore prices under $15. That said, because it's a multi-purpose product that hydrates and tans, for me it's money well spent. This product is worth the hype if you're like me and find the self-tan process truly that: a process.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.