Do Self-Tanners Have to Smell So Bad?
A: I know what you mean; it's cloying. Even though I use self-tanner only on my legs, the scent wafts upward, annoying me all day. Unfortunately, it's inherent in the tanning process, says our chemist friend Mort Westman, president of Westman Associates, in Oak Brook, Illinois. The active ingredient in the formulas, dihydroxyacetone, reacts with amino acids and proteins in the skin, which causes both the tanning and the smell. Stop the smell, says Mort, and you stop the tanning, too.
Bottom line: There are several self-tanners that have a more subtle odor but are effective. Try Diana B. 60 Second Instant Miracle Tanning Mousse ($60) or TanTowel Towelettes ($21 for ten).