If you don't know the dangers of tanning beds by now, there's a chance you've been living in a cave (which could be good actually '- fewer UV rays). The experts have made it clear that sunless tanners are the better choice, but they don't exactly compare to a tan. Plus you could be stuck with a look you don't like for up to five days. So what's a safety-conscious, commitment-phobic wanna-be sun goddess to do? Bronze! It's quick, easy and error-proof '- risk-free, healthy sex appeal in one convenient compact. And after some searching, we found our favorite brands. Just ask our radiant testers.
Product name: Clarins Bronzing Duo
Claim: According to Clarins, this sheer powder formula offers soothing and skin-smoothing properties.
Tester says: Lately I've been looking a little washed out, so I was excited to try this product. The two complementary shades (one light, one bronze) are very subtle '- which I liked '- and after a few applications, I was really pleased with my new sunny glow. I have very sensitive skin, and not only did I not break out from this product, my skin actually felt silky after I used it. Plus, the elegant compact '- presented in a dainty voile satchel '- makes this bronzer a wonderful gift idea for a girlfriend.
Product name: Lorac Bronzer
Claim: Lorac says their bronzer is the perfect way to get a summer glow year round.
Tester says: I was nervous about this bronzer because it looks so dark in the compact, but I figured I could always wash it off if I didn't like it. As I stroked it across my cheekbones, I saw my face come to life little by little. I don't look tropical; I look healthy. It's a nice, natural, warm appearance. And I've been getting a lot of compliments, which is always fun. As surprised as I am to say it, I think bronzer is going to become part of my daily routine.
Product name: Hard Candy Bronzer
Claim: Hard Candy professes this product is feather-light and completely streak-free, and that its user-friendly packaging makes it a "pocket full of sunshine."
Tester says: I've always been a little leery of bronzers because my skin is so fair and I was afraid of looking orange '- but my fears were unfounded. I lightly brushed this slightly shimmery bronzer across my cheeks, forehead and chin with a fluffy blush brush and it instantly perked up my face. I'm going to take it on my vacation to ease into my tan.
Product name: Urban Decay Baked Bronzer
Claim: Because this bronzing powder is actually baked in an oven for 24 hours, Urban Decay claims it's smoother and more sheer than your average bronzer.
Tester says: With a dab here and a brush there, I'm in love with my new sun-kissed look. I was afraid this seemingly dark powder would look fake, but it gave me the perfect shade of tan. It says it can be used wet or dry, so I tried adding few droplets of water to my compact and then smearing it on my lips, lids and cheeks '- and move over, Malibu Barbie, 'cause I look hot! I feel like I've been exposed to a whole new (radiation-less) world.
Product name: Three Custom Color Specialists Bronzer Loose Powder
Claim: Available in two colors, this product is supposed to give skin a golden glimmer and a velvety finish.
Tester says: I typically tend to avoid bronzer (for fear of looking a little too sunless-tanned, à la Paris Hilton), but I was surprised by how much I liked this one. I just applied it with a big powder brush after I put on moisturizer. And it blends really well, so you don't have to worry about messing up. The color didn't look drastic at all. In fact, a friend I hadn't seen in a while actually asked if I'd been away on vacation '- so that's a good sign!