You've probably seen Isle of Paradise on your Instagram feed recently. The new self-tanner has been an instant hit with influencers, partly because the cute pastel packaging looks as cute on the bathroom shelf as it does on your grid. The vegan and cruelty-free brand is the brainchild of Jules von Hep, who's been a big name in the world of tanning for years. I've been spray tanned by Jules in the past, and I loved him and the golden glow he gave me, so I was excited to try his heavily hyped range for myself.
I started with the product people are really talking about: Isle of Paradise Tanning Water ($28). It comes in three shades — peach gives you a light color, green a medium tan, and lilac a deeper glow — which also have color-correcting properties for the most natural result. I'm very fair-skinned, but I'm also a bit of a self tanner enthusiast, so I went straight for the green.
This is the first tanning "water" I've tried. It goes on colorless, which is my preference when it comes to self-tanners since I don't need a color guide to show me where to apply. (This might be a downside for self-tanning newbies.) Luckily, the liquid formula helps with that. It comes in a pump action bottle, and you just evenly spritz it onto skin and blend with a mitt. Keep in mind that it's easy to overdo it: I overestimated how much I needed on the first application, and though there were no streaks, I did end up with orange feet and knees. On my second attempt, I misted sparingly, blended in circular motions with a mitt, and the results were great. This seems to be quite a buildable product, and I prefer the look of a more subtle application. It's even, streak-free, and natural-looking. Here's how it looks applied to just one leg, with my natural skin color on the left.
I'd advise spritzing in the bathtub or shower because the spray can get everywhere, but clean-up is quick and since it has no bronzer in it, it doesn't stain. It fades evenly if you moisturize, and it can be removed easily when it starts to fade using a self-tan remover.
The biggest downside is that this formula tends to cling to dry skin, even if you prep knees and ankles with a barrier cream, so you have to keep your skin hydrated if you want the best results. That means moisturizing and exfoliating frequently, starting 24 hours before application. This is not unusual for self tanners, but this product is less forgiving than a number of others I've tried (especially lotions and gradual tans). And while the packaging looks pretty, the pump applicator makes it hard to use at an angle and spray those hard-to-reach areas without help. I ended up spritzing it straight onto the mitt to do some areas of the body, but the results weren't affected. I love the branding, the color-correcting tints are innovative, the results are lovely and natural, and it doesn't have a strong smell when it's developing. It only loses a point because I think it could do with a different bottle — perhaps a trigger spray that's easier to manipulate, even if that does make it a bit less Insta-worthy.