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I Will Use This Sunless Tanner for As Long As I Live

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Or until the brand stops making it.

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James Read Coconut Melting Tanning Balm
James Read Coconut Melting Tanning Balm ($38.50)

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As the saying goes, “You can take the girl out of wherever, but you can’t take the wherever out of the girl.” For me, the fill-in-the-blank of that mad lib is New Jersey. Which is to say: I love being tan, and I will never stop loving it.

When I was younger, I did all the things you shouldn’t do. I frequented tanning salons like they were going out of business and sat outside in my backyard slathered in baby oil. But now that I’m acutely aware of things like skin cancer and wrinkles, I’ve reined it in. Though I was raised on SPF 8, I’ve graduated to SPF 50. I wear sunscreen on my face every day. (Even in the winter!) And I’ve substituted the Banana Boat on the beach for sunless tanner at home.

As Racked’s resident New Jerseyan, I was asked to try a handful of sunless tanners, but I stopped at the very first one: James Read’s Coconut Melting Tanning Balm. I didn’t try the rest because there was no need to; this one is perfect, and I will never search for another sunless tanner for as long as the brand keeps making it.

What makes it so good — great, actually — is that it doesn’t smell like sunless tanner. It smells like coconut oil, because it is. And it doesn’t streak because, as the product name says, it literally melts into your skin, so you can actually apply it evenly.

Like coconut oil, the balm is a liquid when it’s warm and a solid when it’s cold, and the instructions say to put it in the fridge before use. Once you take it out and scoop some into your hands it begins to melt, and it continues to do so when you apply it to your body. It’s moisturizing, and I actually love the way it smells — something I have never, ever said about a tanning product.

Gloves are recommended, but I’ve used it with just my hands and didn’t wind up with orange palms. And since it’s a gradual tanner, you have control over how dark you get. (Unlike this sunless tanner/sheet mask hybrid, which I did actually try and lived to regret.)

Further proof: I just got back from a desert vacation, where half of my body got a little burnt. Before bed last night, I applied a coat of the balm to try to even it all out. And today, everyone complimented me on my great tan.