Review: L’Oreal Sublime Bronze Luminous Bronze Self-Tanning Lotion

sublime_bronze_self_tannerWith the short spurt of warmer weather last week, I got the itch for Spring. Yet there is nothing worse than wanting to wear a skirt only to have pasty, snow white legs. That’s when self-tanning is in order and I decided to give L’Oreal’s Sublime Bronze Luminous Bronze Self-Tanning Lotion a try. I’m a fan of L’Oreal products and since they make purchasing easy (completely affordable at $10 and found at my local CVS) it was definitely worth a shot. However, this time around I realized the $36 for Aqua Tan’s Body Milk really outbeat the results of this product.

Sublime Bronze is said to have “instant action” which really appears to be more of it first being a “tinted lotion” while the rest of it works with the pigmentation of your skin over the course of a few applications to bring out the tan color. And it really looked just like that–tinted lotion laying on my skin. I’m surprised that Mica is not listed among the ingredients as the lotion is full of glittery specs (or micro-particles), and quite honestly, overloaded with these shiny pieces. So much so that my hands appeared to be covered in a sheet of gold. That’s really not a realistic appearance of a sun-kissed look to me. Not to mention getting it all over my clothes.

On the plus side, Sublime Bronze didn’t have the typical self-tanner fragrance that most are known for. It was scented more like the perfume you would find on the counter’s at Macy’s. I don’t mind perfumey products, but someone with a fragrance allergy might. Still, if I was going to look like a glitter-fest from the early 90’s (remember rubbing sparkly products on yourself before hitting the clubs?) at least I smelled pretty.

I allowed the lotion to absorb and dry and then put on my jeans as usual and went about my day. Then at night as I slipped off my pants I noticed that the self-tanning had gone awry. At the upper part of my calves where my jeans bunch up when I sit, there was a very noticeably “ring” of brown around my leg–about 2 inches thick in diameter. It even duplicated the way my jeans look creased and folded at certain points in the ring. No where else on my legs were there any sign of self tanner except at this muscular portion of my calf–not even at my knee where self tanner loves to go overboard and look dark. I was mortified and a bit embarrassed. Thank goodness the temperature took a dip because there was no way I could wear anything other than pants now. It took about 7 days for the discoloration to go away and that was with scrubbing my legs with some fabulous exfoliators trying to will it away.

Now I know how to self tan–cleansing and exfoliating the skin before applying the product, allowing the product to absorb and dry before putting on your clothes; I’ve used self tanner plenty of times.  It’s disappointing to have to say that this is not a good self tanner. I’m sticking with my original statement that Aqua Tan’s Body Milk is really the best self tanner out there.

Have you tried L’Oreal’s Sublime Bronze? Was your experience similar or different?

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Posted on by Shannon Smyth in bath and body, beauty, skin care 57 Comments

About the author

Shannon Smyth

Shannon began A Girl's Gotta Spa! beauty blog in 2005 to morph her love of beauty and in educating women on what truly works and what does not. She has been featured in Glamour, VOGUE Australia, Woman's World, Nail Pro, SHAPE and on WBRE's PA Live. She is a go-to source for social media consulting when it comes to beauty brands.

57 Responses to Review: L’Oreal Sublime Bronze Luminous Bronze Self-Tanning Lotion

  1. Phyrra

    I’ve never actually tried a self-tanner, because I always was afraid I’d turn out looking orange!

    I’m glad that you reviewed this tanner so that hopefully other people won’t have the experience of weird creasing around the knees, as they’ll opt to not use it.

  2. Jamee

    I recommend Jergens Natural Glow rather than your average sunless tanning lotion. It doesn’t give you the quick, dramatic results that a self-tanner does, but instead it gradually gives you a very natural looking, healthy glow. You use it just as you would any other body lotion and since it’s a light formula, you can apply it liberally without worrying too much about spotty results. The only downside is the smell. They have improved it since the product was first introduced (I’ve been using it for a while), but the scent is very similar to that of a sunless tanning lotion. The best part is that it won’t turn you orange– and it’s only about $8 and you can purchase it at just about any drugstore.

  3. Naomi

    I used this stuff and I do not think I used it right or something. I followed the directions but it is all blotchy and you can see it too. Any pointers to help me?

  4. Shannon

    Naomi, I had the same experience…I think it’s the product and not at all how you used it.

  5. Kelsey

    You probably got blotchy because the way you applied it. It gives you a nice tan actually, but only last for days so you constantly have to keep applying it. I only got a spot once because I didnt even it out well. It was my bad.

  6. Shannon

    I’ve been using self tanners for years, so I don’t think it had anything to do with the way I applied it. But that is just my opinion.

  7. Paige

    I just used this, so I can only comment on what it’s like to apply this stuff. It’s awful. It’s sticky and the light-reflecting “particles” are glitter. Body glitter. I hope getting this stuff off doesn’t prove too difficult.

  8. Raelene

    I’m pretty sure I just turned into one giant sparkle. This stuff isn’t even dried in yet and it sucks

  9. delores

    Well I’ve tried several different kinds of those lotions & now I’v been using that L’Oreal stuff for a yr. It looks nice at first then gets blotchy & there’s no going over it to make it look nice, shoot!!!

  10. Courtney

    Absolutey terrible. I have read mixed reviews on this product and decided to give it a try.. big mistake. The product starts to dry quickly but is sticky. After applying the product it looked like someone had dumped glitter on me. Also, the colour is not very nice.. sort of orangey. I would not recommend anyone trying this sunless tanner. The ONLY good thing about this product is the smell.

  11. Jamie

    I tried Loreal sublime last night, and I woke up with streeks all over me, OMG! SO glad I am not planning on going anywhere. This stuff is bad!

  12. Kiki

    I used this product wasn’t too bad the first application. Just a bit glittery but I just let it dry while i sat in shorts and a tank then about 3 hours later I’d take a shower to get rid of the glitter. It didn’t give be streaks.. I kept rubbing it in each area til it was feeling dry then move to the next area. And I had a nice tan. But then I decided to do one more application the following day. It ended up a little orangeish. I think I’m gonna give that aqua tan stuff a try. It is kinda expensive though.

  13. Shannon

    Kiki–it’s expensive but worth it.

  14. Brianna

    OMG…I wish I would have ran in to these reviews earlier =(
    This stuff is AWFUL! it is still sticky and I applied it almost 2 hours ago. I also have to agree about the whole glitter thing. It is all over my love seat now too. ARGH

  15. Knowshowtoselftan

    Ok….ladies seriously? You’re essentially applying a dye to your skin. You CANNOT put on clothes directly after and go about your daily lives! Apply at night in the early evening, avoid laying down and give it a couple hours to properly sink in.

    You cannot judge a self tanner’s streaking based on your own stupidity! My gosh…..putting on jeans!? Hello use your head.

  16. Shannon

    Following the directions of the product, you don’t have to wait several hours. I waited until it was absorbed. But regardless, it is the glitter that did me in. Not a fan of looking like I sparkle.

  17. Tina

    I have problems with ALL bronzers. I do use them but I find I look unnatural with them on and I always have rings around my ankles no matter how well I blend!

  18. Tina

    I am also not a fan of sparkle! A woman in her forties does not need sparkle! lol

  19. Anna S.

    i love sparkles but i hate orange. all tanners turn me orange. and the smell just kills me. I tried Loreal spray tanner and I turned the color of fruit orange with streaks all over. people laughed at me at school. i avoid tanners now!

  20. Shelly

    I’m so glad I looked on this website before buying this! My friend had used it on her legs before going to the lake and it looked good…so I was going to try it myself. But it sounds like most people have had bad experiences with it! I think I will stick with my L’Oreal. I’d rather have a subtle glow than be sparkly orange.

  21. Shelly

    I’m so glad I looked on this website before buying this! My friend had used it on her legs before going to the lake and it looked good…so I was going to try it myself. But it sounds like most people have had bad experiences with it! I think I will stick with my Jergens. I’d rather have a subtle glow than be sparkly orange.

  22. amber

    ive been using loreal sublime bronze tinted self tanning lotion medium natural tan for years. I love it and have to say i think its the best sunless tanning product ive ever used. ok yeah there is the sparkle but its not that bad once you dry the sparkle wears off. and if you do it at night and shower in the morning you wont have any sparkle.

  23. jenny

    I did try the Loreal sublime bronze medium natural tan. I attend college and dont have the money like i did in the summer to pay for months of tanning so i got this stuff,. $9 ,. and enough for at least 3 applications. I put on the stuff and its got glitter in it ,. kinda the “summer glow” i suppose , thought it was kinda of cool. I even moisterized and scrubbed before this. I basically had to play beat the clock trying to get the stuff off my hands which still turned out orange and my nails as well. The stuff was sticky and gave me streaks and looks aweful,. kinda glad its cold right now so that i can fully cover up .

  24. jenny

    also,. i applied this at 11:30 p.m ,.washed my hands but didnt put on anything or sit for 2 hrs,. finally i sat and watched t.v for 3 hrs,. then went to sleep (only in a robe and still have streaks,.ugh

  25. Sarah

    Oh my gosh the same exact thing happened to me. Great. Hahah and I have a dance coming up!! Advice?

  26. Lauren

    As a 15 year old girl, I was able to apply this without any issues. The problem wasn’t with the product, but how you applied it..honestly. Putting on jeans?? The glitter lasts for a day, tops, and then dissapears. Everyone I knew found the color to be really believeable. It dried fast and even (as long as you applied it evenly), and smelled amazing. It’s a great product.

  27. Laine

    I love this stuff….Everyone else hates it, but I am a naturally tan person, and no self tanner is ever dark enough for me. This tanner shows up even after I showered ppl tell me how tan I look!! This is one of the only tanners than get me dark enough. I do get some splothces on my hand area, but you just have to be careful when applying this and rub it all in very well.

  28. Katie

    I have always been very pale skinned and always burn in the sun, so I have tried my fair share of sunless tanners. They NEVER work, but atleast once a year I try out a new tanner thats out. I picked up the Loreal one today and tried it out. I figure its still cold outside so nobody will really see me if it turns me orange. Well it didnt. It gave me an immediate bronze effect. Yes a little glittery but not all crazy. It smelled good, dried quickly and did not stain my hands. As long as you keep rubbing in the lotion then you wont get streaks. That is the number one thing when applying ANY tanners! I think this product worked very well.

  29. sara

    I use this product all the time with great results. I leave it on for a few hours (usually overnight), but have to wash it off before going anywhere–the smell once it dries is faint but disgusting, and makes me self-conscious all day if I leave it on. Yuck. Glitter is no longer an issue that way, either.

  30. Alex

    I just bought this stuff today and have not yet put it on. I am naturally darker, but not to where I dont have to wear makeup, but I hate wearing makeup because it doesnt ever stay on all day and it gets really shiney after a while. I dont have the patience to lay in a tanning bed so I was going to try this out, but I dont know if I should based on some of these reviews. Some people love it and some hate it! Since I’m naturally darker do you think it would work better? I want to be sure before I use it and it ends up being terrible, I work everyday and cant afford for it to turn out bad and be embarassed!

  31. Shannon Nelson

    Hi Alex, my personal opinion is to skip it.

    Also, do you want any suggestions regarding makeup tricks for staying put longer, not being shiny? I have plenty of makeup artist friends, as well as skin care gurus I can ask to give some tips. Just say the word.

  32. Anna Thompson

    i look like i have a skin disease because of the loreal sublime bronze product. When i was applying it it was so sticky, i also used the palms of my hands to apply it and made sure there was no streaking. The product did streak some but that was my fault. Also the coloring makes me look like an oompa loompa. Not to mention im splotchy and HAVE to wear a dress today for my chorus concert.

  33. Shannon Nelson

    Sorry to hear this Anna. And I agree about oompa loompa, I felt the same way.

  34. A

    It sucks.

    I bought it today, and I took a shower, dried myself fully and applied it, my skin feels really dirty and sticky, I feel like I haven’t showered for days with this stuff on.

    If I rub it, it rubs off and it looks like mud.
    Too much glitter it is disgusting.

    I say SKIP IT.

    Try Neutrogena Build. A. Tan it works really well and the color lasts long.

  35. maria

    I am a massage therapist and one of my clients had use this product I have to say it look wonderful and it smell good too I was a little scared I was gonna get it in my hands or I was gonna loor stay glittery but no I’m tempted to try it but I’m a little scared bcuz I’m darker skin and in the sun I get really dark but I want kind of the golden look…don’t know what to do now

  36. kayla

    I have had this product for awhile now.. & its has it positives & negatives. Its not like its my first time trying a self tanner, I’ve had my fair share of self tanner experiences. The positives to this product, is its cheap & if don’t correctly, it has a good color (if you don’t over do it). I had applied it before I went to bed & I woke up with a pretty tan color, but I had gotten to the point where I wanted to put more and more on & that was a BIG mistake. I had a very orange color & when it started coming off.. it was very ugly. The negatives to this product are, it has slimmer in it & I looked like a big sparkle. The other negative about this product is when it starts fading off it looks horrible. I am now looking to find the best self tanner out there. If you apply the self tanner right, you will have a pretty glow :)

  37. Shannon Nelson

    Kayla if you do a search in my sidebar for Aqua Tan, to me that is the best self tanner. I have a review on the face self tanner and then their body self tanner. Kind of pricey ($36) but still the best regardless.

  38. Clara

    ok i have a wedding saturday. i have been using this loreal sublime bronze lotion since monday. Kayla- im nervous now that if i use it too much before the wedding il be orange, but if i stop, you said it looks horrible when it fades. What exactly does it look like when it fades? im nervous now

  39. Mary Cross

    I am thrilled with ur new sublime. The comments I’ve received about the look, ask if I tan salon. The glitter is awesome, and the eveness and distriution is perfection. I use the body one on my face as well and I look so healthy. I suffered with acne vulgaris all my life and due to the products I used destroyed my pigmentation, my face will not tan naturally! I never liked my looks but this has really given me a boost, I recommend it highly, I know for now on I can’t live without!!!!!Thanx for restoring my faith in tanners! Ur’s is the best without a doubt!

  40. Christine Joy Marmo

    I’ve used Loreal tanners b/4 and were fine but this one is terrible, I put it on and wash my hands right after applying it and they r stained orange and I’ve use self tanners all the time and that never happened, also after 2 days or so I start noticing my skin looks real blotchie, I look like a lepper. It’s terrible

  41. jeri

    After several successful years of using the lotion, which I can’t seem to find this year for some reason, I used the gel and turned orange. It streaked and looked just awful. I cannot in good faith recommend the gel but I had GREAT success with the lotion. Know any stores that carry it? I’ve tried Rite Aid, CVS, KMart, WalMart…??????? How about a refund?

  42. Chrissy


    it made this product go on my skin SO WELL. i look amazing. A+++++. I have used SO many bronzers, tinted lotions, hands down this one is THE BEST. NOT STICKY and AMAZING :-)

  43. zeena

    okaayyy im so scared noww!! i dont want to turn orange! im scareddd any other self tanners that really do work!?!!??!

  44. Rihanna

    I bought it at Walmart, they didn’t have a lot of choices in self tanners. I got home and exfoliated, then used it. I love everything about it, but my favorite pleasant surprise is the smell. It is not chemical smelling at all. (That is important to more than anything if I am going to continue using it.) I think my “tan” is natural looking, and I was surprised at how soon after applying I looked dark. Plus it has lasted for days with only 2 applications. Love it and will buy it again, and tell my friends about my new discovery. Ps– the directions say only apply it once or twice a week after you get the results you want. I love that part too!

  45. zeena

    omgggg the product is horrible!! i literally turned ompa lompa orange ! seriosly its horrible

  46. Kaye

    well on my first time of trying the l’oreal sublime bronzer , i suffered a serious allergic reaction to where there were red upraised bumps all over my stomach , back , and neck . And it also caused streaks on my legs and the inside of my arms even though i applied it quite thourghly . i have used bannana boat summer color before and have gotten much better results , the only reason i switched was because i was running out of my previous self tanner . i GREATLY regret it .

  47. Amanda

    Okay girls.
    For one, if your not tan at all and are expecting a magic tan in a bottle, your wrong. Your gonna turn a weird color regardless. If you want a real looking tan I suggest you go get a spray tan at a salon. Ever hear the old saying “you get what you pay for.”?
    You need to also take your time with your tan. Shave! & EXFOLIATE, EXFOLIATE, EXFOLIATE! if your blotchy after a few days its bc you didn’t exfoliate well enough and its sticking to the new skin.
    Everyone’s skin is different. Don’t let the negative comments stop you from experimenting and finding what works for YOU. But also, if you have a big event coming up, and your experimenting, I recommend trying it out at least a week before. Try a tester spot also on your inner thigh somewhere if your really unsure. I love L’oreal. It comes out the best on me! If your fairly white I suggest jergens. Not immediate results but you wont look like a pumpkin. Then go from there. And if your concerned with streaks and being a “sparkle”, mix it with your normal hand lotion and apply. Still isn’t working? L’oreal sublime bronze mist is the BEST. Make sure you spray from quite a distance and wait a few days in between before adding another coat to avoid over doing it. Common sense ladies :) good luck and happy tanning! P.S. At most salons a spray tan is around $20!

  48. Jenna

    I just started using this product because I’m sick of paying so much for tanning and I also don’t want skin cancer or to look like im 60 when im 30. I’ve found that it gives a natural tan and at times there are orange imperfections but they’re easy to fix Here is how I make it work:

    Exfoliate first (I don’t exfoliate every time, but about every 2 times I apply it).

    THe first week I used it I only used it 3 times (not in a row) and after that I only use it 1-2 times per week.

    You have to use it sparingly around knees, feet, elbows, hands, and wrists.

    Wear rubber gloves and then carefully put it on your hands and wrists.

    The sparkle goes away after showering. My best tip is to put it on like a half hour before bed. Walk around naked until it dries. Take a shower immediately when you wake up and you are tan and no sparkle!

    WASH your hands with wipes (see below) on your palms, inbetween fingers, fingertips and nails, and a little on your wrists so that hands aren’t orange. THEY WILL turn orange if you don’t wash.

    Finally, for any mishaps (i get them on my hands and feet somtimes) use Clorox Disinfecting Wipes. It magically takes the imperfections right out.

    **Very importantly, try to apply it or at least look atyourself in as much natural light as possible before going out. You can tell imperfections MUCH more in the natural light so they’ll be easier to fix so you don’t walk outside with a huge streak on your hands or face.

    Ask a friend to check you out in the natural sunlight and they can tell you if you’re streaky or orange somewhere.

  49. Shannon Nelson

    Great tips Jenna!

  50. christine

    this stuff works great for me people just dont know how to apply it ..your putting too much on at once , its called a gradual tanner soo it takes time , the first couple times it will leave streaks or spots but thats bcuz you need to learn how to put it on correctly ..which is fine bcuz i made the same mistake , when it leaves the streaks or spots that shows where you didnt put the lotion or where you missed , soo you learn for next time . i love this stuff

  51. lisa

    i really, really love l’oreal sublime bronze. I’m ghostly pale all summer and I applied this stuff once and now I look fantastic! Don’t put it on thick! The true color shows up later. Like, you see the tint first but later in the day it develops even darker. It’s a nice brown tan color. I use it once a week, cause if you use too much of course you’ll get splotchy and orange. The glitter doesn’t bother me at all. IT’s really subtle after a couple hours when it soaks in right. plus you catch the light just right ;]

    just gotta stand up for this stuff- cause seriously, its so cheap and it gives me a way darker color than any other selftanner i’ve tried at drugstores. don’t be afraid of it. just be sparing when applying.

  52. Tera

    I’m a natural redhead, meaning I can’t tan and even trying is dangerous to my skin. Sublime bronze is the only bronzer I’ll use for my skin. I’m never orange and even receive compliments from other pasty redheads lol. I’ve also go 14 years experience and have tried everything because white skin is no longer popular. So if it didn’t turn out, you don’t know how to use it.

  53. Kirsten

    Sounds like you put your clothes on too soon after using the self tanner.

  54. Shannon Nelson

    Hi Kirsten, it was dry when I put my clothes back on..which was about 15-20 minutes later.

  55. Julie

    I decided to try this bronzer last Saturday after I showered. This is my first self tanner and I really needed it because my disease makes me look pale all the time and for once I wanted to look a little healthy for a school dance this Saturday . It didn’t look too bad, I looked like I had a natural glow. It smelled alright until once it dried. Yes, it dried fast but it made my skin smoother. I showered later (which helped with the smell and sparkles) but dressing I realized on my back there were two small”blobs” that didn’t spread. I wanted to even it out so applied it again. Bad idea, now I truly do look like a blonde oompa loompa with orange hands. Help, advice, And quick?! Being a girl is hard enough!? :)

  56. Shannon Nelson

    Hi Julie, so you’ll definitely want to exfoliate your hands each day this week. Don’t go overboard, but try using a salt scrub (or if you have cuts on your hands, opt for a sugar scrub to avoid the stinging.) I mention salt scrub first, since they tend to pack a little more punch in terms of “abrasiveness.” Make sure to keep your hands moisturized as well so that you don’t dehydrate your skin (you’d hate to have orange hands AND dry patches). The color should fade a bit, although since it is only a few days away, I’m not sure by how much. But get yourself to a Sephora or Ulta STAT. Let me know how it works out for you! Good luck!

  57. Angelique

    Hi, I know this review is from forever ago, but I decided I’d comment anyway. The first time I used the loreal sublime bronze, I got streaks just like you did but only on my arms. I then decided to start mixing the bronzer with my lotion and now it comes out perfect every time and you can add more bronzer to it depending on how tan you want to be. It never made me orange though, maybe because I have a darker skin tone, but I absolutely love this bronzer, it just should not be used on its own. Also if you read other reviews on this product, the people who like it recommend to mix it with lotion. I’d give it one more try.

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