Anyone who knows me well knows that the pale me ain't the real me. I try to maintain a sun-kissed glow 365 days a year. For special occasions, I'll go straight to a professional, but most of the time, I stick to my tried-and-true St. Tropez Self Tan Express Bronzing Mist ($40, Sephora).

My self-tanner of choice is pricey, but I know that not everyone is ready to drop dough just for a tan. And that's perfectly fine, so in the name of budget and beauty, I bought literally the cheapest self-tanner I could find and gave it a whirl.

Here it is: Banana Boat Summer Color Self-Tanning Lotion, which costs a whopping $7.

banana boat self tanner drugstore cheap
photo: Target

>> Click to buy

Just to be safe, I got the light/medium shade — the last thing I wanted was to be orange.

If there's one thing I hate about these kinds of lotions, it's that tell-tale "tan smell." But this one doesn't have that.

banana boat self tanner cheap drugstore
photo: Carmen Hurtado-Esteve/Revelist

I once had a boyfriend who refused to sleep next to me because of that intense, astringent odor. Had I been using this fresh-scented lotion all along, he wouldn't have even noticed.

To make the lotion visible on my legs, I had to apply multiple layers. After letting it sit for an hour as per the instructions, this was my result:

self tan banana boat before and after
photo: Carmen Hurtado-Esteve

The leg on the left has the lotion on it, while the leg on the right is bare. I swear, those aren't bruises. The tanner just stuck to my skin in patches.

There was definitely a visible difference, but not in a good way. You can see every single one of my pores because they absorbed the lotion right up.

self tanner drugstore
photo: Carmen Hurtado-Esteve

I felt I like rolled around in mud and called it a tan. 

Despite my visible pores, I devoted myself to applying the tanner all the way up to my neck — and I did discover one more upside.

photo: Giphy

This lotion is VERY moisturizing — it feels less like a self-tanner and more like a body butter. For me, it might have even been too moisturizing. It melted into my pores and caused some patchiness.

If your skin is dry, though, you might have better luck than I did.

At the end of the day, am I tan? Yeah. Is it perfect? Hell no.

banana boat tanning lotion
photo: Carmen Hurtado-Esteve/Revelist

But, honestly, you get what you pay for. For a mere $7, I got a subtle (albeit uneven) tan that lasted almost a week (St. Tropez usually lasts for two). I wouldn't use this regularly — actually, I probably won't ever use it again. Tanning experts, stick to what you know. Newbies and budget babes, tread lightly.

Banana Boat, I love your sunscreens... but it's a no from me.