Go for gold: Fake your way to being a bronzed beauty as we put self-tans to the test
Wondering how to pick the right fake tan to suit your skin? We have tested the newest products in a quest for the top tans this summer…
Cheat a holiday glow: Follow our guide to find out the fake tan most suited to your skin and lifestyle
STAR BUY: Rodial Brazilian Tan Airbrush, £40, rodial.co.uk
This is one of the more expensive tans we tried, but sometimes you get just what you pay for.
In this case, we thought it was worth every penny. It has the usual drawbacks of a spray — it tends to leave residue around the bathroom and can be difficult to aim properly — but once blended with a tanning mitt, the colour is golden brown, streak-free and has a natural, even appearance. And because you don’t need to use much of the spray, it lasts for ages.
Celebrity Secrets Professional Airbrush Tan in A Can, £17.77, call 0845 456 4678
This new natural range has been formulated to create a darker, natural-looking tan. The spray contains no alcohol or gases — the tanning solution is in a fine mist which feels very light on the skin.
It’s easy to use, smells pleasantly fresh and works within minutes. Our tester likes a deep tan and was delighted with her nut-brown shade.
No7 Quick Dry Spray £12.50, Boots
We’re not always fans of sprays, as they can be difficult to apply smoothly. This is a very light, sheer spray that can be aimed directly at the areas you want, rather than spraying all over the bathroom.
We found spraying it on to a sponge, then applying to the face, worked well.
If you use a tanning mitt to lightly rub the areas you have applied it to, you will stay streak-free. It also dries within minutes.
From left: Rodial Brazilian Tan Airbrush, Celebrity Secrets Professional Airbrush Tan in A Can and No7 Quick Dry Spray
Soleil Bronzing Spray, £4.50, Tesco
Rather than an aerosol spray, this has a pump spray, which can be harder to use on difficult-to-reach areas, as the pump often doesn’t work when upside down.
The tan itself, however, is great. It’s a clear liquid, so isn’t always easy to see where it’s being applied, but with a little work, this gives a long-lasting, natural-looking tan for a reasonable price.
Sinless Sun Self Tan Mist, £5.99, Superdrug
This is great value, but strictly for experienced tanners. The spray has to be held around 10cm from the skin, so you’re likely to lose some in the air, and it has to be blended immediately otherwise you’ll end up very streaky.
It gives a fairly deep colour, so is good for pale skin if you’re looking for an instant colour, or to deepen an existing tan.
It did tend to stick to dry patches on knees and elbows, so exfoliation before use is a must.
STAR BUY:Tanatomicals Tanning Cream, £6.99, Superdrug
This range never fails to impress and the tanning cream is no exception. A brand new product, it’s creamy without being too thick and moisturises the skin, as well as giving it colour (something that sprays and mousses tend not to do so well).
Our tester used it all over and found it particularly good on the arms, as it was completely non-streaky and just the right shade to look natural.
It works best after two or three days of use and leaves skin glowing and healthy-looking.
From left: Tesco Soleil self tan, Tananomicals Tanning Cream and Fake Bake Lipo Bronze
Fake Bake Lipo Bronze, £20.50, John Lewis and fakebake.co.uk
This is a two-for-one product which gives a tan while helping to reduce the appearance of cellulite. The tan has the usual high standards of Fake Bake — it’s an easy-to-apply lotion and gives a perfect colour.
The added bonus of the cellulite-fighting formula didn’t detract from the tan, but it did make a difference to the ‘orange peel’ appearance after around two weeks.
St Moriz Tanning Lotion, £4.99, chemists nationwide
This is a well-priced, light lotion that moisturises while tanning. It gave a good, even colour that built up well over a couple of days’ use and is best applied with a mitt, as it needs to be well blended.
It took a little longer to dry than some other tans, but is a fairly good all-rounder.
Fake Bake Oil Free Moisturiser, £13, fakebake.co.uk or call 08448 56 57 58
This has been designed for those with more oily skin and the formula has been created to soak into the skin without blocking pores, which can lead to break-outs. Its ingredients include Green Tea and ginger.
Our tester has oily skin and tried this a couple of times with great success. You only need to apply once a day to keep your tan looking deep for longer.
From left: St Moriz Tanning Lotion, Fake Bake Oil Free Moisturiser and Xen Tan Perfect Blend
Xen Tan Perfect Blend, £34.99, xen-tan.co.uk
This has a dual chamber holding two different colours, so the shade can be customised to suit your skin colour. However, we found it difficult to get the shade just right. At a medium setting, it seemed very dark when applying, and resulted in the dreaded orange tan.
After a couple of goes, our tester got the colour right, but that was after a few mistakes. It works well — but only after you’ve worked out the correct colour for your skin. 7/10
STAR BUY: Famous Dave’s Gradual 10, £17.99, Debenhams and famousdave.co.uk
This is Famous Dave’s first gradual tanning product: a daily moisturiser with a hint of tan. Our tester was fair-skinned and this was perfect for her. There was a little colour after the first day and a natural tan after three days.
It can be used daily, but we found having a break after three days kept a great colour.
Palmer’s Natural Bronze, £5.09, Superdrug
With the classic Palmer’s cocoa butter scent, using this thick cream is like bathing in a vat of chocolate. Apply with a mitt for a gradual tan, as the colour is intense. It does three jobs in one, though: tanning, moisturising and leaves you smelling delicious.
From left: Famous Dave’s Gradual 10, Palmer’s Natural Bronze and St Tropez Naturals Self Tan Milk
St Tropez Naturals Self-Tan Milk, £26, John Lewis and st-tropez.com
Some years ago, St Tropez had a reputation for heavy duty tans. But this Naturals range is great for anyone who finds the original formulas too intense. A light milk that contains avocado butter to soften the skin, this tan is more of a healthy glow than a full-on tan. Perfect if you are a nervous first-time tanner.
Decleor Aroma Confort Gradual Glow Hydrating Body Milk, £30.50, decleor.co.uk
This is a light tanner that can be used every day in place of a moisturiser. It smells of vanilla and the colour takes a few days to build up.
Best for skin with a slight tan, as it’s a little light for pale skin.
STAR BUY:Vita Liberata Intense Silken Mousse, £22.50, vitaliberata.com
At last, a fake tan for pale, difficult-to-tan skins. Those with very fair skin can find some tans turn them orange and streaky, but this is specially made for pale skins to give just the right amount of colour without the dip-dyed look.
We were impressed that this creamy mousse dried quickly and left a natural-looking tan.
Using it every other day kept the colour perfect.
From left: Decleor Aroma Confort Gradual Glow Hydrating Body Milk, GOSH Instant Tan Gel and Vita Liberata Intense Silken Mousse
Sun-Believable Self Tan Mousse, £30, John Lewis and sun-believable.com
Created by nail guru Leighton Denny and tanning expert James Harnett, we had high hopes for this brand. And we weren’t disappointed. It’s an odourless, quick-drying mousse that comes with its own mitt and works well with pale and darker skin. It lasts for days and when it wears off, it isn’t patchy. We loved it.
Bronze Ambition Bronze Me Mousse, £2.99, bronze-ambition.com
There’s nothing fancy about this mousse, but it does a good job. It has a tendency to streak if not blended quickly, and we found it best for skin with an existing tan.
It’s odourless and has some colour so you can see where you’re applying it. It’s also great value.
Guerlain Terracotta Jambes de Gazelle, £36 (01932 233 887), is a great tan-accelerating bronzing mist.
An amber spray, it smells of fresh orange and works to speed up natural tanning while giving an existing tan — fake or natural — a warm glow.
Little White Lie Tanning Mousse, £17.50, Boots
This new launch from the Make Believe range is white, so it’s invisible when applying it. This can be tricky, as you can’t see where you’ve applied tan.
But with good blending it developed into a natural-looking tan. It was mess-free, but the invisible aspect takes getting used to.
STAR BUY: GOSH Instant Tan Gel, £7.49, Superdrug
This non-sticky, non-oily gel washes off easily with soap and water.
It’s great for giving your legs a little colour, if you don’t want to go for the full body tan, and if you make a mistake then it’s easily removed with a wipe or flannel.
There are two shades to choose from (light or medium), and the colour can be built up by applying another light layer. This was a nice surprise — a great stand-by product.
Ambre Solaire No Streaks Bronzer, £9.99, Boots
This is perfect for giving pale skin just a hint of colour and one we’d recommend for the self-tan novice.
It’s wash-off, so any mistakes can be easily erased, and the gel is easy and mess-free.
It also gives skin a dewy, glowing finish and leaves it feeling soft and silky.
It’s great for giving arms and legs a boost and doesn’t come off on clothes.
For the perfect pre-tan exfoliation, Soltan Beautiful Bronze Exfoliating Sponge, £2.49 (Boots), is great, as it sloughs off dead skin without being too harsh. And Soap And Glory Exfoliating Gloves, £5 (Boots), are great for removing rough skin or excess self-tan.
MAKE IT EASY…
Tanning mitts are an absolute must for smooth, streak-free tanning. They ensure no tell-tale lines and also keep your hands tan-free. We like Soltan Beautiful Bronze Facial Applicator Mitt, £2.49, and Famous Dave’s Self-Tan Applicator Mitt, £3.99 (both Boots).
For the finishing touch on beautiful legs, This Works Perfect Legs Skin Miracle, £36 (Boots), is a perfecting serum to help reduce scarring — caused by bruises or blemishes — and imperfections. It also evens out skin tone, reduces redness and irritation and adds an instant glow to legs.
COVER YOUR BACK…
Achieving an even tan on your back without any help is hard. That’s where Soltan Beautiful Bronze Self-Tan Back Applicator, £5.99 (Boots), is just what we need. It’s a long-handled plastic applicator with a replaceable sponge to help tan hard-to-reach areas.
MAKE SURE YOUR TAN IS STREAK FREE…
We’ve all had the telltale streaks of a self-tan.
But TanGO, £21.95 (victoriahealth.com), is a removal cloth that removes fake tan from skin without scrubbing.
Wet the cloth, squeeze it out and rub on the tan and it will disappear.
Or VIE at home’s new Vanishing Act, £10 (vieathome.co.uk), is a quick fix lotion that can be sprayed onto cotton wool to remove tanning mishaps.