Which Fake Tan Should I Use?

Well, the sun is out and that means, my legs have been out. So I’ve spent a good two weeks trying out all of the self tanners in the cupboard to the point that I’m not sure that my body has ever been exfoliated so much in my life! That said, I’m so happy I did it, because there are some amazing self-tanners out there… and some others that should probably just be left on the shelf. I’ve done all the ‘hard work’ for you, so you can choose between gels, sprays, creams, lotions, mousse, dark, light, buildable, instant, wash off. The only things you need to remember are the rule.

  1. Exfoliate. Exfoliate. Exfoliate. If you don’t want patchy build up – get rid of those dead skin cells!
  2. Moisturise the driest parts of your body: under arms, elbows, palms of hands, in between fingers, knuckles, knees, ankles, toes.
  3. For an even result, let the self-tan sink in for a few hours before you shower
  4. Moisturise after the shower for a longer lasting tan.

Here are the ‘must invest’ and the ‘save your pennies’.

Best self-tan for…

Building colour

Insitut Esthederm Self Tanning Body Lotion, £32.50 SpaceNK

If you’re spending a weekend in Brighton, it’s not likely that you’re going to come back with an Amazon tan, so if you want to fake something natural, this self-tanner will leave you with a superb holiday glow. It’s part of a new generation of advanced self-tanning products able to imitate the distribution of melanin pigments onto the skin’s surface to create a perfect replica of a natural tan. It’s also enriched with fruit extract and shea butter which not only smells delicious, but leaves the skin soft and supple.

A Sunkissed Look

St Tropez Self Tan Bronzing Lotion, £30.64, st-tropez.com

This has been a staple favourite of mine for ages. All it takes is two applications to look like I have literally been lying in the sun in St Tropez for a week. What’s even better is that it doesn’t streak, so you end up with a glorious dark, even tan. This works quickly though, so make sure you wear gloves or use a mitt to apply the lotion. The initial application will look a lot darker than after you wash, so if you want a deeper colour, gradually build with a few more applications.

Devoted Spray Tanners

Sisley Self Tanning Spray for the Body, £77, 020 7591 6380

Ok, so the price tag is pretty hefty, but you get quite a few professional looking tans out of this can and my golly – it’s worth it. I would never recommend a spray to a first timer. I think sprays take a lot of expertise to get it right and quite often people will use a spray for the first time, come out streaky and never look at a mist again. Like any spray, this requires a steady hand, more so because it’s clear but that said, the finish is second to none and the colour is an amazing healthy, natural glow.

First Time Users

Xen Tan Mousse Intense, £23.99, 0207 725 9290

You can’t go wrong with this self-tanner. It comes with a mitt to ensure a smooth, even application that won’t end up making your hands go orange and the colour is quite subtle, so you have the choice to build it up or simply add a hint of colour to your skin.

The Face

Dior Bronze Self-Tanner Natural Glow, £23, dior.com

I never apply a body self-tanner on my face. When you tan naturally, your face is always a much lighter colour and I think this is where a few people get it wrong and end up looking noticeably fake. Dior Bronze does a great self tanner for the face in a satin, golden gel. Initially you will only notice a hint of colour but eventually the pH complex allows this emulsion to gradually deepen the complexion. I use it two to three times a week to maintain colour and double layer my cheekbones to naturally accentuate them.

A Seriously Dark Tan

Fake Bake Original Self Tanning Lotion, £26.95, fakebake.co.uk

So you’ve recently given up tanning beds but you’re in need of a fix. Well, look no further because this self tanner will knock your socks off. It’s the darkest self-tanner I have ever used, but somehow manages to look completely natural (and I used it after 6 months of rain, so was slapping it on some pretty pale skin). The word ‘orange’ just doesn’t come into the equation. 


Clarins Delectable Self Tanning Mousse, £21.50, clarins.co.uk

Perfect for a 3-in-1. This incredible product contains qualities for self-tan, moisturiser and sun care. The whipped texture allows easy application without streaks and is enriched with hydrating Mirabelle oil so skin stays satiny smooth. There’s also the added bonus of SPF15 to protect your skin against harmful UVA and UVB rays.

Instant Tan

 He-Shi Express Liquid Tan, £37, he-shi.eu

This is a quick drying, non streaking, easy to apply self tanner that tans instantly on contact with the skin. The pigment is very noticeable, so it’s easy to see where you have applied the product and initially results in a mid-deep, warm tan which develops over time to be 2 -3 shades darker.  This specifies that you don’t moisturise before hand, so make sure you follow instructions carefully.


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