Looking for that perfect healthy glow? These tried and tested self-tanning products could be for you
There is nothing more wonderful than a golden glow – that sun-kissed look which makes you feel fabulous. But harmful rays from the sun can do so much damage, we’re surely better off with a bottle.
And self-tan has come a long way. Gone are the days of stinky skin, streaky legs, stained sheets and a whole world of faff. There are now droplets of colour you can add to your moisturiser, hydrating serums for your whole body, sweet-scented mousses and radiance-boosting sprays to easily add into your beauty regime.
These tried and tested batch of new products may help you find the perfect tan for you.
Before getting started, these are tanning expert Michaella Bolder’s (michaellabolder.com) golden rules for self-tanning.
Always prep your skin. The key to an even, healthy-looking tan is all in the skin prep. Start by making sure you exfoliate and moisturise prior to tanning, and focus on any dry areas, such as the hands and feet, where tan can cling on.
Always use a clean mitt to apply the tan using long sweeping motions, and then using the other side of the mitt, really buff the skin to ensure it’s nicely blended.
Post-tanning hydration is key to a long-lasting tan. Moisturise your skin afterwards and around day three, and lightly exfoliate to buff away any dead skin cells and stop the tan from looking patchy.
What is it? With a ‘cooling effect’ on the skin, this mousse contains Vitamin E and aloe vera, with a peaches and cream scent.
What did we think? When it comes to scent, this product has nailed it – avoiding both the biscuit-y and chemical aromas many tans exude. A smooth texture, the foam glides on with ease, but it isn’t the most forgiving when it comes to clinging to trickier areas, like hands and ankles.
The colour definitely took to my arms more than my legs. As someone with relatively pale skin who regularly uses light-to-medium tans, it did feel a little on the darker side. A quick shower soon dulled its vibrancy, but this is definitely a tan for someone after a decent hit of colour. I would absolutely use it again before a big event – making sure I had no prior tan to avoid getting too dark.
What is it? A facial tanner formulated with Vitamin C that can be used as part of your daily skincare regime.
What did we think? I’ve been feeling so tired and washed out recently, I needed a bit of colour in my face. I’m so pale, it’s rare fake tan looks natural – but this one is great. It’s a clear spray, so it’s easy to apply.
I used it at night after my cleanser and moisturiser, doing a fine spray over my face and neck, and rubbing it in to make sure it was even. I was worried it would stain my hairline, but it hasn’t. I’ve used it twice on consecutive days – the first day gave a light colour and I wasn’t sure if using it again would make it too dark, but it turned out really nice and natural.
I’ve used less make-up afterwards, as I didn’t feel I needed as much – and my husband asked me if I’d been in the sun, so it’s had the desired effect.
What is it? A clear water tan that’s suitable for the face and body. Contains hyaluronic acid and aloe vera to hydrate the skin, with the quick-drying formula said to last five to seven days.
What did we think? I applied the mousse before going to bed and, as the label promised, there was absolutely no transfer onto clothes or sheets. The smell of the tan – which was the classic biscuit-y scent combined with watermelon – was rather strong, and lingered even after I’d washed it off.
The colour pay off was good – it’s a relatively orange tone, but I was more than happy with the shade after just one application. The only thing I didn’t like is the fact it’s clear. When applying the tan, I couldn’t tell where I’d already applied it, meaning I overdid some areas and missed others entirely. It also meant I’ve ended up with some streaks – but where it’s applied well, I really like the way it looks.
What is it? The bronzing foam is a tropical-scented, lightweight and non-sticky formula, which develops in just two hours. The set comes with a back applicator, brush and mitt.
What did we think? The mousse went on really smoothly. The directions say not to moisturise beforehand (except for obviously dry areas, such as elbows) and initially, I thought it had left some streaks, as I have very dry skin, but they soon evened out. It has a really natural colour and develops over time, plus it smells lovely. Once I got the hang of it, I found the back applicator brilliant – easy to use and effective. I will definitely be using this set again.
What is it? A quick-drying, lightly tinted mist that develops into a customisable golden glow over the next eight hours.
What did we think? This is a really efficient, super-fast tan. I sprayed it onto a mitt and applied in circular motions on my legs. I was short on time and didn’t have a shower until the next day, but despite that, the glow was nice and subtle. On close inspection, it can look a bit patchy, which is probably my fault – but for speed and ease, I can’t fault it.
I ended up doing two layers on separate days, after thinking the first one was a little too natural, but looking back at my ‘before’ photo, my legs were incredibly pale. I’m really happy with the result – it’s so quick and easy, it might actually convert me to self-tanning!
What is it? This set contains two products: the Progressive Self-Tanning Serum – which can be used alone or mixed with your favourite moisturiser – and the Tanned Complexion Serum. The first is said to give you a natural and customisable tan, and the second revives radiance and provides an immediate subtle tan.
What did we think? The promise of subtle, buildable results, and the fact you can mix these serums with your daily moisturiser really appeals to me, plus they look and smell lovely. However, I quickly realised the Tanned Complexion Serum, designed to give instant results, is not for me.
It feels a tad too heavy on my reactive/oily skin, and the tone slightly yellow for my colouring. The Progressive Self-Tanning Serum, meanwhile, is a winner. It couldn’t be simpler to use: after cleansing, I mixed a couple of drops with a blob of my usual moisturiser and applied all over my face. It feels lovely and sinks in well, giving an instant complexion boost, gently evening out my skin tone, reducing redness and giving a bit more radiance.
After three days, I stopped using it at night, to taper the intensity of the tan. I’m really pleased with how quick and easy it is to incorporate into my routine. I’ve gone for a very subtle tan, but feel it’s improved my overall complexion.
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