The best fake tans for summer

If you’re reading this, you have probably realised that half of your expertly curated SS18 wardrobe only looks good with a decent fake tan (that all white ensemble + tan = Gisele Bündchen. All white ensemble + no tan = Casper the Ghost).

But fear not – we’ve rounded up the best fake tanners in all kinds of formulations to help you get glowing in no time. But first up, a little tanning 101...

Self-tan, gradual or instant: What type of fake tan do I need?


Self-tanners, like St Moritz Advanced Pro Formula Self Tan Mousse, contain DHA to create a long lasting tan on the skin. This kind tends to have a ‘guide colour’ that gives an instant glow while you wait for it to develop over the course of a few hours (while express tanners, like Bondi Sands 1 Hour Express Self Tanning Foam, can be left on for less time with the same results). Once washed off, you’re looking at a tan that will last around 3-5 days. These require a bit of tan-admin, but are great if you need a long-lasting tan that won’t transfer off.

Ones without a guide colour are perfect if you hate getting tan on your fresh bed sheets, however, as the formula is invisible, you have to be extra diligent to make sure you haven’t missed any patches.

Gradual Tanners

Then you have gradual tans. These are usually applied daily and allow you to build your tan up or down depending how dark you’d like to go. These are often in lightweight lotions or tanning drops (like Tan Luxe The Body Self Tanning Drops) that you can mix into your usual body moisturiser to quickly get your tan as you go about your day.

Instant Tanners

Instant tans, on the other hand, offer a quick fix without the commitment of self-tanners. Much like body make-up, they can be applied for instant colour and then washed off. Handy for impromptu nights out or when you need a golden glow fast.

The best fake tan for face

Tanning your face is an entirely different ball game. You’ll want to use one that’s designed for use on the face, as they are formulated with few more skincare benefits. We love Dr Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Glow Pads, which exfoliate the skin first before developing a beautiful, believable hue on the skin – without clogging pores.

The best fake tan for pale skin

The new tanning brand on the block, Isle of Paradise, has cleverly formulated colour-correcting tans with different undertones to help get the best glow for your skin colour. The peach range is perfect for paler complexions, as it steers clear of tangerine tones, leaving you with a natural yet golden tan. Try the Self-Tanning Drops Light and never turn back.

How do I remove fake tan?

All good tans come to an end. The best way to remove fake tan is with a dedicated remover, such as Bondi Sands Self Tan Eraser. Unlike scrubs, these react with the skin to gently lift the tan to the surface of the skin, meaning you don’t have to furiously exfoliate your skin. Simply pop on before bathing or showering and buff with an exfoliating mitt or damp flannel to remove a patchy tan.

Read on below for the best fake tans for every need…

The best fake tan for your face: Dr Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Glow Pads, £30

Many facial tanners can be scary, but we trust Dr Dennis Gross’ to give us a healthy glow sans breakouts, so we can forego make-up altogether. These individually wrapped AHA-infused towelettes sweep over the skin to dissolve away pore-clogging dead skin, leaving you with a clean slate while an even, glowing tan develops in 3-4 hours. You can choose from two shades (Gradual Glow or Intense Glow) so you can customise how deep you want your tan.

St Tropez’s Self Tan Express Sheet Mask, £15 is another wonder facial tanner if you’re after a glow overnight. Simply leave the mask on for up to 15 minutes (depending on how dark you want your tan to be) and massage in the hyaluronic acid-rich serum formula and wake to gorgeously plumped, glowing skin. If you’re quick, you can try it in our Special Edition Beauty Drawer.

The best fake tan for legs: ThisWorks Perfect Legs Skin Miracle, £37

This sheer tinted serum sinks beautifully into the skin to give your legs a quick pick-me up. As it’s an instant tan, it will wash off, but it won’t transfer onto your white culottes either. Thanks to the lightweight consistency, it peps up legs with a luminous sheen (hello, supermodel shins) that’s just enough to cover marks and uneven skin. Because it’s enriched with vitamins C and E, it helps to improve skin tone as you wear it too. Genius.

The best fake tan for sensitive skin: Bali Body’s Bronzing Lotion, £22.95

Those with sensitive skins should steer clear of DHA (the tanning agent that develops the colour) as this is what causes itchiness and irritation. Instead, opt for instant, wash-off formulations for your bronze fix. Bali Body’s Bronzing Lotion was designed in mind for sensitive and eczema-prone skins and is packed with nourishing vitamin E, coconut oil and almond oil to soften and soothe. This new Aussie brand is safe bet too – a product is sold every 45 seconds.


The best cheap fake tan: St Moriz Advanced Pro Formula Self Tan Mousse, £7.99

This drugstore fake tan is a standout for its price. The velvety, tinted mousse glides on to skin and once washed off after four to six hours, leaves a streak-free, golden tan akin to a two-week holiday. This one is best paired with a tanning mitt to buff the product into the skin (and avoid oompa loompa hands).


The best fake tan for pale skin: Isle of Paradise Light Self Tanning Water, £18.95

You can trust Isle of Paradise as the products have been developed to not just tan, but colour correct too. The light range has peach undertones, meaning that pale ladies are left with a radiant, healthy glow that steers well clear of tangerine territory. The range includes mousse, tanning drops (that you simply add in to your usual body or face moisturiser) and tanning water for easy peasy, non-scary tanning.


The best dark fake tan: Bondi Sands Self Tanning Foam Dark, £14.99

The best dark (and not to mention best-smelling) tan around. This dark mousse has a subtle coconut scent and gives a deep, olive hued tan – just like you’ve been sunning it up, piña colada in hand, on Bondi Beach. It dries quickly on the skin and you can leave this on for up to six hours for a flawless, sun-drenched tan. This also fades brilliantly, so you won’t go patchy.


The best gradual tan: Tan-Luxe The Body Illuminating Self-Tan Drops, £42

The perfect tan for those who hate tan-admin. Simply add a few drops into your usual body lotion or oil, thoroughly wash your hands afterwards and watch as a believable tan develops in four hours. You can dial the colour up or down each day by adding more or less drops. And the best bit? There is no evidence of it left on your bed sheets. Ever. What a hero.


The best express fake tan: Bondi Sands 1 Hour Express Self Tanning Foam, £18.99

Need a tan pronto, but don’t have time to sit around in your old PJs waiting for it to develop? For this particular emergency, Bondi’s Sands express tanner is a lifesaver. Simply apply the tan, wear for one hour and wash off. Your golden glow will then develop over the next few hours (without that classic biscuit scent) and the colour commands compliments. We can’t live without it.


The best instant tan: By Terry Tea to Tan Face & Body, £55

Not only does the glass bottle look chic, but the liquid bronze colour encased inside also looks sophisticated when spritzed and buffed onto limbs. By shaking the bottle, you can mix the pearlescent particles in for a shimmering veil, or, let them fall to the bottom to mist the skin with a matte bronze hue instead. Two in one? Very clever. It also doesn’t budge until you wash it off and thanks to the added skincare benefits, you can use this on your face too.

The best fake tan with SPF: Bondi Sands Protect & Tan SPF 15 Tanning Oil, £14.99

You know the drill. You want to get your tan on for the fleeting heatwave, but you ought to be wearing an SPF too. This clever tanning oil is the first of its kind to develop a tan as well as protecting your skin from UV rays with SPF 15. Simply apply, head out and watch as a golden tan develops, safe in the knowledge you're protected from the sun too.