Want to look like you’ve been on holidays right now? Forget the sun beds – we have compiled a list of our favourite danger-free tans, all tried and tested by the Healthista team. Trust us, these are the best fake tans of 2016
Want to feel glowing and glamorous and ready for the season? Fake tans are hit and miss so we have been trying and testing every brand we could get our hands on to come up with a definite list of the best. We’ve brought you several categories depending on what you’re looking for in a tan. From mousse to lotions to at-home spray tans we’ve covered every need we could think of.
Best high street tan
The No7 perfectly bronzed quick dry tinted mousse is sold as a lightweight moisturising formula which dries in 10 minutes but develops in 3 – 5 hours. The product recommends exfoliating and moisturising pre-application for a smoother tan. You can use your hands or a mitt to apply the mousse.
‘I tried out the No7 perfectly bronzed self tan in Light/Medium and thought it was a fantastic product if you’re looking for a natural glow. The tan is a light and fluffy mousse that was so smooth to apply with no visible streaks (before or after application) or that horrible fake tan smell. I applied the mousse with a mitt but had to apply it twice for a more noticeable tan.
Before the first application I exfoliated all over and moisturised my elbows, knees, ankles and hands because those are usually the areas which appear darker after application. The tan still felt a bit sticky on my skin for the first hour after application, but I washed it off after four hours. The results were not overly noticeable.
I applied the tan again 24 hours after my first application and received much better results. I slept in the tan overnight before showering the next morning. I would recommend applying this product regularly for a better, deeper tan as it tends to fade in a few days. I would definitely use it again for a couple of days before a night out or a special occasion.’
‘A fantastic product if you’re looking for a natural glow’.
2. Best developing instant
The Fake Bake Original Self-Tan Lotion was the first tanning lotion to leave a natural colour with no stain or dye, and the ingredients are said to ensure a streak-free tan for every skin tone. There’s a long list of celebs who swear by this product including Ellie Goulding and Caroline Flack. Application gloves are provided inside the box to make application easier.
‘When I first received the product to try I thought the packaging was quite nice; it made the product look very reputable and not cheap. When it came to application I found it very easy to use.The lotion didn’t feel sticky which I really appreciated, but in fact was very smooth on my skin and not grainy at all. I was shocked at first as it went on as a very dark lotion, so the colour showed up on my skin immediately.
The final colour difference after one application was not very noticeable, but this could be because I already had a decent base tan. I slept in the lotion overnight although the packet advises you to leave it on for 4-6 hours. I really liked the subtleness of the product though as it I’m not a huge fan of tanning lotions that make you look extremely tanned within hours as they seem too fake for me. With this one, it gradually makes you more tanned and gives you a natural glow so it simply seems as if you were in the sun for a bit. I would use it again and I would recommend it for people with naturally lighter skin tones for the best results.’
‘It gradually makes you more tanned and gives you a natural glow’
3. Best gradual tan
St. Tropez is a well known and respected brand in the tanning industry. One of our favourite products of theirs is this amazing tinted body lotion which launched in March this year and is set to become this summer’s staple tan for a sunkissed glow. The cream is said to not only give an instant touch of natural looking bronze but also blur imperfections and illuminate the skin. The cream contains silicone cosmetic powders which supposedly gives an airbrushed finish and evens out the skin tone.
‘I was so excited to receive the St. Tropez Everyday Tinted Body Lotion as this is the brand which my boyfriends mum swears by (she is a great beauty therapist who owns her own salon). At first glance, the bottle is very fitting for what the product wants to do – create a bronzed effect. I am naturally very pale but I still had a base coat on from the first tanning product I tried.
The application process is super easy as the lotion is just like a regular moisturiser apart from it is tinted. I applied the lotion with the St Tropez tanning mitt as soon as I was dry after showering.
I used it for the first time the morning before the Lelo Hex launch party to give me a subtle but glowing look. I have to say it definitely worked as I received many compliments surrounding a photo taken on the night. The lotion just feels like a regular cream and completely soaks in in around 10-15 mins just like a regular moisturiser. The only thing I would say about this product is that I feel that you have to use quite a lot of it to cover your whole body; however, I have already had two whole body applications of it and there is still plenty left in the tube.
‘St. Tropez Tinted Body Lotion definitely worked as I received many compliments surrounding a photo taken on the night after first application.’
I would definitely use this product again for a natural sunkissed glow, but if you’re looking for a more instant striking tan this probably isn’t the tan for you.’
4. Best at-home spray tan
The idea of this spray tan is to give you a long lasting salon finish in the comfort of your own home. It is suggested that pale skin users leave it on for an hour before washing off with warm water – medium skin for 2 hours and dark skin for 3 hours for maximum results. This product is 100% vegan which is an added bonus. It is sold as an easy to apply tan which moisturises the skin leaving you with a just off the beach looking glow.
‘My first opinions of the bottle was that it looks very professional and classy. My boyfriend and I stayed in a hotel and I asked him to help me out with the application as it’s pretty hard to spray tan yourself and make sure you are spraying the correct distance away from your body etc. So for a false tan novice I would disagree with the claim that it’s easy to apply. Unfortunately, like me, my boyfriend isn’t a false tan expert but he gave it a good go. We managed to cover my body in the liquid, but he was most likely spraying the tan too close to my body as it was dribbling down in streaks all over me.
We acted first and thought later when we realised it was all over the carpet of the hotel room. So he raced off to find the nearest Tesco to get some carpet cleaner while I was stood there in my pants wondering what to do next. I couldn’t walk as every step I took I was leaving dark brown footprints on the purple carpet.
The bottle advises for light skin toned people to leave the tan on for 1 hour, but I freaked out after about 30 minutes as it was dripping everywhere and I was worried it wold dry and stick in the streaky way it looked on my skin, so I jumped into the shower. Thankfully when I dried I looked an amazingly deep but natural brown with barely any streaks at all apart from my hands which were slightly darker than everywhere else (which was probably down to the fact that I kept using them to try and rub in the tan before I washed it off which I now know you shouldn’t do).
‘When I dried I looked an amazingly deep but natural brown with barely any streaks at all’
Due to my own experience I can now advise how to get the most successful tan from this product. I would recommend getting someone who is familiar with false tan products to spray it on for you and it’d probably be best not to attempt it yourself. Make sure the nozzle isn’t too close to your skin as it will cause dribbling liquid all over your body. Saying that, don’t freak out if the tan is dribbling as it won’t dry like that – it completely evens out your skin tone when you wash it off.
You can’t really do anything when you are waiting for it to dry so maybe make sure you have something set up for example a TV show ready to watch before application.
‘Treat it as a salon spray tan as it lasts a long time like a professional one which is great if you like to look sunkissed 24/7.’
DO NOT apply over a carpet. People in salons give you a funny tent or a special room to stand in for a reason – it will go on the floor. Treat it as a salon spray tan as it lasts a long time like a professional one which is great if you like to look sunkissed 24/7. I had to exfoliate more regularly than usual as I had to try several tans out but it definitely left me with a noticeable base tan for a good week and a half.
‘It might sound like a dramatic application process but it was really worth it in the end’
It might sound like a dramatic application process but it was really worth it in the end because the tan looked really natural and dark after it had developed fully. I would love to show a before and after pic but the lighting was terrible in the hotel room. The skin on my legs is usually quite dry and I must admit my whole body did feel softer and more moisturised after applying this tan. I would recommend this product for someone who wants a quick, striking burst of long lasting colour.’
‘My whole body did feel softer and more moisturised after applying this tan.’
5. Best for gym junkies
Madame Lala is the first tan to introduce coco water as an ingredient to hydrate the skin and reduce the effect of streaking. It is loved by many A-listers including Vanessa Hudgens, Blake Lively, Rihanna, Mirana Kerr and Lana Del Rey. Healthista gym junky Vicky tried out this tan to see how it would cope during and after a workout.
‘At first glance I thought the packaging on this product was very simple and fashionable. I opted for the dark tan as I love a striking colour. The tan was easy to apply – I applied a large tablespoon sized amount of mousse onto a tanning mitt and rubbed it all over my body. I left it for 10 minutes until I was sure it was dry before dressing and sleeping in it.
One thing I would say is that the tan has a normal stereotypical fake tan scent so I needed to wash it off before going out the next day. Saying that, one thing I love about this product is that the tan comes out with a gorgeous golden tone that really works with your skin colouring. My favourite part of this tan has to be that it was completely sweat proof. Even though I exercise a lot the tan remained resistant and did not budge making it my personal winner for exercising.’
‘The tan comes out with a gorgeous golden tone that really works with your skin colouring.’
6. Best for dark colour
Bondi sands aim to bring a bit of the enviable Australian lifestyle to the UK with their tanning products which were created in Australia back in 2012. The tanning foam contains aloe vera to leave your skin feeling soft as well as offering a natural bronzed look.
‘I loved the name of the product but when it comes to new tans I have my reservations – I’m worried streaky orange legs will appear or I’ll turn into an ‘oompa loompa’. I was pleasantly surprised.
The tan was extremely easy to apply, simply foaming the mousse onto a mitt and rubbing it all over my body. I left it for 10 minutes until I was sure it was dry. The best part of this tan was that it didn’t have the typical ‘biscuit’ scent most tans own, instead it smelt sweet and summery like sun cream.
When I first put the foam onto my skin the colour instantly darkened and I actually found I felt confident enough to leave the house without having to wash it off meaning it could develop all day long.
‘It is the perfect tan for those who want a dark, beach holiday tan and is completely streak free.’
In the end I found that the tan was a perfect colour for my skin – it mixed well with my skin tone resulting in a similar colour to what I have after a beach holiday. It is the perfect tan for those who want a dark, beach holiday tan and is completely streak free.
Make sure you wear clothes before bed though, as without them you will definitely say hello to orange sheets.’
7. Best for face
RRP: £33 (£13.99 on Fragrance Direct)
This lightweight tanning oil is surprisingly suitable for all skin types and is said to provide a natural looking tan whilst also moisturising the face for up to seven days. To top it all off the tan is fragranced with naturally fragranced essential oils to stop that biscuit smell following you round for days.
‘I have been using this product since it was sent to me (probably about 3 times a week), and I absolutely LOVE it. I have received countless compliments surrounding my tanned face since first or second use. Usually I am so pale and I think people are a bit shocked to see me with a some colour on my face.
At first I was extremely wary about putting oil on my face as although I generally have combination skin I do have quite a few oily patches especially on my t-zone.
‘The most fabulous thing about this product is that it doesn’t feel like an oil at all when it goes into your skin.’
The product advises putting 2-3 drops of the liquid onto your face, neck and decollete, but the first time I applied it, it soaked into my skin straight away and I couldn’t spread it anywhere very well.
Every time since, I have put 3-4 drops onto a cotton pad and rubbed it into my face and neck. The weirdest but most fabulous thing about this product is that it doesn’t feel like an oil at all when it goes into your skin. It is a ‘dry’ oil and to be honest my skin actually felt and looked less greasy after application. It also doesn’t smell like fake tan at all.’
8. Best organic tan
This is a completely natural self-tan mousse to offer you an organic sun-kissed glow all year round. This tan suggests use once a week and for best results it’s recommended to apply it with a mitt in upward motions.
‘The application was quite hard for a first time user of fake tans because the moose was a white foam so it was hard to tell where it had been rubbed in efficiently, but apart from that it went onto the skin nicely and didn’t need a lot of rubbing in. Before application it smelt like ginger but after a few hours it smelt like biscuits.
It felt really nice to put on as it made my skin feel really smooth, however, the box said it should take 5 minutes to dry but I still felt sticky for a while after.
‘I would recommend this tan to others with sensitive skin as it worked out really well for me.’
I like the fact that the box has loads of information on it especially about its ingredients and I think the fact that it was free of parabens etc helped with my skin because it is normally sensitive to creams and lotions but luckily I had no problems with this product.
I noticed that the tan had worked about 3/4 hours after application and I there were no streaks or gaps. I would recommend this tan to others with sensitive skin as it worked out really well for me.’
9. Best secret sensation
The founders of Skinny Tan hit a gap in the market with their product by blending lots of natural ingredients together including coconut, guarana and almond oil. Skinny Tan is one of Dragon’s Den’s success stories. Since appearing on the show in 2013 it has become one of the fastest growing tanning companies in the UK which started selling in Superdrug as of June 1st 2016.
‘I’d never heard of skinny tan before hence the title of secret sensation. I think the box looks really funky with pastel blue and white stripes which for me paints the picture of a blue sky.
I absolutely LOVE the skinny tan mitt that I used to apply the moose because it’s two sided, soft, and feels velvety on the skin making application a breeze. You literally just squirt the mousse onto the mitt and rub it in.
The great thing is with this tan is that it is touch dry seconds after applying. I slept in the tan and it didn’t get onto my bed sheets at all. Saying that, as it soaked in so quickly it was hard to see if I had missed any spots.
‘The great thing is with this tan is that it is touch dry seconds after applying. I slept in the tan and it didn’t get onto my bed sheets at all.’
The tan smells really tropical when it comes out of the bottle – definitely not the usual fake tan smell, but once it has developed and you have washed it off it doesn’t really smell too strongly of anything.
When I first rubbed the mousse onto my skin I could see a slight colour difference, and when my whole body was covered in it , my skin looked considerably darker; however, when I had a shower 7 hours later (after sleeping) the water does wash it off quite a lot, leaving you with more of a subtle tan.
I would recommend using this product a couple of days before you want a striking colour. I would use it again, but I think it’s important to accurately apply it as I did have some white patches which I think is more my fault than the tans.’
10. Best natural tan
This tan is sold as a rich, fluffy, virtually odourless tanning mousse to give you an all over sun kissed look and is said to be perfect for tan novices. It supposedly takes 2-4 hours to develop and advises you to wash it off after that time. It is quick drying and comes with a tanning mitt.
The packaging of this tan is quite plain but I quite like the black bottle as it makes it look quite classy.
I was disappointed at first glance and feel of the texture of this moose as the product sells itself as a ‘fluffy’ mousse so I assumed it would be like a foam, but this one was more of a liquid with the odd bubble in it. Saying that, I do agree with the ‘virtually odourless’ claim as I couldn’t really smell it before or after application.
I applied the moose using the skinny tan mitt as that was my favourite applicator out of the ones I had at home already. Before application I tried to apply it all over in circular motions
I applied it in the morning after a shower and didn’t have another one for about 18 hours. I was left a gorgeous subtle natural looking colour which was perfect for the weekend away I was going on.
I would definitely use this product again, not only because of the colour difference but also because I could barely smell it on my skin – the ordinary fake tan odour wasn’t strong at all.
‘I could barely smell it on my skin – the ordinary fake tan odour wasn’t strong at all.’
11. Best overall tanning brand
It is impossible to pick our favourite Vita Liberata tanning product because we love them all! We’ll give you a run down of the ones we tried and LOVED for the purpose of this review.
Vita Liberata Trystal Minerals
For the first time ever self tanning and cosmetics have been mixed together to make this amazing self tanning loose mineral bronzing powder. It combines instant mineral bronzing with lasting tan results leaving your face with a natural flawless finish. The Vita Liberata ‘Kabuki Brush’ included in the box with the powder helps to apply the minerals with its soft bristles and intends to develop over the day and last for up to five days.
‘I don’t think I could go without this product now that I have tried it. I love a good bronzer as it is, mostly to add definition to my cheek bones and give my face more of a glow, but this one is the best I have used. The applicator brush that you get with the bronzing minerals is so soft on the skin.
The packaging tells you to apply it over a layer of moisturiser or liquid foundation. It will go on beautifully no matter what, but I have tried to put it over foundation and over powder. I use this item daily although it is said to last for up to five days.
‘I don’t think I could go without this product now that I have tried it.’
One thing I have noticed is that it doesn’t really leave you with an overly noticeable tan after you have wiped your make up off which it is supposed to. In my eyes, this doesn’t matter because the look that you get from the minerals until you wipe your face is perfect for a subtle day look or a more flashy evening look for your night time antics.’
The Vita Liberata range is put together with clean, organic and toxin free formulas to give you a natural looking tan. It boasts the addition of Odour Remove™ technology making it the world’s first zero smell tan. The gradual tan develops over the course of the day and the product suggest waiting to shower for 4 – 8 hours.
Tester says: ‘This is the best gradual tan I have ever tried. I got hooked when I tried a sample given away on the cover of a magazine . First of all, there is no fake tan smell whatsoever. Second, it dries quickly (by the time I have finished my blow-dry and make -up – so 15 minutes) and is really moisturising. I also love the colour, a kind of going olive that has no hint of orange. I use it every other day or the colour gets a bit too deep and I also use exfoliating gloves in between to keep it even. Love this brand to bit.’
‘This is the best gradual tan I have ever tried.’