Tried and tested: the best fake tans

We’ve been trying an array of different fake tans recently and weeded out the good from the bad (and the ugly!) Here are our top picks:

Tax-Luxe: The Gradual, £22 from Liberty

This is a gradual tan lotion (it says illuminating but we didn’t notice that part!) that you use as a body hydrator from Tan-Luxe, a range of self-tanning products that we really like.  It didn’t stain our sheets (you need to wait 10 minutes after applying before you get into bed) and even after one application, gave us a very natural looking glow.  We wanted to try their oil but we were advised that it would be too dark for our skin (fair skin with blonde hair) and even just two applications of this cream would give more than enough tan.  It was easy to put on, light and not greasy despite being hydrating and has a lovely floral smell.  Definitely one to use all year round and great for self-tan beginners too.  We tried it on our face (a dab mixed in with our usual face oil) but we would recommend using a few drops of the Tan-Luxe Illuminating Face Drops (£24 from Liberty) which is specifically for the face.

Amanda Harrington’s The Body Set, £85 from

Harrington has been the go-to tanner for many a celebrity and has just launched her at-home range. The three-step kit has a primer, self-tanner and a special buffing brush to help you get her signature contoured look.  It isn’t for the short of time – it took us half an hour to prime, put the tan on with the plastic mitts and then buff with the brush (and then wait 10 minutes for it to try).  However, the colour it produced (there are three options offered and we went for the lightest – there is a good questionnaire on the site to help you choose) was deep and extremely natural, probably the closest to our natural tan colour we have ever seen.  It lasted about 3-4 days and then just faded gradually.  Best of all, the brush means that you really do avoid any tell-tale marks.  And if you like the sound of Amanda Harrington but would rather get the professionals to help you first, then head over to Harvey Nichols where from 21 June – 4 July, you can get a complimentary face tan with the Amanda Harrington London 3 Step Method.

Sisley Self-tanning hydrating Body Care, £77.40 from John Lewis (includes current offer of 10% discount)

This is an oldie but a goldie and the only fake tan that our dermatologist recommends (along with the Sisley face self-tan too). It isn’t cheap but it lasts for ages and gives a great colour. The cream itself isn’t too thick which makes it easy to apply and doesn’t have a heavy smell – we’ve found to be almost fool proof.

James Read Coconut Water Body Tan Mist, £25 

This is definitely the lightest of any of the fake tans that we tried.  It gave a gradual, light colour and would be good if you were very fair or keeping a tan going when you’ve returned from holiday.  The mist is a clever way to get to hard to reach areas – you simply spray and then buff in with your hands or a mitt.   We’ve personally visited James Read at his tanning salon in Fitzrovia where he tans the likes of Rosie Huntingdon Whiteley and Ellie Goulding.  Like Amanda Harrington, his experience and direct contact with clients gives him a great hands-on knowledge about self-tans that he has translated into his own line of products, many of which are often extremely innovative. His latest launch, for example, is the Sleep Mask Face Retinol which combines skincare (with the use of products such as hyaluronic acid) with a gradual tan.

Vita Liberata 2-3 Week Tan Mousse, £37.50 at Goop

We were really interested to try this ‘clean’ self-tan mousse from Vita Liberata.  It gave us an incredibly natural tan that yes, after a week, is still a great colour.  It goes on smoothly and dries quickly (we would definitely advise using a mitt) and has no smell at all.  It is organic and doesn’t contain triclosan, GMOs, fragrance, or alchohol.  For it to last 2-3 weeks, though, the directions say you should apply it 3 times in 24 hours but we found that even just with two applications, it gave a good lasting colour.

Self-Tanning Products
— Francesca
27th June 2019