Sometimes a standard bronzer just doesn't cut it. For a sun-kissed glow all year round, you have to reach for that bottle of fake tan. It's much better than laying out in the sun. Sun tanning exposes your skin to harmful UV rays and puts you at risk of skin cancers, because your skin has to be sun-damaged in order to change colour. But how do fake tans work?
Fake tans stain the outermost layer of your skin. In most cases, the ingredient that does this dihydroxyacetone (DHA). When DHA combines with amino acids in your skin, the end result causes a browning reaction. But you want a browning reaction - not a scenario when you accidentally turn yourself into a tangerine. So how do you best apply self-tanning products and who makes the best fake tan?
How To Apply Most Fake Tans
1. Be sure to exfoliate. Removing any dead skin will help your tan stay even for longer. Pay extra attention to the tougher skin on your elbows, knees and the backs of your hands. You can exfoliate with your favourite scrub or dry brush.
2. Dry off. Thoroughly drying your skin will allow for better application.
3. Apply in sections. First arms, then legs, then torso. You may need a very good friend to do your back! Use a tanning mitt so that you don't stain your palms or unnecessarily waste any product.
4. Be sure to blend. To achieve a natural look, you need to lightly extend the tanner from your wrists to your hands and from your ankles to your feet. You'll need to lightly apply the tan to your face, or use a face tanner, so that you're an even colour.
5. Allow your tan to set. You'll have to hang around in the nude for at least ten minutes or as directed by the brand instructions. Afterwards, wear only loose fitting clothes and refrain for showering or excessive sweating for at least at day.
The 10 Best Tanning Products
10. Neutrogena Build-A-Tan Gradual Sunless Tanning Lotion
Cost: $9.49 USD from Neutrogena
Overview: We're used to associating Neutrogena with solving our acne woes, but turns out they've broken into the instant tan market too. If you're looking to just ever so slightly tan, then Build-A-Tan is for you. The best part is, if you need it to dry fast, Build-A-Tan only takes five minutes to set.
Review: "I am very happy with this product. Being pale by nature, this gives me a little colour. When I saw the buy one get one offer, I stocked up and got 6 for the price of three. I highly recommend this for people like me. Thanks very much!"
9. Australian Gold Instant Sunless Lotion
Cost: $14.39 from Australian Gold
Overview: Australian Gold is all about keeping your skin super hydrating and moisturised while you develop your tan, so that's why you'll find Kakadu plum, vitamin C, and shea butter inside. The Instant Sunless Lotion delivers "dramatic sunless colour" with minimum application fuss. If you're looking for a tanning accelerator, Australia Gold does a whole range of tanning oils too.
Review: "I recently attended a wedding and wanted a glow beforehand. I applied the lotion the night before our travels and I started seeing results immediately! The best comparison was before applying and the next morning. This was my first time using sunless tanning lotion, but it won’t be the last! I would recommend using gloves or something to prevent too much tanner on your hands, but all in all an awesome product!"
8. Tan Luxe The Face Rejuvenating Self-Tan Drops
Cost: $75.00 from Adore Beauty
Overview: Everyone wants their tan to match their face, but they don't want to end up looking like an Oompa-Loompa. This face tanner, by Tan Luxe, is the perfect solution. Simply add 1-4 drops to your regular moisturiser, serum or face oil depending on how dark you want your tan.
Review: "Love this. Have only tried the light option. 2-3 drops into a serum or moisturiser gives me a nice glow and I can go without makeup the following day feeling natural, just a bit more polished and healthy looking. I prefer it over a tan water I used to use as I can simply add it to any step in my skincare process. I will try the darker shade in summer"
7. Brazilian Plus + Self Tanner
Cost: $41.00 from Tarte Cosmetics
Overview: A natural, deep toned tan in just four hours? It's possible with Brazilian Plus + Self Tanner by Tarte Cosmetics. Contains squalane, aloe & citric acid to help condition and exfoliate, prepping skin for each application so your long lasting sunless tan gradually fades evenly.
Review: "Goof and everything else proof! Adds such a pretty glow to your skin! I was getting so pale I hadn’t been out in the sun the last few years like I used to when I was a kid. (I was always tanned because i loved the pool) I started using this because I don’t want to do any other kind of tanning and don’t have time to sit in the sun. I exfoliant and shave or wax and then at night or the next day I shower and put this on when i’m dry. it works so well!!!!"
6. Sublime Bronze Hydrating Self-Tanning Milk
Cost: $12.99 USD from L'Oreal Paris
Overview: You've heard of tanning cream, but what about tanning milk? The L'Oreal Sublime Bronze Hydrating Self-Tanning Milk has no nasty 'fake tan' smell, and it works to nourish and soften the skin. You can use it as a gradual sunless tanner on its own, or between other self-tanning products to keep your glow looking even.
Review: "This self tanning milk is everything! It helps maintain my summer glow year round. I always look sun kissed! I received this product for free but I will definitely be purchasing when I run out"
5. Beauty By Earth Self Tanner
Cost: $29.99 USD from Beauty By Earth
Overview: If you're looking to cut down on the number of chemical ingredients in your life, Beauty by Earth produces some of the most natural tan available on the market. The next best thing to an organic spray tan, the Self-Tanner tanning lotion is vegan, cruelty free and contains ingredients like organic shea butter, organic coconut oil, and Japanese green tea leaf extract. By applying this fake tan one layer at a time, you can build up a gradual tan that doesn't hurt you or the earth.
Review: "I just received my second bottle of self tanner. I really love this lotion! The colour I get from it is more natural than the others and it’s easy to apply. I like the consistency of the lotion, it goes on smooth and I don’t need to apply a lot to receive the desired effect. Since I don’t need a lot each time I apply one bottle lasted me the whole summer! Great product! I give it a 5!"
4. Uber Glow Tanning Foam
Cost: $21.29 from Chemist Warehouse
Overview: Le Tan is anti-animal testing, vegan and made in Australia, so it ticks a lot of big boxes before we even dive into individual products. The Uber Glow range is like sunshine in a bottle. Fragrance free and full of luxurious macadamia nut oil, the Ash Base is ideal for the naturally fair skinned.
Review: "Great colour, easy to apply, no streaks. I bought this product for a wedding, only ever having bad experiences with fake tans. This product went on smoothly and evenly and was a perfect bronze colour with no orange. Having olive skin I chose the purple undertone and I can honestly say I will never use another tan product again!"
3. Delicious Self Tanning Cream
Cost: $48 from Clarins
Overview: Full of cocoa butter and aloe vera, this caramel tanning cream not only gives you a natural looking tan in a matter of hours, but also helps fight premature ageing.
Review: "I have been using this cream for 5 years or more. It is the best self tanning product out there that i have found. I have used, sprays , foams and gone to beauticians and I still can't find anything better. Here is why; - smell- amazing! There is a hint of almond in there somewhere, and no sign of that tar acrid smell you find in other brands. - Easy to apply- because of the colour in the cream you can actually see where you are applying the cream. I usually put moisturiser on my knees, ankles, and toes when doing my legs to ensure the 'grubby patches' don't appear. -staining- after a few minutes the cream is absorbed and I can throw my clothes on and go off to work. I am a busy teacher and have no time for faff. I like to look my best with the least amount of effort."
2. St. Tropez Self-Tan Classic Bronzing Mousse
Cost: $51.99 from Chemist Warehouse
Overview: The Self-Tan Classic Bronzing Mousse has been part of the St. Tropez gradual tan range for over ten years - making it one of the most reliable and well-loved tanning foams around. They also do a ripper fake tan remover - St. Tropez Prep + Maintain Tan Remover Mousse.
Review: "Easy to use, it gives a beautiful tan"
1. Bondi Sands Liquid Gold Self Tanning Foam
Cost: $22.99 from Priceline
Overview: Used by Kylie Jenner, a Bondi Sands tan is strong enough to withstand the paparazzi. The Liquid Gold Range is enriched with argan oil, smells like delicious coconut and develops within a rapid 2-3 hours.
Review: "Not at all patchy, perfect colour for me, I'm pretty fair. I sleep in this tan and have really good results. Lasts ages, well over a week. Is a little bit sticky but other than that no complaints!"