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The 7 Best Fake Tans To Buy Now

Tried, tested, and recommended for you

By Lucy Adams

It’s the season for shorts, skirts and strappy dresses. Which means lots of exposed flesh – and lots of fake tan faux pas.

But don’t be discouraged; streaky shins, orange palms and splotchy knees aren’t inevitable just because you’re getting your tan from a bottle. In fact, it’s easier than ever to get a natural-looking glow thanks to a myriad of products and formulations.

And I should know. I’ve spent the past eight weeks spraying, moussing and misting my way through countless self-tanners to bring you a round-up of the best fake tans, as well as a few tips from self-tanning experts.

Tanning tips for the timid

Scared of fake tan disasters? If it’s been a while since you tried fake tan, think again. Over the past decade, fake tan formulations have come a long way, and where self-tanners used to simply mean creams and mousses (which were often very drying) you can now choose between a dizzying array of tanning oils, mists, drops, gradual creams, serums or mousses.

As Ella Bache national training manager Gina Cook explains, the biggest advancements have been in colour ranges and convenience, with some tans now only taking an hour to develop. “Tanning is much easier to do at home thanks to the innovations in formulations.”

And the winners are:

Tantrix Self-Tanning Mousse PHOTO: Georgina Egan STYLING: Jack Milenkovic

 Best Long Lasting Tan: TanTrix Self-Tanning Mousse, $29.95.

A newcomer on the tanning scene, this lightweight, easy-to-apply mousse gives a natural golden glow after just one hour and a richer, deeper shade after 4 hours. Its fragrance-free, fast-drying formula is perfect for those “apply-and-get-dressed’ occasions you need an almost instant tan. It kept my skin hydrated and bronzed for seven days without any extra application required.

Runner up: Sahara Soul Self-Tanning Foam, $29.95

Byron Bay Bronze PHOTO: Georgina Egan STYLING: Jack Milenkovic

Best Natural Formula Tan: Byron Bay Bronze, $29.95.

Another super-hydrating mousse formula. This coconut-scented, PETA-approved, vegan self-tan gives a sun-kissed, medium glow after four to six hours. It’s also Australian owned and made, and uses 100 per cent ocean-waste plastic to make its bottles.

Runner up: Eco Tan Invisible Tan, $34.95

Best Gradual Tan: Ella Bache Great Sun Kiss, $39.00

There’s not a lot of boxes this gradual tan doesn’t tick. Easy to apply, moisture-rich, fast absorbing and a subtle (yet natural) colour. Perfect for building colour gradually or as a top up in between tans.

Runner up: St Tropez Gradual Tan Tinted Lotion, $33.99

James Read Gradual Tan PHOTO: Georgina Egan STYLING: Jack Milenkovic

Best Tan for Face: James Read Gradual Tan H2O Tan Mist Face, $42.

It’s little wonder that James Read is Hollywood’s fake tan go-to. This nifty extension to his renowned tanning range is so easy to use it almost feels like cheating. Fake tanning your face might feel risky, but with this mist, it’s simple. Just cleanse, moisturise and spray (I like to do three mists – one for each side of my face and one down the centre) for a mess-free, post-holiday glow minus the sun damage.

Runner up: Clarins Radiance Plus Golden Glow Booster, $40.

Best Serum Tan: Isle of Paradise Hy Glo Body Self-Tan Serum, $50.

My pick of the bunch. This is so weightless it feels just like skincare for your body. Perfect for everyday use. It marries tanning ingredients and colour-correcting technology (which is based on the idea that opposite colours – like green and red – cancel each other out). This serum is clear, though, so be sure to wash your hands thoroughly post-application otherwise you might end up with orange hands.

Isle of Paradise self tan PHOTO: Georgina Egan STYLING: Jack Milenkovic

Best Express Tan: Isle of Paradise Express Ultra Dark Self-Tanning Mousse, $42.

If you’re tight on time and need to go from drab to fab in an hour, this is your answer. Not for the tanning timid, this mousse packs some serious colour – and quickly. (It only took 25 minutes to achieve the depth of colour I like.) This mousse uses agave extract to make it fast-drying and is full of vegan friendly actives like coconut oil, avocado and chia seed to keep skin nourished.

Runner up: Bondi Sands Aero 1 Hour Express Self-Tanning Foam, $24.95

Jergens Natural Glow Wet Skin Moisturiser PHOTO: Georgina Egan STYLING: Jack Milenkovic

Easiest Tan To Apply: Jergens Natural Glow Wet Skin Moisturiser, $14.99.

This clever cream takes no-fuss beauty to the next level. It is so easy you don’t even need to get out of the shower to apply it. Simply rinse, rub on and by the end of the day you’ll notice an understated glow that helps take the edge of pasty pins.

Runner up: St Tropez Self Tan Purity Vitamins Bronzing Water Body Mist, $49.99.

PHOTO: Georgina Egan STYLING: Jack Milenkovic

Best for finishing touches: The Jojoba Company Jojoba Glow, $39.95, imparts a golden sheen to offset your glow – perfect for summer nights out.

Best for mistakes:  Smooth out imperfections, disguise orange palms and blend away unwanted streaks with a little help from Bondi Sands Self Tan Eraser, $19.95.


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BY Lucy Adams

Lucy is PRIMER's contributing beauty editor. Ask her anything about self tan. This story has made her an expert.

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