The Best Fake Tan We’ve Tried In 2023

As well as some handy application tips

best fake tan

by Rachael Martin |
Updated on

Long-synonymous with streaks, stains and dodgy orange tones, it can be tricky to know where to start when it comes to choosing the best self tanner for you; but luckily, the new breed of smart fake tans are more innovative and easier to use than ever before. So, whether you're after a flawless tan for pale skin or a gradual self tanner that will dry in less time than it takes to prepare a pot of tea, we have you covered.

'It’s not just about glowing skin – having a golden glow on the outside also gives me confidence on the inside. I feel like I can take on the world with a tan!' says Ashley Graham, St. Tropez's global brand ambassador.

And we couldn't agree more. Whether you're hitting the coast or just want to embody that effortless glow - give yourself a sunless tan with the Grazia edit of the best fake tans on the market.

But first, we're answering some of your most googled questions on fake tanning.


How to use a self tanner

First up, if you need to shave or wax make sure you do it 24-48 hours before applying your fake tan. Otherwise, you might damage the colour.

Start by using a gentle exfoliating product and a washcloth or sponge to remove any dead cells from the skin, then dry off thoroughly. Next, Jules Von Hep, co-founder and creative director of cult brand Isle of Paradise has a sneaky tip for avoiding those unmistakeable orange hands and feet: 'Ensure you moisturise the hands and feet PRIOR to tan application, and hang a towel on the back of your door and rub your wrists together - this removes those pesky tell-tale tan lines!'

Now for tan-time. Apply the self tanner section by section, starting with your legs and working your way up, using a mitt to buff the product into your skin in circular motions, remembering to be careful around joint areas like ankles, knees and wrists.

After application, allow the tan to dry for at least 15 minutes, avoiding contact with anything (or anyone) before allowing it to develop for seven or eight hours (we advise leaving it on overnight, wearing baggy PJs) before showering.

How does fake tan work?

Most fake tans contain Dihydroxyacetone, more commonly referred to as DHA. This natural carbohydrate reacts with oxygen in the air and amino acids in the skin and gradually darkens.

How to fake tan your face

The face can be tricky to fake tan, mainly because it's so easy to go wrong. So, go slow. Remember it's better to apply more later than apply too much at once. Start with the areas where the tan develops the quickest (nose, forehead, chin and the centre of your cheeks) and work your way out. Top tip: apply Vaseline to your eyebrows before tanning to avoid darkening them.

How to fake tan your back

Aside from asking your house mate, sister or significant other for a helping hand, there are two methods we use to apply fake tan to our backs. The first is opting for a spray product - this generally allows you to achieve 360 coverage. For the second option, you'll need a mitt, a long armed loofa and an elastic band. Can you see where this is going? Tie the mitt to the end of the loofa with your elastic band and there you have it - a third arm to tan those difficult to reach areas.

Kimberley Nkosi - the talent behind Ryan Gosling and Margot Robbie's Barbie ready glow has three tanning tips that she says will 'change the game.'

Kimberley Nkosi's Tips For A Flawless Tan Application

  1. 'It's always important to exfoliate as the first step in ensuring a flawless tan. This is vital to avoid any dead skin cells - any build up will cause a streaky, uneven finish. Two of my favourite exfoliating methods are dry brushing and using in-shower body scrubs. Both will create a smooth base. And always remove body hair at least 24 hours before.

  2. 'Working in sections is a must for aiding precision. Take a tanning glove or mitt and and don't move on from the area you're working on until you're sure it's saturated with an even layer of product. For areas like the wrists or ankles, use a buffing brush to allow for an even fade. Finish by cleaning the fingers with a wipe - orange hands are always a tell-tale sign.

  3. 'Take your time! If you're rushing your tan it's not going to look its best. Always look in the mirror afterwards to spot any streaks that might need buffed in. And if your tan doesn't have a guide colour always ensure there's a light "glean" covering all of the body.

And our top tip? After application, allow the tan to dry for at least 15 minutes, avoiding contact with anything (or anyone) before allowing it to develop for seven or eight hours (we advise leaving it on overnight, wearing baggy PJs) before showering.

How to remove fake tan instantly

To gradually and evenly remove fake tan, wash with a light exfoliator and sponge. This will avoid patchiness. For a quick fix, there are many home removal tips that you can try including mixing lemon juice with baking soda or spending 20 minutes in a bath containing half a cup of baby oil. Several brands have also launched fake tan remover meaning to can remove it pretty swiftly.

We've rounded up the best fake tans of 2023, all tried and tested so you don't have to. Found the right fake tan for you? Make sure you read our self-tanning guide (and learn how to remove your fake tan) before you grab your tanning mitt.

And a reminder - if you've been googling 'can you tan through fake tan' then the answer is yes. You'll always need to apply an SPF on top of your fake tan too.

Best Fake Tans For 2023

From the best instant tan, the bet gradual tan and everything in-between, scroll on to shop.


This is the best fake tan for all skin types. The unique formula instantly hydrates and conditions


A nourishing tanning water featuring a blend of naturally derived tanning actives, hyaluronic acid


Asking what is the best fake tan for dry skin? Look no further. Packed with hyaluronic acid, this

4. Bare by Vogue Willians Self Tan Foam


We could go on and on about how brilliant this self-tan is. But, all you really need to know is


When we discuss the best fake tan for face this Oskia option comes up time and time again. Simply


This tanner is ideal for those who don't want to compromise crisp white sheets. Just a sweep makes


If it's been formulated by world renowned tanning expert then you know it's bound to be good. This

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