Fake Tan, Myself, And I: One Beauty Editor’s Faux Glow Journey And Her Ultimate Product Recommendations

Annie Vischer shares her fake tan must-haves.

Fake tan

by Annie Vischer |
Updated on

For me this time of the year means cracking out a bottle of the good stuff. Not Champagne, not a good Merlot – fake tan. It all started with St. Tropez(needless to say the fake tan, not the sunny side of France). I was in my late teens, and my Auntie Jill had read in the beauty pages that Victoria Beckham was a huge fan, so she went out on a limb and sourced a bottle of that iconic mousse. My sister and I hurtled round to try out the stuff, fingers, toes and everything else crossed that it lived up to the hype. To my aunt's credit, she'd read up on the prep. We sampled it on our legs only, and both sat on the side of the bath exfoliating like there was no tomorrow, before we gingerly buffed on the product with a mitt. After tip-toeing around like John Wayne for the requiste couple of hours, we headed back on up there to wash it off, and revel in our new bronzed-enough-to-bare state.

Dove visible glow

Therein began the mania, though thankfully for me, in the first few years, caution reigned supreme. There were too many examples of tanning-gone-wrong at school to entice me into the bottle-of-spray-on brigade, so baby-step alternatives became my bag. Mainly Dove's gradual tan. One memorable discovery revealed that I'd unwittingly bigged it up enough for even my dad to try. Visiting his office at his base (he's a military man) I spotted a bottle near his bathroom, and hilarity briefly ensued as I assumed he'd mistakenly picked it up in the shop thinking it was body lotion. One sheepish look told me the purchase was entirely deliberate - who knew?!

Annie Vischer
©Annie Vischer

Now, university days were a different matter. Year one saw me discover Xen-Tan's gradual tan (now sadly discontinued), which produced a tan a good few shades deeper than my favourite Dove option. Did I stop there? No siree. Cut to two years later and I had found a shop in Leeds (any Leeds alumni remember Essentials?) that sold bottles of St. Moriz on the cheap. All my former caution went out of the window, and suddenly I was smoothing it on like nobody's business. I'd clocked too, that the guide colour was actually a very natural shade itself, so quite often I'd apply it before a night out and not wash it off until the next day, scandalous behaviour. Once I'd ruined enough bed sheets and clothes to decide this perhaps wasn't the best idea, I mended my excessive faux tan ways.

My early twenties saw me enter the beauty industry, and with that move came a shed load more experience. Suddenly I was introduced to new formulas, expert tips and fool-proof routines. I also learnt that the skin on my face was not a fan of the body prods, so as soon as Tan-Luxe The Face Illuminating Drops, £35 hit the market I was the first in line and I haven't looked back since. At this the stage the real impetus to keep my skin looking golden was still there, and no event passed by without a quick fake tanning sesh the night before.

Now I fake tan possibly less than I ever have since that first St. Tropez experience. This could be because I manage to get away on more holidays throughout the year, so (though I promise I'm a good Beauty Editor and do resolutely massage in my SPF) my skin gets a bit of a natural glow of its own accord during summer. It could be because fashions have changed and that deep deep bronze isn't a must-have any more. It could even be because I'm generally more comfortable in my own skin, quite literally.

St Tropez Self Tan Purity Water Gel
©St Tropez

Nevertheless as winter has reared its cold cold head, and the heat and sun have gone and left all of us in Blighty alone for the next few months, that desire for a glow-boost has come niggling, and I can't lie, factoring in an at-home fake tan session once a week makes me feel a whole lot better about life. I've not quite pinned down what in particular about a subtle tan ramps up my mood, but it does, and I'm rolling with it. So what am I using now?St. Tropez Self Tan Purity Water Gel, £33. I'm confident enough in my skills to manage without a guide colour, it smells of tropical juice not biscuits, and most gloriously of all it doesn't stain my sheets (splurging on one set of White Company bed linen was almost solely responsible for the initial fake tan cut-down). So there you have it. My life in fake tan and a few product shout outs along the way. Oh and if you're getting your glam kit together for events over the forthcoming party season, shop my absolute favourites below.

Shop: Fake Tanning Faithfuls


Shop: Old Fake Tan Faithfuls

Velvotan Self Tan Applicator, £2.991 of 5

Velvotan Self Tan Applicator, £2.99

For super smooth application, look no further than this little wonder. it's sturdy enough to prevent watery formulas from leaking through and onto your palm too.

Vita Liberata Body Blur Instant HD Skin Finish, £29.952 of 5

Vita Liberata Body Blur Instant HD Skin Finish, £16.23

The perfect finishing touch. If I have fake tanned the night before a party or event, I buff this onto any bare bits whilst I get ready. It (as the name suggests) blurs out any imperfections, and doses you up on an filter-worthy sheen too.

St. Tropez Self Tan Purity Water Gel, £333 of 5

St. Tropez Self Tan Purity Water Gel, £33

Here it is! My current favourite. Do be careful when you apply, the colour pay off is great but it does mean that if you make mistakes, they'll shine out like a beacon.

Tan-Luxe The Face Illuminating Tan Drops, £354 of 5

Tan-Luxe The Face Illuminating Tan Drops, £36

These are the only form of fake tan I now pop on my face. I mix them in with my moisturiser every other morning. I'll even do this in summer. I'm religious with my face SPF so it often ends up a few shades behind my body on holiday. This gives it a boost. It's packed with nourishing ingredients too, you can't knock the skincare benefits.

Bondi Sands Liquid Gold Self Tanning Dry Oil, £14.995 of 5

Bondi Sands Liquid Gold Self Tanning Dry Oil, £11.99

If you feel safer with a guide colour, this dry tanning oil is my top pick. I can't abide a sticky residue when it comes to tanning, and with this, there's simply no sign of any.

READ MORE: 13 Of The Best Fake Tan And Self Tanning Products That Won't Streak

READ MORE: Fake Tan: Everything You Need To Know To Perfect Your Faux Glow

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us