The Best Fake Tans In The Business: From Products To Pro Tips, Here’s How It’s Done

Here is everything you need to know when it comes to perfecting your faux glow


by Grazia |

Fake tan has become a beauty mainstay for many of us. Whether you're an all-over tanning pro in your own right, a fan of something more subtle (hello, gradual tan) or a total newbie who's looking to initiate their first foray into the fake tanning world and could do with a few application tips, there's a bottle of fake tan out there for you.

The world of fake tan has come along way since the first mousses, lotions and instant bronzing incarnations that hit the shelves way back when, and we're pleased to say that there are a whole host of endlessly perfected formulas ready and waiting to give your skin a glow-up.

Whilst we're obviously serving up our edit of the best fake tans in the business for your viewing (and shopping) pleasure, we couldn't let a fake tan feature pass by without throwing in a few pieces of much valued application wisdom here and there. Needless to say an even and long-lasting faux tan requires a little more know-how and prep than a quick and cursory application - no matter how good the product.

Behold our foolproof fake tanning tips. Ready, set, glow!

Always Prep

How to apply fake tan
©Styling: Liz Hambleton; Photo: Karina Twiss

Getting an even tan is all about the prep. St Tropez tanning expert Jules Heptonstall shares his rules for a flawless finish:

1. Don’t wax before tanning as this will open pores and leave you looking more plucked chicken than chic.

2. Always remove make-up, deodorant and perfume.

3. Exfoliate, concentrating on feet, knees and elbows.

4. Use a cotton bud to apply Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Skin Protectant, £28****, round nails, brows, lips and hairline to stop tanning here.

Treat Your Face Separately

The skin on your face is a lot more sensitive that the skin on your body. A lot of fake tans for your body will irritate your complexion, whether it's because of the level of DHA in there or even a heavy fragrance. There's also the fact that you tend to wash your face more frequently and more thoroughly than your body, so the fake tan will fade much more quickly, and you'll often end up topping up separately anyway.

It's easy to get complacent when merging your fake tan favourites with your skincare

One of the best forms of fake tan for your face are drops. They normally come with a pipette top, that you can use to drop the formula into your everyday moisturiser or serum. Start with one or two drops to make sure they suit your skin, and you can build up as and when you like. Just remember to wash your hands straight afterwards, it's easy to get complacent when merging your fake tan favourites with your skincare! There are of course so many options out there when it comes to fake tanning your face, from our beloved drops, to wipes and mists - it's all about finding what works best for you.

Read up and shop the best fake tanning opstions for your face right here.

Don't Dismiss Gradual Tanners

Sure, they might not have as much instant impact as a bottle of regular fake tan, but gradual tans are great for a more subtle bronzed look. They're also a lot kinder to your skin if you're using them regularly as they tend to hydrate a lot more than straight-up fake tan.

Browse our favourite gradual tan products right here.

Legs by the pool

Maintenance Is Key

Fake tan hacks

What's the use in cracking the art of fake tan application if you can't keep your new, even glow for more than a day or two. Maintaining that stellar work is key, and it also keeps your skin prepped for your next application. Here's what to keep in mind.

1. Tans become uneven due to dehydration, so moisturise daily to reduce patchiness and ensure an even fade. Drinking your recommended daily amount of water helps too.

2. When wearing fake tan, steer clear of oils. That means no essential oil packed shower gels, no body oils, no face oils etc. Oils break down fake tan quickly and can strip you of your glow in no time.

3. Avoid chlorinated pools or hot tubs. The chlorine found in swimming pools can also rapidly dissolve your tan so head to the ocean for a dip instead.

Shop: Our Edit Of The Best Fake Tans For Your Body Around


Grazia Best Fake Tan 2020

St.Tropez Self Tan Purity Gel, £33
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It smells great. It doesn't stain your sheets or clothes. The colour looks insanely natural. Can this fake tan do any wrong?! Do proceed with caution though, fake tanning first-timers need not apply. Guide colours help you avoid streaks - only the most seasoned fake tanners should try something like this.

Isle of Paradise Glow Clear Self-Tanning Mousse, £19.95
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We can thank tanning pro Jules Von Hep for this winner of a brand. It promotes body positivity as well as serving up a high quality product that looks damned fine to boot.

Bondi Sands Everyday Liquid Gold Gradual Tanning Oil, £13.99
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Hate that tacky feeling you get after applying fake tan? Opt for this gem. It glides on with a guide colour, that makes it easy to spot any pending streaks, and absorbs quickly with a dry finish. It's one of beauty editor Annie Vischer's fake tan mainstays, and for good reason.

L'Oru00e9al Paris Sublime Bronze Gradual Tan, £6.99
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This gradual tan promises to nourish skin for a full 24 hours whilst it works on bestowing a soft and subtle glow. It's a great option for fake tanning newbies, or even for those looking to top up their glow in between fake tans.

Tan-Luxe The Body Illuminating Self-Tan Drops, £42
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These tanning drops are ideal for a bespoke glow. Drop a few into your favourite body moisturiser before sweeping over skin. Add more if you're up for a deeper look, less if all you're after is a top up. They have a face version too.

Vita Liberata Phenomenal 2-3 Week Tan Mousse, £37.50
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This self tanner has been a firm favourite amongst fake tan lovers since its launch a few years back and, as promised, it boasts serious staying power.

Bare by Vogue Williams Self Tan Lotion, £17.10
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When Vogue Williams launched her own self tan range it was soon the talk of the beauty town, with many hailing it the best formula they'd tried in years. We're here to tell you it's worth a purchase - there's some serious tanning know-how behind these formulas.

READ MORE: How To Achieve To Ultimate Face And Body Fake Tan At Home

READ MORE: After A Natural, Believable Glow? Shop Our Round Up Of The Best Gradual Tanners To Try Now

READ MORE: The Very Best Self-Tanners For Your Face, Whatever Your Skin Type

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