Best Fake Tan 2023
Best Fake Tan 2023

Best Fake Tan 2023

7 minutes read

Need a go-to guide to the best fake tan? Look no further. We’ve made it our mission to test all the best bronzing formulas and handpicked the top contenders to create a line-up of tanning products that’ll have you glowing through 2023. It’s time to finally say hello to flawless radiance – minus the sunburn drama. 


How to choose the best fake tan  

When it comes to faking a perfect tan, it’s all about opting for a shade that best suits your skin tone. For fair skin, opt for a lighter shade to avoid any orangeness – and if you have darker skin, you’ll want to aim for a deeper shade to achieve the most natural-looking glow. Melanin-rick skin types really benefit from a self-tanning session as it can counteract ashy-ness.  

Steer clear of products that are too dark for you 

One of the biggest mistakes people make while choosing fake tan is grabbing the darkest formula they can find immediately, hoping it’ll give them a more sun kissed glow. Unfortunately, this usually results in a bright orange disaster if the shade of fake tan is too dark for their skin tone.  

Find the right base colour for you 

All shades of fake tan have different undertones – and naturally, some will work better on various skin tones than others. For example, if you have pink undertones or paleness to your skin, go for a product that has a green base. For darker skin, a violet-based product is best to avoid unnatural-looking results. 

Choose the right formula for you 

It’s not just about colour – formulation also plays a massive part in getting on top of your glow game.  

For dry skin: Tanning gels and serums 

If you have dry skin, using a gel or serum formula works best, as they are the most hydrating. However, regardless of your skin type, it’s always a good idea to reach for a hydrating formula, as DHA (the ingredient in fake tan that darkens the skin) can sometimes be drying.  

For glow-getters: Lotions and mousses 

If you’re looking for a deep tan pronto, this type of tan might be your best bet. They’re best and most accurately applied with a tanning mitt, but make sure your application techniques are up to scratch, as these are the most likely to streak if misused.  

For slow burners: Gradual tan 

Not a fan of a full-on glow – or want something that’ll look a little more subtle? Try a gradual tan. Slowly building up colour over a few days allows you more control, as you can add to or stop using it whenever you feel you have reached your desired shade.  

Best fake tan for the face 

Remember some key things when choosing the best fake tan for your face. First, if your skin is fair, a lighter tan is essential to avoid that ‘fake’ look. Look for facial fake tans that have a lightweight texture, won’t clog pores, and won’t cause any breakouts. Gradual tanning lotions are a great option, gradually building up colour and often enriched with hydrating agents and antioxidants. Another option may be tinted moisturisers or BB creams with self-tanning properties, providing hydration, coverage, and a subtle but radiant tan.  

Always do a patch test before applying any products to your face, and consider your skin tone, texture, and needs when choosing a facial tan. Some facial tanning products now contain added skincare benefits, with skin-loving ingredients that work double time to give you a glow and nourish your complexion at the same time: 

Clarins Radiance-Plus Golden Glow Booster for Face, £23

This formula combines naturally-sourced DHA and erythrulose to hydrate skin while creating a natural tan. Mix 2-3 drops with your day or night cream in your hand and apply evenly on the face.  

Tan-Luxe THE FACE, £36 

Enriched with skin-boosting and hydrating Raspberry Seed Oil, Vitamin E and Aloe Vera, this super-luxe formula helps to minimise the look of skin imperfections and enhance luminous radiance.  

Best fake tan for body 

As with facial tan, you’ll need to consider your skin’s needs before choosing. Here are some fail-safe body tanning products that we love: 

Clarins Self-Tanning Radiance-Plus Golden Glow Booster For Body, £30 

Radiance-Plus Golden Glow Boosters

This booster can be used in tandem with your body moisturiser, allowing you to tailor and build your ideal tan over time. Add four to six drops to your usual lotion and apply daily until you reach your goal. 

St.Tropez Instant Glow Body Bronzer, £15 

A body bronzer that offers a quick and easy tan and blends seamlessly into the skin for a streak-free finish.  

Best fake tan for legs 

On the hunt for glowing pins? Here are the gems you need to try: 

Clarins Self-Tanning Instant Gel, £24 


An invigorating gel that will give you an instant, deep glow. This non-oily formula melts into your skin, allowing you to get dressed and ready straight after application.  

Bondi Sands Everyday Gradual Tanning Foam, £13.99  

Perfect for those looking for an easy application, this foam is enriched with aloe vera to soothe skin, and infused with cocoa butter to nourish parched limbs. 

How to apply fake tan 

To apply a fake tan like a pro, always exfoliate your skin. This is key as it will give you a smooth base to create a seamless tan. Then, you need to hydrate your skin with an oil-free moisturiser, making it the best canvas for applying your product. Next, grab a tanning mitt or gloves to avoid staining your hands, use your chosen tan in long, sweeping motions up and down your limbs (or chosen areas), and blend well for a streak-free finish. Finally, when tanning your face, hands and feet, use your tan sparingly to avoid an orange look – and always remember to wait until your tan is dry before getting dressed or applying make-up.  

Read: The complete guide on how to fake tan your back

Should I moisturise before applying fake tan?  

Moisturising before applying fake tan is key for a flawless finish. But before moisturising, it’s important to exfoliate to get rid of excess dead skin cells, allowing your moisturiser to work harder. Also, let your moisturiser dry and sink into the skin before applying the fake tan, as this will avoid patchy and uneven application by helping the tan glide on smoothly. You should also ensure that your moisturiser is an oil-free formula, as oil can cause a fake tan to become patchy or stop it from developing properly.  

How does fake tan work? 

Fake tan contains DHA, a harmless chemical that reacts with the proteins in your skin to give you a golden shade. Once applied to the skin, DHA works its magic by darkening the outer layer. 

However, if you simply can’t stand that telltale self-tan smell, opting for a DHA-free formula such as Utan Total Glow DHA-Free Mist, £20, might be the best way forward. It not only creates a seamless tan within three days of application, but also contains hyaluronic acid, calendula extract and a tan accelerating complex to provide skin-loving benefits.  

How long does fake tan take to dry? 

Fake tan takes a little while to dry, and you’ve got to give it time for the best results. It takes around 10-20 minutes for fake tan to dry thoroughly, but it’s always best to follow the instructions on the product.  

Is fake tan bad for your skin? 

If you are using fake tan as instructed, it is generally safe for your skin. However, remember to do a patch test first, moisturise, and avoid going overboard.  

Can you fake tan while pregnant?      

While fake tan is generally safe for most people, consulting your healthcare provider before self-tanning during pregnancy is best. However, some products are considered safe during pregnancy – visit our guide here 

Next Read: How to get your legs summer and mini-skirt ready

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