6 time-tested self-tan products worth trying this summer

Posted by
Amelia Jean Jones

Whether you’ve got 60 seconds, five minutes or the luxury of an entire evening (yeah, sure), it pays to find products that fit into your busy schedule. 

Mention the words “fake tan” amongst friends and you can guarantee the following responses: “‘It always goes streaky,” “It smells like stale biscuits,” “It makes my bathroom look like a crime scene.”

But the Holy Grail of tan-avoidance is this: “I don’t have the time.” And if you’re the type of monster who doubles up on tea bags for a faster brew (guilty!), you’ll get it. Life’s just too short to sit around in your scruffy joggers and an old t-shirt *while you wait for* the perfect glow *to develop*. But here’s where the brains behind the tanning brands you know and love *have* stepped in to turbo-charge your tan.

“We know speed and convenience are key to fitting a product into your routine,” explains Dr Paul Evans, St.Tropez Technology Innovation Director. “That meant we had to start development from scratch.” So, how long have you got? 

When you have… 30 seconds

Clarins Radiance-Plus Golden Glow Booster

Snoozed your alarm one too many times? We hear you. But you can still perk up your tired skin quickly and easily with Clarin’s innovative booster formula. With a dropper-style applicator and buffer just add two drops into your moisturiser for a South-of-France glow. Or go long-haul and add six to look like you’ve been in Bali (not Blighty) for a fortnight.

When you have… 1 minute

St.Tropez Gradual Tan One Minute Pre-Shower Tanning Mousse

Got to get going? Not a problem. Just before you jump in the shower apply this light and spreadable foam to dry skin and wait for one minute – if you can’t spare it, brush your teeth to pass the time – then hop in and rinse off after 60 seconds (or wait for five if you want to go deeper). With a subtle sheen at first it will gradually develop into a golden glow that will deepen when repeated daily. 


When you have… 5 minutes

Clinique Body Tinted Lotion Light/Medium

Glides on smoothly and without streaks to give you an instant, non-muddy glow you’d never guess came out of a bottle. Then, as you go about your business, the convincing guide colour develops over eight hours into a blemish-blurring, just-back-from-St-Barts shade. 

When you have… 4 hours

Fake Bake Flawless Self-Tan Liquid

Like Tinder dates and the England football team, a lot of tans can be disappointing. They may promise zero transfer but you end up with a t-shirt or bedsheets that look more than a little grubby. This beauty actually delivers. The result: you can go out in a white tee with a delicious natural guide cover without smelling like a Hobnob post-application. Then while you waft about your day with the delicious coconut scent your tan will develop in 4-6 hours. 

When you have… overnight

James Reed Sleep Mask Tan Body

Apply before bed and wake up with healthy, brighter, more radiant skin. Enriched with moisturising ingredients this hydrating, glow-giving gel glides on so smoothly you barely need to buff before slipping into your pyjamas. Sweet dreams. 

When you have… a few days

Garnier Summer Body Moisturising Lotion 

Despite its affordable price tag, this gives an expensive-looking glow you’d expect from something far pricier. The colour after one swift application is on the subtle side of golden, building to deep caramel as you layer day after day. The best part? It smells like holiday? Apply it a few days before you jet off to get in holiday mode as soon as you put your OOO on.