Fake Tan: 11 Picks As Chosen by the WH Beauty Editor, Plus How to Apply

If you're naturally pale or your legs have been chilling under workout leggings for the past five months, then you might be wondering what the best fake tan for their debut back into society (well, your local park/ garden) is.

No doubt, there's more breeds of self-tanner out there than you can shake a stained tanning mitt at. Gradual moisturisers, mousses, clear liquid 'waters'... it's a bit of a maze.

Want to get right to the best fake tan edit? Scroll down

Which is why WH has edited the best fake tans for 2020 that'll sort you out for the entire summer. If that wasn't enough, we've also enlisted the help of the UK's leading tanning experts so you can apply your fake tan to the tune of a golden colour and zero streaking, to answer your golden glow FAQs.

Getting glowing skin has never been easier.

How do you apply fake tan perfectly?

Preferably in front of the bathroom mirror.'Have a quick cool rinse, tie back your hair and apply Vaseline to your brows. ‘Next barrier the heels, feet, elbows, wrists and hands with a small dab of Aveeno Moisturising Cream massaged sparingly. These areas produce less natural moisture and the skin is tougher, more coarse and rougher which means the self-tan grabs darker and can give the game away,’ says Harknett.

‘Apply your tan in sweeping motions over the body and never circular,’ advises Jules Von Hep, founder of Isle of Paradise. This ensures that product is distributed evenly for the most natural, even looking tan.

'When it comes to your legs, lift your knee up place on the edge of the bath or closed toilet seat and gently massage into the fine lines on the kneecaps. For ankles and feet use minimal product, or the residue from your mitt as these areas need less tan. This leads to a lighter and natural blend and helps to get that salon finish,' says Master Tanner, James Harknett, aka the Tom Ford of tanning.‘

Starting at the ankles and working your way up means that tan will be dry enough to apply a second coat after a couple of minutes. Simply start again at from the ankles for the second layer,’ advises Von Hep. ‘Use what is left on the mitt to apply to hands and feet and remember to wipe in between fingers and over fingernails with a damp cloth or make up wipe after application’ adds Von Hep.

'Before tanning the face, place a cold damp flannel over it to tighten the pores,' advises Harknett. As for the right product to use?Simply adding a few tanning drops to your night cream is enough to give a warm glisten to your face. Remember to blend into the hairline and finish by rubbing a cotton bud over the brows to remove any excess,' Harknett adds.

And for the best trick of all? ‘Hang a towel onto the back of your door and rub your wrists together to remove those pesky tell-tale tan lines’ says Von Hep. Genius. '

Finally, once tanned it’s a good idea to dry the skin and settle the tan with a quick blast of cool air from your hair dryer. The Dyson Supersonic dries the tan so fast you’re done in just a few minutes,' says Harknett.

Can you shave before applying fake tan?

Absolutely! ‘Hair removal should be the first thing you do in your skin prep stage prior to tanning,’ advises Harknett. ’You’ll need shave 24 hours before you want to tan. If waxing, you’ll need to do this two days before you want to tan, as skin renewal is crucial for an even colour,’ he advises.

Fake Tan: 11 Picks As Chosen by the WH Beauty Editor, Plus How to Apply

Should you moisturise before fake tanning?

More importantly than moisturising is exfoliating. 'This will allow your colour to develop evenly and it will help prep the skin for you to tan at super speed, allowing it to glide on rather than catching on any rough bit of skin caused by the build-up of pesky dead skin cells,' says Carly Hobbs, Beauty and Tanning Expert and Brand Ambassador for Sienna X.

Don’t be too harsh on the skin, unless you have unwanted tan from a previous application. WH loves Try Beauty Pie Beauty Pie Super Healthy Skin Nourishing Body Scrub paying attention to elbows and any areas of dry skin.

Next you'll need a tanning primer to moisturise certain areas.'Prepping the skin before tanning with the will not only help tan last longer but will also ensure it doesn’t go patchy or look too obvious in certain areas. Focus on applying the primer to elbows, knees, toes, knuckles, hairline, between the fingers and inner wrists,' adds Hobbs. Try Sienna X Perfect Self Tan Primer.

Back and Body Tanning MittBronzieamazon.co.ukSHOP NOWSkinny Tan Dual Sided Application MittSkinny Tanfeelunique.com£5.99SHOP NOWVita Liberata Luxury Tanning MittVita Liberatajohnlewis.com£2.80SHOP NOWTanning Glovesamandaharrington.com£7.00SHOP NOW

What can I use to apply self tanner?

‘Always use a mitt when it comes to fake tanning. If you are using a lotion, mousse or liquid chances are your product will come with a tanning mitt,’ advises Harnkett. ‘If not, pop on some latex gloves and use a sports sock turned inside out,’ he adds.

How do you make your tan last longer?

‘Enjoy your glow for as long as possible by keeping the skin hydrated at all times’ says Harknett. Try Neutrogena Deep Moisture Express Mist. Sprayed daily will help ensure an even fade.

‘During the summer months sprinkle a little powder in the folds and areas prone to perspiring more frequently like under the breasts, arms and in the creases of the inner arms’ adds Harknett. TryDr. Hauschka Silk Body Powder

11 best fake tans for a healthy glow and zero streaks

First thing's first, know your texture. A lotion, oil or tanning water is the most hydrating to the skin, a mousse is the quickest to dry and the easiest to apply, and a spray is the closest thing you’ll get to a spray tan.

This is the brand’s bestselling gradual tan and It’s easy to see why.Non-sticky and a hydrating heavy-hitter thanks to hyaluronic acid, it’s offers a hint of colour after one application, which can then be built upon really easily. The juicy scent of watermelons will have you applying this long after summer ends.

Gradual Tan Watermelon Infusion Miracle Body LotionSt. Tropezcultbeauty.co.uk£14.50SHOP NOW

WH Beauty Editor Perdita Nouril can’t get enough of this tan. ‘The colour is closest thing I’ll ever get to a two-week holiday in the med. It always lasts for good ten days and fades really evenly, like a natural tan. Best of all you don’t get that biscuit-y smell, so no-one ever knows it’s out of a bottle.’

Sienna X Sleep Tinted Self Tan Lotion 200mlSienna Xsuperdrug.com£23.99SHOP NOW

This formula is perfect if you're new to the world of fake tanningas it is easy to apply and very buildable, meaning you have total control of your desired glow. It's also infused with coconut water to keep skin hydrated, and hyaluronic acid and Vitamin E, for hydration.


This foamy formula develops in an hour but lasts a good few days, so it’s a super-efficient choice. Just make sure that you've exfoliated and moisturised so that you have a smooth base to apply to, to avoid a patchy effect.

Bondi Sands Self Tanning Foam 200ml - DarkBondi Sandslookfantastic.com£11.99SHOP NOW

As well as giving your skin a gorgeous golden hue, the superfood packed serum contains caffeine, cocoa seed extract, chia and avocado seed oils, as well as blueberry and kale extracts to reduce skin damage from pollution whilst also helping to plump, hydrate and tighten skin over time.

Super Glow Body Hyaluronic Self-Tan SerumTan-Luxespacenk.com.uk£35.00SHOP NOW

This number is vegan, organic and cruelty-free, so a clean beauty buy that can rest easy on your conscience. Mist over your face and body, let it settle, then use a mitt to blend it all into your skin for a healthy sheen. Your tan develops over four to six hours, so ideal for the morning before a night out.

Self Tanning Water [Light]Isle of Paradisecultbeauty.co.uk£18.95SHOP NOW

This is made with paler skintones in mind so that you end up with a sun-kissed look rather than like you’ve frequented a tanning salon for the past 5 weeks. And just like the name suggests, it lasts for a good 18 days so you needn’t have to worry about topping it up religiously.

Vita Liberata pHenomenal 2-3 Week Tan: Fair 125mlVita Liberatafeelunique.com£37.40SHOP NOW

Had no time to tan and now wish you had a bit of glow? Reach for this brilliantglow-giver. It’s gives skin an healthy wash of colour in seconds and dries in double quick time allowing you to throw on an outfit without the worry of it sticking to your body.

Instant Tan - Darkbarebyvogue.com€16.00SHOP NOW

Darker skin tones that want to add some warmth to their complexion should try this brilliant bronzing foam. It’s formulated with green-grey base so that you don’t get any orange-y undertones. It works wonders for hiding pigmentation on the body and doesn’t dry skin out thanks to coconut and mandarin oils, which deeply nourish skin.

Sunny Honey Bali Bronzing FoamCoco & Evecultbeauty.co.uk£25.90SHOP NOW

This water based formula won't interfere with your skincare or make-up, meaning it slots into your routine easily. As for the finish? Expect a bronze tint that makes your complexion so glowy you're bronzer will get jealous. A few drops means the formula will last you months too.

H20 Tan Drops Facejamesreadtan.com£30.00SHOP NOW

This super luxe self tan feels like a body treatment and the tanning aspect is just a brilliant bonus. It smells heavenly and after a few applications you will see how the papaya andaloe vera have soothed skin so that it's silky soft.


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