The Great Fake Bake-Off - My Very Favourite Fake Tannning Products!

2:26 AM

So it's totally, officially, 100% not summer anymore *sad trombone sound*. Total bummer, dudes. I love me some summer and am not looking forward to winter, which is a joke of a season and totally useless except for my birthday (JULY 21ST SEND PRESENTS).

Despite the on and off weather here in Sydney, I still wanted to look summery and as getting a real tan is basically the worst thing you can ever do for your skin ever and will eventually kill you, I opted for a faux glow, trialling a total of twenty-two fake tans over the last few months. Here's my impressions of the best fake tans for your booty.

Best fake tan - for face

Let's start this show off real fancy-like! Yes, Sisley is a bit of an exxy brand, but when it comes to my face, I will always pick a product that can care for my skin as well as they can amp up the bronze. Sisley Paris Self Tanning Hydrating Facial Skin Care (A$170/60ml) gives a natural-looking wash of tan, while moisturising and not leaving my skin feeling tight or itchy.

Best fake tan - lotion formula

Bondi Sands Self Tanning Lotion in Dark ($19.95/200ml) is my go-to for when I have a next day event, or pre-bikini freak-out. It absorbs quickly, doesn't rub off onto absofuckinglutely everything after application and delivers a streak free finish after you rinse off. The bottle claims it will work after one hour, but I always apply at night and wash off the next morning. Two things to be wary of - this is a runny lotion and escapes from the tube very quickly! It also spreads out well, and you'll need less than you think. Warning number two - once applied, it shows up as a grungy, dirty green. This has no bearing on how the final colour will turn out, but I did a bit of a nervous ohfuckohfuckohfuckohfuckohfuck dance the first time I tried it out.

Best fake tan - mousse formula

Mousse tan in a can is my absolute favourite way of DIY tan. Almost foolproof (applying without a tanning glove is asking for trouble) and quick drying, ModelCo's SUPERTAN Instant Self Tan ($25/100ml, $39/180ml) does everything it should as easily as possible. Perfect for 40 degree weather when you need a tan, but hate the greasy cloy of a cream. This mousse is pretty tricky to streak and also has a promise to develop within an hour (although it's another one I apply and wear overnight). It's also a darker shade than the rest of ModelCo's tanning line.

*Provided for review by brand*

Best fake tan - spray formula

Nope sorry, can't touch this one. Spray can tan has been banned from my bathroom after a disastrous ordeal that shall only be known as The Oranging. I still dream of it on my darkest of nights...

Best fake tan - gel formula

Sukin makes some pretty nifty sustainable skincare products (currently trialling their body oil, it.smells.ahhhfriggingmazing) and this is their first self tanning product, the Sunless Bronzing Gel ($17.95/200ml). It's a lot lighter than the other tans I've listed, more skin kissed than burnished, and can be built up over several days if you won't something darker. I'm happy to use this on my face and it's the first gel I've tried that is quick-drying. It also works as a moisturising top up for an existing tan, and is the least smelly of all the tans I've tried, leaning more lemony which isn't at all offensive.

*Provided for review by brand*

And the worst gel formula?

You know how little children's hands are always sticky with jam? This is what L'Oreal Sublime Bronze Self Tanning Gel ($23.95/150ml) feels like - greasy, gooey and sticky. And it never dries, leaving you tacky until you collect a thigh-full of biscuit crumbs and cat hair (why so much cat hair? I don't even own a cat!), or snap after two hours and shower it off. Also it smells like arse.

Best fake tan - for pale gals

Another gel, Biotherm Gelee Auto-Bronzante Hydratante Self Tanning Gel ($52/150ml) gives a super light coat of colour. No streaks, dries quick, close to no fake bake smell. I use this a lot in winter, when a tan will look out of place but I don't want to scare young children and blind motorists with my obscenely pale legs. The tube says it's tinted, but the tube is a lie - this applies clear on me and is therefore safe to wear under your gladrags.

Best fake tan - for uber bronzing

Pure Tan's Pure Bronze Instant Tanning Foam in Dark ($29.95/200ml) is strictly for the hardcore tanners. If not applied correctly, you can turn Mamba Gyaru extra in a single extra pump of product. 

But used with a light touch, you can get a super brown look that will develop in an hour. My regular MO of applying and sleeping in tan does not work well here. Here's the trail of destruction left after doing just that while on holiday.

RIP bed sheets. And yes, that a tip and note to the cleaner trying to explain the marks weren't blood. Which probably made it even more suspicious.

Best fake tan - gradual tan

I've finally moved on from Holiday Skin to SunSense Everyday Radiance ($9.95, 200ml), which smells a lot better and sinks in faster. Being a gradual tan, it is quite subtle, and I like to use it to top up a tan after a few days to stretch it out a little longer. Remeber that gradual tans can also strain your hands a fetching shade of Sunkist, so scrub them well after use.

*Provided for review by brand*

Best fake tan - wash off tan 

ModelCo One Night Tan ($12/65g, $28/150g) is a total lifesaver for fixing uneven tans, upping the colour or giving pale pins a glow. Unlike a few other body tint products, One Night Tan doesn't mark or stain my clothes and still packs a pigment punch.

It has to be said that I think all of these tans should be applied with a tanning glove. You can read the reasons why and how-to on my piece for Cosmopolitan here!

That's my favourites list! Have I have missed any that you think should be on my list?

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24 brilliant comments

  1. Thanks :) I had often wondered about the effectiveness of the gel tans, and I love Sukin so it's great to get a review.

  2. Sukin really is a lovely brand - I've enjoyed using every product I've tried from them so far.

  3. Loving Tan ( should definitely be added to the list for a mousse, it has such a natural colour. Plus it is affordable and a bottle lasts for so many applications.

  4. I adore EcoTan, their Invisible Tan is incredible for topping up and moisturising an existing (real) tan. And no staining or oranging anything!

  5. Added to my shopping list!

  6. I haven't heard of this brand, but I do love a mousse.

  7. Wow, you're like the tanning Queen now! I'm so glad to see you moved on from Holiday Skin, I could never get over just how BAD that stuff smells.....

  8. That picture of the bed sheets is hilarious! I really love the Le Tan mousse but it has quite a strong smell. I also love that L'Oreal one you dissed, I found it super easy to use and never streaky

  9. Hiya! What about St Tropez? I use their mouse every summer. I love it, but must admit I have never used anything else so can't really compare. I know it has cult following though.


  10. Ok checked out the tanning mitt and it is the way to go. Thanks for the tip.

  11. Glad you like them too! I can't imagine tanning without one now!

  12. Lord, no idea why this comment is only showing up now, but I do like like St Tropez, it works, and the mousse dries quickly. I just find it a bit pricey.

  13. I like this post and how you deliver it. It's fun to read and really good tips. =)

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