6 of the best fake tans for a summer glow-up

·Shopping writer
·5-min read
I tried fake tan for the first time and here are my favourites for this summer. (Getty Images)
I tried fake tan for the first time and here are my favourites for this summer. (Getty Images)

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Summer is on the horizon, but unlike last year, the promised heatwave is nowhere to be seen – so it seems we'll have to DIY the glowing holiday skin for now.

Unfortunately, I am a fake tan novice. I have never applied bronzer with a mitt, spray tanned, or sprawled on a sun bed.

I've avoided the entire summer beauty section in stores for years, because I've never trusted myself to perfect a streak-free tan. I assumed I'd either sweat it off, or resemble a real-life Oompa Loompa.  

What's more, I once dropped a bottle of my sister's St. Tropez all over the floor, which I always felt was a bad omen. 

However, lockdown has changed me. I've had more time to get experimental with the cult beauty item without fear of having to hide blotchy mahogany skin in the office, or showcasing reptilian, orange hands (the ultimate giveaway). 

Last year I dabbled in Vichy's SPF tan accelerator, but given that there's minimal sunshine to be seen, I delved a little deeper into the world of fake tan this time round, and I now can't believe it's taken me so long. I have been converted. 

I've experimented with a variety of brands over recent months, including the bestselling Isle of Paradise, Tan Luxe, as well as the unsung hero that is utan, and I am pleasantly surprised. 

From different shades, and formulas to foams, sprays, drops and mists, here's all my current favourites.

Shop our 6 top fake tan picks

For face

Tan-Luxe Super Glow Hyaluronic Self-Tan Serum | £35 from lookfantastic

Tan-Luxe Super Glow Hyaluronic Self-Tan Serum
Tan-Luxe Super Glow Hyaluronic Self-Tan Serum

I started easing my way into the world of fake tan with Tan-luxe's bestselling Super Glow Hyaluronic Self-Tan Serum over the last few months, after seeing it plastered all over social media. Safe to say, it's worth the hype. 

These drops are a triple win, as the hylauronic acid hydrates your skin, boosts your skin's radiancy, and adds a little sunkissed glow too. They're simple to use - I mix two or three drops in with my morning moisturiser. After a day, I notice a subtle glow, but they can be used continuously for a darker tan.  

I love the lack of that fake tan smell, plus it's lightweight, smooth and doesn't clog pores. 

utan Coconut Tanning Water | £17.99 from Superdrug

utan Coconut Tanning Water
utan Coconut Tanning Water

utan's award-winning tanning water has changed my opinion on fake tan.  

This formula is nourishing and soothing, as it contains pure coconut extract, aloe vera and vitamin E. 

The gradual tanning mist can be sprayed on a bare face, or after applying make-up for a subtle hint of tan, which will develop over four to six hours. It's lightweight, grease-free, and smells of summer with its hint of coconut. Plus the packaging is beautiful!

For body 

Isle Of Paradise Glow Clear Self Tanning Mousse | £13.30 (Was £19.95) from Boots 

Isle Of Paradise Glow Clear Self Tanning Mousse
Isle Of Paradise Glow Clear Self Tanning Mousse

Isle of Paradise is another bestselling fake tan, which promises no streaks, smells or stains.

It appears to be a clear water in the refillable bottle, but transforms into a lightweight mousse on application. Plus the mousse is not the alarming, garishly brown foam we've come to fear. 

This creation is easy to apply, lightweight and sheer, but develops into a golden glow. It doesn't transfer onto clothes, and I received a fair few compliments too - bonus! 

utan Exfoliating Gradual Tan Mylk | £19.99 from Superdrug  

utan Exfoliating Gradual Tan Mylk
utan Exfoliating Gradual Tan Mylk

Safe to say utan Exfoliating Gradual Tan Mylk is my favourite fake tan. It is easy to use, smells divine, is not streaky, doesn't stain, or transfer, and it felt like a skincare product for the whole body. 

The formula grabbed my attention as it contains salicyclic acid, which unclogs pores and evens skin tone, which may seem bizarre for a fake tan, but left me feeling cleansed, exfoliated and as though I was giving my body a bit more TLC than simply lathering on a tan. 

Although the salicyclic acid can make your body tingle, the milk also contains soothing aloe vera, shea and cocoa butter, to moisturise the skin, which all helps to avoid the 'tiger bread' effect. 

For a top up 

Solait Bronzing Facial Spritz | £4.99 from Superdrug  

Solait Bronzing Facial Spritz
Solait Bronzing Facial Spritz

I have found myself gravitating more towards Superdrug's beauty and skincare products of late because the majority of their own brands are vegan or cruelty free. 

This transparent bronzing water contains hyaluronic acid and vitamin E, which is nourishing for the skin and provides a glow, while the fake tan is subtle enough to make an existing tan - whether fake or real - last a little longer. It works well on its own, but also layered over existing tans to enhance the colour, and make your bronzed look last a little longer. 

utan Total Glow DHA-Free | £19.99 from Superdrug

utan Total Glow DHA-Free
utan Total Glow DHA-Free

Similar to the Solait spray utan's face mist was simple and easy to use. It is suitable for all skin types and sensitives, as well as allergies, which appealed to me. The Total Glow can be used on the face and body, although there is also a separate spray specifically for the face. 

It is rich with soothing and moisturising aloe vera, as well as hyaluronic acid, coconut and calendula, as well as raspberry based keto-sugar, which enhances the tan. 

I have been applying it to my face and body for when the tan starts to wear off, but also on tan-free skin to add a light glow when my skin looks a little dull. utan's Total Glow also claims to accelerate your natural tan when exposed to UV rays, but with the sun yet to show itself the jury's out on that for now!. 

Watch: How to apply make-up to dry skin