Much like painting and decorating, a faux glow will only ever be as good as the preparation beforehand. So, always exfoliate, shave and moisturise 24 hours before going for gold (en limbs).
Apply a light moisturiser to dry bits just before starting - ankles, knees, feet, wrists and elbows - and massage in a circular motion, using a tanning mitt to avoid bronzed palms.
Novices could try a gradual tanner like This Works Perfect Legs Gradual Tan or Seventeen's wash-off Instant Glow Bronzing Mousse, while those after a deep tan should opt for the likes of Lancome's Flash Bronzer or Fake Bake's 60 minutes.
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10 best fake tans
10 best fake tans
1/10 St Tropez Sensitive Bronzing Mousse
St Tropez make a vast range of products but I love this new sensitive range aimed at people with easily-irritated skin. It's lightweight, absorbs easily and is ultra-nourishing. I found it gives a really subtle tan and is fool proof to apply – perfect for first time tanners. St Tropez recommend using it two to three times a week to get a stronger colour. There's also a version designed specifically for the face and this one’s safe to use during pregnancy too. £28 for 200ml, st-tropez.com
2/10 James Read Bronzing Spray Instant
James Read counts supermodels and popstars among his clients, and now you can get at-home versions of his salon products. This spray has an easy-to-use 360-degree nozzle, making hard-to-reach places a breeze to tan, and the tinted formula means you can see what you're doing. It's non-sticky, fragrance free and dries in 60 seconds. You get an instant golden glow, that develops into a deeper tan over time - this one ticks all my tanning boxes. £24.50 for 200ml, harveynichols.com
3/10 Elemis Total Glow Bronzing Body Lotion
One for self-tan sceptics, you build this luxurious lotion gradually over two to three days and it leaves you with a natural-looking, sun-kissed glow. It conditions and hydrates the skin too, and the combo of delicate florals and zesty lemon scent make it a pleasure to put on. You can also use it between tanning treatments to maintain colour. £34.50 for 200ml, debenhams.com
4/10 Fake Bake 60 Minutes
Short of time and need a quick boost of colour? Pop on this liquid and wash off after 60 minutes for a golden tan. If you want a darker hue, leave on for two hours. Or three for a deep tan. Leaving on mousses or lotion overnight has always put me off self-tanning, so this is a breakthrough. It comes with a professional mitt – goodbye tell-tale stained palms - is easy to apply and comes up streak free. £24.95 for 236ml, fakebake.co.uk
5/10 This Works Perfect Legs Gradual Tan
Fake tans aren't for everyone, but we all want smooth, sun-kissed limbs when we're about to bare all for summer. This gives a subtle glow without streaking or clogging pores, and leaves skin moisturised and hydrated. This Works recommend you use it every day in the week for beautifully bronzed limbs by the weekend. This isn't for anyone after a deep tan but we found it's perfect for pale legs that just need a bit more colour. £38 for 120ml, thisworks.com
6/10 Lancome Flash Bronzer Transfer Resistant Self-Tanning Lotion
A cult classic, Flash Bronzer is still a huge hit and the latest formula is transfer resistant so you can get dressed immediately after application. The tinted lotion makes it easy to see where you've applied and I found it completely streak-free. It is quite dark, so you might want to mix it with body lotion for a more subtle tan this early in the year. Enriched with Vitamin E, it leaves skin feeling super nourished. £24 for 125ml, lancome.co.uk
7/10 Michael Kors Liquitan Self Tanner
I know we shouldn’t be seduced by packaging, but this looked so fabulous I dived straight in to try it out. And it certainly delivered. The sandalwood scent means it doesn't smell like a self-tan, while its fast-acting formula delivers an immediate coppery glow and develops into a natural-looking tan within an hour. This is self-tanning at its most glamorous. £18 for 150ml, houseoffraser.co.uk
8/10 L'Oreal Paris Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Elixir
The holy grail of tanning is for the colour to be long-lasting and even – and this delivers just that. Apply for three days in a row and the intense golden tan will last two weeks, fading evenly towards the end of the second week. You can use it on the face and body and it smells more like holidays and sunscreen than self-tan, which is a relief. It's not for the fairer skinned as it does deliver quite a deep tan but it's perfect for olive and naturally darker skin tones. £15.99 for 100ml, feelunique.com
9/10 Decleor Aroma Sun Expert Self-Tanning Milk Natural Glow
If like me, you're not a fan of the self-tan smell, then this one should be your top choice. Rose and jasmine essential oils and Tahiti vanilla extract make this a joy to use. Non-greasy and non-sticky, it gives a really natural sun-kissed look, while the bonus anti-ageing complex promotes cell renewal and reduces wrinkles and fine lines. Choose this if skin care and a natural tan are your priorities. £24 for 125ml, decleor.co.uk
10/10 Seventeen Instant Glow Bronzing Mousse
New to tanning? Then this instant mousse is a good bet. Inexpensive and super-easy to apply, its lightweight formula comes up streak free and if you make a mistake you can just wash off and start again. It's also transfer resistant so won't come off on clothes or bedsheets. £5.99 for 150ml, boots.com
Celebrity tanner James Read has perfected his Bronzing Spray to give you an A-list salon result at home. But top marks go to St Tropez for sheer innovation – a sensitive range for easily irritated skin and safe for use in pregnancy is a winner in our book.
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