11 best fake tans

Cheat your way to an instant glow with one of our pick of the best self-tanners

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The Independent Online

From instant, to gradual, to traditional slow-developing, from milks, to creams, to mousses, to sprays, whatever your skin needs – face or body – there's a faker to suit. All of these pass the test for tone, streaking, smell and ease of application so you can get a natural glow (no tango here) with minimal messiness and no tell-tale after-scent. Much like decorating, a good fake finish is all about the prep, so make sure you've scrubbed all the dry bits around elbows, knees, ankles and wrists and applied moisturiser before you begin.

1. Elemis Total Glow Bronzing Body Lotion: £34.50, timetospa.com

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Natural beauty junkies will love this ultra-glowy, golden gradual tanning lotion, which is free from parabens, SLS, mineral oils, artificial colours and silicones. Instead it's packed with skin-evening anti-oxidant green tea, hydrating red algae extract, and nourishing and conditioning abyssinian and elderberry seed oils.

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2. Barely Not Your Average Tanning Mitt: £7, lovelula.com

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Not strictly speaking a self-tanner, but this tanning mitt keeps hands free from those tell-tale stains on the palm and between the fingers and gives a well-blended, streak-free finish. It's double sided, so you get twice the mitt action for your money, and it's specially designed to be non-absorbent (by a whopping 49% over others in the market) to minimise the amount of product wasted.

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3. St Tropez Gradual Tan In Shower: £9.67, boots.com

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Being a lazy faker, if there are any shortcuts to self-tanning I'm happy to try them – and this is a winner. Scrub up as normal in the shower, turn the water off and apply in circular motions like a body cream, wash off palms and wait 3 minutes. (Make sure the bathroom is warm and cosy – 3 minutes standing wet with the shower off is the slowest 3 minutes I've ever experienced!) Finally, fully rinse off with warm water. It gives a very light, natural glow (good for the usually tan-phobic), but if you do it regularly you can achieve a deeper, more intense tan.

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4. Bliss Fat Girl Slim Hide & Seek Glow: £30, blissworld.co.uk

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Bliss has taken the trademarked Fat Girl Slim firming technology from their spa treatments and poured it into an instant tanner. It's in a spray can, too, so those hard-to-reach places are easier to tan. Use it every day for its skin-smoothing and firming benefits and wash off before re-applying to avoid peeling and caking. Available in a fair-to-medium and medium-to-deep shades.

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5. James Read Self-Tan Express Glow Mask Body: £35, jamesreadtan.com

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Going to bed in self tan is a recipe for disaster if you have pale bed sheets, so this one's for you if you want a fast-developing tan with no overnight wait. In 30 minutes you'll get a light golden glow and a deeper more intense tan in 60.

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6. Sisley Self-Tanning Hydrating Facial Skin Care: £83.50, sisley-paris.co.uk

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The Ferrari of face tanning, this is not easy on the purse strings but if your beauty budget will stretch, it's a seriously luxurious high performance product that gives a beautiful natural glow and is packed with anti-ageing benefits. Exfoliate and moisturise, then rub in in soft circular motions as you would with a body tan.

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7. L'Oreal Paris Sublime Bronze Dream Legs BB Instant Perfecting Tanning Care: £6.66, boots.com

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The first few days of summer are a bit of shock for English rose pins that have been wrapped up for the best part of 9 months, but this wash-off bronzing perfecting BB cream will ease you in slowly. Even out all those blotches and blemishes with this 5-in-1 treatment balm, which improves tone, moisturises, softens, smooths and blurs imperfections.

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8. He-Shi Overnight Ageless Tanning Balm Self-Tanner for Face: £21.35, feelunique.com

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If you'd like some anti-ageing benefits in your self tan, try this skin-firming, gradual overnight tan, which comes in unisex packaging to appeal to both boys and girls (hence the name). Velvety smooth, it diffuses the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles using a skin-caring blend of subtle tanning agents, jojoba protein and hyaluronic acid to boost moisture and elasticity in dehydrated or ageing skin.

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9. Vichy Laboratories Ideal Soleil Self-Tanner Moisturizing Milk Face and Body: £9.35, feelunique.com

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Sensitive complexions will love this nourishing, easy to apply, milky formula that gives an ultra-natural finish. Packed with vitamin E and hydrating ingredients, it boosts radiance and can be used on the face, too, as it is made from non-pore-clogging ingredients so you won't get blackheads.

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10. Xen-Tan Mist Intense Weekly Self-Tan: £23.99, feelunique.com

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If a pale and natural-looking glow isn't your thing and you want a beautiful rich dark intense tan, Xen-Tan Mist Intense is the one for you. Quick-drying, paraben-free, long-wearing and vanilla-scented, it's is perfect for olive-toned skins.

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11. Bronze Buffer Self-Tan Remover: £10, thisisbeautymart.com

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If it all goes wrong and you need to tone it down, this little buffer will do the trick. Just add water to the sponge and gently exfoliate to even out streaks, clean-up stained palms and build-up on knees and ankles and gets between fingers and toes.

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Verdict:

L'Oreal Paris Dream Legs perfects tone and adds colour in an instant and Xen Tan Mist Intense is perfect for olive skintones, while Elemis Total Glow delivers the most natural, bronzed glow and packs a powerful punch thanks to its extra skin-care benefits; a little pricey, but worth it.

Video: Top 5 anti-ageing beauty products of the year

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