Carola Long: 'If you haven’t the time or the inclination to get slimmer, the last resort is the optical illusion of fake tan'

Deep down, most of us know that miracle beauty products are the adult version of believing in the tooth fairy. However, come high summer, with photos of toned celebs frolicking on Caribbean beaches seeping into the collective subconscious, I'd probably be willing to buy a body cream made out of jellyfish venom if I read that Cindy Crawford swore by it.

Thus, when Boob Job in a Box (£72 at Harvey Nichols) arrived in the office, my interest was piqued; something about the packaging's brazen lack of subtlety or tact. The blurb was blunt to say the least; it stated that women with firmer breasts "seem more confident" and grandly claimed it would "lift your bustline, accentuate your cleavage and totally round out your actual bust profile". It consisted of two creams to be applied twice a day, a giant elastic exercise band and instructions for six different chest exercises. Perhaps, surprisingly, it did actually work... a bit. It won't give you Lara Stone's décolletage, but the creams do firm the skin, while the exercises create a – very subtle – lift.

And with time for radical regimes running out fast, I'll take subtle results as long as they're quick. After all, mathematically speaking, surely multiple discreet treatments ought to add up to self-improvement squared.

You can't beat professional body treatments, and next week London's Glow Urban Spa (glowurbanspa.co.uk) is about to launch the first salon versions by Rodial, including Nip/Tuck, which targets dry skin, cellulite, water retention and stretch marks for smooth skin and a sleeker silhouette (£90 for 60 mins).

If you haven't got the time or the inclination to actually get slimmer, then the last resort is appearing thinner via the optical illusion of fake tan. With the return of the deep, bronze self-tan, gradual versions such as Johnson's Holiday Skin, just seem a bit half-hearted. Try one of the new super-dark products such as Xen Tan's Dark Lotion Absolute Luxe, £34.95 (xen-tan.co.uk); or St Tropez has a limited-edition Dark Tan Mist, dubbed "the fashion tan" which is available in salons nationwide (from £25, st-tropez.com). When it comes to the deepest tans, unless you are a real dab hand at application, it's probably best not to try this at home.

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