Self tanning review and compare

How to get the bronzed look without the harmful rays.
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  • Updated:4 Oct 2006

04.Our findings

Orange Alert

  • We’ve all seen the result of a bad fake tan that’s left a poor soul looking more Fanta orange than beautifully bronzed. The good news is our trialists found most products they tried produced just about the right colour of tan, although the MONNÉ Express Tan Spray was generally found to be a little too dark.
  • Several brands were found to be a little too light, but this isn’t a problem if you’re going for a subtle look, and you can always apply another layer later to deepen the colour.
  • Our trialists also thought CLARINS Instant Gel and AVEDA Sun Source produced a very natural colour one day after application.
  • Perhaps the only thing worse than ending up orange is ending up orange and stripy. The best way to help you get an even tan is to exfoliate properly first (see Tanning tips).
  • Our trialists thought CLARINS, AVEDA and BANANA BOAT Instant Sunless produced a very even tan one day after application.


  • Don’t expect your tan to last more than a few days without reapplying.
  • Most of the products on trial don’t make any claims about their durability and trialists found most of them didn’t last for five days with only one application.
  • Of the products on trial, LANCÔME Sôleil Flash Bronzer Mousse rated best for retaining a very natural and even-looking tan after five days.


  • Our trialists had some very different ideas about how the products smell — it’s clearly a very personal preference. For example, one trialist commented that one of the products had an unpleasant “chemical hair product” smell, while another didn’t think it had any smell at all.
  • However, the highest proportion of trialists thought SHISHEIDO Brilliant Bronze, NIVEA Sun — Sun Touch, PRICELINE Sun Gel and AVEDA had a very pleasant fragrance.


  • Fake tans can stain towels, clothes, bed linen and carpets. The MODEL CO Tan Airbrush had the highest proportion of trialists saying it stained something other than their skin during or after its application.
  • Like many of the fake tans, this product does have a warning on its packaging that it will stain some materials, so it’s a good idea not to wear light-coloured or expensive clothes immediately after applying any tan.

Drying times

  • Drying times varied between products. INNOXA Sun Defence and NEUTROGENA Instant Bronze were found to dry in less than one minute by the highest proportion of trialists.
  • At the other end of the scale, L’OREAL Sublime Bronze and PRICELINE were found to take 20 minutes or longer to dry more often than the other products.

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