The best gradual fake tans, ranked by reviews

When it comes to long-lasting tans, us Brits know all too well that we probably won’t be getting one from the great British summer. Yep, for most us, our ‘golden’ ticket  can be found within a biscuit-scented bottle. The editors at Get The Gloss have helpfully reviewed seven of the best gradual fake tans – a great option for those afraid of taking the plunge with “proper” fake tans – just in time for prime skirt season. Gone are the days of streaky orange skin: these will leave you bronzed and glowing.

The best gradual fake tans

1. St. Tropez Gradual Tan Everyday Body Lotion Light/Medium, £14.50

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The promise: “Gradually builds to create a classic, healthy-looking tan to suit you.”

The review: St.Tropez self-tan is easy to apply and a slow builder, so you get a natural-looking colour. The reviewer at Get the Gloss recommends opting for the darker shade if you want a deeper tan. It left my skin moisturised and glowing,” she said, but also noted that the tan had a tendency to collect around the knees and ankles. After multiple applications, she also found it difficult to remove from her hands, leaving tell-tale tango fingers. The biggest discovery was that “it was brilliant for touching up any mistakes when using “proper” fake tan, blending in any tell-tale streaks beautifully”. If you’re anything like us, there will be many of those!

The rating: 7/10

2. Fake Bake Gradual Self Tan Lotion in Fair, £24.95

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The promise: “Creates a truly bespoke tan as you can control the depth of colour.”

The review: For the fake tan-phobic, the reviewer at Get the Gloss mentioned that the ‘fair’ colour was scarily dark on first glance, however, the tint was actually really helpful for application – goodbye streaky legs! She described it as soft on the skin and that it sunk in quickly. Her word of warning: “Wear the gloves they supply or you’ll be racing against the clock to wash your hands before they stain”. After letting it develop overnight, she said: “the colour was spot on: a subtle streak-free glow that said more weekend in Cornwall (a lucky one) than fortnight in the Caribbean”. Unfortunately, the reviewer said that the scent was a big problem with a “sickly sweet fragrance” and that there was an obvious fake tan smell as it developed, which significantly lowered the score.

The rating: 5/10

3. Clinique Body Tinted Lotion in Light/Medium, £20

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The promise: “Tinted lotion gives you instant colour, a golden ‘tan’ develops in just a few hours.”

The review: This Clinique tan is ideal for those with delicate and sensitive skin as it’s 100% fragrance-free (although it does contain DHA, so do a patch test if you’re really sensitive). It has a dark tint for super easy application so you can see exactly where you’re applying it –no more guesswork. For best results let it develop overnight as the colour will intensify; the reviewer at Get the Gloss said that the end resulting colour was “a glowing, golden bronze”, but she also noted that for all the fair-skinned gals, be light-handed as it could “verge on the tangerine”.

The rating: 8/10

4. Clarins Radiance Plus Golden Glow Booster, £20

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The promise: “Use just a few drops of sun booster for a golden glow.”

The review: For a bespoke tanning experience the Clarins drops are ideal: simply add between 4-6 drops to your regular moisturiser (or more if you want a more intense colour) and apply evenly all over. This tan has a much higher concentration of tanning ingredients than most gradual tanners, which means that a little goes a long way – beware of Oompa Loompa legs! The reviewer at Get the Gloss said that the end result was “a healthy, natural glow that develops without a tidemark or pasty patch in sight”. Basically, it’s fool-proof for pale skin tones and fake tan-phobes.

The rating: 9/10

5. Elemis Total Glow Bronzing Body Lotion, £25

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The promise: “Luxurious, gradual tan body lotion that instantly moisturises the skin.”

The review: First off, the reviewer at Get the Gloss described this as “actually the best I’ve tried”. So, yeah, we’re pretty sure this tan will deliver. It leaves skin smooth and soft and has the added benefit of nourishing oils and protective antioxidants, which is perfect for multitasking as it gets rid of the need for a separate body moisturiser. Plus, there’s no tell-tale tan smell, so you’re good to go in a rush! According to the reviewer, the colour developed into a streak-free and “expensive-looking, natural holiday hue”. So for an ‘I’ve just been on holiday’ look at a much lower price point, this is the one to go for.

The rating: 9/10

6. Tan-Luxe The Gradual in Light, £22

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The promise: “Effortless, glowing, super-luxe skin.”

The review: This tan is virtually unscented, so won’t leave you with that biscuity smell after application and it can be used on both face and body – hello, multitasking hack. The reviewer at Get the Gloss said that the colour is very natural and that a little goes a long way as it comes up much stronger than other gradual tanners, so use a mitt to dodge streaks. The advice is to avoid sweaty activities for at least four hours after application to allow the tan to fully develop, however, the reviewer says: “If you suddenly wanted to wear a skirt and had pasty legs, you could whack this on and in less than an hour you’d be more than presentable". The only failing was the very runny consistency, so use with care!

The rating: 9/10

7. Garnier Summer Body Lotion Light Sun-Kissed, £5.10

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The promise: “Skin is beautifully moisturised and looks naturally sun-kissed.”

The review: The biggest bargain of all the tested tans, this one fared pretty well. It has a fresh apricot smell and a light, non-greasy formula, which absorbs in around five minutes. The reviewer at Get the Gloss noted that it’s great for a subtle tan, but “if you want a more intense colour, you can easily build up the layers over a few days without a streak or patch in sight”. For hydrated, summer-ready skin with an extra glow, this garnier gradual tan is great, and at under £6, it’s amazing value for money. Plus, the supersized bottle will see you through summer.

The rating: 9/10

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