Best foolproof fake tans and how to avoid orange hands and streaks from self tanning

Are you a lapsed self-tanner, or somebody who’s never even dared to try? You’re actually in the majority. “Lots of people give up because they’ve had a bad experience in the past, and research has found three out of five people have never used self-tan,” says James Harknett, celebrity tan guru and Three Warriors global creative artist. “They need to know how much formulas have improved, and how easy it is now to get a perfect glow.”

Isle of Paradise founder Jules Von Hep agrees. “Everything you thought you knew about tan, get rid of it. Everything has changed now. There’s been so much research into finding DHA (the tanning ingredient) that really mimics skin tone, and you have hydrating formulas that melt into the skin as opposed to sitting on the surface."

"It’s much easier to not be afraid. I always say to people, “Tan can smell fear.” That’s when you might make mistakes but if you go in there confident, you're going to be fine.”

So trust us, there's no need to be afraid. Just follow our expert advice, and you’ll soon be faking without quaking.

I exfoliated but it still went wrong

You might have over-scrubbed (yes it’s possible!). “If you scrub too much you take off the surface layer your tan binds with, so the tan doesn’t penetrate as well,” says James.

Or you may have used the wrong product. “Oily sugar and salt scrubs can stop the tan absorbing,” says Jimmy Coco, the Kardashians’ self-tan guru. “Even shave gels can form a barrier. Dry skin does a great job of absorbing tan, which is why I invented Buff & Glow, £9.98 here, a tanning mitt with a rough side for dry exfoliation.”

We've tried Jimmy's mitt and can confirm it's genius – top marks for including an extra-tough zone at the tip to tackle the most gnarly areas of dry skin. Until you can get your hands on it, a good buff with a dry, stiff towel is the next best thing.

The guide colour streaked, so I washed it off and gave up

No need to panic. “The guide colour is literally just make-up in the tan so you can see where you’re going,” says Jules. “Don’t stress if you see it’s overlapping, that’s not going to streak. It will only be a problem if you can see patches of your natural skin tone showing through. At the end, take your mitt and go over your whole body to ensure you’ve not missed any bits.”

I used a mitt but still got streaks

Did you wash the mitt first? “A lot of people don’t, and it is the first big mistake in tanning,” says Claire Lambert, Skinny Tan’s resident expert. “If there is lingering tan on your mitt you can cause streaks and affect the application process.”

My hands and feet always look bad

“The trick is to moisturise your hands and feet before AND after you apply. It really does make a difference,” says Jules. “Also, put micellar water on a face cloth and then just rub it over the palms and in between the fingers. A mistake that is seen so often is tan stuck between the fingers, and it can be combatted really easily.”

The colour went far too dark

“I suggest doing a skin test before you apply a tan to your whole body,” says Jimmy. “Do a couple of test patches on an inconspicuous areas, then rinse one of them after four hours and one after eight hours. That’s a good way to see how dark it will be, and if you prefer a shorter application time.”

5 of the best new foolproof self-tans

Sunless By Jimmy Coco Cocooning Face and Body Soufflé £28.99 here

Jimmy’s brand includes this luxe whipped formula which has added moisturisers to help colour last. It comes in five shades, with full Kardashian approval: “We did a version of the ID5 shade for Kim at this year’s Met Gala, so her pearls would really stand out against her skin tone,” says Jimmy. We've tested the soufflé out ourselves, and can confirm that the result is 100% worthy of the red carpet.

Isle of Paradise Express 30-Min Mousse £21.95 here

This one is the fastest ever tan from IoP, featuring a bodge-proof guide colour. Even if you wash it off after 30 mins you’ll get a subtle skin lift, while 2-3 hours gives a rich result for the time poor. We left it on for three hours and were impressed by the flawless, natural-looking result which looked just like a week away in Ibiza.

Three Warriors Gradual Tan £34.99 here

This organic range was created by a brand founder suffering from an inflammatory illness and wanting a cleaner lifestyle. The easy to build formula is non-intimidating, and it definitely gives a healthy glow. If you've never tanned before or you've lost your confidence, this is the perfect product to go for. The brand's facial tanning mist is brilliant too.

Bondi Sands Technocolor 1 Hour Express range £19.99 here

Created to ease jitters about turning orange, this high-tech tan come in four undertones to balance different complexions. Sapphire flatters fairer skin tones, Emerald suits olive skin, Magenta counteracts unwanted cool tones on deep skin, and Caramel gives darkest skin a gold-toned glow. We found Sapphire gave a great result on fair skin – and no it didn't look blue!

St.Tropez Self Tan Luxe Body Serum, £35 here

Self-tan can often fall by the wayside for older women, due to fears of it drying the skin out, but this serum formula combines a sun-free glow with nourishing skincare ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, niacinamide and vitamin B5. It gives a very pretty light glow, and it makes skin feel great too.

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