The best fake tans for every skin type out there

No sun? No problem.

best fake tans - heatworld

by Caitlin Casey |

We have a special place in our hearts for fake tan. After one mere application, we can emerge from our bathrooms with newly-found confidence and a holiday-worthy glow. Just bloody brilliant.

It's no secret that fake tan has come a long way since the noughties. Essentially, it no longer smells of biscuits or leaves nasty streak marks on our bodies and bedding. There are even face tanners made for that sensitive skin, so no more patchy noses or necks. Hallelujah.

Some of us love to keep our gradual tanners close to our hearts, whilst others love to stick to the classic mousse applicators (you can't knock it, really). But the truth is, there are all sorts of fake tans out there, whether you're looking for something subtle or want to go ultra-dark.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals on fake tans

We interrupt the regularly scheduled content to let you know that although Black Friday is over, there are still plenty of discounts to take advantage of throughout the Cyber weekend, including a whole host of Black Friday deals on fake tan. Want to grab a bargain? These are the retailers that have the best deals right now, or keep scrolling to continue reading our buyer's guide.

Where to shop Black Friday and Cyber Monday beauty deals: LOOKFANTASTIC | Boots | Sephora

Save 53%: Bondi Sands Self Tan Oil Liquid Gold, WAS £19.99, NOW £9.30

Save 50%: St.Tropez Self Tan Classic Bronzing Mousse, WAS £32, NOW £16

Save 50%: Dove Derma Spa Summer Revived Gradual Self Tan, WAS £7.69, NOW £4.25

Save 38%: L'Oreal Paris Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Dry Mist, WAS £14.99, NOW £9.28

Save 36%: He-Shi Express Liquid Tan, WAS £22, NOW £13.99

Save 30%: Tanologist Self-Tan Water, WAS £13.99, NOW £9.79

Save 25%: Isle of Paradise Self-Tanning Water Medium, WAS £18.95, NOW £14.21

Save 7%: JAMES READ Sleep Mask, Overnight Gradual Tan Gel for the Face, WAS £27.50, NOW £25.47

©@theisleofparadise on Instagram

Let's be real, there's nothing better than feeling the glow of a freshly-baked fake tan application, and after a couple of hours stinking up the house you look as good as when you just came off a holiday. Whether you're an expert at-home applicator or this is your first time here (we all have to start somewhere), we've got a complete guide to the best fake tans on the market right now. From Isle of Paradise to the iconic St Moriz, there's something for everyone - and you'll feel ready to go and glow, once you've made a choice out of one of these favourites.

Closer's best fake tans at a glance

Now, not all of us want to faff around searching high and low through all of the details - so, to make it easy for you, here are our top choices. Simple.

Best overall fake tan: Isle of Paradise Self-Tanning Water - View offer on Boots

Best natural-looking fake tan: Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula Gradual Tanning Lotion - View offer on Boots

Best fake tan mousse: St.Tropez Self Tan Classic Bronzing Mousse - View offer on Boots

SHOP: The best fake tans, tried & tested

Best fake tan with no wash-off

On Sale

Bondi Sands Liquid Gold Self-Tanning Dry Oil

Rrp: £19.90

Price: £9.30
Alternative retailers
Boots£10.66View offer
Lookfantastic£11.95View offer
Secret Sales£14.00View offer
Beauty Expert£14.99View offer


Bondi Sands is infused with coconut and argan oil, this luxurious self-tan comes in a dry oil


  • Requires no wash off
  • Infused with argan oil and a coconut scent


  • Colour is gradual

Best fake tan mousse

On Sale

St.Tropez Self Tan Classic Bronzing Mousse 240ml
Price: £16 (was £32)


We can't mention the best fake tans without including this St. Tropez product. Thanks to its


  • Highly rated in the industry
  • Long-lasting


  • Can be difficult to scrub off

Best gradual fake tan

On Sale

Dove Gradual Tanning Lotion

Rrp: £8.50

Price: £4.25
Alternative retailers
Boots£8.75View offer


For a gradual, natural glow, we've been reaching for the Dove Derma Spa range. Simply sweep onto


  • Fast-drying
  • Streak-free finish


  • Strong smell

Best high street fake tan

On Sale

L'Oreal Fabulous Elixir Dry Mist

Rrp: £14.99

Price: £9.26
Alternative retailers
Sephora£14.99View offer


Meet one of the high-streets most coveted fake tans: the L'Oréal Paris Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning


  • Dries quickly
  • A non-sticky formula


  • Scent can be quite strong

Best liquid fake tan

On Sale

he-shi Express Liquid Tan

Rrp: £22.00

Price: £13.99
Alternative retailers
Lookfantastic£14.75View offer
Debenhams UK£15.75View offer
Beauty Expert£21.00View offer£21.00View offer


This clever-working self-tanning bronzer tans on contact, giving you an instant golden colour


  • Long-lasting results
  • Vegan-friendly and cruelty-free


  • Strong smell

Best fake tan water

On Sale

Tanologist Self-Tan Water
Price: £9.79 (was £13.99)


This vitamin-infused water hydrates your skin while you tan and is cruelty-free, organic and


  • Smooth glow
  • Really easy to apply


  • Not great for sensitive skin

Best overall fake tan

On Sale

isle of paradise self tanning water
Price: £14.21 (was £18.95)


Tanning king Jules Von Hep created the brand Isle of Paradise, which we love. The products have


  • Applies smoothly and streak free
  • 100% vegan


  • It can be quite oily

Best fake tan for face

On Sale

James Read Sleep Mask Face Tan

Rrp: £27.50

Price: £25.47
Alternative retailers
Sephora£27.50View offer


Wake up with a gorgeous glow with the help of the James Read Sleep Mask Tan Face. This lightweight


  • Fragrance-free
  • Suits all skin tones


  • Can be quite patchy for dry skin

Best natural-looking fake tan


Want to look great and smell absolutely insane? Palmer's Cocoa Butter Tanning Lotion is super easy


  • Great smell of cocoa butter
  • Really easy to use


  • Not as intense as other fake tans

Best celebrity-endorsed fake tan


It's no surprise that this mousse has made it into bestsellers when a tonne of [celebrity


  • Guide colour makes application super easy
  • Quick and fast tanning development; develops in as low as one hour
  • Celebrity endorsed


  • You'll need a good mitt with this one

Best daily fake tan

Bondi Sands Everyday Gradual Tanning Milk

Rrp: £4.22

Price: £4.11
Alternative retailers
Sephora£5.55View offer
Lookfantastic£6.35View offer
Beauty Expert£6.99View offer£6.99View offer


If you haven't already seen this gradual tanner from Bondi Sands, it's time to tune in. Known for


  • Easy application; use as a normal moisturiser
  • Light glow for everyday use


  • May need multiple layers

Best fake tan for easy application


Applied like your everyday moisturiser, this Crazy Angel Gradual Tan is perfect for us lazy


  • Easy to apply
  • Perfect for pale skin


  • Not as intense as other products

Is fake tan bad for your skin?

According to Cancer Research UK, fake tan is completely safe to use.

However, it's important to remember that using fake tan doesn't protect against harmful UV rays, so always remember to apply sun cream to avoid looking like a tomato and damaging your lovely skin.

In terms of skin reactions to fake tan, some doctors recommend doing a patch test before bronzing up to check you don't have an allergic reaction to the tanner.

We hear you - you're worried about breakouts too. Don't stress - fake tan can leave your skin feeling dry, which can cause breakouts, but keeping moisturised should keep those pesky spots at bay.

Does fake tan stain?

Fake tan staining seems pretty unavoidable. Whether it's your sheets, pillowcases or your favourite white dress, it happens.

Thankfully most fake tan stains come out in a 40-degree wash. For stubborn stains on pale fabrics, try a pre-wash stain remover.

If you're planning on getting your glow on, we recommend using a dark towel and sleeping on dark sheets instead of white or light-coloured ones. Either that, or invest in a fake tan sheet protector. Genius.

Is fake tan safe when you're pregnant?

According to the NHS, using fake tanning lotions and creams is safe during pregnancy.

However, it's probably best to avoid stepping into a spray-tanning booth while you're expecting, as the effects of inhaling the chemicals used during a spray-tan are unknown.

How often should you apply fake tan?

If you're not too sure on your fake tan skills, or just want to tighten up your knowledge on how to fake tan, we've got you covered. Want to be a glowy goddess all year round? Most fake tans last between three and ten days, so if you want to be constantly bronzed, you'll probably need to apply fake tan once every 1-2 weeks.

Don't worry about how to remove fake tan either, because there are even products out there for that now too. Or, just go hard on the scrubbing in the shower, like the rest of us,

Caitlin Casey is a Senior Beauty & Fashion Products Writer for heat, Closer, and Grazia. She covers shopping, women’s lifestyle, popular culture as well as all things trending.

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