We took one volunteer and plastered different areas of her body with eight different fake tans, So is the result proof that a £7 fake tan beats a £45 one?

  • FEMAIL tested eight fake tans from budget to luxury with surprising results 
  • Fake Bake Flawless Coconut Tanning proved unsuitable for red undertones
  • Bondi Sands Self Tanning Mist proved best for the perfect instant tan 
  • St Tropez Self Tan Classic Bronzing Mousse proved best for beginners 

FEMAIL tested eight different fake tans on one volunteer (pictured) to uncover if spending more really delivers the best results


St Tropez Self-Tan Classic Bronzing Mousse, £31, sttropeztan.co.uk

(Model’s right arm)

THEY SAY: Our most iconic, natural and healthy-looking tan, no self-tan smell, lightweight, streak-free, easy to apply, quick-drying and non-sticky.

WE SAY: This is the UK’s best-selling brand, and it’s the flagship product so you expect it to be good. It smelled nice on application, but as it developed it had more of the classic biscuity odour. 

The colour has green undertones, which stops it looking orange, and as the product is tinted, it’s easy to see what you’re doing. 

(The best way to apply evenly is to use a tanning mitt — apply the tan to the mitt then smoothe it over the skin, blending with a circular motion.) The colour looked good and even — you could go straight out wearing it.

BEST FOR: Absolute beginners who don’t mind paying a bit extra for guaranteed results.

St Tropez Self-Tan Classic Bronzing Mousse (pictured) gives guaranteed results and is perfect for beginners


St Moriz Tanning Mousse, £4.99, superdrug.com

(Model’s chest)

THEY SAY: Specialist multi-tasking formulation will provide extra moisturisation, a luxurious luminous finish and a longer lasting tan.

WE SAY: This is one of the best budget tan brands, and this formula claims to be longer-lasting, moisture-rich, skin-smoothing, give a ‘BB skin finish’, and include a mood-enhancing fragrance. 

St Moriz Tanning Mousse (pictured) is perfect for bargain hunters in search of a dark tan

Whew! Although not overpowering, the smell didn’t seem that mood-enhancing — clean, with nutty undertones. The tinted formulation meant you could see where it was going, but the guide colour was a bit streaky until washed off.

It’s not the sort of tan you could apply and then go out in, and it got noticeably greener as it developed. However, it ended up very even after a good rinse, and was the darkest of all the ones we tried.

BEST FOR: Bargain hunters who don’t have to be in public after applying it.


Green People Self-Tan Lotion, £19, greenpeople.co.uk

(Model’s torso)

THEY SAY: A revolutionary natural self tan — the first certified organic one in the UK, quick-drying, non-greasy, and lightly scented with natural essential oils.

Green People Self-Tan Lotion (pictured) was difficult to assess if evenly applied 

WE SAY: A gel-cream that glides easily over the skin. It smells very naturally of geranium. The only issue is not knowing if it’s gone on evenly, and whether it will turn out patchy. Fortunately it developed into an even, natural golden shade.

BEST FOR: Charitable types (10 per cent of profits go to charity) who don’t normally like the smell and feel of fake tans.


Tan-Luxe Wonder Oil in Medium to Dark, £45, tan-luxe.com

(Top of model’s right leg)

THEY SAY: The world’s first true oil-based self-tanner with a cooling roller-ball applicator. Slims and stimulates skin to improve elasticity and texture, hydrating for up to 48 hours.

Tan-Luxe Wonder Oil in Medium to Dark (pictured) delivers a luxurious feel

WE SAY: The roller-ball is a fun innovation, but the product drips a little so you need to rub it in carefully as you go along.

They suggest using your hands, but a mitt is a better option as you’re less likely to end up with brown palms.

It feels very moisturising and soft, and gives a good sheen, but as it’s clear when you first apply, it’s hard to see where you’ve done already.

It smells good — like a sweet lemonade — and although it was an oil, it didn’t feel sticky. The colour developed over time to a pleasant golden brown.

At £45 it was more than six times the price of our cheapest tanning product — although on the plus side, it was the only product packaged in a glass bottle, rather than plastic, and would look very elegant on a bathroom shelf.

BEST FOR: Luxury-lovers who want the spa-like feel of an oil-based massage, and hang the cost!


Fake Bake Flawless Coconut Tanning Serum in Medium, £29.95, fakebake.co.uk

(Bottom of model’s right leg)

THEY SAY: With superfood coconut oil, a fast- drying, refreshing, hydrating and moisturising serum that takes luxury tanning to the next level.

Fake Bake Flawless Coconut Tanning Serum in Medium (pictured) is perfect for those with olive skin tones 

WE SAY: This comes out looking like molasses. It makes it very easy to see where it’s been applied, and it rubs in easily with no streaks. In fact, the guide colour was quite a bit darker than the finished result, so don’t panic if it looks strong at first.

Compared to other products, the undertones were a little red, and while the coconut fragrance was strong, there was still a waft of fake tan.

BEST FOR: Those with olive skin tones — the red undertones won’t flatter people who are already rosy, and could make them look sunburned. 


Isle of Paradise Medium Self-Tanning Water, £18.95, isleof paradise.co.uk

(Model’s left arm) 

THEY SAY: Self- tanning water with colour correcting actives and a violet base for a natural, bronzed glow with no streaks, no smells or orange tones.

Isle of Paradise Medium Self-Tanning Water (pictured) is difficult to see when applying but delivers a subtle finish 

WE SAY: Really fresh smelling, almost like a deodorant or facial spritz — you wouldn’t think it was a tan and, despite being very liquid, i t doesn’t drip off the skin. 

The clear colour makes it hard to see where it’s been applied, though, and despite giving the impression of being very light, it didn’t feel like it dried quickly. 

The end result was pretty subtle — although, like most of the tans we tested here, there are darker formulations available.

BEST FOR: Anyone who hates the classic smell of fake tans, and wants the look to err on the side of ‘weekend in Brighton’ rather than ‘fortnight in Barbados’.


Bondi Sands Self-Tanning Mist Light/Medium, £10.49, bondisands.co.uk

(Top of model’s left leg)

Bondi Sands Self-Tanning Mist Light/Medium (pictured) is ideal for an instant glow

THEY SAY: Enriched with Vitamin E to moisturise and rejuvenate your skin, goes on light and leaves skin glowing. Almost effortless application results in a natural bronzed look.

WE SAY: A tinted spray that smells of sun cream with a slight chemical undertone.

The instructions say to spray it on from 12 inches away — but it’s much easier to spray on to a mitt then apply as normal, otherwise you could easily coat the bathroom, plus you feel like you’re inhaling quite a lot of it.

The shade is a cool brown with ashier undertones, but it dried quickly to give a non-streaky, natural colour.

Vita Liberata Invisi Foaming Tan Water in Medium/Dark (pictured) had a tacky touch after the tan dried

Again, the guide colour was darker than the end result — ‘I thought it was going to make me look like a bronzed goddess, but it didn’t,’ said our model Amber.

BEST FOR: When you want to walk out the door looking tanned straightaway.


Vita Liberata Invisi Foaming Tan Water in Medium/Dark, £25, vitaliberata.co.uk

(Bottom of model’s left leg)

THEY SAY: Full of organic botanicals . . . for the most hydrating and anti-ageing skin treatment. Clear as water and super-fast drying.

WE SAY: Clear ‘water-like’ formulations are a big tanning trend this summer — this one looks like water in the bottle but is dispensed as a light foam. That makes it easier to apply, but it’s difficult to see where it’s gone already.

The citrus scent was one of our favourites — although it did develop the classic fake tan smell later. The makers say it’s fast drying, but it felt tacky to the touch long after other tans had dried.

BEST FOR: Those who want to go green — not literally. Most ingredients are organic.

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