The Weekend Post #24: Tanning Time

Being an avid tanner means that I’m always looking out for the next best thing in fake tan, constantly going to bed slightly sticky and waking up smelling like a biscuit, but hey, at least I look nice and bronzed by the morning! In fact my days of dodgy fake tanning are over and those two faux pas no longer happen as I’ve found some great products that are prepping me up with some beach babe bronze before my holiday, and as Sunday tends to be my reapply day I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to go through them all.

One of the newest false tanners on the block is the No Sun Tanner from Perricone MD*, designed as a gradual tanner that you reapply each day until you reach your desired tannage level – this is by far the best gradual tanner I have ever tried. No weird smell, super moisturising and a decent amount of natural colour, I find that using this for two or three days on the trot leaves my limbs looking gorgeously tanned. The only drawback of this tan is its huge price tag, at £54 for a not so big 118ml bottle it’s nowhere near the best value for money, but perhaps a good one for those with false tanning anxiety to invest in before a special occasion. Another one that I’ve been using for about year now and is easily my favourite of he bunch is the Xen Dark Lotion Absolute Luxe (video mentioning it here). It gives the most intense colour, fades elegantly and lasts about a week on my skin, I tend to throw a layer of this on with a mitt on a Sunday night and repeat the next weekend. So easy, so simple and the one that I always go back to. I recently purchased the much-raved about St Tropez Bronzing Spray and I have to say I’m not really a St Tropez lover but this spray works well for evenly tanning the backs of your hand and tops of your feet. They are literally the only two jobs I use it for as I find the colour too subtle for anywhere else. Not the most economical purchase but something that I quickly spray on most days. Finally something that I tried this weekend and loved is the Clarins Self Tanning Instant Gel*. I haven’t used a gel formula in years, but this was so easy to blend, sunk into the skin almost immediately and had no funky smells to it, plus I woke up in the morning with a serious golden glow. I need to give it some further tests for longevity but this is the closest I’ve found to the miracle-like Xen Tan in a long time!

What a ramble about fake tan there! But I guess there is something for everyone: gels, liquids, sprays, intense tans and gradual ones. The only thing I neglected to mention was tanning mousses, but I’m not too keen on them – they dry out my skin and tend to go patchy. Never a good look. So what fake tans do you love? Any that have my list or have you got some recommendations?

*PR Samples


  • Niks_123

    I love love love Xen Tan but I use the deep bronze luxe one so it’s not as dark! I love how it smells and also I love how the colour is olive based and not orangey. It’s just so great :’)

    • Sophie

      Hi Nik, I am thinking about buying this as I want a fake tan I only have to apply once a week, do you think the dark one is really dark for pale skins? Im pale but have only found a very few cheap and nasty fake tans to look fake/yellow/orange on me x

      • Niks_123

        I haven’t actually tried the dark lotion absolute luxe as I just went for the deep bronze one. I really like the colour I get from it and it can defiantly be build able for a darker colour 🙂 As it’s more olive based you’re never orange looking and I’m very pale and it doesn’t look stupid / obvious on me! It lasts a little less than a week but fades / wears so evenly and well you wouldn’t notice it going! haha xx

        • Sophie

          Hi Niks, thanks so much for taking the time to reply! I might go for deep bronze one then if it suits your pale skin 🙂


  • Nicola McGregor

    I bought the xen tan on your recommendation and i love it! gives me such a lovely tan that id never get naturally! xx

  • Sophie

    Great post..but a little weird as I had headed over to your site to see if I could leave you a question somewhere about fake tan…coincidence!?! I know you’re a fake tan fan (like me) but (also like me) you don’t like to be tan, tan, just glowing and healthy. I work very long hours and have very early starts and I have no shower, so I am wondering if you have any reccomendations for a fake tan that has no tint to it so that I can apply at night and not worry about washing it off the next morning as the tans I like with a tiny I often feel too dark at work the next day and worry about splash stains (work with babies so constant hand washing).

    Be so greatful for any reccomendations!
    Thanks so much xxxx

  • I love the Xen tan gradual tanning range. I haven’t tried the dark lotion absolute luxe but it’s definitely gonna be my next purchase. The weird thing is that a lot of self tanners turn me a little yellow, even the xen tan. But everyone reacts differently so it might just be me. 🙂

  • Susan

    how do you deal with going to the gym and keeping yourself tanned? its such a struggle in my life! such white (literally) girl problems

  • Rachel Widmer L

    I LOVE Xen Tan Absolute Luxe! Although it still makes you smell like a biscuit, despite being one of the better fake tans!

  • Shogan0

    Ella Bache do amazing tans.

  • Ying_Cheung

    my go-to product to achieve a nice sun-kissed glow is the Clinique tinted lotion which is lovely to use and give great results. I have nearly run out of my bottle so i need to repurchase another so i may try out some other brands to see whether i prefer an alternative or not. Thanks for sharing~x

  • phoebe

    I’ve just discovered Palmer’s bronzing lotion. Amazing smell and builds a really nice colour. It’s what I use on my ‘natural colour’ days, then top up with St Moriz when I want to be a bit darker.

  • Jolien

    Would the Clarins one be  good on the face, and would it be good on fair complexions? I would prefer not to see a pumpkin in the mirror! I’ve heard some great things about the Clarins self tanners… xx

  • WY

    This post couldn’t come at a better timing, I was just applying my He-Shi tanning lotion! But having heard great great things about the Xen Tan, I think I might be getting that one. As I am running out of the He-Shi one. I was thinking about getting it together with their scrub. Do you know if their scrub adds anything to the tanning process? x

  • My favourite is the Garnier Summer Body Gradual Tanner. The colour builds up subtly and fades evenly. Do you know any good facial tanners? 

  • Well, I can tell there is a new kid on block for fake tanners… and its the very there is, made by the one and only James Read. He’s made several new fake tanners, an instant, a gradual, and a wash off.. His face tan, has anti ageing ingredients so it looks after your skin and moisturise’s as well. Its currently on QVC, so grab yourself a bargain in this trial kit. He knows all there is to fake tanning having done the likes of Mariah Carey, Lady Gaga to name a couple..of the many stars he tans.. He is the top fake tanner.

  • I’m new on the tanning scene. Only just got my first spray tan last month, though I can see why people love it. I looked amazing tanned, but so expensive to upkeep. Maybe self tan is the way? If you are interested I am once again running a global beauty blog swap on Beast and Beauty…hope you will check it out and sign up!

  • Dana St John

    Xen tan is the best self tan I’ve tried and the only one I keep going back to. After trying the xen tan dark and regular xen tan I have to say I dont think the xen tan dark is worth the extra money.  They both last a week on me and fade evenly, it may go a touch darker then the original, but Im pale so I dont need it and its not dark enough to warrant the price fo me. St tropez lasts just a few days on my skin and although I like the quick drying mousse it comes off in patches making me look dirty.  Id like to know if xen tan do a mousse version as I’d like to try it, as thats the only thing thats missing for me. Have you tried the extra dark st tropez thats out?

  • Kate

    The la Roche posay fake tan is amazing. It doesn’t smell and melts into skin like a dream. It’s great for the face since its oil free and lightly moisturizing.

  • Kaila

    What type of fake tanner would you recommend for the face/neck area, I know that most fake tans out there are marketed for the body but I’m not sure if they’re suitable to put on your face. (If you haven’t already noticed I am relatively new to the fake tanning game!)


  • V Acevedo

    I don’t know if you can find it in the UK, but here in france there’s a perfect gradual tanning/moisturizing option: Mixa effet soleil. It’s really cheap ( 6€), and it’s perfect for the beginning of summer, giving a really natural look. I love that it’s really moisturizing and I alternate with my regular body cream when I’ve reached the desired “tan”. 

  • I NEED to try Xen Tan asap.. My biggest issue with fake tan is having to top it up every few days as I’m so pale so I need one that lasts atleast 5 or so days on my skin! X

  • Hi there! I have just discovered your blog and I am hooked 🙂 I am so glad you have given positive comments about the Perricone MD no sun tanner as I think Im going to take the plunge and splurge, but I am also intrigued about your Clarins after sun with tanner that you put in your June favourites video, I am just wondering if you would recommend building up your pre holiday with the Perricone and then taking away the Clarins to maintain the tan, just because I don’t want to have to haul the Perricone with me as there will be enough to cram in my case anyway 🙂  I have fair skin and don’t like too much of a tan anyway so its not like I want to maintain a deep tan just a healthy glow maybe?

  • Hannah

    Definitely looking like a total weirdo commenting on this blog post ages after it was uploaded! But I saw your Clarins face self tan review and wanted to see what fake tans you recommended, I’ve never used a mitt to fake tan before so I was just wondering does it matter what kind of mitt you use or can it just be a cheap one from Boots? Love your blog by the way! Maybe not what it does to my bank balance though haha xx