Winter socialising is tricky enough what with braving the cold and funds being limited. Throw in lily white limbs when you'd prefer something more bronzed, and things get distinctly trickier. Don't worry; fake tanning formulas are just getting better and better, so now quickly achieving a bit of bronze without any of the damage of pesky UV rays or telltale streaks is a distinct - and believable - possibilty. And a mercifully speedy one, if you opt for a formula that develops quickly.
Before you get going, you should probably read up on how to apply fake tan; even the best formula will look caked and streaky if applied to skin that isn't properly prepped. And, yes, that means exfoliation and moisturising. Also, don't apply yours and then just squeeze yourself back into your skinnies - instead, wear loose-fitting clothing and make sure you read the instructions on when to wash it off so that you look tanned, not tangoed.
If you're not a seasoned fake tanner and therefore aren't au fait with the myriad pitfalls, make sure you apply with a mitt - tanned palms are not a good look on anyone. Also, try deploying the advice we got from top tanner to the stars James Read and apply a thin layer to your armpits - avoiding it is a tell-tale sign of a fake tan. That said, the bottom of your feet and your palms are no-go zones. Finally, make sure you wipe any tan out of brows and from your hairline. We've got you covered if the worst happens, though - here's how to remove fake tan in three simple steps.
Now, all you have to do is pick the fake tan for you. A final hint before you plough into the gallery: creams, gels and mousses have come on a long way, so choose the formula that best fits your skin type and that you feel comfortable using. Now, to the edit of our tried and tested winners...
Need a sunny glow for your face? Powder can match you to the perfect bronzer for you in seconds – give it a whirl here!
1. Garnier Ambre Solaire No Streaks Bronzer Self-Tanning Body Mist in Light, £11.49
If you’re lacking in time or patience when it comes to self-tanning, this face mist is perfect for you. It dries instantly and there’s no need to rub it in - so both your hands and pillowcases will be free from orange streaks. Best for fair to light skin, the final colour is convincingly natural, and thanks to the apricot scent, it won’t leave you smelling of biscuits.
Available at Feel Unique | £11.49
2. Tan-Luxe Illuminating Serum Self Tan Facial Drops, £35.00
The beauty of this illuminating self-tan is that it offers the freedom to tailor your tan day-by-day. To create a natural looking tan, add a few drops of the serum to your normal moisturiser - to maintain the glow, just add a drop or two whenever you need a top up. Formulated with aloe vera, vitamin E and raspberry seed oil, this serum is super nourishing too.
Available at Feel Unique | £35.00
3. St. Moriz Advanced Pro 5 in 1 Tanning Mousse, £7.99
4. Clarins Liquid Bronze Self Tanning, £19.95
Ideal for pale skins or tan-o-phobes, Clarins' Liquid Bronze is very gentle to skin and is best used by adding to your moisturiser for an easily-controlled colour. It's designed especially for the face and decolletage making it the one for sensitive skin types.
Clarins available at allbeauty | £19.95
5. Madame La La Self Tan Mousse, £30
Madame LA LA introduces 'Old Hollywood' glamour in to the fake tan world with their latest formula - the DD Tan Perfector (a.k.a Dynamic Do-all) - combining skincare benefits (which actually makes it softer), skin perfectors and a deep golden colours. Great for busy tanners, the deep natural tan takes just three hours to develop and lasts for up to 10 days. When it does fade, it looks natural and unpatchy. We recommend.
If you're a pale-skinned girl, try the Light formula — it's as easy to apply and develops to a natural bronze shade.
Available at lookfantastic | £30.00
6. Cocoa Brown One Hour Tan Mousse, £9.61
Cocoa Brown's One Hour Tan Mousse has received nothing but praise since its launch. With a big A-list following - including Kylie Jenner, the revolutionary tanner contains accelerating ingredients which mean it develops in just one hour, and lasts for a lengthy 5-7 days before fading naturally. The formula is moisturising and gentle enough for sensitive skin and use on the face, so no need for loads of different bottles… And all this for under £10! BOOM.
Available at Amazon | £9.61
7. Bioderma Photoderm Autobronzant Tanning Mist, £11.20
The fash pack's fave brand from across the pond (if you haven't tried their cleansing micellar water yet, you're missing out), Bioderma's Photoderm Autobronzant Tanning Mist is the classy way to get your bronze on. A streak-free spray means it's easy to apply, perfect for the first time tanners out there. And like all products from the Photoderm range, it contains BIOprotection a.k.a it prevents your skin from ageing due to sun exposure. Nice. GD
Available at Amazon | £11.20
8. Autograph TAN Self Tan Velvet Touch Luxe Oil, £12.50
When you need a good fitting bra or a great ready meal you head to only one place - Marks & Spencer. So when they launched their Autograph TAN Self Tan Velvet Touch Luxe Oil (snappy, eh?), we knew we'd found a tan we could trust. Taking just four hours to develop and lasting for three whole days, this sink-in-quick oil is officially being added to our permanent beauty bag.
Available at Marks & Spencer | £12.50
9. Bondi Sands Gradual Tanning Milk, £11.99
Australia's no.1 self-tanning brand (and let's face it, they know a thing or two about bronzed bods), Bondi Sands has officially landed on UK shores. Bringing its iconic coconut scent and enriched with aloe vera, this salon quality tan is quickly becoming a cult classic. Perfect for achieving a more natural glow, the Bondi Sands Gradual Tanning Milk hydrates skin whilst developing an even tan, without the stickiness. Forget the weird biscuity smell, this is like a pina colada for your skin (in a great way, we promise!). GD
Available at ASOS | £11.99
10. TanOrganic Original Self Tan, £18.95
We're obsessed with TanOrganic's Original tanner. Think of anything you don't like about fake tans - the smell, the orange marks left on your bed sheets, the patches as it rubs off - and imagine one where you don't have to worry about them... This is it. Not only that but it's the world's first Eco certified self tanning brand. 100% natural and organic, it doesn't have the chemicals (like synthetic drying agents, synthetic preservatives, fragrances or parabens) which make your skin feel dehydrated, and the Aloe Vera actually leaves your skin feeling soft and nourished. Perfect if you're conscious about what you put on your skin, as well as those with sensitive skin and pregnant women.
Available at allbeauty | £18.95
11. St Tropez Self Tan Classic Mousse, £17.95
Perfect for first-time tanners or bronzing experts, this mousse is the classic fake tan. Just smoothe it on and see a natural looking tan develop which lasts up to 5 days (and more if you look after it properly.) The clever team at St Tropez have also used Aromaguard technology which avoids that unpleasant biscuit aroma.
Available at allbeauty | £17.95
12. James Read Sleep Mask Tan, £25
James Read's Sleep Mask took the beauty world by storm. Smoothe the light formula over your face and neck at night, and wake up with a subtle golden glow. Not only that but it it packed full of skin beautifying ingredients such as Aloe Vera, Cucumber, Hyaluronic Acid and Red Algae which care for your skin as your sleep.
Available at Amazon | £25.00
13. Omorovicza Glam Glow, £35
If you want to achieve a natural-looking golden glow overnight (that doesn't make you smell weird) while your skin is hydrated and firmed, then Omorovicza's Glam Glow is for you. The formula contains plum almond oil, apple pectin which will have you waking up looking more healthy, rested and youthful.
Available at Cult Beauty | £35.00
14. Vita Liberata Phonomenal Medium 2-3 Week Self Tan Mousse, £35.42
Phenomenal's revolutionary Self Tan Mousse is the first ever two-three week tan (that's four times longer than your usual tanner!) and it's down to a clever combination of natural and nourishing extracts, and the special pHen02 technology. Perfect for holidays or if you want a low-maintenance tanning routine (sooo... everyone).
Available at Amazon | £35.42