Award-winning Body Self-Tanners

Which fake tans deliver a can't-tell-it-from-real glow?  Read on, and never make a faux tan mistake again...   Once again our Beauty Bible testers were recruited this summer to put hundreds of summer suncare products through their paces for the YOU Magazine Summer Sun Special - but the self-tan category is always one of the most challenging.  The Holy Grail is a product which delivers seamlessly natural-looking results, fades evenly, doesn't 'pill' (you know when your fake tan rubs off in little black specks...?) - and above all, doesn't honk of a hamster cage or a biscuit tin.  (Incidentally, for James Read's advice on how to apply self-tanner even more flawlessly, scroll down.)  With a few dozen products trialled in all - every one by 10 diligent testers (some of them complete novices) - these earned gold stars.  Way to glow...

LUXURY Dior Bronze Self-Tanning Oil Natural Glow Score: 8.19/10 Dior Bronze Self Tanning OilUnusually, this is a deliciously fragrant, spritz-able ‘dry’ oil rather than a cream or lotion, which sinks in fast yet nourishes skin for a longer-lasting tan.  Its secret?  It adapts to the skin’s pH, to deliver a more natural-looking, luminous shade of bronze.  (It can be used on the face, too.)  Being Dior, it's luxuriously-packaged, and feels indulgent.  We agree with our testers that it smells lovely, too:  a sunny, floral, elegant scent, which makes application a real pleasure.  (Several commented on the fragrance.)

Comments:  ‘Heavenly fragrance! Took three hours to develop into a pale golden natural-looking tan’ • ‘not-too-runny oil that feels luxurious and left skin dewy and silky – not tacky at all’ • ‘no colour leakage on white linen dress’ ‘I absolutely love this: it makes me feel great’ • 'the smell of this was that of a "fine floral fragrance" - it's truly addictive;  it lasted right through till the next morning and if I could bottle the smell and buy it as a perfume, I woudl' • 'great to use, fantastic, enjoyable, uplifting, luxurious!' • 'just the right amount of oil is dispensed with each squirt, so it doesn't go all over and is not at all messy;  it makes me feel like a Hollywood star' • 'I liked the way it felt on my skin as it seemed to moisturise at the same time;  gave a radiant, sun-kissed tan' • 'no more pale "Casper's cousin" look for me!'

Dior Bronze Self-Tanning Oil Natural Glow/£28 for 100 ml - buy here


NATURAL WONDER Green People Self Tan Lotion Score: 7.88/10 GREEN-PEOPLE-SELF-TAN-LOTIONWith organic rose, geranium and sandalwood, this organically certified, pump-action lotion was highly rated for its fragrance (and lack of ‘biscuit tin’ after-smell).  Lusciously skin-softening, too, with olive and sunflower oils.  Green People recently revamped their tanning range;  this had scored well in the past and the reformulation ticked all our testers' boxes, too.  They recommend a light application:  too much will cause extra darkening in folds and wrinkles.

Comments:  ‘The best self tan I have ever used, no fake smell!’ • ‘it sank in while I dried my hair – not at all sticky or tacky’ • ‘ took time to develop but a lovely light golden tone, very natural and pretty on my fair freckly skin with no streaking’ • ‘faded very evenly’ • ‘several people said I look very well or very nice, so it made me feel good’ • 'the best thing about this is the complete lack of smell' • 'gave a lovely light golden tone:  pretty, natural, glamorous, just-back-from-holiday' • 'I was a fake tan virgin and I am now a fake tan user - I really like this product, especially the lack of smell and the natural result' • 'I like the fact that as a bit of a novice with make-up and beauty products, I can apply this with fantastic results and look and feel so much better;  it's lovely and I'm going to buy it for my daughter, too.'

Green People Self Tan Lotion/£17.95 for 200 ml - buy here


BEAUTY STEAL L’Oréal Sublime Bronze Self-tanning Fresh Feel Gel Score: 6.94/10 L'Oreal Self Tanning GelAlthough this came a little further down the rankings, it was the highest-scoring of the more affordable products we trialled in this category.  Your best bet, then, if you're on a budget:  you can easily see where you’re applying this (and you get an instant effect) – plus it’s lightly shimmering for a skin-flattering, streak-free, golden finish.  The 'soft touch' gel texture (that's L'Oréal-speak) won over our testers for ease of application, and the product's also infused with vitamin E.  The Sublime Bronze range has done very well over the years with our Summer Sun testers, so we're not surprised it appears yet again here.

Comments:  ‘Didn't need much rubbing in, not sticky and very pleasant scent; I had a lovely glow instantly and the developed sun-kissed shade was really natural’ • ‘very realistic colour, close to the best I have used in 20 years’ • ‘faded evenly which is a big bonus’ • ‘remarkable value' • 'very natural-looking - except for the glitter - and still visible after a few days' • 'very easy to apply - just the right consistency and it helped that the gel was tinted' • 'I don't tan well in the sun and don't like to expose my skin to too much sunbathing, but this allows me to get that sun-kissed look without the exposure, delivering a warm, healthy glow to my skin - I'd definitely recommend this to others, especially anyone concerned about trying fake tan' • 'come on summer, I'm ready for you!'

L’Oréal Sublime Bronze Self-tanning Fresh Feel Gel/£12.49 for 150 ml - buy here


TIP  Always, always, always exfoliate and moisturise thoroughly before applying any self-tanner.  Then use a tanning mitt to apply product.  ‘For your hands and feet,’ says self-tan guru James Read, ‘don't put more product on the mitt, just work in the excess.  Then dab a little moisturiser on a make-up brush and work into knuckles on toes and fingers, also the sides of hands, to avoid orange-y brown build-up in the creases.’  For a deeper tan, James recommends applying another coat one hour later.

James Read Tanning Mitt/£6.50 from - buy here