Award-Winning Gradual Tanners

Our run-down of the best subtle self-tanners Since the sun is more than a little slow showing its face this year, we're sure we're not alone in being in need of extra colour.  But on a still-pale face, a full-on self-tanner can look anything but real.  We trialled over a dozen gradual tanning options for the YOU Magazine Summer Sun Special this year - and this trio performed brilliantly in our Tried & Tested, deserving of Beauty Bible Awards.  We've included luxury, more natural and affordable options - and have added additional comments and product details to give you a real insight into performance.

BEAUTY STEAL Dove Summer Glow Nourishing Body Lotion Dove Summer GlowScore: 8.69/10 Summer sun products don’t get more steal-like than this bargain, which truly wowed Beauty Bible testers - it out-scored all the pricy versions.  It’s flatteringly shimmery from the moment it’s applied from the easy-grip flip-top bottle, producing a light sun-kissed look.  (There are a couple of shade options: Beauty Bible trialled the one for medium-to-dark skins, rather than the pale version.)

Comments:  ‘Easy to use once skin is well-prepped; great colour over three days’  •  ‘light floral fragrance that disappears quickly’ • ‘fab texture and colour improved over the days and faded evenly – made me feel slimmer!’ • ‘no streaks, totally realistic subtle colour, excellent creamy product’.

• Dove Summer Glow Nourishing Body Lotion/£4.99 for 250 ml - buy here


LUXURY (FOR FACE) Xen-Tan Transform Luxe Premium Sunless Tan Xen_Tan_Face_Tanner_LuxeScore: 8.15/10 Beauty Bible’s testers put the fresh-scented Medium/Dark option through its paces, with just one application needed for an instant healthy glow that develops overnight, all the while soothing skin with vitamin E, milk thistle, green tea and aloe.  Usefully, Xen-Tan offer tanning options across the range, depending on the shade you're going for - light, medium, dark.  This can be used on face and body, and also works to extend an existing tan.

Comments:  ‘This chocolate-smelling gel/cream gave an immediate colour and blended in easily, leaving a lovely golden glow in one application’ • ‘this is wonderful!  I love everything about it, next morning my skin was glowing and looked almost flawless, a perfect base for make-up and faded nicely’.

Xen-Tan Transform Luxe Premium Sunless Tan/£24.99 for 236 ml - buy here


LUXURY (FOR BODY) Clarins Golden Glow Moisturizing Body Lotion Score: 7.94/10 Clarins Golden Glow Body LotionClarins pioneered the whole category of daily tanners, but this remains a favourite (year-round, not just in summer):  a lovely rich-in-botanicals body lotion in its own right, which leaves skin instantly radiant while you wait for the gentle faux tan to appear.  Every year, it seems, Clarins submits this product for our trials - and every year it seduces our Beauty Bible 'guinea pigs', who loved the 'I've-been-away-for-a-couple-of-days' subtle glow, and skin-caring formula.

Comments:  ‘Very impressed with this light lotion that sank in quickly and built up to a natural, golden tan’ • ‘yummy scent, wonderful to use, absorbed almost instantly, develops very evenly into a gorgeous glow’ • ‘I like the colour a lot – the most natural self tanner I have used, a lovely product that looks as if I have had a few days in the sun’.

•  Clarins Golden Glow Moisturizing Body Lotion/£29.50 for 150 ml - buy here


NATURAL WONDER  Ubertan Daily Face Cream Ubertan_Daily_Face_CreamScore: 7.06/10 A more natural option, subtly-fragranced and suitable for all skin types, from a new range.  Blended with sea kelp and cottonflower, you simply dip into the jar and use as a daily moisturiser – and then watch a gentle golden glow build, day-by-day.  The tanning ingredient is derived from sugar cane, and the entire Ubertan range is free of gluten, parabens and synthetic preservatives.  Though it didn't score quite as high as some of the synthetic contenders, this is respectable in the rankings;  many well-known names fared far less well.

Comments:  ‘Light gel-cream that left skin feeling moisturised - although I used it sparingly, as it says; developed quickly to a nice even sun-kissed look’ • ‘by far the best product I have used, would definitely recommend’ • ‘now a staple product, great with a bit of mineral powder, perfect to use on alternate days for maintaining colour’.

• Ubertan Daily Face Cream/£18 for 50 ml at buy here