These are enough to convert any self-tan phobic: subtle, buildable products which deliver a hint of sun-kissed glow day-by-day, putting you in the driving seat shade-wise. (Some deliver instant colour, which makes the process even more foolproof – and they’re particularly great for early summer pastry-leg emergencies.)


GOLD & BEST NATURAL AWARD This Works Perfect Legs Gradual Tan

This just couldn't be easier or more pleasant to use – and it not only builds to a gorgeous golden glow, but immediately enhances skin and minimises imperfections. (So much so that it's Beauty Bible Jo and Sarah's own go-to for bare leg S.O.S.-es. in summer and on holiday.) In a chic, sleek pump bottle (very much This Works style), this is a serum-esque product that glides onto skin, based on naturally-sourced DHA and erythulose (a sugar derivative) to deliver a buildable sun-kissed look, along with vitamin C and E to even out skin tone over time. It's very slightly gleam-y – and in common with our testers, below, we've found it to be entirely free of that biscuity fake tan aroma. (By the way, even though it says 'Legs' in the name, it's great all over!)


‘This promises a streak free gradual tan that instantly enhances legs and combats skin imperfections and I agree! I enjoyed using. I like the built in guide tint as it helps me to see where I have missed applying product. I could dress within five to ten minutes of using this. I applied it daily for two to three days for a honey colour and then maintained as needed. It made me look smooth skinned, slimmer and more toned’ • ‘This feels like a lovely body treatment. The tint is instant and the colour develops gradually over two to three days, giving a very natural colour as if I have been on a sunny holiday. I am allergic to hot sun so have never been able to sunbathe and this is lovely. I would buy it’ • ‘I loved the colour - there was nothing orange about it. I'm very fair skinned and a deep dark tan would have looked so wrong on me. But this provided a gentle sun glow that looked like I looked after my skin when in the sun.  The colour blended beautifully with the colour of my feet, which tend to pick up summer colour as I am out walking a lot’ • ‘I was thrilled that a self-tan product used on pasty white skin looked so natural. I would most definitely buy it. My skin absorbed it very quickly and I felt as if I'd used a smooth body moisturiser as well. I felt pampered and skin felt beautiful afterwards. Its very simple to use and a little goes a long way. It has an instant tint with a slight glow but doesn't scream ‘I’ve been tangoed…’.’ • ‘The colour had developed fully after three days and my legs had a healthy glow to them. My legs were a nice golden brown, not too dark but sun-kissed, which is what I wanted. It increased my confidence and enabled me to go without tights, as my legs were such a lovely colour. It wasn't at all patchy when it faded; it simply lightened to my normal colour. I am very impressed and would certainly buy this.’

£38 for 120ml - click to buy

SILVER AWARD St.Tropez Gradual Tan Tinted Everyday Body Lotion

This boasts what St.Tropez call 'a mood-boosting fragrance', but for the most part seems to lack that familiar fake tan after-scent, according to testers. The flip-top tube delivers a quick fix of creamy liquid that instantly blurs imperfections with a touch of bronzitude, easy to apply and smooth into skin without streaking. St.Tropez – long-time 'kings' of self-tan – do recommend that you avoid getting skin wet for 4-8 hours after application. As the name suggests, it can be used every day.


‘I have very pale skin and this gave an instant healthy tint then a gentle natural glow the day after I applied it. If I put it on three days in a row it was too dark to look realistic. I would buy this to use before a special occasion or just when I fancy not being so pasty looking for a change. It is moisturising too, which I liked’ • ‘I really liked the product, which gives a natural, streak free, golden glow on the skin. I really liked it and it made me feel glowing! The application is easy, as the texture is just right, although you do need quite a bit of product per application to get the cover required. It has a slight smell but not as much as other tanning product, which is a big thing for me. I would definitely recommend applying to clean skin overnight’ • ‘I liked the velvet creamy texture and the fact it is tinted so it’s a bit like foundation for legs while the tan develops, which is very useful. I could get dressed almost immediately. I thought this was very good and lived up to the claims’ • ‘The product made me look tanned and also moisturised. The colour was natural – not orange like some other products – and by day three, I had a very even, golden tan. It lasted really well and came off evenly not patchy. Great product’ • ‘It promised instant and gradual streak free golden glow with 24-hour hydration. I thought it was great and would buy it again.’

£15 for 200ml - click to buy

BRONZE (JOINT) AWARD UTAN & Tone Spray and Glow

If it's ease you're after, this is a spritz-on product which makes it easy to reach tricky-to-self-tan areas (back/shoulders, etc.): hold it 10-40cm from your body and spray in sweeping motions – which develops its sun-kissed glow after six hours. (We'd still recommend lightly blending into skin with fingers, personally, wherever you can reach.) It features organic tanning agents, vitamins and antioxidants, and the formula itself is hydrating. (If you haven't heard of the brand, UTAN & Tone are UK-based tanning innovators whose other products include 'tan gummies' – edible tanning sweets.)


'I liked this product a lot; it was easy to apply and didn’t leave me orange. It smells nice and doesn’t develop into that horrible fake tan smell. I found I got no streaking and looked an even colour all over, it dried quickly and the spray was nice and fine. I didn’t find any downsides to this product apart from it not lasting as long as my usual tube does. It is however much easier to apply than my usual brand and very quick so I will be changing to this after I finish what I’m using’ • ‘The colour was very light and hardly noticeable after the first application. After the second application the colour was a nice light tan, which was very natural looking. On day three it was slightly deeper but still not scary. It made me feel that my skin looked much better and a nice healthy colour. It faded evenly. I would buy this’ • ‘After the colour developed fully it looked very natural, just as if I had been out in the sun! I like my legs to look tanned so I liked the result. It isn’t tinted so I suppose one could overload sections of skin but I found it was fine’ • ‘Easy to apply; excellent coverage using aerosol spray; nice fresh fragrance and not the usual ‘tea biscuit’ smell of some cheaper products; if applied unevenly the patchiness is barely visible; sinks in quickly; no staining on towel, clothing or bed sheets; good to see an organic tanning product; the colour complements my own skin tone and isn't remotely orange’ • ‘This promises that you can spray it on in less than 60 seconds and it is fast to apply. It's a good realistic colour that looks as if you sunbathe a lot’ • ‘I found its best to rub it in gently after spray, in order to avoid streaks [another tester disagreed and said to avoid temptation to rub in!]. Be good f you could get someone else to spray you. The tan was a great colour, slightly too dark for my light skin but a nice dark gold’ • ‘It said it ‘can be applied in less than 60 seconds. Perfect for boosting and maintaining both sunless and natural tans in a hurry’. I would say this claim nails it.  I would not use this tan normally as I did this time when I started from completely white skin, but I would use it on an existing tan.  It is certainly quick to apply, as long as you have towels down on the floor. The waiting time for it to dry is not too long at all.'

£20 for 150ml - click to buy

BRONZE (JOINT) AWARD ESPA Gradual Tan Body Moisturiser

Another favourite of ours, for its very easy-to-apply creamy-serum texture; there's no instant golden glow, but after a few hours the very realistic healthy colour appears. Key ingredients include plant melanin with accelerating DHA, for a long-lasting effect, alongside shea butter and sweet almond oil for nourishment and to counteract the naturally drying action of self-tanners. The scent particularly pushes buttons, we've found (including ours) – and testers agree, loving the fragrance of ylang ylang, jasmine and rosewood. (It had one tester repeatedly smelling her arm – not something you can often say about fake tans!)


‘I don’t normally use any fake tan products but this one is unlike any others that I have tried. I have enjoyed using it and its effects, and am quite impressed. I would buy this. It is pleasant smelling and very natural, not like you would expect a fake tan product to smell. It sinks in really well with no residue, leaving nice smooth skin. There is a very slight tinting effect immediately and the colour develops very gradually creating a really natural look. By day three I looked like I had the time to sunbathe and get a nice natural golden look. I felt I looked healthy and was more confident about wearing a shirt’ • ‘I was surprised by how much I liked this product - it was nice to have a bit of colour. It didn't have a horrible fake tan smell. In fact, it smelt like an expensive spa. I used a mitt to rub in the light brown liquid, which sinks in fast and didn't rub off on my clothes. I liked the nice light brown colour, not at all orangey. I don't normally put on a skirt or dress unless I can wear tights but I would happily wear one after using this’ • ‘I would 100 per cent buy this. I love this product: the smell, texture, ease of application and the fact it didn't stain my hands. I generally hate using self-tanning products but this is very easy to apply and sinks in very quickly. I was very impressed. I think this is the most natural looking tanning product that I’ve used on my pale, freckly skin – I’m a typical ginger head. I loved how natural it looked. I felt sun-kissed. I was confident about wearing shorts and skirts after using this’ • ‘I’ve never had a tan on my pale skin in my whole life. And I’ve always shied away from fake tans, as I don't want to look orange. This pleasantly surprised me, as it looked noticeable but natural. It’s very good. I felt summery and I would now buy this’ • ‘The product promises to nourish the skin for radiant bronze skin, it does deliver on its claims.  This product does give you a bronzed, radiant glow, without the dreaded fake tan smell. I would happily recommend it to friend. It's a great product that I will happily continue to use.’

£35 for 200ml - click to buy


BRONZE (JOINT) AWARD Kissed By Mii Daily Boost Body Cream

An ultra-hydrating option in a cool-looking turquoise flip-top tube, this develops its streak-free finish after 4-6 hours of application. (It goes on 'invisibly', rather than having a tint.) The scent, again, appealed to testers – natural and almost 'spa-like', as one put it. If you suffer from dry skin, Mii do recommend applying moisturiser to knees, elbows or hands to avoid build-up of tanning product – and for best results, exfoliating first. (Advice that applies equally whichever gradual tanner you choose, frankly.)


‘I would most definitely buy this. I’ve adored using this self-tan cream. You just wouldn't believe you had on a fake tan. The smell reminds me of a slight caramel perfume, colour-wise you can start off with a subtle golden glow then build up, if you wish, to a deep bronze. It goes on so easily and doesn't run all over the place. I haven’t once had any streaks. I definitely felt my skin was revitalised and reinvigorated. It looked so loved, bronzed and glowing that I felt healthy and uplifted – also slimmer! - and it boosted my confidence’ • ‘This gives a really nice, realistic tan, like I’d been a couple of days in the sun and looked well. I would use it again, especially in the winter when you need a boost’ • ‘This sumptuous thick cream is very easy to apply. I don't often use self-tans but I was confident I would get an even application. I loved the fresh spa like fragrance, which made it so appealing to put on. This goes to show you can have a self-tan that smells great on application and the next morning! I felt much more that I was applying a body cream than a self-tanner. It did moisturise my skin really well.  It didn't take long o dry so I was able to dress with no problem. After the first application, the colour developed to a subtle golden hue. It’s now day three and I can really notice a change in the colour today! It is a lovely golden sun-kissed brown. I am very impressed as it compliments my natural skin tone really well and doesn't look fake or orange’ • ‘I liked this very much. The smell is nothing like the usual nasty biscuit-y smell from fake tanning, the consistency is lovely and easy to apply, it makes the skin feel lovely and gives a beautiful sun kissed look. What else could you want?’ • ‘If I wanted a sun kissed glow year round then I would buy this product over any others. I have tried a couple of the big name brands I received as samples but didn't get on with them, streaky or patchy and I just don't go for the orange look. This product works beautifully and it looks quite subtle but glowing. Everything about it is really pleasant, packaging, smell, texture, the cooling sensation on application and the results both in terms of smooth skin and a glowing colour.’

£15.95 for 200ml - click to buy