Want a golden glow fast? These are your go-to products. (For a truly controllable, customisable results, we point you in the direction of Gradual Tanners, instead.) We trialled a whole raft of self-tanning products for the face in order to identify those which deliver a realistic golden glow and aren’t a faff to use – and testers loved these. (Be aware that the Bronze winner, though, only TEMPORARILY changes the tint of your skin, and washes right off again. It’s sort of in a category of its own, since it’s not a tinted moisturiser either. But if you want a natural-looking sun-kissed effect, This Works’s winner is also definitely worth checking out.)
GOLD AWARD Leighton Denny Sunbelievable FACE with Youth Glow Technology
This Gold winner was actually created by Leighton Denny, a nail expert who we’ve known for, oh, forever (since he had a salon on Harrods’s Fifth Floor, actually). Sunbelievable is a really extensive collection of self-tanning products, with this coming in two options: Medium and Dark (the latter is what our panellists tried). Sunbelievable maintain that this ‘combines the benefits of a premium, anti-ageing moisturiser,’ incorporating hyaluronic acid, organic black seed oil, virgin plum and jojoba oils and EcoCert-certified tanning ingredients, along with something called ‘Youth Glow Technology®’. There’s no instant effect but the bronzed tone develops in three to four hours.
OUR TESTERS' COMMENTS:
'I liked this a lot. It’s just as easy to use as a moisturiser. I couldn't smell anything while I used it, or after. It sinks in with no tackiness. It takes about four hours to develop a nice natural colour, with no orange tones in it. It suited my light to medium skin colour. It’s very nice to have a little colour in the winter months’ • ‘Loved everything about this. My skin looked radiant’ • ‘This is very pleasant to use. It’s easy to dispense the tinted cream from the pump container. I like having a tint, as it is easier to apply and know where you need it. The proper colour developed in a few hours. I mostly used it at night and woke up to a lovely natural colour. I felt great because my skin had a really healthy glow – nothing like a bit of sun colour. It didn't irritate my skin. Gave a perfect sun kissed glow when used sparingly, while further applications developed the tan more’ • ‘I really like this product as it was straightforward to use and it did exactly what it said it would! That does not happen often! I am fair but tan easily; this was good for me, as I just needed one thin coat at a time. A lot of fake tans can make me look dark and patch – or the dreaded orange. This was a nice surprise and I would tell anyone to give it a try. It made feel happy!’ • ‘The product was very pleasant to use. It was creamy and easy to apply to my face, and very hydrating. Being golden tinted it gave me an instant glow. I looked like I had a healthy glow rather than being “Tangoed”. It's the most natural face tan I have used. I like the fact it cares for your skin as well as tanning it’ • ‘I liked the fact there was no strong fake tan smell. I was a bit nervous about trying it, as I don't use fake tans normally. Having tried it now, I would certainly buy this if I wanted a self tan. I liked the added benefit of it containing hyaluronic acid’ • ‘This will save me using tinted moisturiser in the summer when I attempt to match my body and face colour. I would use this a couple of times a week.’
£30 for 50ml – click to buy
SILVER AWARD St. Tropez Self Tan Luxe Facial Oil
Slightly unusually, this comes in the form of a luxuriant facial oil incorporating Brazil nut oil, vitamins A and E and 100% natural DHA (the tanning ingredient), pleasantly scented with essential oils of grapefruit, lemon balm and neroli. Use it every now and then at night instead of your regular facial oil to deliver a sun-kissed glow that lasts for up to five days. (St. Tropez maintain that it is clinically proven to moisturise skin for up to seven days, BTW.) Having tried this ourselves, we recommend that Tan Luxe 'virgins' use just a drop or two the first time, while you assess how it reacts with your skin. You can adjust accordingly, but better too little than too much.
OUR TESTERS' COMMENTS:
'I adore this fab product and am now converted to self tanning on a regular basis. It’s very easy to apply once I got used to the correct amount. Rubbing the light oil in my hands to warm it first helps spread it evenly over face and neck. This is beautifully natural on my ridiculously pale skin with blue undertones. It makes me look and feel so much healthier. This has totally changed my view of self tanning. I would highly recommend this to anyone scared of self tan as it is easy to use, doesn't stink and gives such a beautiful natural result’ • ‘This smelled fresh and lemony when I first applied it and then I couldn't smell anything. It was translucent bronze at first and developed to light bronze overnight. The colour was a nice glow – a good real colour, which faded very evenly’ • ‘It sank right in leaving a nice sheen on the skin. It took a while to develop but I was a bit cautious for fear of going TOWIE orange. The colour was natural on my light to medium skin tone. I have an allergy so cant put my face in the sun without plenty of protection so I tend to feel a bit pale and washed out when its sunny. This does the job without resorting to bronzing powder all over my face. What I loved most was that it doesn't smell of stale biscuits like most fake tans. I find most of them wake me up because of the nasty smell. I quite like the oil concept although I did find it a bit likely to spill’ • ‘I would definitely buy this and recommend it to friends. It helps a lot to mix a few drops with your normal moisturiser. The skin was very slightly tinted upon application due to the lovely warm amber colour of the oil. (However it shouldn't be called an oil because it's just not oily at all.) I always applied the tanner late evening just before going to bed so that it worked overnight but I imagine that it developed after 3-4 hours. The colour made me feel very naturally sun kissed and my face looked healthy and radiant. It's essential to exfoliate then moisturise before use so that there are no patchy areas. The tan faded evenly and gradually.’
£23 for 30ml – click to buy
BRONZE and BEST NATURAL AWARD This Works Energy Bank Sun Flash
One of our own favourite facial tanning products, be aware: this is a tint rather than a self-tanner – so the effects are ENTIRELY cosmetic and short-lived (i.e. till you remove your 'face' at night). We actually love it for that, since we're able to control the results. Testers used it straight onto skin in some cases but we prefer to control the colour by adding a drop or two (or three) to our regular facial moisturiser (or indeed foundation), for a 'customised' golden glow. The natural sun-kissed look comes from caramel, which is included with repairing chicory root and plumping hyaluronic acid. Literally a 'flash' of sunshine that we find brilliant on a drab winter day to perk up the complexion.
OUR TESTERS' COMMENTS:
'I don't usually use anything tinted as I'm very pale and I think I'd look stupid, but this was very good and natural looking, and not at all patchy. I'd recommend it for sure. It made me feel like I had an actual tan, which is something I cant ever achieve in real life!’ • ‘This went on like a primer. It’s lovely and so handy to darken foundations a little. It sinks in quickly and leaves a velvety veil on your skin. It gives some colour instantly’ • ‘It was very pleasant to use this because of the fragrance, which I absolutely adore, and the instant warmth to my complexion was a real boost to my appearance. The dark brown gel cream instantly tints the skin. This is adjustable according to how much you spread it over the skin. It gives a golden brown colour to the skin if applied swiftly and thickly, but only a hint of a tint if you spread it further. I have used other products in the range and this is just as wonderful in its own way! They use high levels of natural ingredients and essential oils, which I love. I feel a good deal of trust in This Works as a brand with their integrity and affordability’ • ‘At first you think this very dark blown gel is never going to blend but as you sweep it over your face it magically disappears leaving a honey veil and bouncy soft skin. I have fair skin with redness and wrinkles and this gives me the best natural healthy glow I’ve ever had from a product. It promises to supercharge skin with multi vitamins and a shot of natural colour, which it absolutely does in bucket loads. Skin is so soft and glowing and has a honey bronze glow that just makes you look so healthy and alive’ • ‘I find this product is even better in the winter when skin is parched by the central heating and wind and whilst the colour is lovely to enhance summer skin it's an absolute essential at this time of year to counteract grey flat skin and replacing it with skin that looks like you have drunk plenty of water and been out in the fresh air. Worth its weight in gold.’
£28 for 30ml – click to buy