• Anastasia Pentias

TBN: Tan Edition- 5+1 Best Self-Tanners for a Safe, Natural and Easy Tan

I am very pale and used sunbeds for years; that kind of stupidity can end in several different ways, none of which are good. In my defense, 15 years ago we honestly didn't know just how bad sun exposure is. I inevitably I got a lot of wrinkles around my eyes and nasty moles all around my body which I have to monitor closely for life. My dermatologist is adamant: no more sun-tanning, EVER.

I still love a tan, though, and, since it needs to be sunless, I've been using self-tanners for the past years. Here are the tips I've learned along the way:

-Sunless tanners usually have different colour options but I always opt for their 'Dark' version because they give me a noticeable, deeper-medium tan. For the face, I opt for Light/Medium, because I can always use bronzer to warm up my face.

-The night before, I give my body a thorough dry-scrub with an exfoliating mitt or brush, then shower, shave and moisturise to prepare for my tan the next day. I don't use scrubbing products because the beads in them are often very bad for the environment. I can't be bothered to check each time what kind of beads they are.

- Before applying self-tanner, I put a very light coating of moisturiser on my hands, wrists, elbows, knees, ankles and feet so the colour doesn't concentrate too much on those drier areas.

-I usually don't go for sprays or mists because a lot of product ends up in the air and not my skin. I feel uncomfortable with waste of product and money. A good mousse is easy to use and not wasteful.

- However, since I do use different formulas, here's how I apply them: for sprays and mousses with the special tanning mitt and the oils and lotions with my bare hands. I just carefully wash the palms of my hands after, making sure I don't wash off the colour from the back of the hands. I leave them on longer than the directions say- because I'm so fair, that makes all the difference. With most formulas you can economise by ditching the tanning mitt (that absorbs product) and wearing regular latex gloves. It doesn't work with all of them, though. You need to try it on your skin.

-I apply them after showering, on dry skin and before sleeping at night. That way they have time to develop overnight. I prefer mousses that dry instantly, so you can put your pyjamas on and not think about staining clothes or sheets.

-You'll smell like self-tanner, a faint mix between bread and dust. No two ways about it, it's completely inevitable. I don't mind at all, I got used to it.

-Moisturisers are fine to help prolong your tan during the following days but shower with lukewarm water and be careful with perfume: it will dissolve the colour where it touches and it will create a discoloration patch.

Below are my favourite products, each for different reasons. They all last me a full 8 days and fade evenly if I'm careful not to spray perfume in obvious spots. Excessive sweating and friction also greatly shorten tan duration and uniformity. All products below give me about 5-6 applications per bottle.

1. Bellamianta Clear Mousse: this is probably the best fit for my skin. It gives me an even, deep tan, it's easy to use, dries straight away, is not sticky while you sleep and lasts a full week. At first I used it sparingly, but that gave me a lighter tan. Don't be afraid to apply liberally, just make sure you work it in with your mitt. The whole body takes me less than 5 minutes, what a legend. Be careful; this has no colour guide so keep track of where you apply, otherwise you'll miss spots. Unfortunately, it's now only available on their own website, you can buy it here

Isle of Paradise Self-Tanning Water: This has three shades, I go with the Dark version despite my very fair tone. It gives me a lovely, rich tan. It's so quick and fool-proof. The only downside is that I feel I lose product by spraying in the air. It is available to buy here

Bondi Sands 1 Hour Express Self Tanning Foam: another stellar mousse, ridiculously easy to use. But on me, it does not develop into a deep colour in an hour, as it claims. For very fair skin, leave it on overnight and you'll be a happy bunny with a very noticeable tan. It is available to buy here

St. Tropez Dry Oil: this is my travel product because at 100ml, it meets airline requirements for on-board luggage. I would suggest decanting it to a plastic bottle though; the glass bottle looks amazing but breaks easily. You don't want that happening in your suitcase, despite the BEAUTIFUL smell. This does not smell like regular self-tanners, it has a great guide colour so you see where to apply and dries instantly, leaving zero oiliness. It has the tiniest shimmer in it, so you might not like it for public wear until that first shower. I apply it with my hands and wash them after: no residue. It is available to buy here.

Luna Bronze Eclipse Tanning Mousse: This one is different than the others, in two ways. It doesn't smell like regular self-tanners, this has a citrus-y smell. Also, the colour is not like the flushed, sun-kissed look you usually get. This gives me darker, more olive-toned skin, as if I was born with it. I can't decide if I love it ('YAEY, I'm finally darker!') or hate it ('but I'm different to what I naturally look when I'm tanned'). It's very good though, easy to apply and worth mentioning if you're interested in darker, natural-looking skin. I find that I need two nightly applications to go truly deeper, but I don't mind because this honestly does not look like a fake tan. The Luna Bronze Eclipse Tanning Mousse is available to buy here

Sally Hansen Airbrush Sun Instant Tanning Mousse- Dark: I wanted to include a more affordable option in this article because, well, times are tough. Self-tanner should never strain your budget. I've used this every time I run out of my staples, as I can find it on several greek websites and it's on my doorstep the very next morning. It's not my go-to because its smell bugs me. I keep sniffing myself for a week- never a good thing. But it's not a bad smell by any means. It's just annoying to me and more intense. The colour is great and uniform, application is easy and the price is *unbeatable*! It's a very solid performer. It is widely available to buy in department stores and online.

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photos via cultbeauty.co.uk, notino.com, bellamianta.com, lookfantastic.com