A Guide To Choosing False Tan

Tanning is an essential part of my getting ready routine.  I tan all year round and love to have a bronzed glow about me.  Being tanned makes my feel gorgeous, slimmer and always ready for any occasion.  Of course on nights out, I still wear a full face of make up but when I’m tanned I can often forgo wearing a lot of make up during the day; I just make sure my eyebrows are tinted and I slick on a bit of lip gloss and mascara.  I’m going to be putting together some handy ‘How To’ guides on how to achieve a great tan and I’ll be covering lots of different methods from false tanning at home to using a sunbed.  I thought I’d start with my favourite way to tan, the safest way to tan and that’s at home with a self tanner.

Today I’ll be sharing with you my guide to choosing a false tan.  I’ll be sharing my top tips on what to look out for and what to avoid then tomorrow I’ll be showing you how to apply your tan to achieve that gorgeous bronzed glow.

False Tan Formulas- Fake Bake Original Lotion, Xen-Tan Mousse Intense, Garnier Summer Body Gradual Tan, St. Moriz Instant Self Tanning Mist budget buy, St. Tropez Lotion


Choosing a false tan brand and formula is difficult, particularly if you’ve never tried tanning at home before.  If it’s your first time tanning, then I’d really recommend going with one of the higher end brands as their formulas tend to dispel the chances of too many fake tan mishaps like ending up orange and patchy.  With false tan, you really do get what you pay for.  My favourite brands are Fake Bake and Xen-Tan.  Xen-Tan is the brand that ticks all the boxes for me; it applies quickly, evenly and without that biscuit, rice crispy fake tan scent.  Their tans are very deep and natural, they’re long lasting and they wear really evenly.  They’re very moisturising too.  Fake Bake ticks the majority of these boxes too, except that their tans aren’t particularly moisturising, but the fact that they make an aerosol tan which Xen Tan don’t is the one thing that keeps drawing me back to them as it is my favourite formula.  I’d really recommend the Fake Bake Airbrush tan if you’re very pale skinned as it is a light tan and very buildable.  The St Tropez lotion is a light tan too but I’m not really a fan of it as it’s too light for the majority of skin tones and I do find that it is easier to streak with this tan because even the guide colour is fairly light once it is rubbed in.

If you’re on a budget then the St. Moritz spray is a good option.  The packaging is terrible and the product gets everywhere but the colour is actually pretty nice for a budget tan.  I wouldn’t recommend the mousse formula however as it is so drying and wears very unevenly leaving you patchy and scaly looking.

Of course a higher end false tan will set you back far more than a cheaper tan but I really believe false tan is something worth investing in.  If having a great tan has such a positive effect on your mood when you’re going on a night out, can you imagine how you’d feel if you’d gone for a cheaper tan that left you patchy, streaky and orange?  I’d much rather have a couple less drinks on a night out and go out with a flawless tan than end up mortal with orange legs.

Tone and Guide Colour

Look for a tan that is green or olive toned, Xen-Tan false tans are great for this, as the more olive colour in the false tan the less chance you have of turning orange as the green tone cancels out the orange tone.  Look for a tan with a strong, dark guide colour too, that way you’ll be able to see exactly where you’re applying it which reduces the chances of missing bits and ending up streaky.  Stay clear of false tans that are colourless or white, something like the Make Believe Self Tan Lotion may boast a lovely natural colour but without a guide colour, you risk missing a bit and turning out streaky.  When I was in my early teens I used so many self tans when guide colours hadn’t been developed and even the higher end brands like Elizabeth Arden were useless.  I’d end up streaky and orange and this put me off fake tan for a lot of years.  It’s only in the last couple of years that I’ve really started getting back into false tanning and that’s largely due to the guide colour that comes with products now.


When choosing a formula, the most difficult to apply is probably a lotion.  If you’re not used to tanning and want a fool proof application then I’d recommend a mousse or spray.  TheFake Bake Airbrushtan is my favourite spray as it is a light natural colour that is easy to use as the nozzle can be sprayed from any angle.  This is perfect if you don’t have anyone to help you with doing your back as you can spray a light dusting over your skin.  Mousse false tans are equally as easy to apply, just make sure that you can reach all of your back and they are very quick to apply too as they don’t take much work.  I’d recommend theXen Tan Mousse Intenseas it is easy to use and fast to apply but also provides the most deep, intense but still natural looking colour after the first application.  When you’re first starting out with tanning, it can take a while to perfect your application time and routine and once you’ve been tanning for years like I have you’ll find that what used to take you 45 mins to apply now takes 15.  With that in mind, I wouldn’t waste my time on tans that are really light, personally I find it much more fulfilling to use a tan that gives you that deep natural glow after one application rather than having to build it up night after night.  The Fake Bake Original Lotion is good for this and one to try if you’re used to tanning.  It provides a deep golden glow, as though you’ve been marooned on a dessert island for a few weeks.  Simply sunning.

Another point to consider is the type of false tan you would like to use.  Personally I prefer the type of tan that you apply usually in the evenings, leave on over night and wash off the next day to reveal a deep natural tan that lasts for about 5 days to one week.  I usually apply my false tan the night before a night out so that it is fresh and at it’s deepest.  Often my nights out are planned last minute and that’s why I opt for this type of tan over a gradual tanner.

In my opinion, gradual tanners just aren’t that good in the long run.  I hate having to apply them daily and find that the build up they leave on my skin doesn’t wear too evenly.  There are some good ones out there, like the Garnier Summer Body which does give you a nice glow after the first use if you’re quite pale to begin with but the majority aren’t much to write home about if you’re looking for a really deep holiday looking tan.  If you want something light and more of a light golden glow then a gradual tanner will be the one for you.  I wouldn’t really recommend investing in a higher end gradual tanner as I don’t find them to be good value for money as you’ll be using it up quicker with applying it every day and I don’t find them much different to the drug store brands.

Then there’s always instant tan like Rimmel Sun Shimmer.  This is the type of tan that you apply just before going out and it will give you an instant tan for that night until you wash it off when you get home.  Personally I wouldn’t recommend these types of tan at all as they tend to look pretty orange, badly stain your bedsheets and if you’re out and it rains or if someone spills a drink down you then it is an absolute disaster.  You end up with streaky legs and a stained dress which is never a good look!

With fake tan, it really is just a case of trying out the different formulas and brands until you find one that you like and then stick to it- if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.  Don’t risk a dodgy tan for the sake of broadening your horizons.  If you do want to dabble in other false tans then look for ones that have similar properties to your favourite if you’re wanting it to do a similar job.  If Xen-Tan dark lotion is your holy grail product then you’re probably not going to like, or get the same effect with Garnier’s Summer Body and vice versa.

Check back on Tuesday when I show you how to apply your false tan to achieve a flawless summer glow.

What are your favourite fake tans?  Which would you recommend for me to try?


  1. Carly
    August 24, 2012 / 12:16 pm

    Wow! This was such a great post…so detailed and honest. I agree with all of your points and Xen Tan is my favorite brand too! Xo

  2. Just me, Leah
    August 24, 2012 / 5:28 pm

    Great post. I could really do with some fake tan. It definitely makes me feel better when I'm bronzed. xoxo

  3. Sally
    August 25, 2012 / 8:39 pm

    I have been using Fake Bake lotion for years, and recently tried Vita liberata lotion (sold in Boots) that dries quicker and builds up nicely. I am always wondering should I apply the same tan I do to my body to my face? the day after I apply fakebake I always end up with a darker face and paler neck so its only the second day after I have appplied a second application to my chest that it looks great! Should I try a special tan for the face?

    • WhatLauraLoves
      August 25, 2012 / 11:43 pm

      I always apply the same tan to my face as I do to my body, there's not too much difference between face tanners to body tanners, except that face tanners tend to be formulated to stop your pores getting blocked on ur face etc. it's usually the case that ur face ends up lighter because of cleansing, exfoliating etc. if your neck is ending up lighter it may be if you've applied the tan down your next then bent down n it's rub some off ur neck. What I do is start at my feet and work upwards up my body. I do each arm and my chest, then my face, then I do my neck last. I look upwards and keep it straight, apply a layer and keep my neck streteched out until it dries, you could always repeat this and apply another layer but again don't bend ur neck until it dries. Another tip if u always find ur face comes out darker is u could mix a little oil free moisturiser in with the tan before applying it so that you're applying a lighter tan to ur face than ur best and neck but I would try the other application method first. Adding moisturiser can be used for feet and hands too. I've got a tanning application post coming up this week so I'll explain it in more detail then xxxx

  4. Sally
    August 26, 2012 / 8:27 pm

    Excellent thank you so much for the tips, I never thought of mixing it with moisturiser for my face, I am applying some tonight so will give it a go! I look forward to the application postMany Thanks for your help 🙂

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