The Pool tries... the best foolproof fake tans

Extend that holiday glow right into September

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By Elle Turner on

Fake-tan feels like a bit of a minefield – patchy knees, orange elbows and that dreadful stale-biscuit smell. However, it's still dress season and the thought of bronzed calves is undoubtedly appealing. So, with that in mind, the Pool team has been on a mission to find the best natural-looking, non-patchy and easy-to-apply fake tans. From facial glow-givers to pasty-leg bronzers, here are our five favourites.


The Pool's editor, Sam Baker, swears by St Tropez' Everyday Gradual Tan in Light/Medium. If you're super pale and don't want anything too drastic, mix it with a body moisturiser to knock it down to a just-about-there tint. Layer it up over a couple of days for slightly bronzed-looking skin.


Best for your face: Charlotte tilbury overnight bronze & glow mask

Fashion and beauty ed Frankie Graddon rates this for extending your holiday bronze. "After you've washed your face, massage a thin layer of this all over your face, making sure you've blended around your hairline and chin (it's colourless, so you won't see where you've put it). Go to sleep and wake up looking noticeably glowier. Start tentatively and build up the colour over a few nights. The texture is light but creamy, it doesn't smell of damp biscuits and it doesn't come off all over the pillow." For a cheaper option, beauty contributor Tory Frost swears by this.


Best to Chuck on and go: MODEL CO Instant Self Tan lotion

If you want something simple to use and instant in effect, then this is for you. (It's also excellent for covering up previous botched tan patches). Apply over legs and arms like a lotion, taking care to blend over elbows and knees. The colour shows up immediately and deepens over four to six hours. It's quick-drying and doesn't feel sticky.


BEST For a subtle glow: DOVE DERMA SPA Shimmer LOTION

Apply this all over your body like you would your normal moisturiser, building up the colour over a few days. As the colour is subtle, any missed patches aren't too noticeable; however, for the smoothest result, try using a mitt. This one also had a touch of shimmer for extra summer glow.


BEST FOR Nervous tanners: James Read Melting Tanning Balm

If, like our deputy fashion and beauty editor, Hannah, you're a tan-phobe ("I think it looks a bit unnatural on me"), then you may like this. "Unlike fake tan I've seen before, this is like a thick, creamy moisturiser that you can apply to skin, wearing the gloves provided. It means you can really control how much you put on, so you're not left with legs like tangerines. It gave me a subtle, even colour and didn't come off on my bed sheets."


And if it does all go wrong? Here's how to fix it.


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