Any woman who has sensitive skin will know the fear that is felt around fake tan. There’s that longing to be bronzed and smooth – yet the innate terror that you’re going to come off looking like a plum tomato because of a major skin reaction.
For years, I maintained my albino looks, until I realised that everyone was making Wednesday Addams jokes about me. Enough is enough.
So I’ve investigated the best fake tans for sensitive skins – most brands have cottoned on to the fact that we are, in fact, women with skin also, who would like to look like we’ve spent a week in St Tropez, not Blackpool. Of course it is important to fully exfoliate prior to using any fake tan – make sure you fully exfoliate in the shower just before applying.
1. Clarins Self Tanning Milky Lotion: £17 for 125ml, John Lewis
This is a great product, which is what I would expect based on the price point. It was a silky application and intensely moisturising – it provided a flawless tan, and my legs were silky smooth. There was no reaction at all – the milky lotion really does hydrate sore, sensitive skin. The extract of fig also provided a lovely fragrance, which is welcome for those who are used to smelling like a pack of digestives after applying fake tan. The tan developed overnight, so I went to bed looking rather pasty and woke up with a fantastic glow.
2. James Read Sleep Mask Tan: £35 for 200ml, James Read
This has to be one of the strangest fake tans I’ve ever used. You apply it with the fabulous pink glove that is provided, and then it goes on black – which turns to a lighter shade when rubbed in properly. Then, pop yourself to bed, wash it off in the morning and voila – you’re transformed into a bronze goddess. This product did not cause any skin irritation whatsoever – but did have a detrimental effect on my bath, which also turned black. Of course the blackness did disappear from my bath after a vigorous scrub (multi-use of exfoliator), and I was left with a deep tan. If you’re looking for a light glow, it’s best not to sleep overnight with it on.
3. St Tropez Gradual Tan Classic Mousse for 200ml: £14.50, Look Fantastic
St Tropez has recently eradicated all of its sensitive skin products – and made all of its products suitable for use. This did exactly what it said on the tin – application was easy due to the mousse formula sinking in quickly and I woke up with an even, light tan. There was no reaction, but I did have slight redness on one of my legs – which could easily have been down to my over-rigorous exfoliation the night before. I used the product the following night, and no reaction occurred. A great high street buy.
4. Vichy Capital Soleil Self Tanning Lotion: £14 for 100ml, Feel Unique
This fake tan went on smooth and silky, providing a good, streak-free tan. Vichy is renowned for its excellence in skin care, and the product produced no reaction, leaving my skin feeling soft and nourished. For the price that it retails for, it is worth the purchase – you do not need a lot to build a good base tan. The formula is creamy and nourishing.
The Verdict: Fake tans for sensitive skin
I have always maintained that I trust the French with my skin – and I would like to reiterate that point again by choosing the Clarins Self Tanning Milky Lotion as the best fake tan for sensitive skin. In addition to providing a great, even tan, it produced no reaction, and actively improved the condition of my skin. It is like a fake tan and moisturiser all in one – whereas other mousse-based products can cause a dry and patchy look after a few days.
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