Best fake tans for your face and how to apply to get the best results

·6-min read
 (Tan Luxe)
(Tan Luxe)

Spending the past couple of months confined to our homes has wreaked havoc on our skin. The lack of sunlight, the stress and the constant snacking has not been kind to our complexions. But there are subtle things you can do to make yourself feel better and that starts with a subtle glow.

We don’t know what the British summer has in store for us this year and with foreign travel not on the cards, we are having to get creative with our tanning this season to achieve a flawless post-holiday glow without even having to leave our houses.

Fake tan - and especially fake tan on our faces - can be tough to navigate. You don’t want to get it wrong. But one of the (few) beauties of lockdown is that you have the time and a wide open social calendar to experiment.

You no doubt already use different skincare for your face and body and tanning should be no different. Innovations in false tanning have led to formulations designed specifically for the face that are packed with skin-loving ingredients that won’t block our pores or impact the condition of your skin.

They can be particularly helpful in the summer months, when you don’t want to wear heavy layers of foundation or concealer. These products will give you a subtle bronze and a radiant glow with no makeup necessary.

To give you the most realistic looking tan without unevenness or streaks, Jules Von Hep, Co-Founder & Creative Director of tanning brand Isle of Paradise, reveals that preparation is key. “Ensure the face is cleansed thoroughly, then splash the face with cold water to close pores and tone/serum as normal. Exfoliating will also help deliver a uniform skin tone, but note that AHAs and retinol cannot be used with self-tan.”

We have gathered our favourite fake tans for the face to harness a sunkissed glow.

Isle of Paradise Self-Tanning Drops Light

Making it easier than ever to get an even and realistic-looking tan, Isle of Paradise’s range extends to these drops that you simply add into your moisturiser, mix together and apply directly onto your face - no extra step added to your skincare routine. Available in light, medium and dark, they will give you that fresh-from-the-beach glow without streaks, unpleasant scents or that Tangoed look. They live up to the hype.

Buy now £16.95, Boots

James Read Sleep Mask Tan Face

This hero product from James Read’s tanning collection builds overnight so you wake up with a stunning glow. There is a reason why this is such a cult product. Yes, the tan is even and realistic but the product is so much more than that. It is formulated with skin-nourishing ingredients so your skin is softer, smoother and perfected come morning. Use night after night to build on the colour.

Buy now £20.00, Amazon

Tan-Luxe Super Glow Hyaluronic Self-Tan Serum

Packed with skin-boosting properties, this serum was designed to give you a radiant glow without negatively impacting your complexion. The formula is enriched with super-food ingredients like Cocoa Seed Extract that help defend against external aggressors and hyaluronic acid for an instant hit of hydration. It also contains the brand’s patented Transparent Tanning that is designed to give you that fresh from the beach feeling without harsh chemicals, unpleasant smells or streaks.

Buy now £36.00, Cult Beauty

Omorovicza Face Glow

Hungarian skincare label Omorovicza’s Face Glow will give you an effortless tan without exposing your skin to the damaging effects of the sun. Use regularly to deepen the colour but with just a few layers, you will notice a subtle natural golden hue that gradually develops. The gentle formula contains apple pectin and plum almond oil that nourishes your skin while bronzing. It has a pleasant citrus scent.

Buy now £28.90, FeelUnique

Sisley Self Tanning Hydrating Facial Skincare

This fan favourite product is considered a cult buy among fashion editors. Combining skincare and tanning, it works to nourish your skin with moisture-boosting plant-based and antioxidant-rich ingredients, while offering a subtle tint. You really can’t go wrong with this product. Just apply every couple of days to maintain the glow. It can be used on all skin tones from light to dark.

Buy now £104.00, Space NK

Dr Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Glow Pads

This may be one of the most unique methods of tanning. Have you ever heard of a tanning wipe? These pads from Dr Dennis Gross take the brand’s bestselling exfoliant product and infuses tanning agents. They could not be easier to use and are surprisingly effective. Make the most of the anti-ageing and hydrating benefits from the acids, while also leaving you with a mess-free, even and natural tint.

Buy now £30.00, Cult Beauty

Clarins Radiance-Plus Golden Glow Booster For Face

Slip tanning into your existing skincare routine with the help of this innovative booster from Clarins. You just pop a couple of drops into your moisturiser and apply as usual. The depth of your tan depends on how often you use it. It leaves you with a natural-looking glow and even complexion without looking orange or with that telltale biscuity smell.

Buy now £17.00, John Lewis

St.Tropez Self Tan Purity Bronzing Water Face Mist

St Tropez is making it easier than ever to get a natural-looking glow - no holidaying necessary. The mist design ensures an even application with just a couple spritzes for a light to medium tan. The formula is lightweight and appears clear but is boosted with natural tanning actives as well as the hydrating hyaluronic acid and non-pore clogging ingredients like Hibiscus extract that is also a skin-nourishing antioxidant. It swaps out that typical unpleasant fake tan scent for a delicious alternative.

Buy now £14.67, Boots

Oskia Adaptive Tan Mist

Simplify the tanning process with Oskia’s tanning mist that doesn’t require any rubbing in and allows you to spritz straight onto your skin for an even and natural-looking tan. It contains MSM, Amino Acids, White Tea, and Vitamins C, E and Pro Vitamin B5 that work in tandem to nourish, boost and condition skin with antioxidants that results in a longer and more realistic tan.

Buy now £57.00, Feel Unique

Drunk Elephant D-Bronzi™ Anti-Pollution Sunshine Drops

Drunk Elephant is one of the most sought-after brands on the block and this is one of the hero products. As with all of the brand’s range, the Sunshine Drops are free from any synthetics or nasties known as the Suspicious Six and will boost the skin’s natural defenses against external aggressors like pollution while forming a glowy base. Get a bronze finish - no sun exposure necessary - with this product that nourishes skin with an innovative chronopeptide formulation that mimics the antioxidant affects of vitamin D. It has an easy pump applicator to give you just the right mix amount of product to mix with your moisturiser, primer, or foundation.

Buy now £24.00, Boots


For a no-fuss, no-frill approach to tanning, Isle of Paradise’s drops are an easy and simply solution that only requires a few drops added to your moisturiser for a radiant glow and work in tandem with your current skincare routine.

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