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Tans on test: market leaders go head to head

Bourjois Bronzing Powder
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Self-tanners have become a beauty essential, whether you want to avoid hitting the beach looking like a walking milk bottle or just steer clear of the sun altogether, to help protect yourself against skin cancer and premature ageing. But there are so many brands on the market now, how do you know which does the job best? We put the two of the best-known brands to the test to find out…St Tropez Bronzing Mousse, £20; call 0115 983 6363 or visit for stockists. The granddaddy of self-tans, St Tropez was the first tanner that gave long-lasting, streak-free colour that looked like a genuine tan, revolutionising the market and giving women a real alternative to sunbathing (apart from being proud to be pasty, of course). The Bronzing Mousse formulation is also a dream to use as it’s smoothed onto skin, developing into a perfectly even, natural colour over four hours – although the ‘top coat’ does wash away, leaving paler skin beneath. And while you can add more layers without affecting the evenness of the colour, we found that, overall, the colour doesn’t last very well when wet, so you do have to keep reapplying. Fake Bake Air Brush Instant Self-Tanning Spray, £26.95; call 0870 054 4455 or visit for stockists. It’s an organic formulation, sprayed onto skin and then smoothed in with gloved hands (it comes with its own gloves) to leave quite a dark colour that’s streak-free and even which just lasts and lasts. The guide colour needs washing off after a few hours of developing, but what’s underneath is still quite dark (apply a second layer to give it depth). And it doesn’t change, even after soapy baths or moisturising. In fact, it’s only when skin starts shedding through its natural cycle that you start to see the tan coming off and looking a little blotchy. Give it a good scrub and start all over again and we reckon you could get about 7-10 days out of one application. And there’s no smell.

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