Battle of the Gradual Tanners

‘I like getting a tan, but I also think that if you’re going to do it, it has to be gradual’ – Georgia Jagger

Despite the fact that the North East of England and just been issued with a snow warming for Easter weekend, I’m still desperately clinging on to the hope that summer is just around that corner. And whilst we don’t have the best summers in the world, it does mean I’ll be doing away with my chunky knit cable jumpers and getting my translucent skin out for the world to see.
When I first started tanning about 15 years ago, all that was available for my budget were these tanning wipes from Wilkinsons that, although cheap, were an absolute bugger to apply unless your skin was exfoliated to within an inch of your life, and made you look super orange (still better than looking like an extra from a George Romero movie!)
Self Tanning Wipes, Wilkinsons (£1.99)

Thank god then when tinted moisturiser came on the market. I’ve been using different brands over the years with varying degrees of success, so below is a short run down of what I’ve tried and how they work for me:

Johnsons Holiday Skin
Johnsons Holiday Skin, (£11.40 for 250ml)

I don’t see this one around all that much any more, although it’s still available in boots and on Amazon. This was one of the first gradual tanner I ever tried and seem to have the market covered back in the day. I never really liked the gritty feel the lotion had to it and it was always heavy on the tan part and light on the moistrurising. I always ending up stinking of biscuits and really patchy. Perhaps they’ve improved since I used it circa 2006 but it definitely surpassed by better products on the market.

L’Oreal Sublime Bronze Gradual Tan
L’Oreal Sublime Bronze, available nationwide (rrp £6.99 for 200ml)

Slightly more expensive than the others but sadly it’s not a case of you get what you pay for. The main thing that puts me off this moisturiser is the smell. It’s like they’ve tried to mask the traditional fake tan ‘biscuit’ smell with their own type of perfume but it smells awful! The colour once it;s all soaked in isn’t that great, it’s way too subtle for me so need about 4 applications before i can tell a difference, and i simply can’t stand the smell for that long!

Dove Summer Glow
Dove Summer Glow, nationwide (rrp £5.69 FOR 250ml)

This was my go to self tanner for many many years as I do love the colour it develops into; it’s dark enough to notice a difference but subtle enough to not look orange. It’s without a doubt the most natural gradual tanner i’ve found without having a fortnight in the sun! My main issue with it has always been that it’s really thick. Once you put it on it seems to take a lifetime to soak in and it’s so thick that you end up wasting half of it because it gets stuck in the bottom of the bottle.

Garnier Summer Body
Garnier Summer Body, nationwide (rrp £5.35 for 250ml)

I’d tried this about 5 or 6 years ago and hated it, but last week Boots were out of my normal Dove and it was half price so i thought i’d give it another go and i’m SO pleased it did. They’ve obviously upped their game because it’s now my favourite tanner and wouldn’t use anything else. It’s much thinner than the Dove and soaks into the skin much quicker. Although it does have a slight biscuity smell while it’s developing but not nearly as bad as some of the ones above and it actually moisturises your skin as well as any regular lotion. I now use it every other day and have loads of great comments on how healthy I’ve been looking!

Rimmel Sunshimmer
Rimmel Sunshimmer, nationwide (rrp £6.99 for 125ml)

So technically not a gradual tanner but i couldn’t do a review of tanners i use without mentioning this product. I can’t really remember the circumstances around giving this s go (it was probably on special offer!) and it’s become something i really rate, especially if i haven’t had time to use a gradual tanner or end up going on an impromptu night out. Best used with a tanning glove (the ones for £1 from Primark work as good as any other I’ve tried!) goes on smoothly and dries almost instantly. It’s also dark in colour so you can see instantly where you’ve put it and it washes off straight away (ideal if you make any uneven patches,not so perfect if you forget you have it on the next morning and go to the gym!).
If you’ve tried any other gradual tanning products and would like to add a review to this post get in touch or leave a comment below!

1 Comment

  1. January 14, 2017 / 9:22 pm

    Great reviews. Super helpful
    I also use Dove, but they changed the formula and now the colour is not as strong and is also really patchy. I’m going to try the Garnier based on your review (I also tried it about 6 yrs ago and also agree with your review…it was sticky and smelly, let’s hope it’s improved).

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