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Picture the scene: your Whatsaap group have just planned a spontaneous night out, you’re game, but you’re really really pale. Instant tan = orange all over your fresh bed sheets (laundry days and social calendars rarely align do they?). Waiting for a self-tanner to develop is out of the question, because who wants to sit in a fake tan for hours upon end waiting for it to develop? Not us. For this particular emergency, express tanners are the only answer.
This speedy breed of tan is so nifty; while it won’t leave you looking like you’ve just come back from a two-week holiday, it will give you a natural glow boost fit for any occasion. They massively reduce the time you need to sit around and wait for your tan to develop and you can expect your tan to develop a few hours after showering too. Just in time for pre-drinks.
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But with loads of brands bringing out their own versions, which one is best? Do you have to spend more for a good one? We put two tanning heavyweights to the test...
The best express self tanner
Application: It has an uber-light mousse consistency, meaning you need a fair bit to cover your entire bod. As it is so lightweight, the wispy mousse has a tendency to fly out of the nozzle in different directions – not a safe one to use anywhere near soft furnishings. However, it blended out really easily and dried down onto the skin.
Colour: The original shade is a light honey hue that gives you immediate colour – not Tango-tastic, but a healthy wash of colour. For those who usually opt for something more intense, the dark shade is a better choice for you.
After an hour: Once washed off, I looked more or less the same colour as I did before I applied it. It took about four hours to develop, which at its darkest was still only really a subtle tan.
Longevity: This lasted a good four days before fading away, but did go slightly patchy in areas – nothing a good scrub can’t resolve.
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Application: This velvety mousse formula goes a long way and is really easy to apply. The helpful guide colour is completely streak-free and it dries down quickly onto the skin, so you’re not left feeling slimy and it won’t transfer. It also smells deliciously coconut-y without veering into piña colada territory.
Colour: It comes in one shade that gives you an immediate deep, olive colour. It may be slightly scary for those who like a lighter tan, but if you’re after a rich, dark ‘I’ve just come back from three weeks in Oz’ tan, then this is the guy for you.
After an hour: Once rinsed away I had a light golden glow (much lighter than the guide colour) but it got gradually deeper a few hours later. The darkest point was at four hours in.
Longevity: It lasted a good week. By day seven, it still wasn’t patchy and it faded evenly. Oh, and I didn’t detect the usual biscuit smell. Success!
Bondi Sands, hands down. Purely because it was so long-lasting and needed little-to-no maintenance (less tan-admin, more time partying.) The colour developed well after an hour and transformed into a dark, yet believable, tan a few hours later. A little went a long way, so this would last a long time even in the hands of serious full-time tanners. However, Cocoa Brown’s is by no means a bad option in comparison if you’re on a budget, and if you prefer a lighter tan you may prefer the subtle effects of this formula.
Up next, how to fake tan your face without getting spots…