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The Beauty Memo

The best fake tan to try now

Having used fake tan for over half her life, DANIELLE FOX has learned from her mistakes and perfected a routine that is fast and fail-safe. These are her self-tan essentials


THE INTELLIGENT FACE TAN Dr Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Glow Pad Self-Tanner for Face

One of the biggest breakthroughs in self-tanning came when formulators discovered that adding a little glycolic acid ensured a golden – not orange – tone, which explains why these glow pads from New York dermatologist Dr Dennis Gross are so good. The exfoliating alpha and beta hydroxy acids leave your complexion soft, glowing and honeyed after just three hours (although I like to leave it on overnight), but you’ll need to wash your hands thoroughly – twice – after use.

  • Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare
    Alpha Beta Glow Pad Self-Tanner for Face, 20 x 2.2ml

THE HYDRATING BODY TAN Tan-Luxe Hydra Mousse in Light/Medium

The key to keeping a tan fresh and glowing, rather than dry and patchy, is to get into a consistent routine. I’m pretty committed to color, so in winter, I set aside one night a week to tan, increasing to two nights in summer. My tip is to use a light body lotion before applying the tan, as this helps prevent streaking. However, some of the new-gen self-tans helpfully combine the two, including my favorite new discovery, Tan-Luxe Hydra Mousse. If you’re a beginner, don’t be put off by the clear formula; it goes on easily and is packed full of hydrators, leaving skin with a beautifully glossy finish. My advice is to invest in a tanning mitt – applying any tan with this is what gives that seamless finish (it blends better than hands) – and apply overnight.

    Hydra-Mousse Hydrating Self-Tan Mousse - Light/Medium, 200ml

THE MATTE BRONZER Marc Jacobs Beauty O!mega Bronze Coconut Perfect Tan

The problem with self-tan is that it can make skin look flat, so just as you would with a glow or highlighter, you can ‘lift’ your skin with a bronzer. According to the professionals, layering is key, and whether you use a liquid, cream or powder bronzer, applying one of these over your self-tan adds that velvety depth to the color and tone. For me, this is the best compact there is because the warm caramel works perfectly on top of a faux or a real tan. Plus, the matte finish looks modern and ‘real’. I use Artis’ Fluenta Oval 10 Brush to buff it over cheekbones, hairline, collarbone and even down the front of my shins, and I’m regularly asked if I’ve been on vacation, rather than what product I’m using.

  • Marc Jacobs Beauty
    O!mega Bronze Coconut Perfect Tan - Tan-Tastic 104

THE MADE TO MEASURE TAN Dr Sebagh Self-Tanning Drops

While the self-tans of yesterday often looked like you were ‘wearing a tan’, today’s clever formulas and modern applications are turning conventional tanning on its head, delivering a second-skin, natural-looking glow. These tanning drops from Dr Sebagh are like a made-to-measure self-tan, giving you full control of the final color. Using concentrated droplets of melanin, which react with the skin, it creates an even tan when added to your regular moisturizer, night cream or serum. Becoming a tanning mixologist does take a little bit of getting used to, and the number of drops you add depends on your desired depth of tan: start with three drops and then build up the glow.


  • By Terry
    Terrybly Densiliss® Sun Glow - Sun Bronze 3, 30ml
  • NARS
    Sun Wash Diffusing Bronzer - Seaside
  • Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare
    Alpha Beta® Glow Pad For Body
  • James Read
    Sleep Mask Tan Face, 50ml

The model featured in this story is not associated with NET-A-PORTER and does not endorse it or the products shown.