The best fake tans of 2019

Self-tanners rejoice, because fake tan no longer looks fake! Yes, gone are the days of the orange, streaky finish reminiscent of Fanta from the noughties, instead innovative and intelligent formulations means application is no longer scary, shade expectancy is more ‘realistic glow’ than ‘pumpkin’ and a skincare approach makes for a better finish and fade factor. And it’s not just the tone and texture that’s had a transformation — that tell-tale sign of a faux glow has changed, too, with the smell now either non-existent or fruity and floral.

No sunburn, no smell and no stickiness! The b+s team has tested out the latest tans so you can skip the trialling and get straight to bronzing.

2019’s TOP TANS

1. The natural lotion: Beauty Dept. Summer Natural Gradual Tan ($59.95,

Natural skin care meets self-tanner, infused with essential oils, coconut, macadamia and sunflower oils, this nourishing lotion gradually tans your skin while it hydrates.

Tested by Kelsey Ferencak, beauty editor:

“Some natural alternatives often don’t have the same shade quality or staying power as regular tans. But this is impressive. It goes on silky smooth, leaves a believable colour and can be topped up during the week.”

Rating: 4/5

2. The organic foam: Byron Bay Bronze Dark Tanning Foam ($39.95,

If you’re after a rich, deep tan, this is your bottle. Made from natural and organic ingredients such as Kakadu plum, avocado oil and aloe vera, this gets to work without dehydrating and fades evenly.

Tested by Alison Izzo, digital editor:

“The lack of typical fake-tan smell was surprising. I slept in it overnight and rinsed off in the shower (no soap!) in the morning. The only downside? It transferred quite badly on to my sheets and pyjamas. But nothing a bit of Preen couldn’t handle. Brownie points for being more natural than most.”

Rating: 3.5/5

3. The gradual cream: Bali Body Gradual Tan ($25.95,

This skin-boosting gradual tan doesn’t just give you an even, everyday glow, it also works to soothe and moisturise dry, dull skin. Coconut oil, coffee-seed extract and grape-seed oil hydrate and firm.

Tested by Juna Xu, digital producer:

“For a gradual tan this is pretty strong. One coat is all I needed and it lasted a whole week. I really liked the hydrating properties and the ease of application— no mitt needed.”

Rating: 3.5/5

4. The jelly: ModelCo Tan Jelly Self-Tan ($25,

This new breed of tanner uses a lightweight, refreshing translucent-gel formulation that instantly soaks into your skin, leaving no residue on your clothes or sheets and develops in a couple of hours.

Tested by Jaymie Hooper, features writer:

“I have a pretty bad track record with fake tans but I was pleasantly surprised with this. It left me with a subtle golden glow and, as a bonus, didn’t stain my clothes or sheets.”

Rating: 4.5/5

5. The trend ingredient: Eco Tan Hempitan Body Tan Water ($39.95,

The world’s first organic-hemp body-tanning water uses hemp-seed extract to help prolong colour and skin texture. Spray this on when you’re in a hurry and just one hour later you can wash it off to find a deep, natural tan.

Tested by Kelsey Ferencak:

“I always find fake tan really dehydrates my skin, but this left it smooth and soft with a natural-looking colour.”

Rating: 4/5

6. The instant wash-off: Bondi Sands Glo Matte One Day Tan ($17.95,

Only need extra colour for one night? Testing the fake-tan waters? Or just need to show off your legs in a new dress? Try this wash-off spray. Transfer-resistant and easy to apply, spray on before an event and wash off afterwards.

Tested by Juna Xu:

“Just 10 minutes after applying a light layer, my skin looked like I had a healthy, natural glow. It completely washed off in the shower the next night — and without my having to scrub it off.”

Rating: 5/5

7. The bronzing water: St. Tropez Self Tan Purity Bronzing Water Gel ($49.99,

If you have naturally dry skin and find your tan fades patchy or flakes, try this gel. Formulated with hydrating ingredients hyaluronic acid and Pentavitin, it hydrates skin as it tans.

Tested by Liz Graham, deputy editor:

“This is a treat to apply as it’s got a nice smell and doesn’t feel greasy or itchy. Best of all? No need to rinse it off. One coat gives a subtle glow for a couple of days.”

Rating: 4.5/5

Tanning toolkit

Add these to your tanning arsenal to boost application and removal

1. Tanzee Fairy Dust ($24.99,

The worst part about DIY tanning is waiting for it to dry and hoping it won’t stain your sheets. That’s where this revolutionary powder comes in. Vegan-friendly, it works to dry your tan in seconds, eliminates stickiness and prevents transferring — all without interfering with your glow.

2. Sosu Tan Removal Mousse (about $25,

Instead of waiting for your tan to fade or scrubbing your skin until it’s red raw, this mousse works to break down the pigment, leaving you with an even, clear complexion.

3. Isle of Paradise Self-Tanning Drops ($39,

These advanced tanning drops allow you to personalise your colour — the more drops you add to your regular moisturiser, the deeper your tan. They can also extend the life of an existing tan.

4. La Mav Anti-Ageing Face Tan Serum ($29.95,

This fake tan is formulated for your face and contains skin-boosting goodies like coenzyme Q10 to protect and repair, plus argan oil and hyaluronic acid to hydrate.

5. Le Tan Application Mitt with bonus Charcoal Exfoliating Mitt ($5 for both,

This combo has your application and prep covered. The charcoal exfoliating mitt creates the perfect base, then use the application mitt for a streak-free finish and clean hands.