The Review: Cruelty-free self-tan for a bronzed body

rear view of walking barefoot on a beach

For obvious reasons, jetting off to holiday somewhere hot and exotic isn’t how most of us will be spending this summer. Even staycations could be rather hit-and-miss, thanks to the good old unpredictable British weather. So if you’re longing to look bronzed and beautiful, there’s only one reliable option: self-tan. The good news is that the orange, fake-looking formulations of yesteryear have really evolved. Modern self-tanners deliver a natural, sun-kissed effect that’s a million miles from the dreaded ‘tango TOWIE’ look. And of course self-tan is also much safer than baking beneath a blazing sun.

Self tans collection
Self-tan fan: I’ve tested a selection of products from these five fabulous brands to help you achieve a safe, sunless, golden glow this summer

Much as you might enjoy it, the dangers of sunbathing are well documented (and sunscreen should be worn daily). I’ve been experimenting with lots of different self-tan brands and formats, all of which are cruelty-free. Read on to discover the results:

Olverum Body Polish

If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail. That’s great advice for life in general. And it most definitely applies to the self-tan process! Exfoliation (and depilation) is an absolute must if you want to avoid an uneven, streaky or patchy finish. Pay special attention to any obvious areas of hard skin.

Olverum body polish
Olverum Body Polish is the perfect way to prep and prime before self-tanning. It combines papaya enzymes, bamboo extract and pumice to exfoliate gently but effectively. It smells divine too!

I’m a big fan of Olverum Body Polish. This lovely light yet creamy exfoliator gently, but effectively, buffs away dead cells, to leave skin silky-smooth. Some body scrubs can feel sharp and scratchy, but this manages to exfoliate without irritation. Best of all, it smells divine, thanks to a blend of essential oils such as bergamot, grapefruit and geranium. It really is like a spa in a jar. You simply apply a thin layer to dry or damp skin, and massage in using circular motions. Top tip: leave this scrub to absorb for five minutes or so, then rinse thoroughly and pat yourself dry. I try to shop responsibly, so I’m pleased to report that this product’s ingredients are vegan and sustainably sourced. Olverum Body Polish is priced at £38 for 200ml. You don’t need to use much so this should last quite a long time.

St Moriz Tan Boosting Face Drops

St Moriz self tan products
St Moriz is a great British brand that offers a self-tan for every tone. There’s a huge range of shades and formats to choose from. And if you’re on a budget, it’s an absolute bargain too

Where self-tan is concerned, your face is one area you really want to get right. After all, you can cover up your body with clever clothing choices if it all goes horribly wrong. But your face is on display all day, every day. St Moriz Advanced Tan Boosting Face Drops (£9.99 for 15ml) offer a level of control that I find very reassuring. Designed to be mixed with your existing skincare, this self-tan product delivers a personalised glow. You simply blend three-six drops of this serum with your usual moisturiser, and apply to clean, exfoliated skin. The drops feel silky, mix easily and don’t have that distinctive fake tan odour. They also give really natural-looking golden colour. This brand is vegan, cruelty-free and very reasonably priced. I definitely recommend.

Green People Self Tan Lotion

Green People self tanning
Organic excellence; Green People’s self-tan formulations use a sugar-derived plant active to deliver a natural sun-kissed look quickly and safely

If organic beauty is important to you, do check out Green People Self Tan Lotion (£23 for 150ml). N.B. It’s vegan and cruelty-free, too. Ideal for sensitive skin – and suitable for eczema and psoriasis sufferers – this natural self-tan lotion produces a streak-free glow in two-three hours. The sturdy pump dispenser made application easy, and the formula had a pleasant texture, was easy to blend, and absorbed quickly. This self-tan contains a selection of key plant actives including rosehip oil and aloe vera. I found this lotion nicely hydrating and liked the natural-looking colour it delivered. It’s suitable for use on the face and the body.

Fake Bake Flawless Self-Tan Liquid

Fake Bake self-tan
Fake Bake’s Flawless formulations feature a clever cosmetic colour guide, which really helps with application. They also contain a high level of tanning actives that work with all skin types, without clogging pores

If you’re after a deeper self-tan effect, make friends with Fake Bake. The Medium shade of its best-selling Flawless Self-Tan Liquid is as dark as I dare. But any lucky olive-skinned readers would doubtless get on well with this brand’s Flawless Darker option too.

I used gloves and the tanning mitt provided to apply, which helped with blending. The formulation was light, non-sticky and dried quickly. I really like the fact that it incorporates a cosmetic colour guide, so you can see exactly where you have (and haven’t) applied it. The self-tan coverage lasts for ages, and the Tropical scent was pleasant too. Fake Bake is vegan-friendly, cruelty-free, and offers a wide range of products to suit lots of different skin tones and types. Fake Bake Flawless Self-Tan Liquid is priced at around £24.95 for 170ml.

Skinny Tan Pink Whipped Gradual Tanner

Skinny Tan self-tan collection
The Skinny Tan portfolio uses naturally derived ingredients to create skin-nourishing formulas that are streak-free – and smell amazing. I’m addicted to the Strawberries & Cream Pink Whipped Gradual Tanner. The Milk Choc version is very moreish too!

If you’re nervous about going too dark and dramatic all at once, your best bet is a gradual self-tan product. I tried Skinny Tan Pink Whipped Gradual Tanner – and I’m a big fan. This pretty, pink whipped mousse formulation has a gorgeous light texture and is very easy to blend in. An added bonus? It contains Vitamin E, a potent antioxidant that helps to strengthen the skin barrier function. I was a bit concerned that the Strawberries & Cream scent would be too sickly, but it wasn’t overpowering. This self-tan delivers a flattering, buildable golden glow in around six-eight hours. You can re-apply daily until you reach your desired self-tan shade.

Skinny Tan went from start-up to global success after a successful Dragons’ Den pitch. I like the idea of supporting a brand created by real women, for real women. The Skinny Tan portfolio is also vegan-friendly, cruelty-free and contains no parabens or sulphates. Skinny Tan Pink Whipped Gradual Tanner is priced at £22.99 for 150ml.

Skinny Tan Instant Tanner

Skinny Tan instant tanner self-tan
If you’re looking for a fast, temporary glow then this is the product for you – say hello to Skinny Tan’s Instant Tanner (right)

Arguably the only drawback to self-tan products is that they require some forward planning. Most formulations take a fair few hours to achieve the desired results. I usually let mine develop overnight. But what if you receive a last-minute invitation, or decide on an impromptu day/evening out? Step forward Skinny Tan’s Instant Tanner, a wash-off formulation that delivers instant bronzing.

This product really is perfect if you need a fast, temporary glow. Simply exfoliate, apply evenly using a mitt, allow to dry, then dress and go! Fast and effective, this formula delivers subtle, flattering coverage that showered off easily with warm soapy water. There’s a Dark version too. This self-tan can be used alone, or even mixed with make-up. It does smell quite strongly of coconut, which simply made me yearn even harder for cocktails by the pool. Skinny Tan Instant Tanner is priced at £14.99 for 125ml.

AD:- These self-tan products have been gifted for me to produce this blog and choose my favourites.

Beach walking
I really wish I was back on a beach…I’m keeping my fingers crossed I’ll be there next year!

Are you a die-hard bathing belle? Click here to read my review of the best vegan bath oils.

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