The instant tans you need to know about

Spring is here, the days are getting longer, and maybe, just maybe, you think a tan should accompany that. Here are the instant tans that’ll give you that bronze, safely

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Closer Magazine
Madeleine Spencer8 April 2024

During my days as a fake tan devotee, back when being pale was decidedly not in fashion, I’d often use instant tans to augment the colour of whatever more long-lasting fake tan was underneath. I wish I could say it looked great but, no, I was orange — and my best friend’s mum would complain every time I stayed over because I’d get said tan all over the sheets.

Now, things are better all round. Vitally, we have all collectively realised pale skin can be luminous and beautiful and doesn’t need to be plastered in tan, but those who do still want to add a little can access realistic fake tans which won’t end up all over the sheets — even if they’re of the instant variety.

You need to know a few things before you slather. I shouldn’t have to write this, but I’m going to for the record: a tan achieved by sunbathing or going on sunbeds is never, ever ‘healthy,’ and a fake tan is the only way to change your natural skin tone without running the risk of cancer and the certainty of premature ageing.

You must also know that while instant tans now really do cling to skin, it’s good practice wash them off before bed with a cleanser or body cleanser, just as you would your SPF or make-up. 

Instant Glow Body Bronzer

St. Tropez

This by tan gurus St. Tropez is a remarkably realistic skin tint, adapting skin colour reliably every time. I know the mitt is a bit of a faff, but I’d really recommend using it with this one as it applies so much better if you do.

Buy now£15, Cult Beauty

Tea to Tan Face & Body

By Terry

Perhaps the easiest instant tan I’ve ever used — you literally mist it on, the liquid coats skin evenly, and you’re done. Oh, and it contains antioxidants and nutrients for a little skin treat while on. No wonder it’s cult among make-up artists.

Buy now£59, By Terry

Mister Healthy Glow Gel


The genius of this product is twofold: it’s half in the very lightweight gel containing ‘pigmented microspheres’ that burst to produce a little colour, and half in the fact that the colour is universal, adapting to whatever skin tone is underneath it successfully.

Buy now£36, Givenchy

Coconut Bronze Glowing Wash Off Tan

The Body Shop

Want a little (subtle) shimmer in the mix? This is the one to go for. Noteworthy also for gliding on really smoothly, so it requires a very low skill set to make it look good. I especially like it on collarbones during warmer months.

Buy now£16, The Body Shop

Lovely Day Instant Bronzing Gel


Templespa have infused this sheer gel with vitamin B5 and Vitamin E to care for skin while warming the colour up a little. Try some over SPF and under a concealer for a perfect summer skin combination.

Buy now£26, Templespa