Summer body edition: tanning solutions (part I)

June 16, 2015

I’ve been an avid tanning salon visitor and a devoted sun worshiper. My skin is light medium-dark, NC20 most of the times, so you can imagine my desire to have a glowing caramel tan, summer-winter, all year round. Moving to London made me realize (sad face) that seeing the sun has the same slim chances as seeing the Queen. Thus, a plan had to be done. Since I have discovered that using sunbeds has increased chances of 75% skin cancer, I waved them goodbye because I do want to meet my grandchildren one day. I might move my tent to warmer places, but if I don’t become the next Kristina Bazan in a couple of years, frequent holidays in Bali or Bora Bora are just a dream. See, my plan is suffering some bumps on the road, but I am not Nicole Kidman to embrace my bright complexion.

Thankfully, the beauty market is reaching people like me, conscious of health risks, by providing tanning creams, lotions and tablets. I have been trying them for a while now, so you can trust my advice. Obviously, using no such things at all will increase the chances of a healthier life, so if you don’t like this topic, wait for the next one. In this article I will be covering the gradual tanning creams (and a surprise at the end), just because I did try the instant tanning ones and I was badly disappointed. Unless you are a pro and know how to apply the cream without leaving any streaks, and have patience in letting it dry (because it will ruin your clothes), I will not recommend them. I did have a chance to try many known brands that claim they are the best, but I still prefer the gradual tanning creams because they are really easy to apply! I have three favourite brands that I swear by. Drum roll please!gradual tanning

#3 Bondi Sands

This everyday gradual tanning milk is great if you have pale skin. It will leave your skin hydrated and nourished while developing a stunning natural golden tan. Did I mention it is the favourite brand Australians use? With a subtle cocoa butter scent, enriched with aloe vera and vitamin E it’s great for everyday use and it is really easy to apply. It does not leave any streaks. Why did I say it is for pale skin? Because I feel you need to apply it more than once to see a difference, and if your skin is medium and you want immediate results, read about the next two products. Bondi Sands can be found in Superdrug, and it costs £11.99.

#2 He-Shi

I’ve been using He-Shi day to day gradual tan for a while now and I really love it. I always apply it before going to bed and it provides immediate results in the morning, leaving my skin glowing with a subtle caramel shade. It is ideal for gradually building a light bronzed complexion for those with fair to medium skin tones. It contains vitamin E, aloe vera and pro vitamin B5 for rehydrating your skin whilst including a subtle element of self tan. It significantly reduces the tell-tale self tan smell, which is always a plus. The cream costs £15.50. What I’ve noticed about this cream is you need to apply it really well, let it fully absorb into your skin before putting your clothes on. Also, don’t wear socks after applying it. I woke up with bad patches on my feet because they sweat a lot at night and socks don’t help at all.

Use a mitt when applying the creams. The He-Shi mitt is excellent, ensuring even and flawless coverage and the lotion-proof barrier helps to ensure that hands remain stain-free. I used to skip this step when I began using tanning creams and I ALWAYS stained my hands, even while thinking this can’t happen with gradual products. Also, one time I washed my hands after applying the cream and woke up in the morning with stains all over my wrist. It happened the same morning with the socks incident, right before getting ready for a full day of events (lucky me).

#1 St. Tropez

Number 1 needs no introduction. St. Tropez is a cult brand and it deserves all the praise. I’ve been using St. Tropez gradual tan medium/dark for a couple of years now and it is an amazing product. It combines skincare benefits and a healthy touch of bronze, to give you a gorgeous all year round glow. Infused with aloe vera and the innovative aromaguard™ fragrance technology, this product will nourish and hydrate your skin, giving you a tan that builds up over time. It does not leave any stains when left fully sank in, and the colour it develops is goldish, similar to the one you will probably get in St Tropez. What I love about the brand is that it has many options, for all types of skin, for complexion, legs, etc. It lasts quite well, but I must say the smell is a bit too strong for me, personally. Other than that, you can purchase the cream from Boots and other stores, for £14.50.

They have also launched a gradual tan in shower lotion: streak-free and easy to apply, it’s ideal for first time tanners, pre and post holiday top-ups, or those looking for a low maintenance all year round glow. Just 3 minutes as part of your daily shower regime, St.Tropez Gradual Tan In Shower Lotion is a convenient way to build a sunkissed, gradual glow, that provides up to 24 hour moisturisation.


Imedeen is a tan optimizer tablet that revolutionizes the way vitamins work. Get summer skin in shape from inside with these sun preparation tablets. Just one tablet taken daily four weeks before and then throughout any period of sun exposure helps protect skin from UV induced oxidative stress thanks to the product containing Vitamin C and E. Not a self-tan – simply the perfect way to supplement your suncare routine from within. You can find it in Superdrug for £29.99. I’ve used this product last year before tanning the more traditional way and I have noticed I tanned faster, I developed a deeper tan, and it lasted longer. It is essential to take vitamins and nutritional elements into your system to protect your skin and help synthesise the sun healthily.  It might seem over the top, but Imedeen tan optimizer really works!

IMEDEEN Tan Optimizer tablets do not replace the use of a sun protection lotion and should always be used together with a suitable SPF.

I am sure there are many other gradual tanning products out there. What are your favorites? Next topic on the summer body edition will be about cellulite creams, so come back to see what I am recommending. 
gradual tanning