It’s Self-Tan Season – The Best Gradual Tanners To Start Your Summer Prep

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The time has come – it’s officially gradual tan season. We may have just made that up, but seriously, if you want to have a natural glow and sun-kissed skin before getting your legs out this spring, now’s the time to start self-tanning. Don’t get it twisted, gradual tanners aren’t like other tanning products and don’t work in an instant. Instead, they’re usually a moisturiser that you can apply to gradually achieve tanned skin for a natural tint.

As a mixed-race girl, I like to use a gradual tan lotion to accentuate my natural skin colour, adding a subtle, bronzed glow, that mimics a two-day holiday tan without having to hop on a sun bed or book a spray tan appointment. Although they aren’t instant, gradual tanners can be built upon, meaning if you start using your gradual tan from now and daily (like I’m planning to), by peak spring and well into the summer, you’ll have the perfect bronzed shade.

Related: Spring Awakening: Why It’s Time to Up Your Body Care Routine

How to Apply Gradual Tan For the Best Results

Before applying your gradual tan, you’ll want to prep your skin as you would for traditional fake tan application, by exfoliating and shaving for extra smoothness. Then apply your gradual tanner as you would a body moisturiser for nourished skin and a tan. While this varies between products, after application, you should be able to notice the gradual darkening of your skin within two to three hours, which is why it’s important to wash your hands after use, to avoid discoloured palms. Your tan should continue to develop for the next 24 to 48 hours.

How Long Does Gradual Tan Last?

A gradual tan should last seven to 10 days, but by frequently applying your gradual tanner, for example, every one to two days, you’ll be able to prolong your tan. It’s temporary and fear not, it will fade evenly and subtly. And, if you’ve made a mistake during the application stages, or see a patchy tan developing, you can have a warm bath or shower and use an exfoliator to remove your tan fast.

What’s the Best Gradual Tan?

Gradual tanners like Dove’s DermaSpa Summer Revived Self Tanning Body Lotion (£5), which comes in two shades: fair to medium and medium to dark, and Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula Natural Bronze Gradual Tanning Lotion (£8) are favourites among consumers who are looking for an affordable and accessible, flawless glow.

Tan Luxe’s Illuminating Gradual Illuminating Tanning Lotion (£20) features an oil/lotion hybrid formula for a smooth and easy application while Bondi Sands’ Everyday Gradual Tanning Milk (£12) is lightweight and enriched with aloe vera for a refreshing finish.

My current favourite is the Bali Body Gradual Tan (£22), which is a deeply hydrating and restorative lotion that I’ve been indulging in this past month and is ideal for my sensitive skin.

Lauren Gordon is the editorial coordinator at POPSUGAR UK, where she creates lifestyle and identity content. Lauren has a degree in journalism from University of the Arts London and previously worked as a showbiz and TV reporter at The Mirror US. Lauren specialises in pop culture, hair and beauty, focusing on trends, sharing in-depth tutorials, and highlighting hidden gems in the beauty industry.

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