Tan on Trial

The sheet-white Lauren Oakey tested a heap of wash off tans, so you don’t have to.

As the lone person on a 25 degree Brighton beach last June in a pair of 80 denier ‘body sensor’ tights that come with outrageous claims that they cool you down in the heat (they don’t) and a cardigan ‘just in case’, I can safely say that summer is just not for me. Of course, this being Brighton, no one cared a jot as a man in a satin skirt, large floral sun hat and fuchsia lippy sauntered past, and I was left to slowly cook like a foiled baked potato on bonfire night. I’m all for a dustily lit summer’s evening in a beer garden, enjoying a gin and tonic and a general sense of wellbeing, but ask me to go outside bare legged and I will scream and scream until I’m sick.

I once made a brief foray into the world of tanning but stopped when I realised that the colour was becoming alarmingly similar to my hair and I wasn’t that into the smell of warm digestive biscuits. Sali persuaded me to come back to the fold but this time, go ‘wash off’. These are without the developing tan ingredient that smells so bad, and give instant colour that shouldn’t come off until your next shower. There’s still some faff involved – tanning mitts, for starters. No one wants the tell-tale bronzed palm to give you away, so you must employ something that looks like a mini oven glove to shield you from harm. But there’s much less scrubbing to be done – legs, feet, backs of hands, elbows – than with the slow developers. Then none of that tedious moisturising of the same areas again and waiting the requisite sinking-in time – in fact, wash offs work much better without moisturiser underneath. They glide more smoothly onto a clean, dry shin. Body cream causes them to streak and transfer onto clothing and sheets, though I may have discovered this too late.

I do envy those who can throw on a dress and a pair of sandals and not even have the words  ‘emergency cardi’ cross their mind though, so this year I thought I’d make like a human and get to the beach tights-free before autumn. It went better than expected. Here are the best.


472-3002818-JAM038D_MJames Read Day Tan, £30

Hughes swears by this, so I decided to get involved. Quite spendy but its light and gel-like texture had me slapping it on all over as if I had ten seconds to live and wanted to go out as an evenly bronzed corpse. I imagine I’d look like this if holidayed (and tanned) like a normal person after two weeks by a pool in Cyprus.



RC_07_T22_4347_HT_X_EC_0M&S Instant Tan Tinted Gel in Light to Medium, £7.50

Another pleasingly quick to apply cream that I just chucked on after the shower for a couple of days, mainly because it dries so quickly I didn’t even have time to accidentally splash water all over myself and streak it.



40762m_zBody Shop Honey Bronze Tinted Leg Mist, £15

This took a few goes because like a liquid bronzer for the face, the playtime is slightly less than creams and foams. But when I timed it right my reward was glistening and sheen-y shins.



shs3703_abl_01light-glow_cnnwSally Hansen Airbrush Legs in Medium Glow, £9.99

My favourite, plus I love a spray can – less messing about. With this one you spray onto hands then apply, although I used my trusty mitt as I knew I’d totally forget to wash my hands within two and a half minutes. Actually looks like flesh coloured tights with complete no ladder guarantee.

8910857568286Rimmel London Sunshimmer Self Tan Mousse in Light Matte, £7.99

Ok, so this is not a wash-off, but I found it so stress-free that it deserves an honourable mention. Although I tried this in Light, it comes in a gravy browning coloured bottle which made me doubt its assurance that it would give me a nice, healthy glow from the off. But it looked super natural and the foam was easy to apply without horrible streaks.

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