Get a sunless golden glow with our edit of bronzing must-buys

The best fake tan for your face guarantees to give good glow all year round – without compromising on the health of your skin. Far safer (and faster) than baking in the sun, the latest fake tan formulas not only bestow a believable bronzed glow, but they also hydrate and nourish skin, too. 

From tanning drops and sheet masks to tinted creams and bronzing mists, there are so many self-tan options available – each with their own unique selling points. If you’re a fake tan first-timer, turn your face to drops and mists. For regular glow-getters, try a cream or sheet mask. 

Here we round up the best fake tan for face as well as top application tips from tanning guru and founder of Isle of Paradise, Jules Von Hep. 

How to fake tan your face 

"Repeat after me – two coats on the body, one on the face," says Jules, who emphasises that too much self-tan on the face can look unnatural. "The goal is to get a glowing, natural tan that looks believable," he continues. 

While application will vary depending on the fake tan format, there are simple steps you can take, according to Jules, to prep skin for a streak-free finish: 

-   Step 1: Ensure the face is cleansed thoroughly before you start
-   Step 2: Exfoliating will help remove dead skin cells and deliver a uniform skin tone
-   Step 3: Splash the face with cold water to close pores and apply toner and serum as normal – note that AHAs and retinol cannot be used with self-tan 

Pro tip? "Brush your teeth prior to tan application as toothpaste can collect at the side of the mouth and remove tan here if you brush afterwards," says Jules. Now your skin is prepped and primed, it’s time to start tanning. 

When using drops, "mix them in with your normal face moisturiser and sweep over the skin in upwards motions and down the neck to the décolletage," says Jules. For mists, "take a deep breath, close your eyes, and mist the fake tan over the face at arm’s length." If it’s a mousse you’re using, "apply half a pump onto a mitt and mix with moisturiser before massaging into skin," he adds.   

How to top up fake tan on your face 

"The tan on your face fades faster than that on the body because we tend to wash and exfoliate this area more," explains Jules. "I recommend tanning your face every other day and your body once or twice a week for two to three weeks before having a break," he continues. His top tip? "Regular exfoliation is key to ensuring an even fade with no build-up," says Jules.

Our pick of the best face fake tan products at Boots
Best for a natural-looking face tan

Try: St.Tropez Self Tan Purity Bronzing Water Face Mist, £22

• Size: 80ml

• Contains fragrance

• 100% natural tanning active
• Vegan

If you’re looking to add a touch of warmth to your complexion, this could be the faux glow for you. Blended with natural tanning actives, hydrating hyaluronic acid and antioxidant-rich hibiscus extract, this skin-loving face mist locks in moisture while gradually developing into a believable golden glow. Simply spritz onto clean skin.

Best overnight fake tan

Try: Isle of Paradise Night Glow Self-Tan Face Mist, £15.95

• Size: 100ml

• Contains calming natural oils
• Vegan
• Contains fragrance

This bedtime bronzing mist gets to work while you snooze so that come morning, your skin looks radiant and rested (even if it’s not). To use, simply shake up the bi-phase formula, combining the calming oils with the hyaluronic acid and glycerine base, before spritzing onto your face as the final step in your night-time routine.

Best fake tan for medium to dark skin

Try: Dove DermaSpa Summer Revived Face Cream, £3.99

• Size: 75ml

• Dermatologically-tested

• Suitable for sensitive skin

It’s no secret that when your skin’s hydrated, your faux tan looks more radiant. Loaded with superstar ingredients (think moisturising actives compressed from natural seed oils), this purse-friendly pick deeply hydrates skin while delivering an even, healthy-looking glow that’s tailor-made for medium to dark skin tones. After cleansing, skip moisturiser and go straight for this.

Best multi-purpose fake tan

Try: Vita Liberata Beauty Blur Face, £32

• Size: 30ml

• Fragrance-free

Looking for a fake tan that will easily slip into your everyday routine? Give this multi-tasking tinted moisturiser from Vita Liberata a whirl. Apply on its own, as a primer or mixed in with your go-to foundation, for a shot of dewy radiance. For a long-lasting glow, leave at least eight hours before cleansing.

Best face tan drops

Try: Tan-Luxe The Face Illuminating Self-Tan Drops, £15

• Size: 10ml

• Non-streaky formula

• Multi-award winning

Self-tanning drops allow you to tailor your tan to achieve the finish you want – be it a long weekend away or two weeks in St Tropez. For faux tan first-timers, we recommend adding two to four drops to your moisturiser for a soft, natural glow. Prefer a deeper tan? Try eight to 12 drops.

Best face tan serum

Try: St Moriz Advanced Miracle Glow Face Tan Serum, £12.99

• Size: 30ml

• Vegan
• Contains fragrance

This self-tan serum bridges the gap between skincare and fake tan – hydrating, plumping and smoothing skin (thanks to hyaluronic acid and Q10), while gradually building a natural-looking glow. Apply with fingertips, massaging it into skin, before washing hands. It’s a great pick if you’re looking to streamline your skincare routine.

Best fake tan sheet mask

Try: St.Tropez Self Tan Express Bronzing Face Sheet Masks, £15

• Size: 2 x 18.4g

Not only does this sheet mask hydrate and smooth skin (thanks to hyaluronic acid), but it also bestows a bronzed tan for a radiant, post-holiday glow. Apply onto cleansed skin and relax for five to 15 minutes (depending on your desired tan). Once removed, massage the excess product into the hairline and around the eyes.

Best face tan mist

Try: Garnier Ambre Solaire Natural Bronzer Self Tan Face Mist, £5.66

• Size: 75ml

• Vegan
• Cruelty-free

This easy-to-use self-tan mist develops into a deep tan that will have people asking, "where have you been?". To use, mist over clean, dry skin – no need to blend – and after just one hour, your skin will look more radiant. For an even deeper tan, you can reapply to build up the bronze. Easy!

Looking for more bronzing must-buys? Browse our full range of facial tanners.

All prices correct on date of publication