Gradual tan: the best tans for unskilled tanners

Beauty: There are ways to build up a gradual tan, even for the ham-fisted pale Irish

False tanning can be frightening. Despite Irish people’s enormous consumption of tanning products, not all of us are good at applying it. No one should be overly hard on themselves in this respect. The first few times you try anything, the results will be imperfect. Sadly, though, some of us never get past the suspicious orange knuckle, streaky foot look. Along with drying my hair with a round brush, tanning competently has always eluded me. Rather than giving up completely, a gradual tan is a good option. They are simply more forgiving to the inexperienced and ham-fisted. You can build up the pigment slowly until you’re happy with the result, making overdoing it next to impossible. If you don’t like an artificial or overly intense finish, the effect is subtler.

Isle of Paradise Happy Tan Everyday Gradual Glow

Isle of Paradise Happy Tan Everyday Gradual Glow (€19.99 at Boots) is a traditional cream formulation, but doesn’t sport any orange undertone, and is hard to get wrong provided you massage it thoroughly into the skin. Apply it for a few days consecutively until you’re happy with the effect, then top up every other day for maintenance. If you are looking for a deeper gradual tan that would usually come from a more traditional tanning product, opt for Bondi Sands Gradual Tan Lotion (€17.49 at Boots). Apply daily for a deeper tone, but make sure to exfoliate thoroughly the day before as the deeper pigment is less forgiving if applied imperfectly.

Oskia Adaptive Tan Mist

I find a mist easier than a cream or lotion. Oskia Adaptive Tan Mist (€56 from July 4th at Space NK) is not so much a gradual tan as a subtle, natural tan that develops gradually after one application and deepens over four days. One application is all that is needed, though you can reapply to maintain or deepen the effect. The mist is incredibly fine and no rubbing at all is required. Just spray from a 30cm distance onto face and body. Stand in a slightly bizarre starfish position for a couple of minutes until it has dried in, and go.

James Read Coconut Water Tan Mist Body

James Read Coconut Water Tan Mist Body (€30 at is a similar product to the Oskia version, but is less skincare focused and develops within five hours. Cloud10 now also offers free delivery to all Irish customers within one to two days, which is a nice way to acknowledge how popular the site is with Irish customers.


Chanel L’Eau Tan

For the subtlest and most foolproof tan you can buy, try Chanel L'Eau Tan (€56 at Brown Thomas). This, however, is a product for paler people and those who want a subtle tan. Containing the tiniest quantity of DHA – the ingredient responsible for the colour change false tans bring about – it does not produce a strictly tanned effect. Rather, it gives you a distinct glow, and appears to alter the neutral undertone of my skin to a more olive hue. It does not radically alter my skin; it just makes it a little more golden, and I love it.