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The Best Fake Tan Alternatives for Those Who ‘Don’t Do’ Tan

Anya Elliman
Writer and expert1 month ago
View Anya Elliman's profile
An extreme close up of a medium-to-dark toned bronzing oil formula that features shiny speckles reflective off the liquid.

Not a fan of fake tan? No problem! Nowadays, the possibilities to create a ‘faux glow’ are endless, so you don’t need to rely on fake tans or sun-worshipping to rendezvous with radiance.

What to do when looking to create that at-home holiday glow? Many turn to fake tan for a quick, safe and skin-friendly bronze (sans sun). Yet, some of us (read: all of us) have fallen victim to the fake tan faux pas – no matter how pro you are in the application department, sometimes mistakes happen. Blotchy elbows and knees. Hands that don’t match your body. Stubborn streaks. Or sometimes your tan just wears off unevenly and starts to look patchy after a few days of wear.

Don’t fret; we come bearing good news! Fake tan isn’t the only option. There’s a wide array of tanning alternatives now available – body oils, bronzing drops and gradual moisturisers – perfect for those who are either new to tanning, want a subtle shimmer or whose track record with ‘faux glows’ have not gone entirely to plan…


Want the instant glow but without the aggro? Meet our bestselling body oils, granting a gleam to sun-starved skin in seconds. Not only do they offer a subtle golden glimmer, but they’re also infused with nourishing ingredients to moisturise and soften the skin. Ideal for when you need to get your stems out sharpish (like unexpected heatwaves), these temporary tanners will rush to your bare-legged rescue as they leave limbs luminous – without the whiff or waiting time.

Bring the spirit of Brazil to your self care routine with Sol de Janeiro’s GlowMotions Glow Body Oil. Formulated with cupuaçu butter and antioxidant-rich açaí oil, this glow-granting formula locks in moisture and protects skin from external aggressors, while leaving a silk-smooth and scented finish. Wrap your limbs in either the sensual shimmer of ‘Copacabana Bronze’ for a deep golden glow or ‘Rio Sunset Bronze’ for the ultimate sun-soaked shine…


It wouldn’t be right to bond over body oils without giving a special shoutout to the fan-favourite Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse Golden Shimmer Multi Usage Dry Oil. What has swiftly become a firm fixture in bathroom cabinets everywhere, this luxurious formula not only replenishes moisture and leaves skin with a sensuous lustre, but it delivers a subtle bronzed shimmer too. Plus, did we mention you can spritz it on your tresses to soften strands and seal split ends? We’re obsessed.



Doing exactly what it says on the tin, gradual moisturisers build up your glow slowly, as opposed to a one-time application. Since you’re able to develop your shade over time, these are perfect for first time tanners or those wanting to swap out their usual body lotion for glow-giving results. Prepare to experience a seamless, naturally golden tan that hydrates and nourishes meaning you stay bronzed for longer – all without having to leave the comfort of your own home. Want to know more? Discover The 9 Best Gradual Tans for a Subtle Glow.

A revolutionary lotion and oil hybrid, Tan-Luxe’s The Gradual Illuminating Tanning Lotion delivers a natural, buildable bronze for both face and body. Featuring a featherweight formula, it glides on effortlessly, smoothing, conditioning and toning skin while building up a natural-looking, sun-kissed radiance. Steering well clear of the classic fake tan faux pas, this nourishing lotion gives all the glow with none of the streaks, smell or stress. Feeling impatient? Don’t worry – it develops in just one hour…


Whether you’re new to tanning or want to achieve a gradual glow, Bondi Sands Everyday Gradual Tanning Milk is a go-to for an all-year-round bronze. Perfect for fuss-free application, this can be built up slowly day by day and is enriched with aloe vera and vitamin E, so your limbs are left soft, supple and nourished. If you already moisturise daily, why not swap this in so you’re not only left nourished, but with a subtle golden glow…



Want to keep the golden glimmer to just your complexion? Introducing bronzing drops – AKA the key to the bronze without the burn. Taking all the hard work (and the consequences) out of getting a tan, these make up must-haves grant the sunshine's enviable glow by simply adding a couple drops into your skin care or make up routine. It gets better… with an infusion of skin-loving ingredients, they not only deliver a sun-kissed shimmer but leave your complexion soothed, nourished and plump.

Forever trending (and for *all* the right reasons), meet the Drunk Elephant D-Bronzi Anti-Pollution Sunshine Drops – a make up-skin care hybrid that nourishes and protects the complexion while leaving it with a weightless glow.  How? Thanks to a blend of chronopeptide (which mimics the benefits of vitamin D), omega-rich virgin marula and black currant seed oils, they all work to replenish and retain moisture. Think of it as sunshine in a bottle…


Get ready to shield skin and deliver a sun-kissed glow with Ultra Violette’s Queen Screen SPF50 Super Glow Drops in 'Bronzing' . Soon to be your latest SPF sidekick, this 2-in-1 multitasking hero protects against UVA and UVB rays, while granting your complexion with a dazzling dewy and bronzed finish. Boasting the brand's signature melt-into-the-skin texture, they can be worn to your desired intensity by either mixing with your favourite sunscreen or adding them under (or over) your make up. Consider us impressed.


We guess only one question remains: is it time to swap out your faithful fake tan for these bronzing bestsellers?

Anya Elliman
Writer and expert
View Anya Elliman's profile
Anya is one of Cult Beauty’s Junior Copywriters. A huge lover of all things skin and body care, time spent intently researching product ingredients has resulted in a mass of skin care know-how (which don’t worry, she’s more than happy to share). When Anya's not treating herself to a new Maison Margiela fragrance or Aesop hand cream, you'll find her at the latest natural wine bar with friends, buying a new book (even though there is already a stack waiting), or walking through Hampstead Heath with her regular order of an almond latte.