Our Favourite Tanning Drops & How To Use Them

Self-tanning drops are one of the easiest ways to build believable glow. Sheer in texture, they’re designed to develop gradually – so even tanning novices can use them with confidence. Start with a couple of drops in your daily moisturiser or body lotion, and you’ll soon notice a subtle, healthy-looking radiance. If you’re yet to give them a go, here are the ones we rate…

All products on this page have been selected by our editorial team, however we may make commission on some products.

Clarins Radiance-Plus Golden Glow Booster, £20

These lend a caramel, golden tone to skin. Recommended by experts and beauty therapists alike, they’re designed to be mixed with your serum or moisturiser for optimum results. Meanwhile, aloe vera keeps skin hydrated and nourished so it looks more supple and smooth.

Top Tip: “If you’re applying these directly to the face without a moisturiser or serum, try using a make-up brush for a fast and simple finish,” suggests A-list tanner, James Harknett. “Using one with soft, fluffy bristles allows you to gently disperse the tan carefully into the hairline and work in and around the contours of your face. The Real Techniques brushes By Sam & Nicola Chapman are great for this.”  Available at Clarins.co.uk

Isle of Paradise Hyglo Self-Tan Face Serum, £21.95

Isle of Paradise have added these new serum drops to their cult line for a gradual tan that delivers intense hydration. Available in one, suits-all formula, apply a few drops (anywhere between four to 12 depending on your desired result) directly to the skin, or mix it in with your go-to body or face cream for a more gradual colour. Formulated with hyaluronic acid, avocado and coconut oil, it works to strengthen the skin and improve firmness. A must-try.  Available at BeautyBay.com

Bondi Sands Concentrated Self-Tanning Drops, £14.99

Bondi Sands make some of the best tan products on the market, so we were thrilled to see them expand their line with these drops. Combining hyaluronic acid, vitamins C and E, the formula strengthens skin and moisturises it, offering a healthier, hydrated glow. These are lighter than others we’ve tried, so don’t be afraid to add a few more drops than usual. Suitable for all skin types, they’re also free from fragrance, dyes and sulphates, so you don’t have to worry about having any reactions. Also, don’t forget to recycle it post-use – the bottles are made from ethically sourced packaging. 

Top Tip: “To avoid too dark a glow, build up your colour over a few days,” adds James. “Do this by starting with just one drop on day one, then two drops on the second day and so forth. This will allow you to learn how much is needed and how long the colour lasts. It’s also important to maintain your tan with hydration. Try using a mist like La Roche-Posay’s Toleriane.” Available at LookFantastic.com

Australian Glow Self-Tan Drops, £10.65

You’d be hard-pushed to find someone who doesn’t like these drops. As much skincare as they are tan, they’re brimming with vitamin C-rich kakadu plum, as well as antioxidant goji berry, which provides skin with a protective shield against daily aggressors like pollution. Added hyaluronic acid also stops skin from feeling dry or tight, while aloe vera takes care of any irritation or redness. As with all drops, use between six and 12 either neat, or with your moisturiser/serum. The more you add, the darker you’ll go, but we recommend starting small and building up over time, as these have more depth of colour than others on this list. Available at Superdrug.com

Balance Me Gradual Tanning Drops, £30

These lightweight drops are some of the best – and easiest – that we’ve come across. Mix them into your regular face cream or body lotion to achieve a gradual tan that suits even the palest complexions. They’ve also been repackaged so both the pipette and glass bottle are completely recyclable. Effective and guilt-free. 

Top Tip: “Before applying any fake tan to the face – including drops – protect your brows with a little Vaseline,” finishes James. “It’s also worth using your finger to pat in tan gently around your eyes to get an even blend.” Available at BalanceMe.com

Soleil Tojours Daily Sunless Tanning Serum, £53

With an easy-to-use pipette, you can drop this serum formula directly onto your skin or mix it with either your skincare or make-up. It’s the silky texture we love – using 70% organic ingredients, there’s a host of antioxidants and vitamins inside to help streamline your skincare routine, while simultaneously extending the life and intensity of your tan. The drops even feel nourishing as you apply them, with a silky, loose texture that never interferes with other products or causes any piling. We recommend at least four drops, but you could go to six if you want to build the intensity fast.

Top Tip: “For a seamless blend, always prep your skin pre-application,” advises James. “A hot cloth cleanse is best, rather than a harsh exfoliation. If you have a good cleansing routine, you won’t need to worry about extra scrubs – these can over stimulate the skin and result in an uneven tan. Always place your cloth in cold water, then hold it over the face just before applying your drops to close the pores properly.” Available at NET-A-PORTER.com

Tan-Luxe Super Glow Hyaluronic Self-Tan Serum, £35

The easiest way to create a golden base is with these innovative drops. Add them to your moisturiser, serum or facial oil for a gradual olive-toned colour. Hyaluronic acid, antioxidants and cocoa seed extract keep skin firm and moisturised – if needed, just add a bit of extra contour with your usual bronzer. A handy hack is to mix these with your foundation, too – make-up artists swear by this if time is of the essence, but you want an imminent glow. Available at CultBeauty.co.uk

James Read Gradual Tan H20 Tan Drops For Face, £30

When these first launched on QVC they sold £427,000-worth in just 12 minutes, and it’s easy to see why. With a water base and skin-boosting ingredients like aloe vera and hyaluronic acid, they work to plump, hydrate and lend skin a streak-free radiance that never veers towards orange. A safe bet for all, but especially any tanning novices who are afraid of going too dark. Available at FeelUnique.com

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