With fair skin that tends more towards the blotchily sick-looking side of pale than any sort of ethereal, even, milk bottle translucence, I'm someone who likes to wear a lick of false tan to take the edge off my otherwise mottled complexion. Not so much in the winter, when all-camouflaging black opaques and long sleeves are the order of the season, but in weather like this where the only way to survive the heat is to wear as little as possible without being unprofessional/totally indecent looking, getting my tan on shoots to pole position on my “must do” beauty list.
So without further ado, here are my favourite five – be sure to add your own in the comments!
ONE // I know it's old skool, but I always have a couple of versions of St. Tropez (€39.95) on standby for times when I need a hit of reliable colour. I go for quite a deep tan during the summer, especially for holidays, and find that the dark mousse delivers just the right shade of dark golden brown in a single application. If I'm feeling fancy, I'll use some common-or-garden St. Tropez mousse on my inner arms, feet, and hands to give dimension to the tan and ensure that problem areas stay looking natural.
Tip: stock up on your way through the airport to score savings of at least 20% off the eye-wateringly expensive RRP.
TWO // I know I'm not the only eejit who sometimes forgets to do their tan until literally an hour or two before I have to go out. I know this mostly because Ireland's own Marissa Carter went and created a pair of products that are basically made for last-minute ladies like myself, and I can't fecking be the only member of her target audience.
The original Cocoa Brown mousse is a traditional developing tan but clever accelerating agents in the formula mean the guide colour can be showered off just one to three hours after application, depending on the depth of colour you desire, and the tan itself continues to develop gradually thereafter.
Cocoa Brown Night And Day mousse, meanwhile, is a 2-in-1 jobbie beloved of Aisling. On application, it gives an immediate dose of like-a-full-on-tan colour so you slap it on and get out on the town tout de suit. Then, while you sleep in it – and here, don't pretend that you won't – it develops, so that your next morning shower will reveal still-bronzed legs.
Um, genius. And at under seven quid a bottle, you can't really go wrong.
THREE // I don't bother much with gradual tans anymore because I find the multiple applications required to get the depth of colour I'm after are inclined to make me look like I've a major dose of the jaundices.
That said, when I want just a bare hint of a glow or am maybe trying to eke another few days out of a full-on tan, I will slap on some Dove Summer Glow (€5.99), especially if I can get my paws on the “Soft Shimmer” version which delivers a hit of iridescence that makes it particularly nice on legs.
It takes bloody ages to dry, though, and you do need to be ruthless in exfoliating the lot off every 5-7 days to prevent it from fading into a patchy mess.
FOUR // There's no easy way to say this: Clarins Intense Bronze Self Tanning Tint (€26) makes me look like an Oompa Loompa when first applied. The dark, chocolatey colour that it appears in the bottle is pretty much exactly how it looks on the face, too.
Still, its the only tan I can use on my face that doesn't break me out or sit into pores so I sweep it on at night with cotton wool, let it do its thang, and then when I wash my face in the morning it's died down to a tanly tint.
For something that you can actually leave the house while wearing, try the awkwardly named Clarins Liquid Bronze Self Tanning (also €26), which is somewhere between a gradual tanner and a proper tan for the face.
FIVE // There are some things not even the most well applied, gorgeously coloured tan can disguise. Happily, covering up corned beef pins is pretty much what Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs (€14) was made for. It has long been one of my most fervent beauty wishes that the brand would make like Batiste and bring out a mini sized Airbrush Legs to fit in my carry-on baggie.
Weddings abroad deserve to see my legs at their Sally Hansen-ed best, dammit, even if I am too cheap to pay for checked luggage.
Until that happy day, at least the arrival of the shimmer-free Airbrush Legs Liquid and its squeezy container means I can now easily decant leg-sized portions into a travel-friendly receptacle for future trips.