The Best Gradual Tanners & How to Avoid a Patchy Tan - AMR Hair & Beauty

The Best Gradual Tanners & How to Avoid a Patchy Tan

Jan 17, 2022Rachael Grant

Achieving a gorgeous, sun-kissed tan without the harmful effects of prolonged sun exposure has become an art.

If you're on a quest for a radiant, gradual tan that mimics a natural glow, while sidestepping the dreaded patchy and uneven results, you're in the right place. In this article, we will explore the best gradual tanners available, uncovering the secrets to achieving a flawless, streak-free tan that will leave you looking like you've just returned from a tropical getaway. 

Why Gradual Tanning?

Gradual tanning is the most effective way to achieve a natural-looking tan without the ugly streaks. Picking the right tanning product is not always easy: you need to find what works for you to avoid resembling an 80s TV extra.

The look you are aiming for is the golden tan following a faraway vacation. So when your friends ask you about how you got your sun-kissed skin, you can mysteriously hint at an exotic getaway or tell them the truth about using one of the best gradual tanner products on the list below.

10 Best Gradual Tanners You Need to Try

There are several characteristics to look for in a gradual tanner. A spray is not the same as a mist and a gentle formula is not the same as an intense bronzer. We singled out the most important tips about each product to assist you in picking the one to try.

1. MineTan Pro Solution My Moroccan

It often happens that your gradual tanning product of choice has the perfect texture but not the ideal colour. With Mine Tan, you can choose a corresponding tanner that even pays attention to warm and cool skin tones and different finishes.

Vegan, sourced sustainably, and cruelty-free, Mine Tan is designed for professional use with optimal colour results after 24 hours. It lasts from 5 to 10 days so you can play with texture and intensity as days come along and pass by.

2. Lycon Lyco-Bronze Self-Tanning Foam

When you don’t have hours to wait to reach the desired shade, this Lycon self-tanner that develops within an hour is a saviour. For a darker tan, you can leave the foam for up to four hours.

No streaks, vegan-free, gluten-free, and paraben-free, the hydrating formula of the foam is ideal for a flawless tan on oily skin. Natural pigments and ingredients such as Bio-melanin, Aloe Vera and Vitamin E will make this gradual tanning product a favourite throughout the year.


3. Loving Tan Deluxe Gradual Tan Medium

Another 60-second solution to a beautiful golden tan is this tan extender for light to medium skin. If basking under the sun never gives you an olive tone because the skin peels after extended sun exposure, the hydrating ingredients with antioxidant properties, Acai Berry and Coffee Extract, can get you that in a bottle.

Use the attached colour guide to hone the tan to perfection with proper reapplication. You can build intensity as you go along with each reapplication. The Deluxe Gradual Tan Light will not only give that bronzed luminescence but also give a calming, anti-aging effect. As a bonus, it will mask cellulite. 


4. Natural Look Summer Kiss Mousse Pack

If you don’t mind investing more time into a tanning solution, you won’t mind going the extra mile with three products. The same goes if a close one who is a sucker for tanning needs an amazing gift.

We found the perfect tanning pack for recreating gradual face and body tan over and over again. This pack contains Ultra Dark Mousse, Shimmer Bronzing Lotion, Gradual Tanning Lotion, and a Self Tan Applicator Mitt to moisturise, self-tan, and add that extra bronze sparkle at the end. The lotion works with skin DHA to slowly build up a natural golden glow.


5. Clarins Self Tanning Milky Lotion

This self-tanner combines DHA + Erythrulose, two naturally sourced deeply moisturising plant sugars from Aloe Vera and Organic Figs. Its advantage is versatility. The lightweight milky formula enables experimenting with tan intensity from a light golden glow to balmy bronze.

Wait for 24 hours for the full colour to develop. If this is your first time using a gradual tanning product, this is safe to experiment with as it doesn’t leave stains, is streak-free and natural-looking.


6. L’Oreal Paris Sublime Luminous Self Tanning

Apart from smelling heavenly, you will like this gradual tan extender for the sheer radiance that leaves the skin breathing. Watch out for the pearly look if you are not a fan because L’oreal tanning products have light-reflecting micro-pearls.

On the flip side, the pearls efficiently hide skin imperfections. You don’t need to hydrate beforehand — simply use it as a regular lotion.

7. Natural Look Summer Kiss Ultra Dark Bronze 15% Tanning Mist Violet

If you liked the Natural Look gradual tanning product pack, but missed the deep bronze skin component, here is another spray tanner from the same brand. The only difference is that this product is not for a modest tan.

In contrast, you will achieve a chocolate bronze tan and nourish, calm, and firm the skin with botanicals such as Centella, Aloe Vera and Argan Oil.


8. Eco Tan Winter Skin

Apply this gradual tanning 2-in-1 lotion to extend the real beach tan and let the summer vibe last longer. You can also use it to gently enhance salon spray tan. It is an excellent option for beginners as you don’t have to worry about messing up dry skin areas such as hands, feet, knees, and elbows.

The main ingredient in Eco Tan is Aloe Vera leaf juice which has anti-inflammatory properties and soothes dry, sunburned skin.


9. Bondi Sands Everyday Gradual Tanning Milk

If you want that even tan without streaks, Bondi Sands offers some of the top products on the market. It’s been used by big celebs like the Kardashians just to name a few! Enriched with aloe vera and vitamin E for healthy, glowing skin it glides on effortlessly for a long-lasting golden tan every time.

You can use this product in conjunction with other instant tans too, to help preserve that golden glow!


10. KORA Organics Gradual Self-Tanning Lotion

Naturally-sourced ingredients Rosehip oil and Sea Buckthorn oil are cosmetics classics. If they have proven their benefits for you, then you can add the KORA self-tanning lotion to your daily routine and get a delicate sun-kissed tan.

The lotion is enriched with Noni Fruit Extract, which has skin-rejuvenating properties. It is safe to use this organic tanner every day without worrying that you will end up with patchy areas. Expect a clean, realistic look with the smell of lavender.


Tip: A common mistake beginner self-tanner users make is to forget to wash their hands thoroughly after application. To avoid the dirt-digging effect, use a tanning mitt to protect your hands when you use a gradual tanning product.

How To Stop A Fake Tan Going Patchy

Even with the best gradual tanners, this is the information we all need to know.

Even a great artist needs a great canvas to work on, so like any fake tan lover or tan novice out there, we must have the smoothest and hydrated body to work with for our fake tan to stick and last as long as we'll allow it.

If you're sick and tired of getting patchy or streaky, follow these steps below and I assure you, your tan - whether it be your gradual tan, instant tan in a can or spray tan - will last you for weeks.

10 Tips To Stop A Fake Tan Going Patchy

1. Timing is Everything

Fake tan usually looks the best after the second day of the application. For example, if your big event is on a Saturday you would prep your body for exfoliating and shaving on Wednesday and apply fake tan on Thursday.

2. Soap Choice

When I am specifically prepping my body up for tanning, I switch to using Dove Soap Bar as it does the job of a soap bar and moisturises my skin, too. Other soap bars smell great but are extremely drying to the skin, so we want to lock in as much moisture as we can in our prep.

3. Lather Up and Exfoliate Your Body

I do this in three steps:

Step 1.
I use an exfoliating "Leefe" that you can get in most Middle Eastern grocers or convenience stores where they usually come in oblong shapes. What comes to mind when I see them is that they look like rough sea sponges.
Something similar you can get is the ECOPURE BATH Sustainable Loofah Sponge. I like using these things as I find that it gives a deeper and more thorough clean when I exfoliate larger areas of my body.

Step 2.
The second step to exfoliate is by using exfoliating gloves as they get into the tricky and more sensitive spots like the Plica interdigitalis or the webbing in between your fingers and toes, your underarms, neck, chest and underboob area.
With the gloves, I can feel around, grab and control certain curvy areas of my skin to get right in there to ensure there is a smooth surface area to work with.

Step 3.
The third step of exfoliating is to scrub the face by using an exfoliating face scrub like RedOne's Face and Body Scrub in Cucumber.
Either use that on its own or I like to personally use Models Prefer Professional Facial Cleansing Brush as well to double exfoliate and scrub the dead skin cells away.

4. Shaving

Then go in with de-fuzzing your body hairs by either waxing or shaving. Shaving or waxing 24 hours before a fake tan application is vital as you need your pores to close. If you don't, you will have visible dots of fake tan that have seeped into your pores. I used the Gillette Venus Shaving Razor Spa Breeze at the time as it was on sale but I think for future shaving I will go back to my trusty men's razor of the Gillette Fusion as those blades in that range last longer.

5. After Showering

After showering, get a fresh dry towel and vigorously rub your body all over. 

6. Moisturising Time

Get yourself a moisturiser that is extremely hydrating but one that is free from any tan-stripping ingredients. I like using Eco Tan's by Sonya Driver Coconut Body Milk. It is completely organic, vegan and cruelty-free.


A woman's tanned legs


Tan stripping ingredients you should be on the lookout for are...

  • Mineral Oil - Mineral oil is a petroleum-based skin softener that not only strips your tan but clogs your pores, too. This ingredient is found in most lotions.
  • Petrolatum - Petroleum is also a skin-based softener and strips away tan but is mostly used in richer and creamier types of body butter or body creme washes. It does not lock in moisture but it does make your skin feel soft.
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate- also known as SLS is a common ingredient in body washes. Look for products that contain a lesser percentage of this and Ammonium Laureth Sulfate.

Please ensure that you read the labelling on your moisturiser as there is a difference between hydrating skin and soft skin.

These will help you on your quest to stop a fake tan from going patchy. 

7. More Moisturising

The next day or night of the tan application is here. So, before you fake tan you must focus and moisturise your dry areas like your ankles, wrists, elbows and knees.

Soak up your problem areas with the moisturiser as the fake tan will cling to these dry patches for dear life. And we don't want that.

8. Application

Ok, this part is what we have all been waiting for. It is best to work in front of a mirror. Focus, work quickly, and have a strategy and technique. It is imperative to work in unison with your body parts and I shall tell you why.

With freshly squeezed or pumped-out fake tan on your mitt, work with a larger part of your body first to spread out most of the fake tan lotion quickly and evenly and then apply it to a smaller part of your body. For example, with your torso (stomach, chest, back) work it in quick rubbing circular motions all over.

When you can tell that the lotion on your mitt is "drying out", apply the barely there fake tan formula onto your dry areas; in this instance, it will be your face and neck. This tip will give an even and blended colour. Try and follow this strategy through with your whole body: big area arms, small dry area hands, wrists and elbows; and big area legs, small dry area knees, ankles and feet.

Rubbing in circular movements ensures that you are buffing the fake tan formula in smoothly. Up and down motions cause uneven lines and streaks on the body.

9. Covering Tricky Areas

When working on the creases in your hands, ankles and toes, here are some tips. For your hands, turn your hand into a claw-like position to rub the fake tan into your knuckles.

For the back of your ankles, flex your foot so that you can rub the tanning lotion in the creases there. This is a helpful tip on how to stop a fake tan from going patchy.


Loving Tan Bronze Shimmer Luminous Cream - Medium

10. The Waiting Game

While you wait for your tan to develop, slip on a black loose dress like the ones that we have in the Little Tanning Dress range.

While you wait don't do anything vigorous or come into contact with water. Water and perspiration will drip off your sweat and discolour your application. 

11. Gently Wash

After your tan has developed in the allocated time frame, wash your tan away gently. Do not be alarmed if you see tan-coloured water go down your drain, this is only the "residue".

Do not wash with soap or anything, just the warm water and rub gently with your hands if need be in back and forth motions. This is a crucial step in how to stop a fake tan from going patchy.

12. Pat Dry - Gently

With a towel, pat your body dry, do not rub. Just gently pat down. 

13. Moisturise Again

Now moisturise your face and body with a moisturiser with the non-tan stripping ingredients again.

Woman in swimsuit sitting on a rock

Top Tip: For upkeep, you must shower with a moisturising soap that has non-tan stripping ingredients. Also, with a gentle rubbing of the hands, pat yourself dry and moisturise, moisturise and moisturise.

So there you have it you tanaholics, tips on how to stop a fake tan going patchy and stay around longer for weeks and weeks.

Please let us know in the comments below what you think and if you have your own tips to add. 


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