Busy girl's bronzing - three ways to self tan fast

express tan reviews

Finding four hours in the week where I can wait for a self-tan to develop without washing my hands, or rubbing off against something, is nearly impossible for me. Yet there are times when I know I’m going to need some artificial help to make my skin a little less pasty and a little more glowing, usually ahead of a wedding or similar on a Saturday. I am never brave enough to try instant tan products as I am usually in pale colours and just don’t trust them not to rub off! I once tried (as suggested by a colleague) to just wear the tan and do what I normally do (shop, cook, work…) and wash it off later. This was disastrous with patches everywhere! Thankfully self-tan producers are now creating more and more express products which I am increasingly addicted to. Here are three I have tried out.

All were applied following instructions and with a tanning mitt.

All were applied just to my lily white legs and feet as my arms have picked up enough sun on their own. Normally self-tans are a little oranger than my normal skin tone  [firmly a ‘medium’ foundation, slightly olive when tanned] so I am often keen to find a colour that matches me rather than shouts TANNING HERE!

1.        Fake Bake 60 Minute Tan.

Comes with spray applicator, gloves and mitt.

Applies easily with helpful guide colour.

1, 2 and 3 hour options available.

Result: In order to get a noticeable colour my skin needed at least 2 hours before washing off the guide colour. The tan developed nicely over the next few hours, and looked really good the day after. Very natural looking colour that others commented on and no streaks or blotches.

2.       Utan 40 Minute Turbo Tan Lotion

Gel formula with guide colour.

Easy to apply

Nice fruity smell.

Result: I gave this an hour instead of 40 minutes, and think it needs longer still. Hardly any difference to my natural colour. Which on my legs is very pale. Nobody noticed.

3.       James Read Overnight Tan Sleep Mask Tan for Body

Easy to apply gel formula.

No guide colour so watch out where it goes.

Result: I let this dry thoroughly, and it didn’t rub off on my white sheets. The second time I used it though there was an orange patch in the bed. Natural warm colour that others commented on.


All three say they don’t smell of fake tan. They do.

The tans are at their best the day after, when they don’t smell and have had time to develop.

If you want a noticeable colour without waiting up to three hours James Read Sleep Mask Tan has to be the way to go (ie me, after a 50 hour week, leaving at 8am the next day, and still needing to pack). The other two did produce good results but needed longer than the time advertised on the packaging. I would pick Fake Bake out of the two, but will be giving the Utan another go on a non-event weekend as it was so nice to apply.


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Welcome to Sewing and Other Stories; my journeys with sewing and knitting; pattern reviews, tips and guides for beginners. I'm also the designer behind West Beach Knits knitting patterns and I host a Knitting and Sewing channel on YouTube where you can see all of this in person. Come have a look!

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