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To Buy For: The easiest self tan you'll ever try

May 5th 2018 / Victoria Woodhall / 0 comment

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It's the ultimate customisable tan for face and body. These are the tanning drops you'll be wearing all summer

I never needed to wear foundation until my forties – my skin was always in pretty good nick. By rights it shouldn’t have been; growing up, we slapped Hawaiian Tropic Factor 4 on our pasty white British limbs as we headed for Spain or Greece in the school holidays, where we baked so we could compete for who was the brownest come September. At university, we would disguise our hangover faces with a quick trip to the sunbed (*winces).

I know what I’d tell my younger self now that past sun damage is coming home to roost and I can no longer go foundation-free; 70 per cent of ageing is said to down to UV exposure. I wear SPF all year round (Elizabeth Arden Prevage SPF 50 Hydrating Shield, £55 is a multi-tasking genius). In summer, I also carry around my trusty Bareminerals SPF 30 Natural Sunscreen, £25 – an SPF powder with a built-in brush which goes on brilliantly over makeup and children (no low factor oils for them!) and I make sure I take the maximum dose vitamin D tablets.

But the fact is, everything looks better with a tan – as Coco Chanel found out when she got drunk on a yacht in the French Riviera in 1920, fell asleep and woke up with a face like a lobster. By the time she got back to Paris, her bronzed complexion looked rather chic against her trademark pearls and sparked a trend which has never really gone away. When you’re tanned, your eyes and teeth look brighter, you have the air not of a wage slave but of someone who might well have just stepped off that yacht.

Fake tans, with their intricate applying and drying regimes, have always seemed to me to require careful time management. By the time I remember, it's either bedtime or I’m rushing out of the door. But now I've found something that fits into my life Balance Me Gradual Tanning Drops for Face and Body, £30. You can add them to your favourite moisturiser day or night - no flappy bird dance as you wait for your self-tan to dry, and because they are gradual you know you won't wake up completely unmatched to your foundation.

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Two or three drops morning or night are enough to warm your face up a bit, four will make you look golden in a way that’s natural (note - it won't make you look like you've spent a week in the Caribbean as it's more subtle, gradual product). You need about three drops for each limb. I love the fact that it’s utterly bespoke - you can top up as needed and it doesn’t interfere with your skincare routine – no dilemmas about how to layer it or whether you’ll make it streaky if you put anything over the top. It’s a clear liquid that's non-pore-blocking and has an invisible ‘dry-oil’ feel that disappears into your cream. If I put the product on in the morning, by lunchtime I notice a pleasing natural glow.

It doesn't leave marks on the pillow and neither does it smell. Because the drops are 98.8% natural (and vegan) with naturally derived DHA (the tanning agent) made from rapeseed oil-derived glycerine, they can be used in pregnancy. Everyone’s skin tans slightly differently with DHA, so you may need to play around with dosage a little.

MORE GLOSS: Fake tan tips everyone needs to know

I’ve followed Balance Me for more than a decade when sisters Rebecca and Clare Hopkins founded the brand at their kitchen table. At the time, they were called Balance Being and were pretty much alone in making results-driven natural skincare. Now they have evolved into to one of the most trusted British natural beauty brands and their formulations consistently win awards. Their Hyaluronic Plumping Mist, £16 is coveted among beauty editors (and they do a travel size for £6!). Despite only launching in April, the Gradual Tanning Drops have already scooped a Highly Commended at the 2018 Tatler Beauty Awards.

I look healthier when I wake up and then I suddenly remember why. My morning face scares me less, which is always a nicer start to the day. I regard them now as semi-permanent makeup. Make that permanent - for sheer ease, I’m never without them.

Buy online: Balance Me Gradual Tanning Drops for Face and Body, £30

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