In the past, self-tan seemed aimed squarely at those with light skin tones, but with brands such as Isle of Paradise and Bondi Sands launching formulas designed specifically for dark skin, the tide is turning. "Brands have got better at formulating tan for dark skin and there’s more choice now too," says GTG's social media and design manager Jemma, who has tested dozen of fake tans on her darker skin over the years.
This can also be seen on TikTok, where videos on tanning for darker skin have amassed over one billion videos, with users sharing their black girl tanning tutorials, proving why self-tan has a place in your beauty routine if you have dark skin.
TikTok user Awasanneh's tanning tutorial, using B.tan's Tanned AF Self Tan Mousse in Darkest , £12.99, has had almost one million views with reams of positive comments. "Tanning on darker skin tones makes so much more sense to me," says one user. "I feel it looks best when it's enhancing the skin's vibrancy." Another user notes: "tanning for black girls helps with pigmentation."
Because darker skin can be particularly prone to hyperpigmentation , fake tan is one way to reduce its appearance, should you wish to.
"For me, self-tanning is about evening out my tone and imperfections, plus giving my skin a sun-kissed radiant finish," says Jemma. "No matter your complexion, everyone looks good with a glow."
These are the dark skin-approved self-tans our experts reach for.
Image: Instagram @keeksreid
Loved by: Keeks Reid, freelance beauty writer
This velvety tans deepens in one to four hours and is tinted so you can see where you've applied it, plus there's no need to wait for it to develop - you look bronzed immediately. It has a eucalyptus scent, which is unusual for tan.
"I love this tan because even before it deepens, I can see a difference when I apply it," says Keeks. "A lot of ‘dark’ tans don’t show up on black skin but this one leaves me looking even-toned, glowy and healthy. The mousse formula is easy to apply and blend too; even a tanning noob like me got streak-free results first time. I leave it on for four hours and then rinse it off in the shower. "
Image Instagram: @jemmalucyt
Loved by: Jemma Thompson, GTG social media and design manager
This clear mousse self-tan has avocado, chia seed and coconut oil to nourish as it tans (no dryness) and has colour correctors in it to sort out any tanning mistakes you make (we've all been there!).
"I've tried a lot of fake tans over the years, and this is my favourite that I've found. Unlike other tans that give you a slight tangerine look, this one always gives me a natural-looking and fairly authentic fake tan. Despite the fact that there is no guide colour (which means no colour transfer) I've never had a streaky finish and I’m very ‘slap dash’ with my application.
"I leave it on overnight and what I love most about it is that it gives me an impeccable glow; it's formulated with violet colour correcting actives that not only give me a lovely bronzed look, but also help to even out my skin tone and stretch marks. It's also a water-based tan, which leaves your skin feeling super hydrated and fresh – no biscuity vibes here!"
Image: Instagram @rubyhammer
Loved by: Ruby Hammer, makeup artist
St Tropez is supermodel Ashley Graham's tan of choice (she even made her own collection with the brand earlier this year) and it's easy to see why. This gives a rich, deep tan that's streak-free and easy to use. It dries quickly so you don't get product transfer, plus it's made with melanin technology which adapts to your skin tone for a tailored finish.
"This is lightweight and provides a very dark tan without streaking or smelling unpleasant and lasts extremely well," says Ruby, who's also a fan of Vita Liberata Body Blur. "I love it because it gives an instant bronzed tone while also concealing imperfections to even out skin tone which is an added bonus for dark skins."
Image: Instagram @dermgp
Loved by: Dr Sonakshi Khorana, dermatologist
Isle of Paradise lead the way when it came to making tanning inclusive, using models of all body types and skin tones on social media and in ad campaigns. The brand's tanning water was an industry first when it launched, adapting to the user's skin tone and being an absolute doddle to apply with zero streaking.
"The Self Tanning Water comes in three shades perfectly tailored to suit different skin tones," says Dr Sonakshi. "It develops into a natural glowy finish and doesn’t leave any ashy tones on the skin."
Dr Sonakshi also loves James Read's face tanning serum. It develops in as little as 20 minutes and has vitamin C in to brighten the skin, plus hyaluronic acid to hydrate. "It's really lightweight which makes it ideal for the summer," Dr Sonakshi says. "The serum is colourless which makes it well suited for dark skin tones and has added vitamin C. It gives you a really radiant complexion and works really quickly to build up tan.
Image: Instagram @alicia.lartey
Loved by: Alicia Lartey, aesthetician
Of all the self tans we've tried, this is among the most hydrating, thanks to jojoba and vitamin E, which intensely hydrate the skin. It has a light coconut scent and dries ultra-fast.
"This is great for hiding hyperpigmentation and stretch marks," Alicia says. Talking about tanning on her Instagram, Alicia wrote: "Tanning is such an underrated glam step that can be used for so many things. I use tanning to help even out my skin tone, hide stretch marks and as a form of temporary makeup to hide scars that I have acquired as a reckless child."
Image: Instagram @keshiaeast_
Loved by: Keshia East, makeup artist
This cult buy is a wash-off skin tint with a mousse texture that comes in five shades. It smooths the skin's appearance and minimises the look of blemishes. It reflects light for a glowing finish and is a wash-off formula if you just want to glow up for an evening, says Keshia. "Not only does this give my skin an amazing glow, it also hides imperfections. It's perfect for holidays when your legs are out. I use it for nights out as well."
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