The best wash-off tans for an instant glow

Anna Hunter 26 April 2017
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The best wash-off tans for an instant glow

According to fashion sources, around this time in April marks the end of the rein of opaques. Seemingly despite the rumour of Arctic winds coming our way, tights are taking a bow and bare legs (even simply calves down) are back. Given the unpredictable nature of British climes, plus tan development anxiety, a wash-off yet rain resistant temporary tan can help you to bridge the bare leg gap with minimal faff and bronzing spontaneity. Here are the wonder wash-offs that make everything from wedding-prep to important work meetings a breeze.

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Vita Liberata Body Blur, £29.95

Like a bronzing primer for your bod, this subtly sheeny wash-off tan is loved by Gigi Hadid, and incidentally our resident sensitive skin columnist. Body blur smooths out skin texture while adding a light-reflective but not disco-ball bright layer of colour, plus it’s truly transfer resistant, although it does dry quite fast so get blending with a mitt immediately after application. It smells fresh and summery yet the fragrance element didn’t prove irritating (or socially awkward as regular mouldy biscuit self-tan can). As long as you buff it in lightly and with haste, the finish is seamless, and this was one of the best in the edit at disguising spotches, red marks and accidental razor nicks (we’re pros, really).

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James Read Wash-Off Tan, £12

Trust tanning maestro James Read to come up with something that works from all angles (you can use this on your face too) and looks like the real deal. Fragrance free and non-tacky, it’s another good option for sensitive skins, plus the colour is easily buildable, which is particularly handy if you’re trying to fill in existing tan lines and make it look convincing (no small feat). If applying to your face for a bit of a glow, try mixing with moisturiser or makeup. All in all, it’s a multipurpose marvel.

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St Tropez Instant Tan Finishing Gloss, £12

Chrissy Teigen wore this at the Grammy’s, Heidi Klum was appropriately glossed at the Golden Globes and supermodels shone on the SS17 catwalks thanks to this new skin finisher. If you normally opt for dewy over matte in terms of skin effect, this is the wash-off for you, especially seeing as you very little product is required to achieve a bit of a glimmer, and you can dab it where you need it without the need for precise application (zero tiger stripes even if you’re cack-handed). If your skin looks and feels a bit rough, ropey or blah, this gloss could be quite the godsend, although it is a little stickier than its wash-off peers. On the other hand, it stays put, with zero transfer onto clothes and while it took some time for our tester to remove, that's a good omen where sudden downpours are concerned. It’s also especially handy for adding a bit of evening lustre to dark skins.

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The Body Shop Honey Bronze Tinted Leg Mist, £16

Slightly more orange hued than the rest, but hear me out, as the sheer, gleamy formula winds up more flattering than fake-looking. With a thin, easy to blend texture, I got better results applying with a mitt rather than directly spraying it on, but once it’s buffed on it creates a silky veil of colour that warms pale limbs up nicely, although it’s too transparent to camouflage small veins, bruises or uneven skin tone. A little goes a fairly long way, however, depending on your natural skintone and how deep you want to go, and the cooling gel would be be especially welcome on a sweltering day. If you’re after a long-lasting day-to-day opaque replacer, this could be the one, as it’s free of shimmer, glitter or any other giveaway, and most importantly, it goes on evenly and stays that way.

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By Terry Tea to Tan, £55

Another mist, but this bi-phase actual tea infused water boasts two effects to somewhat justify the steep price point. Apply it as it comes and you get a matte tan effect, but shake up the bottle and small shimmer particles turn the tanning liquid into a bronzing body highlighter, which is particularly striking when you run it down the centre of the legs, over collarbones or sparingly over the decolletage area. This is the thinnest consistency of the lot, so don’t overdo it for the sake of looking natural but also so as not to sabotage your carpets/ wallet. This is not the kind of tea that many of us can afford to spill.

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Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs Leg Makeup, £13.99

Get past the 90s looking bottle and branding and you’ve got the second best thing to a pair of leg perfecting stockings- there’s enough colour here to gloss over bumps and grazes, but the velvety finish looks suitably skin-like. Available in the widest spectrum of skin tones in this list, it has a ‘your legs, but better’ effect and was the most budge-proof of the lot- it withstood light rain at a wedding without a smear.  A great example that appearances can deceive- the packaging belies the top-notch performance.

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Rimmel Sunshimmer Water Resistant Instant Tan in Light Matte, £6.99

A budget classic, I’ve been on the Sunshimmer train since my high school days. Admittedly not all members of the Sunshimmer family stand up to scrutiny (the dark shades are a bit tar-like), but if you’re pale of skin, Light Matte delivers a soft-focus bronze that applies quickly and neatly. Take water-resistant with a large pinch of salt and perhaps save for guaranteed sun days, but otherwise if you want a quick, cheap hit of sun, this is the beauty equivalent of a Ryanair flight to the Balearics (...although less orange).

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Want to get to grips with self-tan once and for all? Check our our  fake tan tips  and never endure a streak again

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