Holiday in two days? No time to prepare? Santa Montefiore roadtests the fastest bikini-ready products

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At the time of writing this, the sun is out and it has been for almost two weeks. Let’s just hope that for the rest of August glorious, balmy days full of sunshine and butterflies are ahead of us. So, it’s time to shed our winter skins and bear our limbs, and the only way is golden.

As official tester for Get the Gloss, I have tried some products which promise to give you a red carpet glow even if you haven’t had the chance to catch any rays. After all, they say the only safe tan is a fake tan. So here goes...

If you can’t spend a few days on a Caribbean beach, fake tan is essential.  Preparation is the key, apparently, so not being one to flout the rules, I tried two scrubs which did the trick:

Soap & Glory The Breakfast Scrub , £8: This is a heavy duty, sugar-based scrub. I wasn’t mad about the maple syrup smell but I liked the granular texture, and if you apply it to damp skin as opposed to wet skin, you’ll polish your winter coat to summer-smooth perfection.  I would recommend you soak your body afterwards to get rid of any oily residue that might conflict with the fake tan.

Origins Incredible Spreadable Smoothing Ginger Body Scrub , £24: Again, this is a very effective, heavy duty, sugar-based scrub. I adored the smell. In fact, I have the entire Ginger range from Origins and it’s all delicious. The scrub is very oily so you have to wash it all away with soap if you’re going to apply fake tan afterwards.

MORE GLOSS: The best fake tans

With your body as smooth as satin, it’s time to apply fake tan. I loathe fake tans, on the whole, because I find them difficult and messy to apply and most of them leave me smelling like an old packet of Digestive biscuits. They all claim they don’t, but after a few hours on the skin, they do. However, I tried Xen Tan Moroccan Tan , £25 which gave me a very realistic colour after only a few hours.

It’s messy to apply.  I used latex gloves because I was worried about getting the rich, chocolate brown cream under my nails, and then applied it to the backs of my hands with cotton wool. It went on smoothly and was very simple to blend. Being so dark it was easy to see the bits I had missed. I thought I’d turn the colour of the cream, but thankfully the tan was lighter than expected; I didn’t want to look like those leathery sunbathers from the seventies! Word of caution, you have to wash it off in the shower before bed because otherwise you’ll dye your sheets brown. Even after three hours I DID NOT smell of biscuits. This is the first fake tan I have tested that really didn’t smell unpleasant at all.

Once that tan had faded, I tried Vita Liberata Tinted Self Tan Mousse Dark , £22.50. This didn’t smell either but, being a mousse, it was very awkward to apply.  It dried on the skin before I had blended it properly.  The result was rather orangey feet where I hadn’t managed to smooth it on evenly.  Another lesson learned: go slow and build up the colour, that way you avoid tell-tale smudges.  This was much too dark for me.  I think if I had tested a medium shade, the results would have been better.  However, I didn’t like the mousse texture so won’t be giving the lighter shade a try.

MORE GLOSS: How to make your skin glow

To complete your bronzage you need a bit of sparkle. NARS Body Glow , £44, is a golden, glittery body oil that gives your skin a sun-kissed shimmer.  Think J-Lo in a bottle.  It smells divine, too.

I’m afraid I didn’t like Bourjois Paris BB Bronzing Cream 8 in 1 , £9.99, at all.  It’s meant to give you the smoothing benefits of a BB cream with the golden glow of a bronzing cream. I found it did neither. It didn’t even out my skin and the bronzing effect just made me look shiny and a bit blotchy.  My fool-proof recipe is L’Oreal’s BB Nude Magique , £9.99, (still my absolute favourite), in medium, mixed with Nars Laguna Illuminator , £33. This combination makes my skin look young, flawless and lightly tanned.

If you’re going to sunbathe, I tried Bioderma Photoderm Bronz SPF 30 , £19, and loved the smell of beach, sea and sunshine! The dry oil quality made my skin glow rather than shine so I was pleased not to look like a greasy chip. It’s a spray, which I liked too because it’s neat and tidy and I’m a little pedantic about that.

I think Nivea sun products are very good and Nivea Protect and Refresh Invisible Cooling Mist SPF 20 , £8.49,  doesn’t disappoint. It’s an aerosol, which makes it very easy to apply, especially on children, but the downside is that you lose a lot of it in the wind! It cools the skin for a second and smells strongly of alcohol when you spray it, but that fades quickly and you’re left with the classic Nivea smell, which is very pleasant.  It works, though, and that’s the whole point.

I am also a massive fan of Liz Earle. I like the whole ethos of her company and feel wonderfully wholesome and virtuous using her prettily-packaged products. Her Foot Repair Moisturiser , £13.50, is wonderful for hot, dry, beach-worn feet. The peppermint cools the skin while shea butter leaves it soft – well, mostly soft - one night isn’t enough for my lizard soles, so I shall be using it all summer!