The best tan enhancers to boost and prolong your glow

Anna Hunter 1 June 2020
Any products in this article have been selected editorially however if you buy something we mention, we may earn commission

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The best tan enhancers

Tanning, as a beauty market and aesthetic, is going nowhere and  tanning innovations, from waters to oils  to sheet masks, are coming at us thick and fast. In the pursuit of a safe, believable and speedy tan, we've chosen the bronzing boosters to soothe, smooth and moisturise as they glow.

So how do they work? We know you need well-hydrated skin to stop your tan flaking and peeling so rich moisturising creams are key, starting well before you go in the sun. These contain antioxidants to give you a baseline protection against sun damage as well as soothing anti-inflammatories to take the heat out of skin that's been exposed to the sun.

Other tan enhancers can be found in sunscreens, which may contain not just antioxidants but ingredients that support your melanin (the brown pigment) production, such as tyrosine, copper and hexapeptides. Nutritional supplements work too, in the form of beta carotene, to give antioxidant protection as well as a brownish tint to the skin from within.

You might also find a hint of self-tan in your tan accelerator (the ingredient to look out for is DHA). Note there’s no ‘healthy’ tan unless it’s from a bottle (and even then fake tans can cause sensitivity ), so always load up on at least SPF 30 and above if you’re venturing outdoors.

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Vichy Capital Soleil Solar Protective Water - Enhanced Tan SPF30 £14.25 for 200ml

Best for: sun protection with a glowing undertone

This is a bi-phase spray (oil and water which you shake to combine) which I've been using for weeks and can honestly say feels very nourishing. It has broad-spectrum SPF as well as beta carotene, an antioxidant and natural orange-red pigment, which adds a glowing undertone to the skin and helps to enhance the look of your tan. It’s made with 40 per cent Vichy Mineralizing Thermal Water for good hydration. The spray is clear as it goes on but the beta carotene glow builds up in the skin.

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Filorga UV Bronze Anti-Age Aftersun for Face and Body, £25 for 200ml

Best for: repairing the skin and deepening your tan

If your skin is feeling a bit tight post-basking, this is the gel for you. It melts into an oil on contact with the skin to give comfort without leaving a greasy or sticky finish. It boosts, enhances and prolongs the tan thanks to tyrosine and four anti-ageing oils (organ, apricot, sweet almond and avocado) to intensely nourish skin. The blend of amino acids and minerals with anti-inflammatory properties repair skin irritated by the sun’s rays and soothe it to help your skin stay soft for longer.

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Nuxe Sun Delicious Lotion High Protection SPF30, £19.50 for 150ml

Best for: intense moisturisation

Infused with anti-ageing cellular protection, the rich lotion shields skin from UV rays and protects against dehydration, overheating and photo-ageing. It also claims to activate the natural tanning process, thanks to carob seed extract.

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Institut Esthederm Adaptasun Sensitive Skin Face Cream Strong Sun, £40.50 for 50ml

Best for: a long-lasting tan

This facial sunscreen promises to enhance and intensify your tan by allowing your skin to quickly adapt to the sun for a more long-lasting tan. How does it do that? It claims to boost the natural defences of the skin to prevent sunburn, thus resulting in a more long-lasting tan as you don't burn and then peel, undoing all your hard tanning work.

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Gatineau Tan Accelerating Lotion, £49 for 400ml

Best for: prepping for the sun

This is a lightweight sun prep and aftersun lotion in one. It contains a peptide  that claims to stimulate the skin’s natural production of melanin, therefore helping you build an even layer of colour. The brand recommends that you start using it at least a fortnight before a holiday for a noticeable result. Afterwards, the vitamin E, calming allantoin and emollient grapeseed oil in the formula help to quench and repair skin post sun exposure, thus prolonging your tan.

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Elemis Tan Accelerator, £25 for 125ml

Best for: faking it a bit

There's a small amount of the self-tan ingredient  DHA  in this formula which builds a subtle base tan but this also contains melanin activating amino acid tyrosine to boost your skin’s natural melanin synthesis. On the nourishment front, you’ve got a plant-oil cocktail going on here, namely jojoba oil, macadamia nut oil, ylang ylang flower oil and coriander seed oil, plus shea butter for intensive moisture.

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Lancaster Tan Maximizer, £29 for 400ml

Best for: preventing peeling

Lancaster is a brand known almost solely for its beachy smelling, high-performance suncare; this promises to prolong the natural melanin release in your skin, making your colour last for up to a month. Many slather it on for its reparative abilities alone- it’s light yet deeply hydrating and helps to prevent peeling if you have caught the sun.

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Ultrasun After Sun Tan Booster, £24 for 150ml

Best for: cooling down post-sun exposure

This contains a two per cent DHA (fake tan) formula to guarantee a glow, with cooling  allantoin as well as glycerin to help your skin hold onto moisture. It absorbs in seconds and feels silky on the skin, although while it’s free of mineral oils and preservatives, be aware that it contains a fair bit of alcohol and is perfumed too, which might put you off if you’ve got sensitive skin.

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The Imedeen Tan Optimizer, £26.80 for 60 capsules

Best for: a vitamin-boosted glow

These supplements help you on the way to tan-town thanks to ingredients including lycopene, beta-carotene and lutein, all of which are responsible for the yellow, red and orange pigments found in the likes of peppers, tomatoes and sweet potatoes, and  can produce a golden colour in the skin  - the antioxidants also help to provide a base level of sun protection, too. A good few beauty editors I know swear that taking these at least a month before a beach break. The result is lightly bronzed skin, without the harmful sunlounger sessions of old. They could give you a vitamin boost and an inner glow, but always consult your GP before buying any nutritional supplements,

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Tancream, £44.95 for 100ml

Heralded by beauty editors as a must-have, this cream contains a gradual self-tan, broad-spectrum SPF50 and bronzer (a useful colour guide) all in one, for glam, tanned limbs that look instantly bronzed and stay that way long after the cream has washed off. It also has a colour corrector for an uneven skin tone for picture-perfect skin.

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