Thursday, April 05, 2012

Gradual Tanners - Reviewed and Explained

If you like the idea of using a self-tanner but find them a little daunting
you may be intrigued or perhaps you want a light natural looking tan
or to help pro-long an existing tan?
Well gradual tanners or summer/holiday lotions could be your ideal product.

Basically gradual tanners are body lotions that moisturise 
and add a light bronze tint to the skin which you can build up over the week
or as often as you see fit depending on the deepness of tan you require.
In my experience they are not tinted with a guide colour so I do advise using a tanning mitt
but as they are not as extreme as a normal self tanner streaks are far less noticeable.
Gradual tanners are great to add a light colour to the skin
and you would really have to layer them on to end up anywhere near orange.
If you choose to a gradual tanner before going to bed I do advise sleeping in old sleep wear
that way you avoid staining but in my experience that has yet to happen!

Most gradual tanners come in at least two options - light to medium and medium to dark
some will come in fair, medium and dark so choose accordingly.
I do advise if you are nervous going for the lightest possible option for your skin tone
until you are comfortable with the results and process.
For reference I am naturally (no self tanner and no sunbathing) an NC37 in MAC
and tend to use the medium option or the medium to dark,
which roughly bronzes me to about two shades deeper.

I have selected the four best known gradual tanners on the UK High Street 
and trailed them all, some more than others I have been using the Dove version
for about four years, the others I have dabbled on and off with for over a year too
with the exception of which I was introduced to a few months back.

Dove Summer Glow
I will put my hands high in the air and admit that this my all time favourite gradual tanner.
It is a thick lotion that almost border lines cream in consistency and has a lovely scent,
that does not turn to the nasty scent that I often associate with self tanners.
Dove is really moisturising and applies really evenly, the end result is about 1-2 shades deeper
than my natural skin colour that lasts for around 5 days before fading completely.
When fading it does fade evenly and requires little up keep - I apply this on a Sunday
and maybe top it up on a Wednesday if I can be bothered.
The only downside I have notices with this product is that it does take quite a while to sink in
and fully dry, personally I blame the thickness of the lotion!

Johnson's Holiday Skin
If I remember correctly this was the first tanner of this type to hit the UK market?
I'm pretty sure they marketed it with a slogan about being jealous of all those who naturally have Olive skin
and how this lotion could mimic it and be your little secret? No idea why I recall this but I do haha!
This is my least favourite the scent reminds me of baby wipes and it dries really oddly,
in the creases of your body (elbow bends, behind your knees etc) it flakes 
and crumbles off before it dries fully so you end up with pale patches.
It is a really odd experience to describe but it has happened to me a good few times with various bottles
so I have come to the conclusion it is the formula and not a bad bottle!
If you can get this variation to apply and dry evenly the end result is nice enough
but a little lighter in result than say Dove making it a more natural choice in colour stakes.

Garnier SummerBody
This is the one that has most of the beauty world divided - some love it, some loathe it!
Those that loathe it do have good reason to, I have seen that it caused a nasty rash on some
so I do not recommend this if you have sensitive skin or anything at all of that nature.
Personally I really like it, it smells yummy like apricots and is more of a lotion than the other tanners.
For that reason application is quicker and so is the drying time - crucial when you are chilly!
Much like the Dove version this gives a result of around 2 shades deeper than natural skin tone
what I will say is that it is slightly more golden in colour than most so I would use this sparingly
to avoid the tan turning orange after a few applications.
If using this one I apply it maybe every third day and have encountered no problems
be it fading uneven or turning orange.

L'Oreal NutriSummer Lotion
This is the my newest adventure in the world of self tanners and it is now my second choice
after the Dove option, it would be my favourite had it not been that I have found it hard to source!
The others I have mentioned are readily available in Drug stores, Supermarkets 
and if you arelucky the pound shop from time to time.
But L'Oreal NutriSummer is slightly harder to pick up with me resorting to buying online via Superdrug,
in my experience Supermarkets don't carry it neither does my local Boots or Superdrug.
That aside this is the perfect consistency not to thick but not too thin meaning it glides on
the skin and dries really quickly, it is moisturising with a pleasant smell
and produces a natural tan of around 2 shades deeper than your natural skin tone.
It also has no issues in terms of fading or colour tone.

I hope this post was helpful?

Do you use any gradual tanners if so which ones?

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  1. I think gradual tanners are fab for people who are getting into fake tanning! It definitely taught me a lot. I do think that they smell worse than actual fake tans though because they try to cover it up! xx

    1. I agree and also fab for when you are tan after a good holiday and it begins to fade in the autumn :) haha do you? I think some are worse than others, the biscuit scent is something I can abide haha :)

    2. Hello - just wondering with the dove tan.. as it fades does it fade like a fake tan where its patchy/streaky? or is it just the case of losing a tan? (I make no sense I know!) just as I am wanting to try this before my holiday so im not the palest person on the beach. also can you tan through this?

      pls help xxxxxxxx

    3. Hi, unlike a natural tan it will be more prone to fading in patches but to prevent this you can use a body scrub daily. Yes you can tan through a gradual tanner or any self tanner for that matter as they don't offer any form of sun block or SPF. I hope this helps and have a lovely holiday! x

  2. Ugh I hate the whole "tan is sexy" trend. I agree that it looks healthier than being super pale, but it never works for me :C I get SUPER tan during summer and if I use self-tanners, the color is PERFECT at some point.. but at that exact point, I also need to shave my legs and then I end up shaving off the color -__-" sucks.

    1. Haha I actually know exactly what you mean, that is super annoying :(

  3. i might give the dove summer glow a go, have you tried the xen tan gradual tanner before? x

    1. It's really good :) no I haven't have you?

    2. I just started using it and its amazing but it takes ages to dry

  4. I'm pleased you love the Dove one but it didn't work for me at all, it turned me a very yellow colour rather than tan, probably because I am so pale though! I'm thinking about starting to self tan again but I don't know, my boyfriend hates the stuff haha x

    1. Like a Simpson haha? That is odd though, have any others done that to you?
      Uck men they hate everything beauty related don't they haha :)

    2. haha that made me laugh, like a Simpson indeed. It is odd I agree but I haven't tried any others, probably should. Yep men certainly aren't a fan of the world of beauty, saying that he has started taking care of his brows and he does like a bit of lip balm or a manicure once in a while haha , a little worrying x

  5. I use the dove one too but can't stand the smell, lingers forever!! Despite being only NC15 I use the medium to dark version as i find the light version quite orange toned!

    1. It does linger around I agree :) Ah I haven't tried the light version but if the deep one works I say stick with it :)

  6. I love Palmers Cocoa Butter gradual tan. It dries really dark and even, the only problem is the smell. I personally love the Palmers smell but it is an aquired taste.

    1. I've heard great things about it but sadly I am allergic to cocoa butter :(

    2. Started using this the other day it took 12 hrs to work put on before bed woke up and I was so dark I actually took a picture as for some reason half rubbed off my foot so my foot was half white and half dark tanned the girls thought I'd boought tbe one for dark skin tone by mistake but I hadn't lol it really really works but it does stink

  7. ive got the dove one i need to use up! its lovely and creamy

  8. I never tan because my skin tone is a creamy/beige colour anyway so I don't see the point. But my best friend LOVES the Dove gradual tanner. I must say, it looks lovely on her! :D

    1. That's my attitude in the winter then spring comes and i'm tan crazy haha :)

  9. I love the garnier one, I am blonde/ginger and have fair skin and in the summer use the garnier deep tan colour every two to three days. I don't find it to be streaky as long as you rub it in well and I always get complimented on the colour. I don't find it to be orange and it soaks in well.

    Word of warning though, after a couple of hours my skin does start to smell a bit like a wet dog. This might just be me though. So because of that I tend to put it on after I have been swimming of an evening.

    I do love it and its on offer in Superdrug right now, the bottles are huge and last for ages and ages.

    1. Oh fab :) glad to hear that the deep ones are effective on light tones too :)
      haha yes some once developing smell a little rank don't they.
      Thanks for the tip on the superdrug offer! :)

  10. I find that with most gradual tanners I turn orange but I love taking them on holiday to top up the tan.

  11. This post has come at the perfect time for me as I'm thinking about finally venturing into fake tan/gradual tanner. I think it's a toss up for me between the Dove and the L'Oreal now - thanks for a super informative post :)

  12. I've just started to use the Garnier Summerbody and I like it but the smell the next day is horrible :( I think I'll try the Dove or the L'Oreal next though! Great post, I've been looking for something like this as I hadn't used gradual tanners for years and had no clue which ones were good and which were bad.

    1. Yes they often develop into a nasty scent but nothing a quick shower can't solve :)
      I love those two :) hopefully you will too :)
      ah thank you so glad I could help :)

  13. Has anyone tried the No 7 version of these? I've brought it on a whim as I had a voucher for money off No7 products (thank you Boots!) I haven't gt round to using it yet though!

    The Dove lotion sounds like a great product, I'll add it to my list to try! I can't stand the Johnson's one - the smell, the coverage, the eventual colout. Urgh!

    1. I haven't but I would be tempted to pick it up with the next batch of vouchers. I'd love to hear how you get on :)
      Ugh yes it is pretty crap isn't it!

  14. I used to use Johnson's Holiday Skin a few years ago and had no problems with it, but I think I am going to pick the Dove Summer Glow up next time I'm in town, I need a bit of a tan this year haha :)

    Frances x

    1. You are so lucky then :) on me it was horrid!
      Oh yes pick it up it's fab :)

  15. The Dove lotion is my all time favourite too! I agree about the scent of the Johnson's lotion, it actually makes me feel ill even thinking about it :(
    I've been using a Garnier Body lotion for quite some time and was tempted to try the gradual tanning lotion, but the reviews about the rashes have completely scared me away as my skin can be pretty sensitive.

    1. I'm so glad I'm not the only one who dislikes it, I always feel bad slating a product but needs must and if the majority of comments agree with me than I feel Johnson's should heed the advice and improve :)
      Oh if you have sensitive skin I would skip a rash is never fun but the l'oreal one is really fab :)

  16. I've been through so many gradual tanners it's untrue, but I have now found my one true love and that is the Palmer's Cocoa Butter Natural Bronze.
    It smells like chocolate and marshmallows when you put it on, but like all fake tans, it ends up having that familiar smell.
    However I do find that it sinks in quickly, I always put it on during my evening routine and put my pj's on straight afterwards, there is no transfer and the tan is a gorgeous colour, not orange in the slightest.
    Basically, you must try it, it's amazing & has all the goodness of cocoa butter in terms of toning and smoothing, as you can tell I can't rave about it enough haha !

  17. I've tried the Johnson's one before and found it a bit streaky so I may give the Dove one a go! Thanks for this :) x

  18. Used the Johnsons one in my early teens and it left me streaky orange/jaundiced everytime! Though the streaky could've been due to lack of skills.

    I remember trying nutrisummer and loving it, but since I tried the Dove I've never dared switch it up. It's so lovely and failsafe isn't it? I have the palest skin ever, paler than MAC NC15 and Bourjois Healthy Mix 51 and can get it to work for me.

    Tempted to try the Garnier for the dryin time, but don't want to risk the reaction...

  19. jergens is officially my fave. it comes in a bottle similar to those. gives me that perfect sunless tan.
    thanks for all the reccomendations I'll have to try some of those.

    xo gigi

  20. I use the loreal one and can pick it up easily enough however I'm really not keen on the smell. I do love the colour it gives me though xx

  21. i bought the garnier one today hope its good!

  22. I have used a few but the Dove one is def the best, i think it gives the best colour and doesnt wear off patchy :)

  23. I love the Dove product. Really good to know that I can get awY with using it twice a week too

  24. 8D; I'm such a dork. I saw the Johnson & Johnson bottle and immediately pictured a baby tanning.

  25. Being fair skinned and a redhead, gradual self tanners are my only option so I found this review ever so helpful! In the past I've used the Garnier and the Loreal and I have loved the outcome of both as they're come out looking so natural! I must admit though I'm not a fan of the smell of the Garnier, it still smells like a "fake tan" to me and doesn't go away for hours!

    ♥ Leigh, Fox & Feather

  26. I love this post, made me feel all summery thinking about tans and being able to wear shorts.
    I even went out and brought the Dove gradual tanner and love it, it looks so natural, however what would you recommend to use on your face for a summer glow or would you just use this as well. As my arms etc are all nice and golden now but my face is still very pale even with my foundation and bronzer and i feel like i need to match or at least have a healthy glow.




  27. This was actually really helpful thank you! I actually have all 4 of these lurking in a draw somewhere, I personally have never liked Johnson's - I'm very pale and it turned me very yellow (flash backs of being mocked for jaundice at secondary school when I first tried it), I'm with you though, Dove is my favourite, although I do find a little uneven fading, but then that's probably because I'm very ;azy with upkeep! xx

  28. i use the garnier one but only on the waste up cause it causes a rash on my thighs, but being a plumber it works great on my skin after a hard days work, thank u for the guide wil try the dove one on my legs and see.
    thought id comment as i see no other blokes doing it,

  29. The best fake tan EVER (gradual or otherwise) is Avon Satin Glow Soft & Glow firming body moisturiser for fair skin tones. Just look up the glowing reviews for this product. In my experience (I am normally as white as a sheet) it is impossible to get it wrong with this product. You can slap it on and still never get so much as a single streak. Marvellous colour too, completely subtle & realistic and can also be used on face and hands. I used it all thru 2012. BUT. I just got some more from the July 2013 Avon catalogue (thinking they had repackaged it into different packaging). NO! It's not the same stuff now! So I have had to go and get it off ebay instead - v. expensive! Please can everyone contact Avon and tell them they MUST BRING BACK Skin So Soft Satin Glow soft & glow firming body moisturiser for fair skin tones! Now ! Thank you.

  30. Any one used laurens way? Also Im never sure to really rub in or just smooth over or how much to use. Hav invested in a mitt tho cos no matter how much i wash my hands i always get stained fingernails

  31. Hi there, I just yesterday bought for the first time in my life Dove medium to dark lotion and was wondering - how do you apply this on the back and the face? Do you have any tips to share, it would mean so much to me : ) Do you use plastic gloves or how do you protect the hands / palms?
    Otherwise I really feel quite excited to try it!

    Thanks a lot!

    1. Hi I use a tanning mitt and I don't apply it to my face. For my back I find it best to get someone to help or failing that I put some on cellophane and rub my back as you would when drying yourself with a towel.

  32. Hi, I've recently bought the Dove gradual tan. Just wondering, can you use it on your face? The bottle doesn't really say


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