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The best fake tan for older skin in 2023

Enjoy bronzed skin without damaging UV rays with our pick of the best fake tans for older skin

Nothing gives you a lift quite like that glow you get from a good tan. However, as we get older it’s important to take care of our ageing skin, and we all know too much sun is bad for us. UVA rays cause wrinkles and age spots which age us on a permanent basis, while UVB rays are even worse and can cause cancer.

But there is a way to get that sun kissed look without putting your skin (and your health) at risk: a fake tan. These days, the best fake tans are gentle and adaptable to your natural skin tone – gone are the days of streaky legs and orange faces.

The best fake tans specifically for older skin are the ones that build gradually and offer a light coverage. Older skin is thinner than younger skin, so it’s important to be gentle with it. To help you choose the right fake tan for your mature skin, here’s a guide to the best fake tans for older skin in 2023.

READ NEXT: The best tanning lotions to buy

Best fake tan for older skin: At a glance

How to choose the best fake tan for you

How much should I spend?

You don’t have to spend a lot to get a good glow, but it really depends on what you want from your fake tan. Most self-tanning foams, mouses and lotions are around the £20 mark and for that you get a good fake tan that gives smooth coverage and might be hydrating, or fast drying, anti-ageing, or all three. If you want something a little extra, like the SPF protection element, you can double that price. Of course, there are even cheaper fake tans on the market, but if you don’t want streaky lines and blotchy coverage, it’s worth avoiding those and paying a little more.

How should I apply fake tan?

Older skin is thinner and usually dryer than younger skin, so it’s important to prepare your skin before you apply your fake tan. Without preparation, you might find your fake tan is patchy and it might not last long. Before you start, exfoliate the skin to get rid of any dead skin cells and to buff the skin, helping products to penetrate deeper into the various layers. Then moisturise. This will allow the fake tan to be applied smoothly as the moisturiser will eliminate dryness and help the fake tan along. Make sure you continue to moisturise the skin daily after you’ve fake tanned, and it will last longer.

When applying fake tan, always use a tanning mitt: if you’re tempted to dive straight in with your hands, resist this temptation. Apart from getting fake tan all over your palms and in between your fingers if you use your hands, which might not be so easy to remove, a mitt will give you better coverage and will work the tan into any wrinkles so it doesn’t settle there, and will cover any areas of concern evenly.

Do I need a separate fake tan for my face?

Although some fake tans are suitable to be used on the face as well as the body, for older skin it’s advisable to use a separate, specially formulated face tan. The skin on your face is more delicate than on your body and you need to take extra care with the products you apply there. Face tanners are made to provide extra moisture, to be gentle, and to protect your skin. Choose a tanning misting spray for a hydrating gentle face tan, or tanning drops that can be applied as a serum that nourishes your skin while giving you a gentle glow. Many of the brands chosen below also produce a face tan as part of their range.

READ NEXT: The best fake tans for your face

The best fake tan for older skin to buy in 2023

1. Tropic Summer Skin Gradual Tanning Lotion: Best for a natural tan

Price: £20 | Buy now from Tropic

The stand-out ingredient in Tropic’s Summer Skin Gradual Tanning Lotion has to be the allo-melanin. This clever antioxidant has been clinically proven to mimic the natural colour of your own skin, so you get a natural-looking tan that’s perfect for your skin tone. This is especially good for anyone who’s never self tanned before, as it gives you a light natural looking glow. If you want a darker tan, the lotion is buildable, so you can reapply the next day, and the next if you like, until you achieve the tan you’re looking for. The beetroot amino acids and mango butter in this product protect your skin against environmental stress, while coconut oil, aloe vera and golden jojoba oil keep your skin smooth and hydrated.

Buy now from Tropic

2. Watermans Browned Off Self Tanning Foam: Best for fast drying

Price: £15 | Buy now from Amazon

One of the main worries over self-tanning is that your lovely golden glow will transfer onto your clothing and even end up on your bed sheets that night. With Watermans new Browned off Self Tanning Foam, you don’t need to give it a thought. The foam covers your skin smoothly, and it mattifies quickly, giving you a soft and dry tan that stays on your skin and doesn’t leave any residue on clothing or sheets. The key ingredients of aloe vera and vitamin E create a creamy tanning foam that cares for your skin. It’s long lasting after just one application, but if you want to go darker just keep applying until you reach the right tan for you.

3. Sunescape Instant Self Tan Mousse: Best for hydrating

Price: £23 | Buy now from Sunescape

Enriched with coconut oil, tamanu oil and macadamia oil, the Sunescape Instant Self Tan Mousse is great for hydrating your skin while it tans. Other active ingredients include organic aloe green tea, vitamin E, and cranberry and pomegranate extracts. The tanning mousse comes in a fun range of shades titled ‘a week in Fuji’ and ‘a summer in Santorini’, rather than light, medium and dark. The week in Fiji is a lightweight medium shade that gives your skin a soft glow and helps to eliminate the appearance of any irregular skin tones, cellulite and stretch marks. It dries quickly and lasts around 48 hours, washing off easily in the shower. If you want a darker tone go for ‘a month in Maui’.

Buy now from Sunescape

4. Tancream: Best for SPF protection

Price: £60 | Buy now from Amazon

Let’s be honest, self-tanning doesn’t mean you won’t go out in the sun. Even if it’s only a walk around on holiday, or going about your daily life, chances are you’ll be out in those rays at some point. Tancream is moisturising and has SPF protection built in, so you can self-tan and stay protected against harmful sun damage at the same time. You can use it on your body and your face, so no need to switch between products with this one. Tancream creates a soft glow within hours that goes on to develop into a tan over the next couple of days, so you don’t need to use it every day – once every 3 or 4 days keeps your tan topped up and glowing.

5. St Tropez Gradual tan Classic Daily Firming Body Lotion: Best for anti-ageing

Price: £15 | Buy now from BootsNot only does this St Tropez tanning body lotion build your tan the more you apply it, but it also builds more youthful-looking skin over time. The inclusion of plant based marine algae in the ingredients prevents the degradation of college and elastin, which means you’ll have firmer skin the more you use it. Other ingredients, such as hyaluronic acid and upcycled raspberry and blueberry seed oils, protect the skin from environmental pressures (chafing winds, for example) and improve skin texture. The lotion goes on smoothly without any streaks or blotches and it lasts for 3-4 days. It’s a thick creamy lotion and just two applications will take you to a medium tan. If you want to stay light with just a hint of tan, one application is enough.

Buy now from Boots

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