The best tans for the girls that don't wear tan

Porcelain skin but looking for that healthy glow? Here are our favourite fake tans for the girls who normally go without.

If, like myself, you sit very high on the pale scale, tanning can be a bit of a challenge. Many are just that bit too dark or orangey for a fair complexion, and I struggle to find ones that have the right colouring. The goal for me is to look like I've naturally caught the sun, not that I'm wearing fake tan. It sounds like it should be easy with the myriad of tanning products out there, but more often than not, they can be too dark and not quite the right shade.

I'm comfortable with my ghostly pallor and embrace it for most of the year, although when the sun does decide to come out, I do get a sudden desire for sun-kissed legs to match the shorter hemlines. To achieve a subtle glow, I have tried and tested the products below over the years and can confirm they banish pasty legs as well as being easy to use for any of you apprehensive tanners.





Garnier Summer Body Light Gradual Tan Moisturiser; €5.24 at


This is the tan I've been using the longest, as it has never failed me. It's a gradual tanner so it's great for a beginner, or even someone a little scared of trying tan for the first time. Pop it on to dry skin after a shower or a bath in the evening and leave to develop overnight.

Many of these gradual tans to do not require a mitt; they just state that you must wash your hands after application. Personally, I prefer applying with a mitt as it avoids any risk of streaks or patchiness as well as it buffing into the skin so it dries quickly. I use this in the dark shade as it is really subtle and doesn't come out too dark, but if you're nervous, opt for the lighter one. This has a very light 'tan' smell, but mostly it just smells sweet and a bit fruity.



He Shi Day to Day Gradual Tan; €19.50 at 

Just when I thought nothing could push my beloved Garnier off the top spot, he-shi just might have done it. I use it in the shade 'light', but it developed into a nice golden tan after one application, whereas with the Garnier, I would need to build it up for 2-3 days to achieve the same depth. A great option if you have something the next day you need a bit of colour for. It also absorbed really fast, had little to no smell and wasn't sticky — definitely a new favourite for the list!

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Isle of Paradise Self-Tanning Water Light; €16.66 at


If you need something a little darker, and have no time to build up the colour gradually, you'll need to reach for a proper, 'grown-up' tan. I find most tanning brands slightly off-putting, as everything seems geared towards a very dark, deep tan which quite frankly would look ridiculous on pale skin.


However, one brand that stands out from all the rest is Isle of Paradise. With an inclusive marketing campaign that is geared towards women of all shapes and colours, it is a breath of fresh air compared to most tanning brands. Not only that, but the tan is gorgeous — not orangey or fake looking, it develops into a nice golden colour that suits my complexion.

If you're pale, the peach tanning water is the one for you. As the name suggests, it is a tanning water, so is a very different formulation to traditional tanners which are usually mousses or creams. I found it slightly tricky to apply the first couple of times until I discovered the founder, Jules Von Hep's tanning tutorials on Instagram. Set your phone up near you, whack on the tutorial and have a tanning party with Jules in your bathroom. He's buckets of fun and his tips really work.




Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs; €9.33 at



If you're really stuck and need an instant solution, Sally Hansen's Airbrush Legs is the way to go. An oldie but a goodie, my flatmate and I always have a bottle of Sally in the bathroom for emergencies. This is an instant, wash-off tan so for the love of God, don't get into fresh sheets wearing it.

It's perfect for Irish weather when you may only have your lower legs and a bit of arm out (does anyone else just tan strategically and have a completely white torso?). You can apply this in a rush, which is great for when you've decided at the last minute to wear a dress and haven't applied any tan. I use this in the light shade and it can come out a little orangey, so I would recommend really buffing it in with a soft tanning mitt. Wash off in the shower with lots of hot soapy water which means no dry scaly tan as you wait for it to fade and have to scrub it off.

  • Related: Why are we all so scared of clear tanning products (and should we be?)
  • Related: Fake tan tips for the perpetually pale

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