A good tan will always have five elements: believe me, I've tried and tested the good, the bad and the ugly.
When I was 14, I bought a tanning moisturiser.
My mother wasn't too gone on the idea of me wearing full-blown colour out of a bottle, so the subtle glow of the moisturiser was to be my look.
It was the night before a disco, and like all 14-year-olds I was rocking the shorts trend. While putting on the lotion, I pictured myself at the disco, eyeing up a boy wearing too much hair gel and looking like I had just come off the plane from Spain.
However, my reality was a lot different. Instead of a holiday glow, it looked liked I had acquired a severe allergic reaction. It had dried in patches all over my legs and so I couldn't wear my beloved shorts.
My dreams of spotting a gel-haired boy were not to come true.
After the ordeal, I promised myself I would never be foolish with my tanning ever again. From then on I only wanted the best on the market.
Over the years, I have tried and tested the good and the bad. The good can make you feel fantastic, but the bad can cause a trauma you will hold onto for decades.
Five important tips
A good tan will always have five elements.
The first is a good guide colour. Not having a guide will only lead to patches and dodgy lines. The best tans give a clear idea of where the product is going on your body. Following the initial application, you can see immediately where blending skills and have been lacking. Trust me this saves you from experiencing a tanning disaster.
If like me, you are a night owl, your tanning application will always take place right before you go to your slumber. This is a dangerous game if your tan of choice isn't up to scratch – think stained sheets and discoloured pyjamas. A quick-drying tan is essential.
The fake tans of yore had a smell that could knock you out. Thankfully, most modern tans have rid the fake tan smell and our noses couldn't be more thankful.
No one wants to look like a character from Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory but some tans can make you appear like an extra Oompa Loompa. However, these are better kept for fancy dress parties. A good tan will leave you with a beautiful golden brown shade – as if you have just stepped off the plane from a month-long holiday.
For me, this may be the most important. Like many women, I don't have the time to remove and reapply tan every day – so a long-lasting tan is essential. If regularly moisturised and cared for the best tans can last for up to a week.
What tan to buy?
I first came across Cocoa Brown tan in my first year of college. There had been whispers in my house of a wonder tan which did everything mentioned above and more.
The love affair began with the 1 Hour Original Medium and then moved to its ultra-dark equivalent. Following those, there was a dalliance with the Night & Day tan, the Golden Goddess oil, and the excellent Fresh Start Tan Eraser.
Now the brand have released two new vegan products; the Perfect Fade Self-Tan Oil and Body Make-Up. Like all of Cocoa Brown's products both are cruelty free, create a gorgeous glow and leave a flawless finish.
This fling which started in college continued over the years and bloomed into a stable and solid relationship. Like a good partner, a bottle of Cocoa Brown is there for me on my worst days. Instantaneously, it envelops me in a warm glow and this little bit of self-care does wonders for my confidence.
Most importantly it fulfils my fake tan criteria meaning the tanning horrors of my teenage years are no more.
Main image: Getty Images
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