How to Get In on the Fake-Tan Act When You Have Particularly Pale Skin

Updated 07/08/19
best fake tan for pale skin: woman with glowy skin
Mango

A fake tan can be tricky to master in any case, but when you have pale skin, finding a self-tanner that won't look blindingly obvious is especially difficult. Of course, you want something that laces skin with a glow reminiscent of last year's holiday to Santorini (but without any holidays booked). You also need it to look realistic. And with no natural golden undertones to work with, the key is in finding a formula that won't make you look orange.

If you don't have fair skin, you should head over here to shop from our favorite fake tans of all time, but if you do have fair skin, you probably shouldn't just reach for any old bottle of fake tan. Instead, you need to be on the lookout for hi-tech formulas with added hydrating, exfoliating and brightening ingredients, as it's these that'll make skin look healthier, and the end result more genuine.

You know the drill—we've scoured through the Byrdie beauty cupboard to pull out the best fake tans for pale skin that will leave you suitably (not suspiciously) glowy.

For Lazy Tanners

Dr Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Glow Pad Gradual Glow
Dr Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Glow Pad Gradual Glow $30
Shop

Few beauty pursuits are easier than the swipe of wipe, which makes Dr Dennis Gross's tanner suitable for even the most time-poor amongst us. It laces skin with the brand's cult AHA formula to nibble away at the dull, dead skin cells that can ruin the finish of a tan, whilst laying down a believable tanning formula that takes three to four hours to develop.

For Control Freaks

best fake tan for pale skin: Isle of Paradise Self-Tanning Drops Light
Isle of Paradise Self-Tanning Drops Light $20
Shop

No product gives you more control than tanning drops, like these from Isle of Paradise. You simply drop a pipette-full into your regular body lotion or face cream. Only want a whisper of color? Apply fewer drops. Or dial up the effect by upping the drop-to-lotion ratio.

For Dehydrated Limbs

Tan Luxe The Water Hydrating Self-Tan Water Light/Medium
Tan Luxe The Water Hydrating Self-Tan Water Light/Medium $33
Shop

Once you get the hang of it, Tan Luxe's water is actually one of the easiest formulas to apply. Simply spritz liberally (and we mean liberally) over your entire body, and use a tanning mitt to gently buff it in. This one is so hydrating, so the end result looks healthier and won't gather in dehydrated patches.

For Impromptu Invitations

Vita Liberata 10-Minute Tan
Vita Liberata 10-Minute Tan $30
Shop

Crazily, Vita Liberata's tan takes in just 10 minutes, so you have time to do it in the morning or if a last-minute invites beckons. It works fast, but the results are fairly subtle, making it a wise option for anyone with particularly fair skin.

For Overnight Tanning

Charlotte Tilbury Overnight Bronze and Glow Mask
Charlotte Tilbury Overnight Bronze and Glow Mask $38
Shop

For skin that can take more color, Charlotte Tilbury's mask may act more like a gradual tan. If you're pretty fair, you'll probably find that just one sleepover with the stuff is enough to give you an authentic glow. It also contains conditioning blackcurrant seed oil as well as oat kernel extract to reduce redness.

For Treating Skin

James Read Coconut Water Tan Mist Body
James Read Coconut Water Tan Mist Body $25
Shop

A super light misting of James Read's new tanning water is all that's needed to give fair skin a color boost, but the hydrating coconut oil is a welcome addition, too.

For Tanning the Face

Lancôme Flash Bronzer Self-Tanning Face Gel
Lancôme Flash Bronzer Self-Tanning Face Gel $27
Shop

Lancôme's self-tanner feels more like a dreamy serum and acts like one too, thoroughly hydrating skin whilst using a DHA tanning agent to gently bronze the skin.

Add the Extras

James Read Tanning Mitt
James Read Tanning Mitt $7
Shop

Using a tanning mitt is really the only way you'll minimize patches and streaks.

Frank Body Coconut Coffee Scrub
Frank Body Coconut Coffee Scrub $14
Shop

There's no point tanning unless you've done a rigorous scrub first. After all, tan loves patches of dry skin to cling to. Frank Body's smells like the greatest frappuccino you'll ever experience, and the coconut oil adds hydration back into skin while you use it.

Isle of Paradise Over It Magic Self-Tan Eraser
Isle of Paradise Over It Magic Self-Tan Eraser $18
Shop

Gone a little too far with the color and want to dial it back a few notches? Isle of Paradise's body mist contains glycolic acid to dissolve the very top layer of fake-tanned skin.

Related Stories