I was a fake tan failure until I found this foolproof one – and it's under £10

Best fake tan 2022 Bondi Sands review
The £10 fake tan worth investing in. (Getty Images)

Yahoo Life's editors are committed to independently selecting wonderful products at great prices for you. We may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page. Pricing and availability are subject to change.

As someone fair-skinned who burns and never tans, I defy anyone to say they felt as excited as me when I first discovered gradual fake tans in around 2005.

Since those tentative early steps into the world of the 'sunless tan', I've been orange for a solid seven days, I've had brown palms and tell-tale white blotches where I've missed bits.

But when I happened upon the Bondi Sands Gradual Tan Lotion, £8.66, a few years ago in Boots my fake tan woes seemed to be over.

As an Aussie, I was drawn to this brand because it's Australian. After all, thanks to hours spent on the beach, we're experts in the dangers of sunbathing. I was hoping for a gradual tanning product that gives you a really natural, sun-kissed, Summer Bay glow.

I'm happy to report I found it: enter Bondi Sands Gradual Tan Lotion - here's exactly why I rate it....

(Bondi Sands)
This is a great gradual tanner for summer. (Bondi Sands)

£8.66 £12.99 at Boots

What does it do?

It gives you a gradual tan that you can build up over time if you want.

How does it work?

The brand claims that it hydrates and nourishes your skin (it's enriched with Vitamin E and Aloe Vera) while adding a lovely, golden glow.

It also contains an ingredient called Erythrulose for a longer-lasting tan.

Over time, the colour will build up, so for a subtle look, use it a couple of times a week. Or you can use it every day for a deeper glow.

How to apply

The brand recommends these four steps:

  • Exfoliate the skin first (you can use a mitt or a scrub – whichever is your preference). This ensures a streak-free tan as it removes any moisturiser residue you might have on your skin and of course any dead skin cells.

  • Apply the Bondi Sands Gradual Tan Lotion evenly in smooth, circular motions (apply a little less product around the hands, elbows, knees and ankles).

  • Wash your hands.

  • Wait until your skin is touch dry before putting your clothes on.

And my unofficial advice?

I don't exfoliate half as often as you're supposed to. And I still get an even glow. It's up to you if you want to risk this.

I often slap it on in a great rush, rubbing it in briskly and hoping for the best. The only exception is around my feet/ankles and elbows where I try and use a much lighter touch. And my hands. See below.

Wash your hands after you've applied the tan to your body (nobody wants 'dyed' palms) and dry them off thoroughly. It's only then you should apply a small amount to the tops of your hands. Make sure you take your rings off and massage the product right into your hands, up and around your fingers, including those in-between bits of skin.

What to expect

You'll smell like cocoa butter – much better than the chemical scent you get from so many other fake and gradual tans.

I genuinely find it a lot less drying on my skin than other tans, so the brand's moisturising and hydrating claims seem to ring true for me.

And the Bondi Sands Gradual Tan Lotion remains resolutely streak-free on me – even if I don't exfoliate enough, go to bed when it's not quite dry or apply it carelessly. It doesn't streak my sheets, either. Winning.

As for the glow? After the first application, my fair skin gets a subtle, streak-free hint of tint that takes the edge off my winter pallor. One application will gradually fade over 3-4 days.

For a deeper tan in the summer months, I use it every few nights – the colour builds up and gets stronger over time.

Buy it: Bondi Sands Gradual Tan Lotion | £8.66 from Boots

£8.66 £12.99 at Boots

Word of warning: after a certain amount of every-other-day-use, it could start to go patchy (this happens to me around every 3-4 weeks or so). That's a sign you need to exfoliate it all off – those pesky dead skin cells that are standing in the way of a streak-free tan.

I use an exfoliating mitt for a top-to-toe scrub, taking care to tackle any colour residue around the ankle and elbow areas. Then I allow my skin a breather for a day or two and use some nourishing moisturisers, before going back to my Bondi Sands Gradual Tan Lotion.

You might find you break out into a sweat during very hot weather after applying your tan. As sweat can also break the fake tan down and make it patchy, my top tip is to dry yourself off asap using your hairdryer on a cool setting.

Another great tip? To avoid awkward back application, simply buy yourself a Bondi Sands Self-Tanning Back Applicator, for £5.48. Genius. Wish I'd thought of it years ago.

Bondi Sands Self-Tanning Back Applicator. (Amazon)
Bondi Sands Self-Tanning Back Applicator. (Amazon)

£5.39 £8.99 at Amazon

And finally, be aware that fake/gradual tans and chlorine/seawater don't like each other. And I've yet to find a fake tan that doesn't go patchy – or completely disappear – when you swim in a pool or the ocean. But when they invent one that is swimming-resistant, you'll be the first to know. In the meantime, this Bondi Sands gradual tan will remain my spring/summer staple.