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I’ve done a lot of sun worshipping in my time – from long, lazy days on a lounger, watching as my skin turned slowly golden, to visiting a sunbed shop (or two) in my twenties. All in all, it’s fair to say tanning responsibly hasn’t always been at the top of my agenda, though I’m now all too aware of sunbathing’s more sinister side.

Sunbathing can cause our skin irreversible damage, and as I’ve got older, the downfalls of a suntan have become more apparent. I now suffer from pigmentation (also known as melasma) which has caused dark patches to develop on different areas of my face. Sadly, such damage is nearly impossible to get rid of. I’ve tried a plethora of products to treat this condition, but none that have completely evened-out my skin tone.

And so, to tan or not to tan?

For me, it’s a no-brainer. While I love how a tan makes me feel – leaner limbed, braver with the prints and colours I’ll wear, and more confident when it comes to wearing less make-up – the downsides are just too hard to ignore. Ultimately, I don’t want my skin, or my health, to pay the price.

But there is another way. For those of us who love a golden, year-round glow, there’s a guilt-free alternative in the form of fake tan. We’re spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing a product, so here’s my guide to achieving bronzed skin from a bottle:

Preparation is key. Scrubbing is preferable, as fake tan will develop unevenly on areas of dry skin. Once your entire body is clean and dry, apply pea-sized amounts of moisturiser to your elbows, knees and ankles, along with any other coarse patches.

Once prepped, apply your chosen product in long, sweeping motions. Once an all-over, even layer is achieved, pay particular attention to your hands. Remove any build-up of product from your palms before moisturising your knuckles and nails. This will help banish any orange tell-tale signs of a tan applied from the bottle. To prolong the life of your expertly-applied tan, use a rich, oil-free moisturiser to keep your skin hydrated.

When it comes to choosing the best self-tan, be realistic about how your skin would naturally react in the sun. If you have fair colourings, an intense, dark shade will look more Oompa Loompa than sun-kissed siren.

Which brings me to my best buys on the self-tan market. Three hero products to help you achieve a natural-looking, guilt-free glow:

TanOrganic, Self-Tan Lotion (£24.99 for 100ml).

I recently purchased this product on flight because of its organic ingredients and eco-certified status. I wasn’t disappointed. The lotion is easy to apply and the results last for five days. Though take note: this shade of self-tan isn’t for the fair-skinned. I apply this either by hand, or with the use of a mitt, and often get asked where I’ve been on holiday – the ultimate self-tan seal of approval!

Garnier Ambre, Solaire No Streaks Bronzer (£6 for 150ml).

This is the perfect product for my face and shoulders. A natural-looking shade that’s perfect for fairer skin tones. What’s more, it forms a light, pleasantly-scented – i.e. no biscuity whiff some self-tans produce – mist, which doesn’t need rubbing or blending. If you’re looking for a day-to-day easy to maintain glow, this should be at the top of your beauty shopping list

St Tropez, Everyday Gradual Tan (£13.75 for 200ml).

St Tropez really know their stuff when it comes to self-tan, and this lotion is perfect for first timers. A subtle shade – available in light/medium and medium/dark – develops each time you apply, allowing you to decide how dark you want to go. Apply before bedtime and always use a mitt, then wake up to a delicate, sun-kissed glow. I also really love their Luxe Tanning Facial Oil It glides on and gives a good natural bronzed glow.        ( £23 for 30ml)

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