Viva’s Guide To The Best Fake Tans Of 2023: Every New Glow-Giving Formula That’s Worth The Hype

By Ashleigh Cometti
These fake tans ensure that you can get your glow on at home.

The latest developments in the tanning world ensure you can get your glow on at home minus the damaging effects of UV rays.

Self-tanners improved with leaps and bounds in 2023, with the plethora of new formats, formulas and tanning accessories taking the faux glow experience to new heights.


With everything from facial tanning drops and mists through to colour-adapting or transfer-resistant formulas, the best self-tanners to launch to market in 2023 promise to make the experience of self-tanning from home easier than ever.

To save you time (and money), read on for our picks of this year’s best sunless tanners in their many forms to create a healthy, damage-free tan this summer.

Bodycare Hybrids

Crossing the boundary between bodycare and self-tanner is the latest flurry of tanning serums. These hybridised products, which promise a smooth application thanks to their oily texture, are revered for their high concentrations of active ingredients which care for skin while imparting colour.

Such is the case with the SugarBaby Good To Glow Face & Decolletage Self-Tanning Serum, $33, which cocktails active skincare ingredients with plant-based DHA to leave skin, nourished and plump with a golden glow.

Hydrate skin and boost collagen stores with the new St Tropez Self Tan Luxe Body Serum, $80. Niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, vitamin B5 and the brand’s own collagen-enhancing complex combine in a no-rinse tanning serum formula which works overtime to hydrate skin, reduce redness, and promote a more even skin tone all while delivering a streak-free glow to skin that fades evenly. Yes please.

Top Of The Drops

Tanning drops shot to popularity this year, largely thanks to their ease of application, range of skin-caring ingredients and completely customisable shade factor.

Designed to be mixed in with your moisturiser or applied directly to clean, dry skin (depending on the depth of colour desired) tanning drops work quickly — with some formulas said to have you glowing in under 15 minutes. Consider tanning drops the new wave of gradual tan, one which can be built up with daily drop use.

In November, Bondi Sands revealed its new Self Tan Drops, $23, would be added to its range of instant and gradual tanning options. Available in two shades for face and body, a couple of drops mixed with moisturiser is set to give you a radiant glow for up to three days (or longer with continued use). Enriched with Australian botanicals and glycerin, these face drops are backed by a dermatologist and are non-comedogenic, meaning they won’t break you out.

The Little Honey Gradual Face Tan Drops, $48, is the facial equivalent to the brand’s signature Flawless Bronzing Mist, except this time the formula highlights hyaluronic acid, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory ingredients to target the visible signs of ageing while promoting a natural-looking, sun-kissed glow.

SugarBaby also hopped on board the bandwagon, with the launch of its Get Glowing Golden Glow Self Tanning Glow Drops, $27. The three-in-one tanning serum can be blended with moisturiser, serum, cream or lotion, and contains tan-enriching DHA, alongside hyaluronic acid, and antioxidant-rich extracts like coconut, kakadu plum and squalane.

Undertone Updates

Undoubtedly one of the Australasian tanning giant’s biggest launches of the year, in April, Bondi Sands revealed Technocolor — its most inclusive tanning range yet. The Bondi Sands Technocolor 1 Hour Express Self Tanning Foam, $29, is available in four different colour bases to cater to all skin tones and undertones.

Generally speaking, most self-tans rely on dihydroxyacetone (or DHA for short) to safely deepen skin tone, but that’s where Techncolor is different. Instead, Bondi Sands underwent an extensive, 18-month-long testing process of DHA and the effects it had on different skin tones. The result is a four-strong range of tanning foams — sapphire for cool-toned skin, emerald for olive-toned skin, magenta for deep tones, and caramel for golden tones — each of which contains different levels of DHA depending on skin tone, but the same foam texture and development time.

Azure Tan adopts a similar principle by offering tanning formulas with either a violet or green colour-correcting base, enabling users to get the most natural-looking tan possible. The violet base neutralises yellow or golden undertones to achieve a deep brown tan, while the green base colour corrects pink or red undertones for an olive brown tan. Base colours are offered across Azure Tan’s full suite of products, including its Vegan Self Tan Mousse in Medium to Ultra Dark, $27.

The New Mist-Haves

Facial mists remain a popular pick amongst the Viva team, excellent for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up or to refresh eight-hour-old makeup, but this summer facial mists are laced with ingredients to build and develop a gradual tan.

Isle of Paradise has not one but two tanning bi-phase facial mists, one designed for daytime and the other to build a healthy glow while you slumber. The Isle of Paradise Night Glow Self Tan Face Mist, $37, contains a blend of soothing, sleep-inducing ingredients like ylang ylang, jasmine and lavender to lull you to sleep, while hyaluronic acid and glycerin deeply hydrate skin while imparting a gradual glow. For daytime, the Isle Of Paradise Day Dew Self-Tan Face Mist, $37, looks to an uplifting blend of lemon, rosemary and sage to awaken the sense, alongside the same hydrating humectants as its nighttime counterpart to soften and condition skin.

Also available at Mecca is the new James Read H20 Tan Mist Face, $55, a no-fuss cooling facial spray which builds colour over time and can be used twice weekly as maintenance. Skin-loving ingredients rose water and coconut oil refresh and hydrate skin, and sub in as the perfect way of priming skin for makeup application to follow — just ensure you allow it to dry first.

Under The Guise Of Invisibility

Owners of white bedding — rejoice! This year we saw a number of tanning newbies hit the shelves promising to leave skin golden but sheets and clothes unscathed. The most viral of which is the b.tan Glow Your Own Way Next Level Clear Self Tan Gel, $20, which is constantly sold out at both Kmart and Chemist Warehouse stores across the motu thanks to its acclaim on TikTok — with users singing its praises for both its affordability and efficacy. It contains of-the-moment ingredients hyaluronic acid and vitamin C to care for skin while it works — the clear, transfer-resistant tan imparts the deepest tan only where you want it — i.e. not on your clothes.

While not new, EcoTan’s Invisible Tan, $38, experienced a revival of sorts this year. Praised for delivering a honey glow minus added nasties like artificial or synthetic ingredients, the organic tanning formulation is another option for those who detest the green-stained sheets that overnight tan sessions can leave behind. Equally as impressive is its list of nourishing plant-based actives — think aloe vera, avocado oil and macadamia oil.

Go The Distance

Tan extenders came to the fore this year, with products promising to add a few extra days to the lifespan of your tan. Often custom blended into professional spray tans, or as over-the-counter options to get more milage from your DIY efforts, the secret to a long-lasting tan is hydrated skin, so expect to see ingredients like aloe vera, coconut oil and other humectants crop up in ingredients list.

Could you extend the duration of your tan by being more vigilant with moisturising? Absolutely. But should you wish to invest in a specific product said to do so, consider the RéVive Bronzé Supérieur Self-Tan Booster, $190, which can be blended with your preferred face or body moisturiser to gradually boost your faux glow and restore skin radiance thanks to the addition of bio-renewal protein.

Similarly, the Spray Aus Tan Extender, $32, is a hydrating gradual tanner which looks to a cocktail of kakadu plum, coconut oil and aloe vera to hydrate, soften and smooth skin while imparting a healthy, long-lasting glow to limbs.

Extras For Experts

As far as tanning accessories go, mitts took a backseat to make way for all manner of brushes and sponges, said to guarantee a streak-free finish and a pair of palms sans the tell-tale signs of tan in a can.

Think of the Isle of Paradise Shape and Glow Big Blending Brush, $30, like a kabuki brush for your body — it harnesses ultra-soft synthetic bristles to buff and blend all formats of self-tanner into skin, giving a seamless I-just-returned-from-Fiji finish. Its unique design fits comfortably around the contours of the body, simply use it on clean, dry skin in circular motions in conjunction with your tan of choice.

Equally, the Eleffect The Brush, $33, is dotted with soft, synthetic, vegan-friendly bristles and pairs perfectly with oils, creams or powders. Created by Eleffect founder Elle Ferguson, The Brush buffs product into skin easily thanks to its curved design, hugging every angle with ease.

Not only will the Luna Bronze Blending Brush, $29, look cute on your vanity thanks to its pretty lavender base, but the results it’s said to achieve are just as appealing. The brush is densely packed with bristles to deliver tan to every square inch of skin, just smooth onto skin and reach for the brush to work product in well.

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