The Panel: Gold Medal
As I write, the sun is not shining. But, in an Irish summer, all that can change from minute to minute and, should the sun emerge even for a few hours, we want to bare limbs that don't resemble a pork, onion and tomato roll. This is no excuse, however, for taking the Tango or Ronseal routes. Take the time to find the tint that works for your skintone, and then set to putting it on properly.
The top application tip is to exfoliate your skin well, to get rid of those dry, dead cells that make for a patchy finish.
Then, some say to put a little moisturising lotion on your feet, knees and elbows just before tanning, while others advise moisturising well after a morning shower, but not tanning until night-time, when the skin is not so warm and slippery. Further, avoid applying a tan straight after shaving your legs, because the colour will pool in the pores, though one panellist says that wiping on toner between shaving and tanning will counter that. It's a tip for when the sun takes your tights-clad legs by surprise; as it always does at some point in an Irish summer.
Clinique Self Sun Body Tinted Lotion in Light/Medium, €24, Clinique counters nationwide
Because of the tint, this is easy to apply, which also means you get an immediate, glowing effect, as well as a tan that develops in less than three hours. Slightly glimmery, thanks to tiny bits of mica, and with three kinds of natural sugars that work with the tanning DHA to create a colour that is more brown than orange. "A natural, light colour that went on really well, without any bad tidemarks," said a panellist. "I got about three days out of it without going patchy, which I think is quite good."
St Tropez Naturals Self Tan Lotion, €34.95, selected department stores, pharmacies and health stores
A rich cream containing avocado butter, mango and grapeseed oils, this uses Ecocert-certified Vegetan and MelanoBronze to bestow a glow. These are offered as alternatives to the conventional DHA most self-tans utilise, which is a sugar and not dangerous, but, as it activates, it smells pretty bad, like burnt curry. This, in contrast, has a light, citrus smell. "My skin was glowy at once, not from shimmer, which I hate, but thanks to the lovely creaminess," a panellist said. "Liked the tan, too."
Rockstar Tan Access All Areas Self-Tan Spray, €29.99, department stores and pharmacies nationwide
As a spray -- and in order that it doesn't drip off you -- this product dries fast, which means you must work quickly to blend, but it also means you can get dressed within minutes. Also, it's good on the smell front, and one application gave a decent, moderately deep colour. Use a tanning mitt, though, as it will stain hands at speed. "It dries quickly," said one panellist, "so I found I used quite a lot. I liked the minimal guide colour, as I could use it at bedtime without fearing for my sheets."
Best for Face
Lancome Flash Bronzer Anti-Age in Golden, €35, Lancome counters nationwide
Another tinted tanner that allows you to see where you've hit or missed, which is especially crucial on the face, and it also eliminates any need to apply foundation. "This doubled as a nice moisturiser and didn't dry out my skin, which, for fake tans for the face, is rare," said a panellist. "The tone is brown rather than orange."
Best for Dry Skin
Clarins Instant Smooth Self Tanning, €25, Clarins counters nationwide
This light-coloured, creamy face tanner doesn't lend too much instant glow, but it feels like make-up primer to apply: very smooth and silky. The tan that develops is remarkably even, thanks to skin that is plumped and moisturised. "I liked the colour of this, which is deeper than some of the others I tried," said one panellist, "And I loved the velvety feel of it on my face."