The Panel: Wash-off tan put to the test
It’s easy to mock the Irish habit of stripping to our high-summer clothes and scalding ourselves any time the sun peeps through but, given how rarely it makes an appearance, who can blame us?
Still, even as we refrain from being too hard on ourselves, we would prefer to look sunkissed rather than scalded on the scant days we get to take off the winter clothes, and sometimes there just isn’t enough time to use self-tan. By the time you’ve got it on, let it dry and allowed it to develop, well, the weather might be gone.
The beauty of a wash-off tan is both in the ease of getting it on and, crucially, the ease of getting it off again. We discovered that there are plenty of wash-off tans that give a good colour, but what you want to watch is where they give that colour. You want it on your skin, not on your bedlinen, and certainly not your clothes.
And you also want the product to come off in the first wash, instead of sticking fast in patches on day three, when it’s cloudy again and you look like a piebald pony.
Rockstar Tan Fame Instant Mineral Tan, €19.99, department stores and pharmacies nationwide
Some wash-offs are very drying, because they contain alcohol to ensure that they seal quickly to the skin and stay put, but this manages to be both emollient and adherent. “To my surprise, this is excellent,” said a sceptical panellist. “It went on very easily, without the need to exfoliate or moisturise in advance, which always puts me off self-tanning. It looks dark in the tube and I’m not the most patient applier, but there are no streaks and it’s a very even, golden colour.”
BEST SHEER SHINE
St Tropez Instant Glow Mousse, €19.90, selected department stores, pharmacies and health stores
This pumps out like a foam and then it goes watery as you apply it. It dries quite quickly to a medium shade but, because it’s very sheer, it doesn’t look dark, cakey or flat. And the fact that it’s a wash of colour, rather than a coat of paint, means that application is foolproof. “It went on and came off easily and my hands weren’t dyed brown by it, which happens with some so-called wash-offs and kind of defeats their purpose,” said a panellist.
BEST FOR DARKER SKINS
Mac Skinsheen Leg Spray, €28, Brown Thomas; BT2
A fine mist of spray leaves a layer of colour that only requires a small amount of rubbing in and leaves a nice, even coverage. The dark is a deep tan, suitable for anyone who is made to look somewhat jaundiced by any of the golden-toned products. The spray is very handy, but make sure to apply it standing in the bath or over an old towel. “A lovely matt colour that made my legs look very even-toned and like they’d got a real tan,” one panellist said. “And a little goes a long way.”
BEST GOLDEN GLOW
Rimmel Sun Shimmer Instant Tan Makeup Bronzing Mousse, €11.50, available nationwide
This classic product comes in two shades: golden and bronze. The latter may be a bit too Duracell-toned for most people. The former, however, is a gentle kiss of sun, and eminently suitable for the fair skinned. It dries fast, washes off very easily and leaves the skin pleasingly gleamy. “I used to use the cream version of this when I was a teenager and it was good then, and good value, and it remains both,” one panellist was pleased to say. “But the mousse is much nicer to use and a little easier on the palms.”
BEST SPEEDILY SUNNY
Soap and Glory Glow Getter, €10.47, larger Boots nationwide
Another spray product, but this comes out as a dry powder, and you must work fast to achieve an even result. But working fast is worth it, as the colour has a wonderful, nearly airbrushed quality, in a medium shade that speaks of more than a single day in the sun. “The texture is surprising,” said one panellist, “but I like that it’s not wet and smeary and is more like a make-up for your limbs.”