June 07, 2022

The Best Sustainable Fake Tans To Try This Winter

best sustainable fake tans
Photography: Brogan Chidley

Sans chemicals, sun and sweat. Here’s what to look for in a sustainable self-tanner.

Never. Forget. Your. SPF. They’re the four golden words that everyone in the beauty industry swears by. Thankfully, the days of sunbaking and solariums are far behind us. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t all want a sunkissed glow, especially in the cooler months when sunlight is scarce. Here, we reveal how to get that supermodel skin without the sun, chemicals or sweat. 

The secret to that summer glow is a combination of ingredients but mostly they rely on the active chemical dihydroxyacetone (DHA) which, in its natural form, is derived from sugar. DHA works as a chemical reaction that changes the colour of the keratin or dead cells on your skin, transforming it into that golden brown. If used topically it is completely safe. Its inhalation is what concerns many experts, especially when it comes to those at-home tanners who don’t take the necessary precautions such as covering the lips, nose and mouth to avoid inhalation. 

So, how do you pick a more sustainable fake tan? First things first you’ll need to dive a little deeper than the word “natural” or “eco” and look at the fine print. You want to avoid any products with chemical fragrances and be wary of an ingredients list that is longer than the alphabet. It’s also important to watch out for parabens which often cause reactions for those with sensitive skin. 

As mentioned above creams and foams are going to be safer than any aerosol sprays as you’re less likely to inhale the DHA particles. So, if you’re heading to the salon for a tan, be sure to wear protection over your eyes, close your mouth and cover your nose when getting a professional paint job. But if you’re more inclined to lather up at home, here are some of the best sustainable fake tans we think you’d enjoy…

Bondi Sands Pure Self Tanning Foaming Water Dark

Aussie Brand Bondi Sands is stepping up its sustainability game with its Pure range. Pure is the first of the brand’s ranges to be made from recycled materials and be home recyclable. It is a little known fact that the metal spring present in fake tan pumps (and any pump really) makes these products virtually impossible to recycle at home. Pure Self Tanning Foaming Water is PETA approved and contains, in Bondi Sands’s words, “skin-loving Hyaluronic Acid for hydration, Vitamin C for radiance and Vitamin E for repair.” Bondi Sands’s sustainability aim is that by 2025, 100 per cent of its packaging will be home recyclable and contain recycled materials.

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SugarBaby Sun-Believable Golden Glow Instant Bronze Self Tanning Mousse

This self-tanning mousse will turn around a golden glow in 60 minutes flat. That’s one episode of Bridgerton! While it uses a combination of coconutty goodness in the form of organic coconut water, organic coconut oil and a pure coconut probiotic, it is almost odourless. Apply generously all over your body then rinse 60 minutes later for a light glow. But be warned, the longer you marinate the more the tan will develop and the darker it will get, so be wary if you’re mid-binge. SugarBaby prides itself on products that are Australian-made, vegan and toxin-free.

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Emma Lewisham Illuminating Face & Body Oil

For an all-over instant glow smother yourself in Emma Lewisham’s Illuminating Radiant Face and Body Oil. Using one of a kind, patented technology in the form of oil-soluble hyaluronic acid, this oil works to replenish moisture, improving the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles while also balancing out the skin’s lipid profile.

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Coco & Eve Sunny Honey Bali Bronzing Foam

Last-minute plans? Coco & Eve’s Bronzing Foam will develop in just two hours. Its formulas are free from silicones, toxins, microbeads and parabens and are PETA approved, meaning its light on your body and light on the planet. Apply with a tanning mitt for a more even tan (and to avoid any orange fingers that make you look like you’re addicted to Cheetos). Note: this product does contain small quantities of synthetic fragrances.

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Eco Tan Face Tan Water

There’s a reason why Eco Tan’s Face Tan Water is a weekly non-negotiable in thousands of beauty-lovers regimens. Gone are the days of skipping tanning your face and having to even it out later with foundation, this product works by gradually building a natural glow. Applied once a week (two to three times a week in the first week to build a base), this product hydrates with hyaluronic acid and also fights acne breakouts at the same time–a real win-win. 

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KORA Organics Gradual Self-Tanning Lotion

Speaking of a gradual glow, former cover star Miranda Kerr’s Gradual Self Tanning Lotion is a beauty must-have. Made from active ingredients like noni, rosehip and avocado oil, it will leave your skin feeling nourished and hydrated rather than dry and crackly like some tanning products. Use it as you would a body moisturiser for an overall glow that is Miranda-approved.

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INIKA Organic Natural Tanning Mist

INIKA Organic is the world’s first certified plastic neutral makeup brand. But what exactly does this mean? Similar to a carbon-neutral organisation, the brand uses credits to offset its plastic usage while also decreasing its footprint. 90 per cent of INIKA’s new range will be made from sustainable and reused materials, including this mist which is housed in a glass bottle. In terms of what’s inside the bottle, the Natural Tanning Mist is packed with natural ingredients that won’t block the pores and relies on aloe vera to hydrate the skin. The tan will develop in 10 hours and is used perfectly as a gradual tanner.

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