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Having had some success with gradual tanners, I decided to go further and try out some actual fake tan: Cocoa Brown 1 Hour Tan and Fake Bake Mousse Instant Self-Tan.
The key difference between fake tan and gradual tanner is that fake tan also contains a colour guide, which is brown pigment that gives your skin instant colour in addition to staining your skin brown with dihydroxyacetone. The instant tan colour also means you can see where you’ve applied product, which means it’s less likely that you’ll wake up with unexpected streaks and white patches like with gradual tanner.
Cocoa Brown’s 1 Hour Tan ($19.95 for 139.5 g) is a bit of a cult product in the UK. It has a pleasant gardenia scent to begin with, but turns into a soy sauce fake tan smell after a while – of course, if you leave it on for an hour only, like the directions say, it isn’t an issue. The tan is really light after an hour though, so you’ll either have to repeat the process for a few nights or you can be lazy like me and leave it on overnight.
The nozzle is like a whipped cream top, which gives a pretty pattern and gives you lots of product quickly, but tends to splutter tiny drops of tan everywhere if you’re unco like me. I managed to get a spray of spots all over my white undies (why I was wearing white when I was about to put on fake tan is beyond me…don’t be me).
It’s pretty awesome at not being orange – the colour guide is a nice yellowy brown, while the stain it leaves behind is a rosy tan colour. The Cocoa Brown Mitt ($10.95) is recommended for use with this tan and it’s easy to see why – it has a plastic backing on the inside of the foam half so you don’t have to worry about getting Tan Hand, and makes application a lot smoother.
Fake Bake Mousse Instant Self-Tan ($39.00 for 120 mL) has a slimmer nozzle, which is a little less spitty than the Cocoa Brown version, but I managed to get it stuck somehow during my second tanning session.
When it became unstuck, it shot tan everywhere and I had to rinse tan out of a bunch of towels. The colour guide is a bit streakier than the Cocoa Brown tan, but the tan underneath didn’t end up streaky at all which was a pleasant surprise. The velour side of the double-sided Fake Bake mitt buffs it out nicely, but it doesn’t have the plastic backing so you need to use it with a disposable glove which is a bit of a hassle. The colour guide is a little pinker than the Cocoa Brown colour, but the final stain colours are almost identical. Unfortunately I don’t find that the tans I get from these products are much darker than from a gradual tanner.
Overall, I think these are good products but fake tan colour guides just aren’t for me and my clumsy hands. I’m sticking to gradual tans for now!
The fake tans in this review were press samples, which did not affect my opinion. For more information, see Disclosure Policy.