The 10 best gradual tanners to boost your summer glow

By Josefin Forsberg
Models pose backstage with beautiful skin at Ludovic de Saint Sernin

Ludovic de Saint Sernin spring/summer '24xx. Photo: Acielle Style Du Monde

Glow and behold, it is high time to start building up your bronzed base for summer. In order to achieve a tan-talising transformation without the burn, Vogue Scandinavia's editors embrace the no-risk, sun-kissed look with the best gradual tanners on the market


Maria Åkerberg

Tan in a tube

The best gradual self tan for subtle results

If you're after a gentle kiss of colour when reaching for your self-tan, Maria Åkerberg's ‘Tan in a Bottle’ may be your new best friend on the bathroom shelf. Ideal for fair skin tones seeking a subtle sun-kissed glow, this product provides a natural-looking tan that develops over three to four days, allowing you to build colour to your desired intensity. Better yet, this eco-conscious formula is infused with lemongrass, masking a distinct self-tan scent with a delightfully fresh, invigorating fragrance.


Rudolph Care

A hint of summer the lotion

The best gradual tan for year-round glow

A two-in-one beauty punch, Danish Rudolph Care's gradual self tan drench your skin in moisture that transforms into soft summer glow. The result? A gentle, radiant tan that builds naturally on every singly skin type. Lightweight and velvety, it is easy to apply and absorbs quickly, meaning it is perfect for those on the hunt for frequent year-round use.


Germaine de Capuccini

Beautiful tan self tanning

Via Germaine de Capuccini

The best gradual self tan for both face and body

If you're looking for a tan-tastic one-stop-shop, Germaine de Capuccini's tanning milk is the way to go. Notably crafted for both face and body, it leaves the skin with golden glow without the sun's harsh effects. Better yet, its skin-friendly composition addresses common self-tanning concerns, such as streaks and uneven colour, all while boosting the skin barrier – boasting antioxidants to minimise free radical damage and hydrators to help keep the skin plump.



Silky Bronze self tan

The best self tan for salon-like results

If you're dedicated enough to regular visits to tanning salons, it may be worth investing in Sensai's Silky Bronze Self Tanning. Highly praised for its luxurious texture and effective results, the gel cream applies streak-free and quickly, providing a sophisticated sun-kissed look. Applied two to three times a week, the indulgent blend leaves the skin feeling silky soft and with velvety pigmented results.


Sisley Paris

Self tanning body skincare

The best skincare-infused gradual self tan

What's not to love about the intense hydration and nourishing properties of Sisley's skincare-infused self tanner? Well-regarded for its dual function, working both as a self-tanner and skin plumper, the formula includes macadamia oil and a quenching complex of active ingredients like Biosaccharides and Stevia leaf extract. Quick-drying nature and long-lasting, it is well worth the price for a skin-boosting tan that closely mimics a natural sun-kissed glow.


St. Tropez

Gradual tan classic daily firming lotion l/m

The best gradual tan for first time tanners

Practically made for first time users, the St. Tropez gradual tan provides a natural-looking bronze boosted by up to 72 hours of hydration. Lightweight and non-sticky, this buildable tan is quick to absorb into the skin – making it perfect for daily use. Designed to be forgiving and easy to apply, this gradual tan helps avoid common mistakes (such as streaking or uneven colour) that can easily occur for first-time tanners.



'The Butter' illuminating gradual tan

Via Cult Beauty

The best gradual self tan for buildable results

If your issue with gradual tanners is patchy application after a couple of round, Tan-Luxe's The Butter present a pigmented alternative that slides on streak-free. While you still have the manageable and customisable ease of a buildable tan, this formula is celebrated for its radiant results. Packed with reflective particles that help illuminate the skin, it develops into streak-free colour that over time intensifies into lust-worthy lit-from-within glow.


Bondi Sands

Pure gradual tanning milk

Via Cult Beauty

The best gradual self tan for deep results

Finding most gradual tanners lacking in terms of colour pay off? If so, Bondi Sands' Pure Gradual Tanning Lotion presents a pigmented alternative. Delivering a natural and even tan, this formula is infused with skin-loving ingredients such as Hyaluronic Acid for hydration, Vitamin C for radiance, and Vitamin E for repair. The product is designed to be colourless and fragrance-free, making it suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin. That said, it doesn't skimp out when delivering a deep golden bronze.


Isle Of Paradise

Self-tanning butter

The best gradual self tan with colour correction

If you've tried a lot of self-tanners, you'll know the importance of colour correction when considering your skin tone. Are you cold, neutral, or warm? Isle of Paradise's Self-Tanning Butter is designed to offer a gradual tan using technology that helps even out any issues with hue – avoiding mis-tinted tans that give away their unnatural origin.

What is a gradual tan?

A gradual tan is a type of self-tanning product that develops a tan gradually over several applications. Unlike instant tanners, gradual tans are usually available as lotions or creams that moisturise the skin while providing a natural-looking, subtle, and long-lasting color that can be built up gradually.

How do you apply gradual tan?

For the best results with a gradual tan, you should start by exfoliating your skin to remove any dead skin cells – creating a smoother canvas for the product. Then, apply the gradual tan lotion evenly across clean and dry skin as you would do with a regular moisturiser. For the most consistent results, it is recommended to reapply the lotion daily or every other day to deepen and maintain the tan.

Can you use gradual tan on your face?

Yes, it's possible to use gradual tan products on your face. Still, it's recommended to go for products specifically formulated for facial skin, which is more delicate than body skin. Typically, these products are non-comedogenic and have added skincare benefits to moisturise and nourish the face.

How long does it take for a gradual tan to develop?

Gradual tans typically develop within three to five days of consistent application. The colour will continue to deepen with regular use, allowing you to control the intensity of your tan.