On the one hand, as you know, they can even out skin tone, make pale legs presentable and help hide lumps, bumps and other body blemishes. On the other, they wreck your sheets, make you feel sticky, smell funny and, above all, dont always look real. In the words of my boyfriend when I came home one evening with a fresh in-salon spray tan It looks great, but it looks fake. And thats before any streakiness or patchiness had revealed itself.
Still, hope springs eternal and every time I get a call from a PR introducing a new brand of tan one that definitely wont stain the bed sheets or make me smell of biscuits a part of me so wants to believe that I end up agreeing to stand four inches in front of a nozzle-wielding stranger, naked save for a paper thong and a pair of giant stickers on my feet.
Its the part of me that nods along, wide-eyed, as said stranger explains how this is the best formula (s)hes ever used; how all his/her clients love it; how its really, really natural. Its the part of me that believes when Im told there wont be any residue on my clothes or sheets, even though Im about to be covered from head to toe in brown liquid that even a monkey could tell you has to end up somewhere.
OK, so we all know fake tan isnt perfect. But its safe and we put up with its flaws because we like the good bits. But wouldnt it be nice if there were one that beat the rest by a mile?
Well, I may just have found it. Its called Liquid Sun Velocity, £30, an organic-based formula from Vani-T, and the main point of difference is you can wash it off after one, two or three hours, depending how dark you want it. (With most tans youre encouraged to leave them on for as long as possible, ie overnight, to get the best out of them.) What this meant last Friday was that, having been sprayed at 5pm, I could go home, shower at eight and head out for the evening smelling normal, feeling fresh and glowing. Even better, when I woke up in the morning, the sheets were completely clear. Readers, I cant tell you how happy that made me.
Best of all, though, was the colour. This was the most natural-looking tan Ive ever had it developed as a believable red-brown rather than an orange-brown and it hasnt streaked or gone patchy. Indeed, the brand claims Liquid Sun Velocity fades 80 per cent better than other tans and so far Id have to agree. Plus, its the first ever fake tan Ive worn that hasnt developed the signature smell, even a little bit. If it did, I didnt notice.
One more word about fake tans, though: what works well for one person might not for the next. Thats not a disclaimer Liquid Sun Velocity gets my whole-hearted recommendation, but just like brown sheets may bother me more than you, at the end of the day, its personal.
To find out where you nearest Vani-T salon is, call 0845 299 0700