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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Peter Bevan

Best fake tans for men to achieve Ryan Gosling’s Ken-worthy glow

Right now it seems the only movie anyone can talk about is Greta Gerwig’s Barbie - and for good reason.

Ever since our first glimpse of the teaser trailer back in 2022, we’ve been obsessed with the fantastic plastic life - yearning for pink interiors and candy-coloured wardrobes. And, for us gents in particular, achieving a Ken-worthy sun-kissed-glow à la Ryan Gosling has shot to the top of our wishlist.

In an interview with Grazia, on-set tanning expert Kimberley Nkosi revealed her secrets to achieving Gosling’s perfectly bronzed look: “My go-to products to achieve Ryan’s golden glow are Isle of Paradise’s Tanning Water always in Medium with a touch of Dark to balance his undertone and make sure he’s camera-ready. I use the Prep It PH Balancer too.”

If Gosling’s Ken isn’t enough to convince you to hop on the self-tanning bandwagon, the benefits of achieving a radiant look all-year-round without exposing your skin to the sun’s harmful UV rays certainly should. The tans in this edit will actually do the opposite, providing your skin with nourishing ingredients like aloe vera, vitamin E and plant-based oils.

Ryan Gosling on the Barbie press tour (AFP via Getty Images)

Even better, a tan defines your physique, too. Emphasising muscle definition and offering a slimming effect, it’s an easy way to make you feel your best in an instant - without worrying about damaging your body in the process.

If a full-body tan isn’t for you, fear not, because there’s an amazing range of facial glow drops on the market too. All you need to do is add a few drops to your daily moisturiser to achieve a quick and easy just-stepped-off-the-beach look without the admin or the commitment.

We caught up with celebrity tanner James Read, dubbed as the first ever tanning expert, to get his top tips on fake tan for men - and rounded up some of our favourites below.

What are the benefits of using fake tan?

It slows the ageing process as you are not exposing yourself to the sun and gives you added skin confidence.

What should men look out for when choosing fake tan?

Go for a customised style glow, like tanning drops or water glow mists, because this allows you to build up your glow as well as tan on the go. Nick Jonas, Taron Egerton and Richard Madden use my Click & Glow Rose Tanning Water Mist which does just that.

What are your top tips for applying fake tan?

For a seamless application, I recommend you start with the face and gradually work your way down the body, addressing different areas in stages. Leaving the hands and feet until the end is best.

When applying a self-tanner or sunkissed drops to the face, it is advisable to use a thin layer of moisturiser as a base. If you have a beard, gently brush over it with a dry towel after application.

Taron Egerton who uses James Read’s Click & Glow Tanning Mist (AFP via Getty Images)

How do you achieve a sun-kissed glow that doesn’t look orange?

When it comes to self-tanning, remember that less is more. Avoid overapplying the product and, instead opt for a gradual build-up. The goal is to achieve a natural-looking tan that prompts people to ask, ‘have you been away?’ rather than, ‘are you wearing self-tan?’.

Have you noticed an increase in men’s interest in fake tan?

Many actors and models have embraced self-tanning products to enhance their confidence. Interestingly, even among my male clients, there is a growing demand for a radiant glow. Typically, men tan their faces and arms, prioritising convenience and simplicity.

The era of excessively dark tans, reminiscent of Ross from Friends, has passed, making way for a more subtle and natural-looking radiance - the age of the Glow.

Keep scrolling for the best.

James Read Click & Glow Body

If Nick Jonas and Richard Madden are on your tanning moodboard - and, quite frankly, they should be - then James Read is the brand you need on your radar.

The original tanning expert, Read has a wealth of experience that spans working at Saint Tropez, L’Oreal and Guerlain, opening his own studio in Harvey Nichols and, of course, starting his own brand.

A gradual tan that’s rich in vitamins, this Click & Glow formula not only provides easily buildable colour, but also moisturises with extracts of aloe vera, and evens out skin tone thanks to goji berry.

Buy now £20.00, lookfantastic

Votary Hyaluronic Self-Tan Drops

Hyaluronic acid is the hydrating hero ingredient of the beauty world right now. Helping with soft tissue growth and collagen production, it will leave your skin feeling soft, firm and plumps out fine lines - so why not invest in a self-tanner that’s infused with this supercharged component?

Enter Votary’s self-tan drops which are designed to provide a gradual tan that’s both hydrating and soothing. What’s not to love?

Buy now £35.00, Space NK

Isle of Paradise Medium Self-Tanning Water

To achieve peak Ken-ergy, look no further than Isle of Paradise’s self-tanning water. Brimming with goodness, you’ll be left with a nourished, even and long-lasting glow that will rival the beach enthusiast himself - and all for just £14.65.

Buy now £14.65, Sephora

St. Tropez Self Tan Classic Mousse

St. Tropez’s classic mousse is a tried and tested formula that’s held prime self-tanning position since its foundation in 1996. Even now, a can is sold every 15 seconds.

Lauded by beauty editors and celebrities alike, it’s a market leader for good reason. From the unrivalled, healthy faux glow to the lightweight, streak-free formula, your skin will be gleaming for up to 10 days with no need for a top-up.

A reliable option for those new to the tanning game.

Buy now £31.00, Cult Beauty

Oskia Adaptive Tan Drops

Oskia is the nutri‐cosmeceutical skincare brand you should have on your radar. Not only is each and every product packed with skin-loving ingredients, but they feel and smell amazing, too - and they’ll leave you with nutrient-rich glowing skin in an instant.

So, if you’re in the market for a self-tanner that your skin will thank you for later, these adaptive drops should be going straight in your basket.

Antioxidant-rich white tea, nourishing vitamin E and brightening vitamin C are blended with the brand’s melanin complex for a formula that adapts to each individual’s skin tone. Both natural-looking and long-lasting, this is an investment that’s worth the price point.

Buy now £74.00, lookfantastic

Tan-Luxe The Body Illuminating Tan Drops

As you may guess from the name, Tan-Luxe is a luxury tanning brand. The label is known for its innovative formulations that are made up of naturally-sourced tanning actives that adapt to the skin tone of each individual to create a tailor-made glow.

Available in two shades, these drops are designed to be mixed with your existing lotion or moisturiser to achieve golden skin all year round. Better yet, ingredients like raspberry seed oil and vitamin E will deliver some much needed nourishment too.

Buy now £44.00, Space NK

Whind Marrakech Sun Instant Glow

Luxury vegan label Whind takes inspiration from Morocco for its skincare and fragrances. The same is true for its tanning drops that are designed to mimic the sun-kissed glow of the Marrakech sun (the clue is in the name). Golden hour in a bottle, the product works double duty as both a nourishing serum and a self-tanner. It is infused with hyaluronic acid and glycerin to deliver hydration, radiance and a natural-looking tint in one fell swoop.

Buy now £35.00, Whind

The Grey Self Tanning Serum 30ml

The Grey’s fuss-free formulas are perfect for men on the go. Each is loaded with as much skin-loving goodness as possible, designed to reduce the number of serums and moisturisers needed in your washbag without compromising on healthy skin.

Firming, rejuvenating and moisturising, this self-tanning serum has anti-ageing benefits that go beyond the youthful glow.

Buy now £55.00, Browns Fashion

Coola Organic Sunless Tan Sculpting Mousse (7 fl oz)

For those dedicated to clean beauty, Coola is a suncare brand worth knowing about.

With 99 per cent natural ingredients, this shea butter and caffeine-infused formula will tan and tone your complexion. It also has smoothing and revitalising properties too.

Whether you’re on holiday or dreaming of your next trip, the piña colada scent will transport you to a tropical island the moment you smooth the silky mousse across your skin.

Buy now £37.60, lookfantastic

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