Bare leg season is upon us, and if you’re a fair-haired person who’s as pale as me, that just-stepped-off-a-plane glow isn’t something that comes naturally to you.

Now older and wiser about the damaging affects of the sun’s UV rays, I’ve swapped tanning sessions for daily SPF, so I usually seek my summer colour from a bottle instead.

Liz Connor
My natural pale skin tone (Liz Connor/PA)

Thankfully, fake tans have come a long way from the streaky, orange lotions of my youth and now there are all kinds of new formulations on the market.

The latest is Vita Liberata’s Phenomenal tan (€49.99), a mousse that claims to last for up to two to three weeks after the first application. The idea is that you don’t have to pack your fake tan into your suitcase and bother with extra applications while you’re chilling on your holiday.

So does it work? Here’s my verdict…

The application

Vita Liberata's new Phenomenal tan (Vita Liberata/PA)
Vita Liberata’s new Phenomenal tan (Vita Liberata/PA)

The first thing to know about this tan is that it’s really easy to apply, thanks to a smooth pump applicator that limits any messy spills. It comes in three shades: light, medium and dark. I opted for medium because although I’m fair, I prefer a darker tan.

The mousse itself is a light and fluffy formulation that glides onto the skin with ease and dries in minutes (I’d recommend investing in a good quality mitt for the best application). It’s also surprisingly odour-free, meaning you won’t balk at that tell-tale fake tan smell that clings to your clothes and bed sheets for days afterward.

fake tan application
The product is a light mousse that glides on easily (Liz Connor/PA)

I apply the tan all over my body and am pleased that even during the development stage, the mousse is a really natural colour and doesn’t feel at all sticky. It’s also streak-free, meaning you could easily leave the house while it’s developing and not feel self-conscious.

A big bonus tick for me is that Vita Liberata’s tans are non-toxic, so this one isn’t formulated with skin nasties that some other brands pack into their formulas, like parabens, sulphates, silicones, alcohol or perfume.

It’s also vegan, cruelty-free and contains lots of skin-friendly natural ingredients like aloe vera to hydrate, moisturise and condition skin during development.

The results

legs Before tanning (Liz Connor/PA)
Before tanning (Liz Connor/PA)

I slept in the tan overnight and woke up to a natural caramel colour that genuinely looked like I’d spent a week lying on a sun lounger in the Maldives.

For the longest lasting tan, the brand advises replicating the application process two more times, so throughout the day, I buff on the tan twice again, allowing each layer to develop for four hours before washing it off.

The result was a deeper, darker tan with longer staying power. A big plus is that there was minimal transfer onto my bed sheets too, although I’d recommend being cautious and sleeping in a cheap duvet cover if you’re the type of person that’s precious over their bedding.

After washing off the first application (Liz Connor/PA)
After washing off the first application (Liz Connor/PA)

After one week, I was pleased to find that the tan had faded minimally and people were still asking if I’d recently been on holiday. I was impressed that it didn’t flake or rub off in the usual areas like on my chest or under my armpits, and two weeks later I was still sporting a generous glow – although it had faded significantly on my face.

fake tan legs
One week later (Liz Connor/PA)

After the full three weeks, my tan had pretty much completely disappeared, but in that time I’d subjected it to several pool swims and a 25K kayaking, cycling and running fitness challenge in the torrential rain, so I’m pretty impressed at the results.

fake tan progress
Three weeks after the first application (Liz Connor/PA)

At €49.99 per bottle, this isn’t a cheap product but, as a regular fake tan wearer, I noticed a superior quality to both the colour and the longevity.

It also fades like a natural tan, so whether you get three weeks’ wear out of it or just one, you won’t get any unsightly patches where the tan has rubbed off prematurely. I think I may have just found my new summer staple.