Four women strip off to reveal their golden tans – but can you spot the real from the fake? – The Sun

FAKE tan used to be about orange sheets, streaky legs and smelling like a pack of Rich Tea biscuits.

But times have changed, and now fake tans are so good that most of the natural looking tans we see on TV have come from a bottle.

In fact, the fake tan industry is booming in the UK – and is worth over £20million.

Superdrug shifts a million bottles of the brown stuff a year, and St Tropez products are so popular one's sold every 15 seconds.

During World War II women used old tea bags and Bovril to give their legs a bit of colour, with the first sunless tanner – bizarrely called Man Tan – hitting the market in the 50s.

Things have improved a lot since then and now there really is almost nothing setting real and fake tans apart – apart from the health benefits of hitting the bottle.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the UK, with seven people dying from it every day.

Every time you tan you raise your chance of getting cancer, and using sunbeds is particularly dangerous – using one before you're 35 ups your change of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, by 87 per cent.

Fabulous launched its Dying For A Tan series to highlight the risks of sunbed use, and here we show just how good fake tan has got – proving there's really no need to risk your health with sunbed sessions.

So, can you spot the real tan from the fake?

1. 'I've used sunbeds to kick-start my tan'

Beauty therapist Lauren Denby, 30, is a married mum of three and lives in Canterbury

Lauren says: "I’m currently in the enviable position of having a real all over tan, I've just got back from Marbella.

In the past I've used sunbeds to kick-start my tan with a base colour before I go away, but I don't anymore.

I found they made my skin dry – it’s a personal preference but I prefer a real tan instead.

Having a tan is important to me, and I don't think the confidence it gives you can be replicated with the fake stuff.

I always worry about skin cancer – although not enough to stop me going in the sun.

I never went on holidays with my parents when I was little, so I only got into tanning in my teens. I went away with my friends and realised how much I loved having some colour – now my husband and I have competitions about just how brown we can go, we go away as much as possible to keep the tans up.

He says I get a ‘dirty tan’ whereas I reckon he looks his best when he’s ‘golden brown’ all over.

This summer we’re going to Turkey. My bikinis are already chosen, I normally take at least three. The fashion this summer is for high waists which aren’t ideal for tanning, so I’ll roll them down and unclip when I’m lying on my front.

On holiday, my agenda revolves around the tan regime, I take it very seriously!

On the first day I’ll rub in the factor 50 which always surprises people but it doesn't stop my colour, it just means I'm protected.

Then I make it last as long as possible by moisturising daily and exfoliating too.

I move throughout the day to make sure I'm always in the sun and to maximise my tan I’ll even lie out on a lilo in the pool.

There are certain clothes I’ll only wear with a tan – bright colours, and I’d never wear a white dress unless I had golden skin.

I do feel better when I’m brown and I feel sexier too – I couldn’t go without a tan.

As for wrinkles I just don’t think about them right now. It wouldn’t be something I’d worry about when it comes to getting a tan.’

Dying For A Tan

There are an estimated 7,000 tanning salons in Britain, with some offering sessions from as little as 50p a minute.

Kids as young as EIGHT are using sunbeds, with seemingly little understanding they are playing Russian Roulette with their health.

According to Cancer Research UK, Melanoma skin cancer risk is 16-25 per cent higher in people who have used a sunbed (at any age), compared to people who have never used sunbeds. 

This is because sunbeds pelt the skin with such strong UV rays which increase the risk of developing malignant melanoma – the most serious form of skin cancer. 

Just 20 minutes on one is comparable to four hours in the sun – with many stronger than Mediterranean rays at midday.

In many cases the damage is invisible until it’s too late, as it can take up to 20 years to become apparent.

Around 16,000 new melanoma skin cancer cases are diagnosed in the UK every year – that's 44 every day.

There are around 2,300 melanoma skin cancer deaths annually – that's more than six every day.

It’s part of the reason the World Health Organisation has deemed sunbeds are as dangerous as smoking.

This is why Fabulous says it is time to stop Dying For A Tan.

2. 'I've had some major tanning fails'

Student Adelaide Jones, 19, is single and lives in Bristol

Adelaide says: "I’m studying for a biology degree and I know how everything works in the body, that’s why there is no way I’d use a sunbed. I’m really against them.

The threat of cancer is all too real and it’s just not worth the risk.

If I hear of any girlfriends using one I always talk to them about it. There are people who shrug it off and say, ‘We're all going to die of something!’ but skin cancer is the faster rising cancer in under 35s. So why risk it when you don't need to?

Instead I love a fake tan, even though I'm olive skinned.

I do it the day after shaving my legs and I use Skinny Tan Oil which develops through the day before you wash it off that night.

I first started to appreciate the difference a tan can make in my early teens.

We go away on holiday to Egypt as a family and I'd tan quickly and instantly feel really good about myself.

That’s why even in the UK I’ll fake tan – I want that same feeling.

But there's no point if I'm covered up, I only bother if I'm getting my body out – so fake tan is part of my getting ready routine for a night out.

I’ve definitely had some tanning disasters though – one time my hands ended up bright orange, I was so self-conscious."

3. 'I'm always asked about my tan'

Interior designer and model Prudence Ratcliffe, 20, is single and lives in Warwick

"My problem is trying not to let my skin go too dark!

"I’m lucky enough to go away on a regular basis, like to Barbados every Christmas, and going abroad keeps my naturally dark skin topped up nicely.

Whenever I post pictures on my Insta page of me tanned and in a bikini friends do comment! I'm always asked if my tan is fake. It's real! I almost instantly turn an olive colour.

I was around 16 when I discovered the magic of a tan – I’d got home from a holiday and everyone was always saying, ‘Wow, you look so well, Pru!’ It's true. I’m healthier-looking this colour which makes me feel better about myself.

Nowadays I’m back and forth to Marbella because my dad has got a place over there.

Exposing my limbs to the sun puts me in such a good mood, it’s why there is nothing better than a proper tan.

But I won’t tan without any protection on. I use factor 30 all over my body and apply factor 50 on my face.

My current favourite is Bali Body, which is tinted too, and Piz Buin is another favourite. It’s been around for years and is older than I am!

In our family it is an absolute no-no to sit out without any sunscreen on, I don’t know anyone who would do it any more.

I know my mum’s generation did or they'd apply carrot oil or just oil so they skin would go brown faster. But those are the women who end up with skin cancer – if I can’t protect my skin I’d rather be pale.

I do take the time to maintain my tan, moisturising and exfoliating, too. There's nothing less sexy than a tan which is peeling off!"

4. 'I used to use Factor 2'

Beauty boutique manager Samantha Walsh, 43, is single and lives in Sevenoaks, Kent

Samantha says: "Like most women I do love a tan, but I reckon it’s best to fake it.

I work in the beauty industry and understand how ageing a real tan is – not to mention the skin cancer risk.

I use gradual tanners throughout the summer, I love Tan Luxe drops for face and body, Garnier Summer Body Lotion and Vita Liberata Body Blur.

I don’t like being pale, I’m a natural blonde and a good tan out of the bottle hides my veins and scars and makes me feel better about myself.

There's nothing I like more than topping up with the real thing either, I’ve been tanning for as long as I can remember.

In the 90s I’d spend the summer season out in Ibiza, that was before we all realised how bad the sun was for your skin.

In those days I’d start on Factor 8 and by the end of the season I’d be down to Factor 2 – you’d put yourself under a load of pressure to get as brown as possible.

By my mid 20s I’d discovered fake tan and I was a total convert, but back then the products weren’t as sophisticated as they are today.

Like most women there have been tanning disasters. The horrible biscuit smell isn’t attractive, it's a turn-off for boyfriends, and I've had streaky disasters on the bed sheets.

I’ve been out looking orange and tango-ed and I've struggled with streaky legs too.

I’ve learnt that where the skin is thicker on the body – elbows and knees – apply less because it goes darker there.

But when you get the hang of fake tanning products it’s a no brainer. I feel healthier and look slimmer – without the sun damage.

Nowadays as soon as the sun comes out I start using fake tan, usually that's from April until October.

This year I’ve been using a gradual tan but I do get a cheeky spray tan at work sometimes. We have a pop up tent that comes to the store. You stand naked in the tent and slowly rotate, it's fantastic and lasts for a good week


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