We're not usually fans of faking it, but when it comes to getting the perfect tan, we can't always spend a week in Miami -- so a sunless tanner is the next best thing. That's why we swiped, scrubbed and rubbed a handful of self-tanners to find out which ones gave our skin the best colour. Whether you have fair skin and can never attain that ideal tan or are just looking to hold onto your new summer glow, these are the best lotions to help you do it -- without any of your friends realizing it's not the real deal.

 

1. Hawaiian Tropic Island Radiance ($11)
Hawaiian Tropic Island Radiance has made its way from the shelf, into my heart. One of the best features of this self-tanning lotion is the scent. Usually self tanners have the tell-tale smell, but this lotion is completely disguised with a light, floral scent. I also found this product to be extremely moisturizing, quick-absorbing and it left a streak-free summer glow. Was I two shades darker after one application? No. But I have noticed a difference, and should reach the perfect glow in a few more days. The only down side is the lotion dispenses very quickly, so take caution when dispensing, or you risk the chance of running through an entire bottle in a week.
- Elizabeth Rotstein, Web Coordinator

2. St. Tropez Bronzing Mousse ($50)
I've tried many self tanners in my day, and this one still remains one of my all-time favourites. It's simple to apply and provides a super-natural colour, but the secret to its success is two-fold. First, it comes with a glove to wear when applying. It's a thin, sponge mitten, and it helps disperse the mousse and smooths out streaks. Second, when applied, it appears dark on the skin, which helps you see where you need to smooth it out, or apply a bit more. That dark shade fades as it dries and results in a gorgeous, natural tan. It's almost as if you'd been tanning in Saint Tropez...well, almost.
- Mia Shulman, Managing Editor, HGTV.ca

 3. Elizabeth Grant Soleil Smart Alluring Body Bronzer ($30)
I'm a huge fan of Elizabeth Grant products, so I was thrilled to try out their new body bronzer. The lotion goes on smoothly and gradually adds colour. It's a great product to have on hand after a vacation -- it's helped me maintain my glow for weeks longer than I'd normally be able to. My only warning is this: because the lotion is white, beware of your application. It will darken overnight, or after a couple of hours so start with a light layer of lotion and add more each day until you've reached your desired darkness.
- Samantha Speisman, Managing Editor, Slice.ca

4. Kiehl's Sun Free Self Tanning Formula ($32)
I'm no stranger to self tanners and I've tried just about every product under the sun (pun intended!). I also happen to be a huge fan of Kiehl's (their line is great on sensitive skin) so when I was asked to test their sunless tanner, I jumped at the chance (and had high expectations).

It comes in a cream formula that I applied with my hands, using the circular rubbing motion I've been taught to use by experts in the biz. The cream was unscented (one point!) and absorbed quickly (one more point!). I did the semi-naked bird-flapping-wings dance in my bathroom for a few minutes, to wait out absorption a bit longer before putting on loose clothing, and then I went about my evening and went to sleep.

By morning, my skin was noticeably darker...a little too dark unfortunately. Turns out one cream does not fit all...as much as I'd loved it, the outcome was a little too much for my pale skin. I'd recommend it to friends with a darker complexion who need a bit more radiance in the summer, but from now on, I'll stick to creams that come in varying shades and build gradually.
- Mia Shulman, Managing Editor, HGTV.ca

5. Kate Somerville 360 Face Self Tanning Pads ($45)
If you've never tried a Kate Somerville product (Lauren Conrad is a fan!), these self-tanning pads are a great place to start. Simply stick two fingers into the pad and gently rub it around your face for some mess-free sun-kissed help -- that doesn't smell anything like typical tanners. Take extra caution around your hairline when applying: it takes two to four hours for your skin to gradually darken, so you might not see any missed spots until the tan appears. I went to bed after one application and was thrilled to wake up to a subtle, natural-looking tan. The best part? Since the pad is the only thing that touches the self-tanner, you'll never have to worry about streaky hands again.
- Rebecca Burstein, Jr. Editor

Have a product you want us to test? Leave a comment below or let us know on Facebook and Twitter.