Fake Tan Lotion vs Mousse or Liquid: What Should You Choose?

Fake Tan Lotion vs Mousse or Liquid: What Should You Choose?

Achieving the perfect fake tan application is something we all desire to achieve. Whether you are a daily, weekly or occasional tanner we all want to perfect an even colour which lasts. We often get asked - Is tanning mousse or lotion better? With a wide selection of self-tanning options available such as liquid, lotion, sprays and mousse it is important to find which formula suits you best. We’ll look below at the key differences of each, to help you find the perfect tan for you. 


A self-tanning lotion is a highly effective formula for achieving a hydrating colour, often cream or gel like in consistency the product spreads evenly and effectively to ensure coverage.  

The He-Shi Hydra Luxe Lotion allows for maximum hydration, with aloe vera and Vitamin E helping to moisturise and prolong an even tan. Its colour guide allows a seamless application as you can see where the product is being applied and provides a streak free finish. One coat of this lotion will leave you with a medium tan, if you were hoping for something deeper you could apply an additional layer.

Good for: A self-tanning lotion can be a good option if you are concerned with dry or ageing skin, as it tends to be the more moisturising of all the formulas. If you are a first-time tanner this application will be easy to begin with, not only due to its colour guide but as it is easily blended into the skin.  

Reasons to avoid: If you find that your skin would be on the oilier side or you like a very dark colour without layering, then a lotion may not be the best option for you and another formula such as a liquid will help you achieve your desired results.  


A self-tanning mousse can be a luxurious way to achieve the perfect golden glow, this is a foam like in texture and will glide easily onto the skin. A common misconception about a tanning mousse is that it would be more drying for the skin, but this is something that will be dependent on the ingredients within the formula. When it comes to he-shi you have nothing to worry about, hydration is key and our no nasties approach to ingredients helps you to achieve maximum results with ultimate skin hydration.  

With three options for a tanning mousse, we can be sure that he-shi has something for everyone.  

Our Gold Foaming Mousse will allow you to achieve a medium tan, enriched with avocado and argan oil so you can be confident your skin will not only feel nourished, but your tan will be streak free with an even wear off.

The Dark Foaming Mousse will give a richer, deeper colour and is formulated with argan oil and avocado oil for a streak-free dark hydrated glow.

If you find that you like to alter your tanning colour or that you need to tan in a hurry the 1 Hour Rapid Mousse will be the perfect option for you, it can be applied then showered off after one hour for a medium tan, after two hours for a dark tan and then three or more for an ultra-dark colour, an ideal choice for a busy lifestyle.

Mousses are good For: first-time tanners, as the consistency makes it easy to use by gliding over the skin. You don’t have to worry about making a mess with a mousse.  


Self-tanning liquids are the lightest weight formula of them all, as its texture is a thin liquid, you will find this solution dries in seconds and you are not left waiting for product to dry.  

A hero product for us at he-shi is our Express Liquid Tan, this award-winning formula contains moisture lock technology helping to keep your skin feeling moisturised and leaving an even fade. The easy-to-use guide colour means that you can see where it is being applied, making the all-important golden glow hassle free. A little goes a long way with a liquid as the product glides on and spreads evenly. The colour gives a medium colour but due to the lightweight consistency this product layers very well so if you did wish to achieve a darker colour this could be something to consider.

If you are longing for a darker result, you could try the he-shi 1 Hour Rapid Liquid tan. This is a popular choice as you can tailor your tan on each application. Wash off after one hour for a medium colour, 2 hours for a dark and 3 for ultra dark. This rapid liquid comes in handy for any last-minute tanning needs.

Liquids are good for: Experienced tanners and those in a hurry as it will dry in seconds and doesn’t leave a sticky residue on the skin. This texture works well for all skin types making it a versatile choice. Liquids are often seen in spray cans or spritz’s for spraying directly onto the skin. 

Reasons to avoid: If your skin needs more moisture or you suffer from dry areas, then a lotion would be the best option. 

Remember: When applying a liquid, it is important to be careful to capture the product in the foam of the mitt before gliding across your body as this will avoid any mess or product running due to its thin consistency. The same applies to a spray can – overspray can make it messy to use, be careful to protect clothing and/or carpets. 

Considerations to Choosing Fake Tan Lotion vs Mousse or Liquid 

When choosing between which fake tan to use, a few things to consider: 

Skin Type:  For normal, combination, dry or ageing skin types, all textures of self tanners are suitable. If you have sensitive skin, we recommend a formula without too many actives and lower levels of DHA (the active tanning ingredient).  For example he-shi Day to Day Gradual tan (light) or Express Liquid tan (medium) would be perfect for sensitive skin.  For Oily skin we recommend our liquids - lightweight, quick absorbing and quick drying but still contain moisturising ingredients for a perfect glow. 

Shade: The natural colour of your own skin, plays a role in achieving a natural, flawless glow. Our recommendations would be:  Light self tanners for pale skin tones, Medium for fair skin tones and Dark colours for Olive and darker skin tones. However this is a very personal choice and the amount of tan that you apply will also affect the finished result. The more you apply, the darker the tan will develop. 

Colour Guide or Clear tan: A colour guide allows you to apply your tan without the risk of streaks or missed parts, all of our colour guides are a natural golden colour that work alongside your own colouring.  A clear tan on the other hand will deliver the most natural tan and will be the closest match to your own tone.  There is no guide colour, however a light glistening can be seen over the skin, which means you know where you have applied to avoid streaks.  The colour develops over 6-8 hours and there is no need to shower off a colour guide, so it’s handy to apply in the morning and develop throughout the day. Some people don’t like to sleep in tanners with a colour guide as there is a risk of the guide colour coming off on sheets, therefore a clear product would be a great choice. 

Face vs body tanning: We are often asked can you use a body mousse on the face? The answer is Yes for he-shi!  All of our self tanners are made for use on both the face & body. We do have products specifically for the face, including our Hyaluronic Tan Balm and H2O Hyaluronic Facial Mist (Spritz), these are in handy sizes (less than 100ml) perfect for travel and popping in your hand bag.  They include powerful anti-ageing, hydrating actives specifically for the face, where skincare and tanning deliver great results together. You will find that your face will fade quicker than the body and will need topped up more often. 

Personal preference and routine will also have a lot to do with your choices as some people may consider a liquid vs mousse purely due to how the product feels on application. While others will find that a certain formula works best for them due to an even wear off or longer lasting colour.  

Do you prefer to layer your colour to slowly build it, or do you prefer an instant deep colour that will develop quickly?  

find your fake tan formula with our easy flow chart

Differences between Self Tanning Lotion vs Mousse and Liquid 

Drying Time:  The quickest drying will be a liquid, due to its lightweight, water-like consistency. Mousse will also dry quickly. Lotions or sprays on the other hand may need 5 minutes to fully absorb and to not feel tacky. 

Hydration: To achieve a flawless glow, it is important to keep your skin hydrated and nourished. DHA (the active tanning ingredient) is notorious for drying out skin, which is why some people can have scaly snake like skin. All of our formulations are enriched with moisturisers, antioxidants and clinically proven ingredients that ensure your skin stays hydrated & protected for longer. We highly recommend moisturising your skin everyday, to help prolong your tan and avoid streakiness as your tan wears off and skin dries out. 

Ingredients: Choosing skin loving ingredients that will nourish and hydrate your skin while giving you the perfect glow is key. You can find a list of our key ingredients here

The complete he -shi range is formulated with kind to skin ingredients that will keep skin hydrated and moisturised. This ensures an even colour fade and a streak free tan. 

Lasting Time: Self tan will last on the skin for different lengths of time depending on your homecare routine. Making sure that your skin remains moisturised daily will help prolong your tan so can enjoy the golden glow for longer.  A light-coloured tan will usually last 3-4 days, a medium colour 5-7 days and darker colours 7-10 days.  You can always top up with a gradual tan to keep a constant deep tan. 

We highly recommend that you remove all signs of self tan with he-shi Tan Remover & Primer, before applying a new layer. Clean and prepped skin is the basis of any good flawless tan.

Can you mix fake tan with body lotion? 

Mixing your fake tan with a body lotion is something to consider if you find that you want to dilute the colour for a more natural glow. This can be best achieved by mixing a liquid tan or body mousse with your body lotion to gradually build a colour or maintain a tan that has been applied previously. You will still have a guide colour so can see where the tan is being applied.  

Another option would be to consider a gradual tan, this will not have a colour guide but will also help achieve a lighter colour pay off if you wanted a more natural glow. He-shi Day to Day Gradual is formulated with vitamin E and aloe vera to help your tan fade just like a natural tan.