James Read Wash Off Tan review

I’ll be honest, wash-off tan lotions fill me with the horrors. The actual heebie jeebies. The very idea of them catapults me back to 1985 and wrestling with horrific orange formulations that left streaky tidemarks everywhere, came off when you sweated (nice) and fooled nobody apart from the blind and the terminally stupid.

I’d been told that they’ve come on in leaps and bounds in the past few years, but still my money has stayed resolutely in my purse whenever I’ve been tempted. All I had to do was think back to summers looking down at my sandalled feet as the straps rubbed tell tale tan lines into my skin -or worse -getting caught in the rain! No thank you.

I’ve used fake tan over the years, of course I have. On the basis that at least it stays on, I’ve played sweary Russian Roulette with my skintone -missing patches round the back of my knees and ankles or just being cavalier and not exfoliating beforehand (and then having to wear maxi dresses for a week because my legs looked like I’d been kneeling in gravy).

So it was with the most bated of breath that I allowed myself to be suckered into the world of Mr James Read: TanMeister extraordinaire. I started on relatively safe ground -with his Sleep Mask tan -so far so good -one of the best facial fake tans I’ve used, in fact. And then I spotted this one in TK Maxx last week:

The bottle of Doom

The bottle of Doom

Now, I’m aware that the brand has had a bit of a different kind of stripey makeover, which is probably why this was rolling around at less than half price, but I was sort of on the lookout for something that would make me look less pasty when I go on holiday in a few weeks, and I saw this and remembered the lovely Sali Hughes mentioning that she thought this one was one of the best in the business.

And by Jove, she’s onto something.



Now, let’s be honest here -it’s a frankly alarming colour when it comes out of the pump action bottle (the new version is in a tube, which I’m already sad about as a) I know I’m going to repurchase this and b) because tubes are just begging to be sat on in a handbag and explode over everything.)

I’m really rather pale. Pinky-pale, thanks to my ever present Rosacea, and a pale that can be ramped up with the right foundation, but milky nonetheless. Thank you, Scottish forebears! Thank you for bestowing a genetic legacy that ensures when I do go on holiday it takes 5 days for me to go from blue to white and then another 5 days turning a raging shade of red before turning white again overnight. It really is maddening.

But this…this juju in a bottle just went straight on, rubbed in, didn’t attach itself to the wizened and dry parts of me, didn’t streak, make tidemarks or any other such nonsense. It just sat there, looking gloriously believable.

A tan! I've got a bloody tan!

A tan! I’ve got a bloody tan!

Received wisdom says to not use this over moisturiser, as it contains moisturising hyaluronic elements. I’ve practically daubed my entire body with it (using a mitt, natch) and I’m very, very impressed.

The only problem I’m encountering is doing my hands -I wash my hands A LOT every day doing my job and I’m ending up with a collar and cuffs look which is not what I imagined. I may have to use permanent tan on the backs of my hands and try and join the two up somehow. Or maybe I’ll just keep it for legs. Or maybe I’ll just stop washing my hands (Eww.)

I’ll figure something out.

James Read wash off tan and other sundry Tantastic items are available HERE and HERE -or rolling about TK Maxx next to some Italian Shampoo you’ve never heard of and an Opi Nail Varnish that at least 17 people have had a go at and they still want £4.99 for. Oy vey.

Info: Purchase


Marks and Spencer Beauty Department

If you have a large M&S near you then the chances are you will now have a Marks with one of its new(-ish, they rolled out in London 2012/13 and were hitting further afield places like Grimsby last summer) Beauty Departments.

My nearest is Marble Arch, which I think has the full gamut of brands they stock, and I have to say that I think Marks are batting out of the park here. Considering that they still maintain that the average woman looks good in a peach waterfall cardigan, to be stocking brands like Filorga, Murad, Skyn, Emma Hardie, Josh Wood, Bliss and Cowshed is reasonably mind blowing.

I absolutely LOVE having a rootle around whenever I pop in for more prosaic items like pants and tights and it’s rare that I don’t come out with something. The departments are hardly ever busy, they are well lit, stocked well presented simply. Often they have lovely offers like 3-for-2 or gifts with purchase (I recently loaded up on REN Evercalm and came away with a sweet little cosmetic purse full of about £25 worth of travel sizes.)

Emma Hardie has been one of the latest additions to their collection and her Midas Touch Serum was firstly exclusive only to M&S, which is pretty impressive when you consider that for a long while EH was the preserve of a few specialist websites and Space NK. I know that we can order anything online from pretty much anywhere these days, but I do find it really heartening that Marks are taking Beauty seriously and stocking some heavyweight brands that can now be picked up alongside some Percy Pigs and a packet of 5 cotton undies.

Standouts of their range for me are:

James Read Express Mask Tan -stick this on your mush for 30 minutes then wash off: it will carry on developing for a full hour. Gives a great natural glow for light to medium skintones.

james read

Bliss Triple Oxygen Instant Energizing Mask -I don’t think I have ever found a mask that makes me look as zingy in ten minutes as this does. It’s a bit spendy but it’s a life saver rather than a regular use item.


Emma Hardie Amazing Face Moringa Balm cleanser -Ditch the useless cloth that comes with this and just use a flannel for extra grip. Oily, unctuous, gorgeous smelling, divine miracle cleanser that leaves skin feeling soft and nourished.

Moringa Cleansing Balm with cloth

Stila Convertible colour -The whole Stila range is pretty damn good, but their convertible colour cheek and (ahem) lip cream comes in the best formulation I’ve found.


M&S Essentials Aloe Vera and Mint shower gel -It’s a POUND, people. One freaking Pound. And for that you get 300ml of BUAV approved, alcohol and paraben free, Vegan friendly, minty loveliness. The whole Essentials range is great. (BEGONE, MAGNOLIA!)

aloe and mint

Glamglow -it’s Witchcraft in a jar, basically.


REN Grab-and-Go Kit -A great place to start for £20 and everything you need for an overnight getaway, in a lush see through zipped pouch that they probably won’t let you through Airport security with. *Shakes fist at sky*

REN kit

So there you have it -definitely worth a visit instore, but if you happen to live in the sticks somewhere not graced with a Jumbo Marks then make sure you load up with goodies next time you’re in the market for an on-line haul.