Johnson's Holiday Skin review

Johnson’s Holiday Skin review

I am a woman on a mission, folks. It’s the same mission I undertake every summer: find a fake tan that doesn’t:

a) streak
b) stink

c) dye all of my clothes, towels and bedsheets a suspicious brown colour

Each of these three points is of equal importance, but having risen from my bed once again this week to find the sheets resembling the Turin shroud, with a perfect imprint of my body in fake tan, the situation is getting desperate. What I’d also like:

A fake tan that:
d) isn’t orange
e) is absorbed quickly, so that I don’t have to walk around naked for an hour after application.

So here’s how it’s going to work: I’m going to gradually work my way through each and every fake tan on the market, not stopping until I find my Holy Grail fake tan. And I’m going to review them all here. I’d love it if those of you who’ve tried the products being tested could leave your own comments on the review in question, so that we can build up a fuller picture on how well each product really works.

This week we’re kicking off with a classic: Johnson’s Holiday Skin

Johnson's Holiday Skin reviewJohnson’s Holiday Skin Review

I used:
Johnson’s Holiday Skin for normal/dark skin. Being a redhead with pale skin, I would normally have gone for the version for fair skin, but I’ve found it to be too subtle for me, meaning that I just end up having to use more of it.

What is it?
Johnson’s Holiday Skin falls into the “fake tan moisturiser” category of fake tanning treatments. The theory is that it’s mostly moisturiser, with just a dash of fake tan. You apply it every day, as you would a normal body lotion, and the tan builds up gradually, leaving you with a nice, natural looking tan. That’s the theory, anyway – but does it work?

Appearance and Consistency
Thick, white and gloopy.

It’s really hard to describe the smell of Johnson’s Summer Skin. Where it’s nowhere near as offensive as “regular” (non-moisturiser) fake tans, there’s no denying that it does leave a lingering scent of something – it’s what that scent is that completely eludes me for the moment. I’ll be honest here, too: this tends to be my default fake tan, and over the months I’ve been using it, I’ve reached the point where I no longer notice the smell, and so has my husband. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t smell, though – it just means that I’m possibly walking around smelling like feet, and just not realising it.

Goes on relatively easily, although as it’s white it disappears into the skin immediately, meaning that you can’t see which parts you’ve already “done” and which parts you haven’t. This is distinct from coloured tanning lotions (like St Tropez, for instance) which make it much easier for you to see where the white bits are likely to be appearing tomorrow.

How fast does it absorb?
While your skin will be dry to the touch after 15 minutes or so, my skin normally still feels a little “tacky” for up to an hour. I’m wary of putting on skinny jeans, say, during this phase because anything that’s too tight against the skin will just rub the tab off again before it develops.

Developing time
The tan starts to develop within a couple of hours

A nice, golden brown, although can start to look orangey after a few applications. The colour will, of course, depend on your skin tone.

Does it streak?
Sometimes. It depends on how badly I’ve applied it. The benefit of a fake tan moisturiser, though, is that because the colour builds up gradually, if the first application is a little streaky, the second application will generally even things out. I find this to be streak free 8 times out of ten.

Does it transfer?
Again, sometimes. It’s pretty good on bedsheets and white clothes (although if you try to get dressed too quickly after application it will leave a mark), but it does tend to cause discoloration on the underwired areas of my white bras.

Marks out of ten: 8/10
Summer Skin loses most of its marks on absorption. I just don’t have time to walk around naked for long enough for it to absorb properly, and while it’s by no means “slow” to absorb, my Holy Grail fake tan would be absorbed much faster.

Have you tried JOhnson’s Holiday Skin? Let me know what you thought of it…

Related: Best self tanner

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  • karina


    Try “Famous Daves” moisture tan. It is excellent. doesnt streak, stain clothes etc. it dries quickly and doesnt make you go orange. it also doesnt smell like wet mouldy biscuits which is a bonus.
    Karina x

    June 25, 2007
  • Jules


    Try Piz buin mousse. They do a version for paler skins which is a pretty good colour. The mousse consistency is easier to apply I find. It does have a smell but not as bad as some. According to my other half it smells of blueberry muffins – never a bad thing!

    June 27, 2007
  • I like to use Clarins All-Year Healthy Glow self-tanning moisturiser. Pricey, yes, but by far the best product out there. I use that all year round and the body-product in summer only.

    July 2, 2007
  • Mowser


    I am fair freckled and sick of turning ORANGE. Famous Daves “Fair Skin and Face” is the business. NO SMELL, dries instantly and turns me BROWN…not orange or jaundiced… but a nice rich BROWN. All the others went in the bin.

    July 18, 2007
  • daisy


    johnsons is without a doubt worst tan ive ever used. the nivea or dove moisturising tan is pretty good though.

    July 25, 2008
  • Christina


    It smells like corn lol. That’s what I’ve always found.
    Best one I’ve used is Garnier Ambre Solaire Express Bronzer.
    It dries instantly and does build up, but for my fair skin one or two applications is fine. It’s a spray and easy to rub in and doesn’t streak or transfer. You just have to watch out for inner thighs and arms to make sure you don’t miss a spot. Lasts for 4-5 days and doesn’t streak as it comes off, it just gets lighter. Best of all it has apricot extract which is a nice change from the corn smell, although you can still detect traces.
    Best I’ve ever used, lasts ages and CHEAP! Highly recommended.

    September 9, 2008
  • Nettie


    Johnsons Holiday Skin (med-dark) is also my ‘go-to’ every year and has been so since it came out. Other people describe it as too greasy/heavy, whatever, but my legs are VERY dry and my skin drinks this up. Easy to apply, rare streaks if I’m lazy, lovely colour. But it’s 2015 and it’s increasingly difficult to find it now. Come on Johnsons, bring it back, and in 500ml bottles too.

    July 12, 2015
  • Sandra Humphries


    I like Johnson’s. But can’t find it anywhere

    July 7, 2016
  • Colette grady


    Im looking for same and cant find anywhere please help

    July 25, 2017