I’m too lazy to self-tan, but I’ve been using this product every day to fake a summer glow

Fuss-free radiance

Isle of Paradise Sunny Serum
(Image credit: Mica Ricketts)

As someone with naturally pale skin I’ve always had a bit of a love-hate relationship with fake tan. I love the glow that a (properly applied) self-tan can give, but to achieve that natural, streak-free look there is undeniably a lot of preparation involved. And as a beauty editor who is notoriously lazy when it comes to any kind of stringent routine, the thought of having to schedule in my hair removal and exfoliation in order to fake bronzed skin is just too much admin for me. Plus, with legs that are naturally the colour of white paper, I’ve even used gradual tanners that have left me looking streaky and orange in the past. It tends to all just be a lot more fuss than it’s worth.

However, while I’m generally happy to embrace pale skin life, there is something to be said for the transformative nature of sun-kissed skin. After all, during the summer months when my skin might have naturally caught a little colour (all while being protected with SPF, of course) I generally look more radiant and less tired. So while the British summer is playing a little hard to get this year, and I have no holidays abroad booked in the calendar, I’ve been reaching for a new product to help give me that subtle, golden radiance without any of the classic tan preparation required. Enter: Isle of Paradise Sunny Serum.

Mica holding a bottle of the Isle of Paradise Sunny Serum

(Image credit: Mica Ricketts)

Ask any beauty editor about their favourite tanning products and they’ll likely name something from Isle of Paradise. The brand's self-tanning drops have something of a cult following, but its express mousse and instant tan are also raved about by my industry friends. This product is slightly different in that it’s a skincare-makeup hybrid formulation, with all of the bronzed glow of a great self-tan product but with none of the commitment as it washes off at the end of the day. And, for me, it’s the perfect low-maintenance approach to tanning.

Before using the Isle of Paradise Sunny Serum

picture of Mica before she applied the Isle of Paradise Sunny Serum

(Image credit: Mica Ricketts)

So, what makes it so good? First up, the formula itself is packed with some really impressive skincare ingredients. There’s niacinamide to improve skin texture and tone, squalane for hydration and jojoba oil which is a natural inflammatory and will combat any redness. The texture is a super lightweight gel-cream—so light that it almost has an airy whipped feel to it—that melts into your skin leaving no harsh lines or streaks behind. And while it works brilliantly as the last step in your skincare routine (following your moisturiser and SPF) there are so many ways to use this product.

an image of the Isle of Paradise Sunny Serum on the back of Mica's hand

(Image credit: Mica Ricketts)

For the most part, I think of this as the last product in my morning skincare routine and I’ll take about half a pump and blend it all over my face using my fingertips. Sometimes I’ll leave it at that, and other mornings I’ll go in with a little concealer on top. However, the texture of the Isle of Paradise Sunny Serum is so lightweight and malleable that it mixes beautifully with other products too—whether you want to mix a pump in with your moisturiser for a more subtle wash of radiance or in with your foundation to create a more glowy base, it’s incredibly versatile.

After using the Isle of Paradise Sunny Serum

Isle of Paradise Sunny Serum

(Image credit: Mica Ricketts)

The slightly sheeny, golden finish means that this product works well as a highlighter too. If you’re going for more of a make-up look then it looks beautiful blended over cheekbones or even as a cream eyeshadow. And you can use it on your body too—sort of like a body shimmer. It’s perfect for pressing onto collarbones or shoulders for some added sheen, and I’ve been brushing it down the fronts of my legs for a subtle hint of colour during the mini heatwave.

mica holding a bottle of the Isle of Paradise Sunny Serum

(Image credit: Mica Ricketts)

For me, the best thing about this though is how straightforward it is to use—there is honestly no effort required on my part to apply the Sunny Serum. I don’t need to do any specific prep or aftercare—just blend it in wherever you want to add a subtle pop of bronze or a boost of radiance and you’re good to go. And it washes clean off at the end of the day too. It’s the ultimate lazy hack to fake a summer glow in seconds.

Mica Ricketts

Mica Ricketts is a freelance beauty editor and contributor to Marie Claire. She has written for titles including Refinery29 and Who What Wear UK, and also works with beauty brands on content messaging and marketing copy. She was previously Who What Wear UK's beauty editor. As someone that has tried basically every acne product on the market, she has a particular passion for debunking skincare myths and finding products that work. Plus, with two small children at home she is all about time-saving beauty routines that boost glow and disguise dark circles.