REVIEW James Read Gradual Tan Mist


James Read Gradual Tan Mist

These are strange, uncertain times, so I’m living in the moment and using up all my good stuff. I’m burning my Baobab candles, bathing in Jo Malone oils, smothering my hair in Kerastase products and liberally dousing myself in my new favourite perfume – Cartier La Panthere, throughout the day. I smell quite delicious.

I’m also working through my miniatures, everything I was saving for travel (what travel?) or a rainy day. I’ve got dinky pots of La Mer Moisturising Soft Cream, mini Charlotte Tilbury Day and Night Creams and Drunk Elephant Marula Oil among many others. During this sort out I came across a mini bottle of JAMES READ GRADUAL H20 TAN MIST I’d completely forgotten about.


A cooling tanning mist to build natural-looking radiance day by day and hydrate your skin.

  • Colourless, stain-free formula
  • Infused with skin beautifying minerals
  • Easy to apply
  • Travel friendly
  • Suitable for all skin tones and types


Ensure skin is clean and dry and hold the nozzle 15cm from the face, then spray evenly in a fast spritzing motion. Allow a minute or two to dry before applying your makeup.


My tanning mist came in a plastic bottle with just 30ml of product, so it was probably a ‘deluxe’ sample from a beauty box of long ago.

I say ‘long ago’ because the liquid isn’t colourless as it’s supposed to be, mine is an unattractive pale-yellow colour and it smells strongly fake tan mixed in with a hint of floral fragrance. I think it has probably oxidised, but, laughing in the face of danger like the maverick I am, I sprayed a bit along my arm to test it out.

The next morning there was the faintest hint of colour, so I spritzed it (just two sprays) on my cleansed face that evening and repeated this the next evening.

I left my neck alone, it’s too sensitive. To match my face colour to my neck I use Chanel Bronzing Makeup Base or my trusty Guerlain Terracotta over SPF 50. Despite everything I do to protect it my neck is really started to show my age. I’ve got a post coming up about neck creams later this week.

Fortunately, the funky scent dissipates quickly upon application. It’s not the finest mist and quite a lot spews out, but that could be because it’s a sample and the plastic spray mechanism is cheap and flimsy, I’m sure the full-size one behaves itself. The mist dries fairly fast (4/5 minutes) without leaving any residue on the skin. It didn’t taint my hair colour, although that might have been welcome as I’m currently sporting 3 inch black roots peppered with grey silver – my hair grows very fast.

I can confirm also that it doesn’t stain clothing or bedding. The colour gradually develops evenly (no streaks) over a few days into a very natural-looking shade. A ‘real’ tan has a hint of red in it, the most convincing fake tans lean more towards red than orange and this is one of them. I read that Fake Bake also leans towards a red undertone, whereas St Tropez has an olive undertone.

The directions say you can apply this under makeup, as a primer or a setting spray, but I’d be worried about spritzing it in the morning in case it overdeveloped and became too dark during the day. I’d rather apply it at night and then I can fix any mistakes in the morning. However, as I get more confident with it I’ll apply it during the day. I don’t apply it more than 3 nights in a row, I’m very pale-skinned, I want to look healthy, not dirty, as can happen sometimes if I’m too heavy-handed.

People don’t generally care these days if a tan looks natural or not, they just want an even golden colour which I understand, but I’ve seen older women looking very orange from fake tan and I don’t think it’s a particularly flattering look, we have to be careful, Gradual Tan Mist delivers just the right shade of ‘natural’ looking.

James Read has produced a lot of variations of his tan – sprays, drops, liquid and even a sleep tan mask. A 100ml bottle of Gradual Tan Mist for the face is £20.00. Would you use that much just on your face though? I’ve scientifically (ie run my finger up and down the bottle) calculated that I’ve got about 100 applications in my 30ml bottle – remember, you only need two squirts. I think when this bottle runs out I will buy a full size one but will use it as an all-over tan.


The Grooming Clinic is an achingly trendy website selling male grooming products, but the tan mist is on offer for £16.00 instead of the usual £20.00. WAIT! Since yesterday (when I wrote this post) they’ve tagged on an extra pound, it’s now £17.00 which is still £3.00 cheaper than anywhere else I’ve found. The screenshot below shows the price it was on sale for, I think you just have to keep an eye on the site if they’re going to yo-yo prices daily.

The Grooming Clinic


James Read Gradual Tan Mist for the Face – An easy to apply natural-looking tan, that’s particularly flattering to older women.

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