I’ve tried and failed at fake tanning over the years. With the coming of each summer season, I get hold of the latest must-have miracle tanning solution, don a brand new tanning mitt, and still end up with patchy skin and dodgy marks on ankles and elbows. This year would be different, I promised myself. I wouldn’t cut any corners like not exfoliating the night before, or missing patches because I was in a rush. This would be the year of the golden glow. Here’s what this season’s self-tanning products have taught me.
Exfoliation is key
It’s quick and easy, so you have no excuse to miss out this step. The night before you tan, exfoliate while you’re in the shower. Odilque’s organic coconut scrub (£25) is great for this and is super hydrating too. If you prefer an exfoliating mitt, the Bronzie back and body mitt (£20) is perfect for ensuring you don’t miss any hard to reach spots.
Don’t moisturise beforehand
“On the day of your tan application, be it at-home or in a salon, don’t moisturise your body or wear deodorant or perfume,” warns celebrity tanning expert Jules Von Hep.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do any pre-prep just before. I was sceptical about the Isle of Paradise Prep-It Priming spray (£15), until I tried it. This primer is the hydration your skin needs before a tanning sesh. It also gives you three days extra tan. Amazing.
Suit your skin tone
Embrace your natural skin tone. Often we’re not looking for a deep tan, but rather a healthy sun-kissed glow. If you’re not committing to a regular tanning routine, I recommend choosing a tinted moisturiser that you can apply each time you get out of the shower. The St Moriz Gradual Golden Glow (£4.99) is a favourite for this.
Give it time to develop
There are a range of tanning products out there: self tans, instant and gradual. “Self tans take 8-12 hours to develop, gradual tans build up day on day to deepen colour and are great for first time tanners, instant tans are non-committal tans and wash away with warm soap and water – they’re like the tanning world’s answer to body makeup,” Jules tells Get The Gloss.
For those ‘I need a tan right now’ moments, I can’t recommend enough Isle of Paradise’s Disco Tan (£15). I truly assumed this wouldn’t be for me, that the colour would be too deep. I admit I was wrong – it gives you a fantastic glow and washes off in the shower.
Always wear a mitt
It isn’t just to prevent staining your hands, it’s about evenly distributing your tan product to give you a smooth overall tan. Apply the product to the mitt (if it’s a mousse or cream), then apply to the skin with sweeping motions. If it’s a spritz spray, I find it easier to spray directly onto skin. Opt for a double-sided mitt – it makes things easier, trust me. You can also get an ace subscription for Skinny Tan’s mitts (£4.79 on subscription).
Different rules for your face
If you’ve ever smeared the fake tan mitt across your face in the same way as the rest of your body, you’ll realise this isn’t the way to go. First, Cocoa Brown‘s founder Marissa Carter advises you prep your eyebrows and under eye area. “Add a small amount of petroleum jelly through your eyebrows to prevent the tan from discolouring them,” she writes for The Sun. She also advises that adding petroleum jelly under your eyes will prevent the fake tan enhancing dark circles.
In fact, if you’d prefer, get hold of some tanning droplets you can mix into your everyday moisturiser. Isle of Paradise do brilliant one, while The Body Shop’s Honey Bronze Drops Of Sun is great too.
Be prepared to invest
There are some fantastic budget tans out there, but sometimes you do just get what you pay for. Brands that specialise in tanning are your best bet. That’s why I’ve been obsessing over Isle of Paradise, launched this year by Jules Von Hepp. Another favourite is anything TAN-LUXE, with the butter illuminating tanning butter (£24) doing the trick to moisturise and provide a natural glow.
Health note: The NHS writes, ‘It’s generally considered safe to use fake tan creams and lotions during pregnancy, but it’s probably best to avoid spray tans, because the effects of inhaling the spray are not known.’ Find out more here.