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The Ultimate Fake Tan Guide

I know the title of this post might be filling you with dread, as once upon a time a DIY tanning treatment at home would yield some
unwanted side effects, such as orange skin, unwanted streaks, stained bedding and a weird biscuit smell. But let me tell you that doesn’t have to be the case.


Fake tan formulas have now become far more sophisticated in every aspect, from guide colours to lasting-power. Simply read my tips below to reveal your inner bronzed goddess!

Firstly a run down on the different textures and the pros and cons to each…

  • Wash-off: A liquid bronzer which can often contain shimmer.
    Pros – If you mess up, you can simply wash it off and start again. You can also have instant gratification with the quick results.
    Cons – They are not long-lasting and the colour can transfer onto your clothes and bedding.
  • Gradual: A clear moisturiser with a built in tanning solution for a subtle tan.
    Pros – They are not only virtually foolproof, but they also nourish and condition your skin at the same time, which is a great multitasking product.
    Cons – Gradual tans take several applications to show a good depth of colour, which takes time, dedication and consistency.
  • Mousse: A clear or coloured solution that will quickly sink into your skin.
    Pros – They are not only quick and easy to apply, but they usually contain a guide colour, which helps you create a flawless finish.
    Cons – Mousse tanners tend to develop lighter than lotions, so at least two applications are recommended. However worst of all, mousse formulas can strip dry damaged skin.
  • Spray: A fake tan in a spray can/bottle. Simply direct the nozzle to the areas you want to bronze.
    Pros – You don’t get orange hands (hooray) and they are economical, as a little goes a long way.
    Cons – It can be tricky to get even results and is most suited to experienced tanners.
  • Lotion: A dark liquid that will hydrate and nourish your skin, whilst leaving an intense colour.
    Pros – Lotions not only offer the darkest finish, but they are also quick and easy and usually give streak-free results.
    Cons – It can be messy if not applied correctly. They usually work best when applied with a mitt or gloves.

Next onto the good stuff, the application!

Firstly, preparation is key! 24 hours prior to application, begin by shaving or waxing the desired areas. Once complete, gently exfoliate your body to remove any dead skin cells (because if you don’t, you will be guaranteed a streaky uneven tan). Try and pay particular attention to any dry spots, such as elbows, knees and feet, as these areas are all tell-tale signs of a bad tan.

Next, lightly moisturise with a lotion to help hydrate your skin. Try and use less product as normal, as you do not want to create a barrier between your skin and the tan itself.

Then when you’re ready to fake tan the next day make sure your body is clean. You can even rub a wipe over your skin (especially over your chest, wrists and armpits, as it will help remove any product build-up, such as any deodorant or perfume).

Once complete, you are ready to tan. Begin by tanning your feet and work up your body. This is important, as you will not get any streaks or creases from where you have been bent over leaning. So remember, work from toe to top, instead of the usual top to toe! Buff the product into your skin in sweeping circular motions either with a thick mitt or with a pair of gloves.

Then we have the tricky parts, the face and hands. Begin by rubbing an ice cube over your entire face to help close your pores. Whilst your skin is still damp, use a face-tanning product and gently massage the product into your skin. Try and only use a small amount, as your face should be slightly lighter than the rest of your body. Then when you tan your hands, simply sweep some product onto the back of your hand and buff it in with the mitt. Repeat the process on the opposite hand and voila you are complete and ready to go!

Remember, aftercare is crucial to help boost the longevity of your colour. A tip I love and regularly use is to top up my tan daily with a gradual moisturiser. Not only am I boosting my skins moisture levels, but I am also adding a subtle glow too. However, if you need a quick colour pick-me-up, add some wash-off tan or lotion to your regular moisturiser.

Lastly, follow my five essential tips for a beautiful summer glow all year round…

  • For the best results, self-tanner should only be two to three shades darker than your natural skin tone.
  • Rub a little bit of Vaseline over your nails to help stop them getting stained.
  • Avoid tanning your hairline! Instead mix the solution with your daily face cream for a softer look.
  • Invest in a good mitt which has a waterproof barrier, as it will stop any stains forming on your hands.
  • Finally, if you get any tan on your palms, quickly wash them with sugar to gently exfoliate, whilst removing the colour build-up.

There we have it ladies, my essential guide to the perfect tanning routine! Please leave a comment below and let me know if you prefer a real or faux tan?

Even though I personally like a natural tan, I prefer to fake it, as too much fun in the sun can cause premature aging (which I think I can safely say, nobody wants)!



(For more beauty and fashion tips, follow me on Twitter @BeautyExpertUK or check out my website


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