With summer a less than sweltering affair and holidays off the cards for many, we’re turning to the bottle to get that golden glow. Luckily, self-tan has come a long way since the days of dodgy orange hues and streaky patches. Thanks to a range of luxury self-tan products, clever formulas and savvy applicators, self-tanning just got a lot easier. Take note, this is your expert guide to faking it.
Prep Is Key
Like everything in life, planning helps. Not only will prepping the skin mean your tan glides on smoothly and the colour distributes more evenly, but it also means it’ll stay put for longer. “The biggest mistake people make is not spending enough time preparing their skin for a sunless tan,” explains Amanda Harrington. “We prep our face before makeup, our hair before styling, so why not prep the skin before tanning?” Convinced? Start at least 24 hours before laying on the tan.
Buff the skin with a body brush to boost circulation and smooth the skin. Follow with a deep exfoliation to remove old tan, deodorant and any products that may have built up, and use this moment to remove any unwanted hairs. Give hair follicles a good 24 hours to close back up to avoid those pesky dark dots you can get on your legs post tanning. This is also the time to moisturise – anything you apply at this point needs time to sink in, so you don’t create a barrier between your precious self-tan and the skin.
Don’t want to stop there? Many key tanning brands have now developed primers. Isle of Paradise’s Pre-Tan Primer is a seriously smart product that works to adjust the skin’s pH levels, creating the perfect base and promising to make your colour last three days longer. Especially key for targeting those dry areas: elbows, knees, ankles, hands and feet.
Your future tan will thank you.
Application Is Everything
“Our motto is no streaks, no smells and no drama... When it comes to the end result – it all boils down to application,” says Tan-Luxe’s Marc Elrick. “My advice is to ensure with any self-tanning product - especially products with no guide colour like ours - that you’re applying enough to completely saturate the skin. This means you avoid missing out on any areas when you’re applying - which is one of the main factors that leads to the appearance of “streaks” on the skin.”
But how do we keep hands and feet free of patches? “Before you tan, apply a light layer of moisturiser to your hands, feet, knees and elbows. These drier areas can act as a magnet for moisture, causing an uneven finish,” continues Elrick. “Then, following your full body application, wash hands thoroughly and re-moisturise them lightly. To finish, apply a light layer of tan to hands using excess product from your mitt or with a small amount of your preferred formula on a kabuki brush. It’s that simple - remember less is more when it comes to hand tanning.”
Long gone are the days of slapping on tan with your bare hands (although if you do want to do that, take it off with a reusable pad and micellar water straight after). In 2021, there are almost as many tools to aid the application as there are self-tan formulas.
Coco and Eve’s smart self-tan mitt comes with a handy thumb to allow more precise application, while Isle of Paradise and Amanda Harrington have crafted clever fluffy brushes that help you evenly distribute product, sculpt, contour and buff the product into the skin for an all-over glow.
“Focus on good application technique, our mantra is ‘better by brush’, and honestly, it’s a gamechanger,” explains Amanda Harrington. “Every expert uses some form of brush to give the ultimate professional finish – your hairdresser, your nail technician, your makeup artist. And it’s no different when it comes to colouring and contouring your skin. To make sure your tan is streak-free, use the Big Body Brush to buff the colour into your skin, paying extra attention to your knuckles, feet, and around your ankles.”
Know Your Self-Tan Formulas
Oils, mousses, mists and lotions: there’s a self-tan formula out there to suit every skin type and level of confidence. But which one to go for?
If your skin is a little on the dry side, opt for tans packed with skincare ingredients that will hydrated and replenish the skin. Amanda Harrington’s Illuminating Bronzing Mousse features hyaluronic acid and aloe vera to deeply hydrate. While Isle of Paradise’s Self-Tanning Water comes with clever colour-correcting ingredients, meaning it’s fool-proof.
Still feeling nervous? “The Gradual is our secret weapon to maintaining a brilliantly believable and beautifully buildable bronzed glow at any time of year,” says Elrick. “It’s suitable for both the face and body due to its weightless, lotion-oil hybrid formulation glides on wherever it’s desired – steering well clear of the ’tangoed’ territory.”
Pay Special Attention To The Face
Just like the world of skincare, what works for your body won’t be the best for your face. Invest in a special self-tan created especially for the more sensitive skin up top and you’ll reap the rewards.
“Super Glow has been such a hit with beauty editors, influencers and of course our wonderful TAN-LUXE customers. It’s so innovative from a skincare perspective,” says Elrick. “I like to say it’s your best skin day, bottled.”
“Another favourite of mine would have to be The Face. Simply mix a couple drops with your favourite skincare to create your very own tailor-made tan without sacrificing your skincare regime. It’s the most customisable way to glow and a must-try for skincare lovers- the more drops you add, the deeper your glow,” he continues.
How To Make Your Tan Last Longer
Moisturise. Moisturise. Moisturise. Keeping hydrated will mean skin looks glowy, radiant and bronzed. Plus, the colour will fade more evenly from top to toe. Go for creamy, water-based moisturisers that are rich in hyaluronic acid – the idea is to hydrate not to strip the skin - and avoid body care with oils, which break down the colour quicker.
“Keep the colour by maintaining with moisturisers that are oil-free (these break down DHA- the tan),” explains Harrington. “Top up with Perfect Face Gradual Tan and Perfect Body Gradual Tan each day if you wish to keep the strength in colour. All of my products are packed with skin-rich ingredients so are beneficial to your skin and allow for a natural fade and colour breakdown. You can then top up with a brush and mousse five days later to keep that gorgeous rich tan going.”
“I think once you nail your application, it’s all in the maintenance,” agrees Elrick. “I always say to treat your tan like a natural suntan by keeping your skin hydrated between applications. Hydration, hydration, hydration is the secret. This keeps your glow going for longer, and ensures an even, natural fade”
While you’re at it, it’s best to sidestep the baths for the duration as too much soaking will fade your colour. Sorry.