Our Guide To Fool-Proof Fake Tanning

beautiful woman tan legs against white wall

If the words ‘fake tan’ send you into a spin, it’s time for a refresher – today’s fake tan has evolved, with an easy-to-use, streak-free formula for everyone. Get ready to create a golden glow, whatever the weather, with the Inside Space guide to faking it – flawlessly.

Step 1: Prep

The smoother your skin is, the more even your result will be. Scrub skin lightly with Ren’s Moroccan Rose Otto Sugar Body Polish, which nourishes as it smooths, a few hours before you tan. Jules Von Hep, Global Tanning Director at Tan-Luxe, suggests you “pay special attention to dry areas like hands, elbows, knees and feet”. Right before you begin, Lucy Jones, Xen-Tan Education Manager advises removing any makeup, deodorant or moisturiser that could act as a barrier between you and your tanning product. “Then apply an oil-free moisturiser to elbows, knees and ankles – but avoid contact with the rest of your body, as this could lead to discolouration”. We also recommend using a separate formula for your face – some body tanners contain ingredients that can clog pores. Tan-Luxe’s The Face Illuminating Tan Drops contain skin-nourishing ingredients like vitamin E and aloe vera.

Step 2: Find Your Formula

Choose a formula that suits your skin type. For dry skin, Jules suggests Tan-Luxe The Water as it’s “rich in vitamins C, E and B5 to soothe and soften the skin”. For normal to oily skin types, try a classic lotion like Institut Esthederm Self Tanning Body Lotion. If you’re a tanning novice, or want a more subtle effect, a gradual formula like Kora Organics Gradual Self-Tanning Lotion will intensify over several applications for an ultra-natural look.

Step 3: Application

To ensure even application and prevent telltale orange hands, a tanning mitt like Vita Liberata Tanning Mitt, is an essential. Start at your feet and work upwards in smooth circular motions until you’ve covered your body, but leave out your hands. If you can’t reach your back yourself, now’s the time to ask for help. “To avoid tide marks on your feet, apply lightly between toes and around nails, blending carefully over the heels and towards the bottom of your feet,” says Lucy. Once done, “use a cotton wool pad or sponge to apply a small amount to the backs of hands and around fingers and gently work into the skin.”

Step 4: Upkeep

A patchy tan that fades unevenly is a common bugbear when it comes to achieving a good faux glow. The key to maintaining an even glow? According to Jules, “hydration and conquering the fear of exfoliating. After roughly five to seven days, start to lightly exfoliate – this will encourage the colour to fade evenly.” Once your skin is buffed and scrubbed (aim to do it every other day), it’s time to moisturise to lock the colour in. Choose a thick but non-greasy formula and apply every night (Kiehl’s Creme de Corps is an excellent choice), and you’ll really notice a difference.

Dos & Don’ts

  • Do wear loose, dark clothing after applying your fake tan.
  • Do rectify streaks with a baby wipe. If this doesn’t work, try working a spot of whitening toothpaste into the area.
  • Don’t tan right before a big event – leaving a couple of days allows you to rectify any missed spots.
  • Don’t shave just before applying your fake tan as the formula can collect in pores and cause a dotty effect. “If you struggle with open pores, keep a pack of makeup wipes in the fridge and run them over your legs before tanning to close the pores,’ says Jules.
  • Don’t use products containing alcohol on areas you’ve fake tanned as they can fade and remove your tan.