Tuesday, September 11, 2012


I've been fake tanning for a very long time. I wont say I've done it right the whole time, but I think I've done it long enough to know what works and what doesn't. About a year ago, I looked at a picture of myself circa 2010 - just after I left the UK. I was in the grips of fake-tanorexia - a disease that many a resident of the British Isles suffers. In this picture, I was wearing my best disco dress and accessories; my makeup looking like something from a really awesome video tutorial. Smiling widely, my teeth shone out like white beacons in the night. White beacons against a far too heavy, terracotta face tan. That was the not-so-small detail that pretty much ruined the picture for me. Total tanning fail. How come no-one told me I looked so unnatural? I was one small step away from a big fat Gyspsy tan and had lost all perspective. That's what happens to some of us who enter the world of tanning, no matter how responsible the means employed to get there. Luckily, I have recovered from this affliction and have found a happy medium when it comes to bronzing. This post is about The Best Fake Tan. Let me tell you how I go about getting it:

1. Start by removing most of your body hair. This includes not just the lower body and underarms, but also the arms as well, if you're game. To me, smooth arms look beautiful. I was always afraid to go there but once I started, I couldn't go back. Also, make sure you've waxed your upper lip, too - tan likes to cling to those hairs, making any hair there look ten times thicker and darker than what it was to begin with. I use Gilette Venus Divine refillable razors for my body (change those blades often) and Nair Easiwax Mini Reusable Wax Strips on my face.

2. Exfoliate! If you fake tan often, you'll know that an exfoliating scrub just doesn't cut it when removing last week's tan (though I do propone using a facial exfoliant like St Ives Apricot Scrub a few times a week!) I like to hop into a hot shower and wait til my skin gets properly steamed (this makes lifting old tan easier and less painless, I swear). After I've shaved, I don a pair of exfoliating gloves, wet them and rub a bar of Dove Beauty Cream soap between them like crazy. You want a lot of soap on those gloves before you scrub like a mad thing. You'll see the suds turn brown and your skin turn fresh and pale again. Do this everywhere and make sure you've got someone on hand to do your back as well. When no-ones around, you can use a regular back brush but this won't work as well.
3. Rinse off and pat your body down. After a hot shower, your bathroom will be far too hot to apply your tan in there. You don't want to rub tan into very moist skin as it just won't rub in right. Get a blob of moisturiser and apply it to your elbows and knees. Tan clings to dry areas and will look really horrible and dark once it sets, so this will help create a softer environment for when you finally get round to those areas. It also will dilute the tan somewhat, making the final result much more natural.

4. Go to another room (lay down a dark towel in case of any accidental spills) and begin. You NEED to wear gloves when applying fake tan, for obvious reasons. I use Ansell Food Handling Gloves. They're the best, hands-down. Using a brilliant self tanner (truth be told, most fake tans are very good these days but I like St Stropez, Sportsgirl, Loving Tan and Fake Bake - they're tinted so you can see exactly where you've applied), apply evenly all over your body, leaving the elbows and knees til last. With only a smidgen of self-tan on the gloves, rub into bent knees and elbows. Areas that don't pick up tan as well as other areas are the chest and the front of the lower leg. You might want to be extra generous with these areas. Don't neglect your feet and toes either, but when it comes to your heels, apply sparingly!

Once you're done, you'll need to do your hands. By this stage, you might have a bit too much tan built up on your wrists, so carefully wash this area with soap and warm water and pat to dry. Placing a glove on one hand, use a little bit of tan and rub over the back of your hand and wrists, going onto the palms just a smidge. You want it to look natural - real tans don't look like you're wearing a brown sleeve! Removing this glove and popping it (or a fresh glove) on your just tanned hand, repeat the process on the other hand before giving your body a blast with a hairdryer so you don't feel so wet and icky. Some beauticians even give a puff of talcum powder to their clients to stop the skin feeling too icky. Just don't start rubbing it in or you're begging for streaks.

5. Once dry, you can slip on a dressing gown or VERY loose clothing. Ideally, you won't wear anything at all and will hop into a bed with dark sheets, fall asleep and allow it do it's work, but if this isn't practical, just steer clear of tight garments as the seams will mark your tan.

6. If you're like me and your skin is prone to dryness (and subsequent 'scaliness' as the tan fades), you need to keep your skin moisturised. This will make your inevitable scrub/removal easier. Note that moisturising is a natural exfoliant in itself, so to prolong your tan, seek out a gradual tanner like Dove Summer Glow Moisturiser. Sometimes hard scrubbing and exercise will cause skin to chafe, which means the next tan will appear very uneven and dark as it clings to the dry skin in that area. Around the underarms is very prone to this. The best product to combat this is good old Sudocrem. Mums will know this modest product works wonders on nappy rash, but did you know it is absolutely awesome at fixing up the area under your arms that goes red, raw and sensitive from rubbing against your clothes as you run? Slap it on every night before bed and your skin will be soft and renewed in absolutely no time at all.

...What are your tanning tips? Any you think I should know? I'd love to hear them!


  1. Urgh I envy your skill! I fake tanned on Sunday and Monday morning woke up to find I missed half of my thigh! #tanningfail

    All great tips though, I am sure my stained hands would have much preferred me to wear gloves!

    xo Emilie @ Hungry Delights

  2. I wish I had the patience for all of this...I guess it's white forever for me ;)


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