It goes without saying that – heatwave or no heatwave – the best kind of tan is the kind that comes from a bottle, not from slow-cooking your poor delicate complexion in these apocalyptical climes.
What’s more, today’s best fake tans are seriously good, offering up that post-holiday gleam with none of the usual unwanted caveats. Gone are the days of streaky knees, patchy elbows and smelling like gingerbread, because the top tanning lotions (and mists, and oils) on the shelves are way ahead of all that.
But first, the rules – and there are plenty to heed. Anyone who has hurriedly slapped on a tanning mousse and hoped for the best will tell you that, when it comes to faking that Santorini glow, there are no short-cuts. Only a bad tanner blames their tools, so pay close attention to the pro advice before making your fake-tan selection.
How To Apply Fake Tan Successfully
Prep Your Bod
If you want your self tan to stick around, you need to prep your skin. Yes, this is laborious, but stick Spotify on and grab the body scrub, or you’ll only regret it later. Applying colour over skin that hasn’t been exfoliated means your tan will fade as your dry skin cells shed, which is how you end up with flaky patches.
Scrubbing the surface ensures a smooth, even canvas for your tan to grip on to. ‘I urge all tanning pros at home to exfoliate gently the morning or evening before tanning application – you’ll really notice a difference in the strength of the tan,’ says leading tanning expert James Harknett. Choose one that isn’t loaded with oils (St. Tropez makes a specialist one) to ensure it doesn’t interfere with your tanning product taking hold.
Next, moisturising. Harknett advises holding off on the moisturiser, as it’s likely to cause streaks and blotches. The only areas of your bod you should be moisturising are those that feel excessively dry. ‘Tan can over absorb in these parts of the body so just moisturise delicately on them, especially on the ankle bone,’ he says.
This is a sentiment Jules Von Hep, founder of Isle of Paradise, agrees with. His top tip? ‘Apply a light layer of hand cream to your wrists to help avoid the annoying muddy marks that always accumulate there.’
Get A Mitt
First thing’s first, don’t use your bare hands – even when the Uber is waiting and you told your mates you were on your way 20 minutes ago. A mitt is a must, and a fancy one with a velvety finish (like this one) is the key to an even finish, especially on your back.
When wielding your mitt, be sure to move in sweeping motions, rather than in circles, as this will distribute your product more evenly. And, to avoid any tan creeping into your palms, perhaps pop some latex gloves on beforehand.
Master The Tricky Bits
An even tan on your limbs is easy enough to master, but it’s the finishing touches that are most likely to give away your bottle bronze. To avoid those tell-tale signs of a fake-tan session, apply the product left on your mitt to the backs of your hands and your feet.
Oh, and some sage advice for sandal season? ‘Put a towel on the floor prior to application, as this will prevent the tanning water from absorbing on the soles of your feet,’ says Von Hep.
If you don’t quite have the contortionist skills to tan your own back, try turning your mitt around so the applicator side is on the back of your hand: this will give you greater flexibility. Alternatively, enlist your housemate.
Time Your Shave Correctly
We’ve all been there: you’ve spent a good hour waiting for your fake tan to develop, only to wash it off and notice a speckled rash all over your legs.
‘If you seem to have little brown dots appearing on your legs, particularly on the shins after tanning, then you are shaving too close to your tan application,’ says Harknett.’
Shave at least twenty-four hours before and the pores will then have time to seal over again. Any waxing is best done two days before, as this will also allow any wax residue to be washed away.
Make It Last
Just like when you’ve popped to a salon, once you’ve finished bronzing at home you need to take care of your tan while it develops. This means loose clothes – preferably dark ones – no sweaty workouts, and the dishes will probably have to wait until you’ve rinsed off too (shame).
Speaking of rinsing off – and we’re getting seriously specific now – make sure the temperature of your shower is just right. Water that’s too hot will strip all your hard work away, while cold water will leave you feeling sticky. The best middle ground is a lukewarm temperature.
Now you’re armed with the knowledge, it’s time to choose from our edit of the best tried-and-tested fake tans: there’s one for each and every predilection.
The Best Fake Tans To Try Now
The body illuminator
The luxe lotion
Self Tanning Hydrating Body Skin Care
The face illuminator
Tea To Tan Face And Body
The pro hack
Self-Tanning Water Refill Pouch
The subtle spritz
Soleil Sun Self-Tanning Water
The can’t-go-wrong option
Self-Tanning Tinted Gel
The dry oil
Coconut Dry Body Tan Oil
The face drops
Super Glow Hyaluronic Self-Tan Serum
The instant tan
The quick one
1 Hour Express Self Tan
The everyday face tanner
Bio Sun Aqua Gelee Autobronz
The gradual tan
Summer Body Lotion
The gentle glow
Pure Self Tan Foaming Water
The easy mist
Self Tan Purity Vitamins Bronzing Water Body Mist
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