Words by Jules Von Hep
‘It’s a funny job – a celebrity spray tanner, I mean – is it even a job? It is because that’s what I am. Like any job you learn on the go, you have have client relations and occasionally have to work long hours. Unlike any other job, there’s a lot of nudity involved and my clients include Blake Lively, Sienna Miller, Poppy Delevingne, Lily James et al.
Turns out staring at someone’s breasts and/or vagina (paper pants are optional) once a week makes you become very close very quickly. I count Sara Cox as a best friend and big sister, Laura Whitmore and I used to live in the same block of apartments and Millie Mackintosh and I now live a few streets away and Whatsapp about everything under the sun. I wouldn’t have met any of these strong and powerful women if I wasn’t spray tanning!
The best of all has been my podcast co-host Sarah Powell. We met when Sarah interviewed me for her Heat FM radio show whilst I was backstage at Strictly Come Dancing doing spray tans. We fell in love and a few years later decided to start Jules and Sarah The Podcast (a comedy feel good podcast available on Acast and iTunes) – which now has a global fan base and has turned our desire to see each other more into a genuine business venture.
Never leave home without a mousse and mitt
Some months I can find myself being in five different countries, not to mention all over London, with clients. Kits have to be packed to military precision and I’ve learnt to have back up everything from tanning guns to tents to fresh clean towels and cotton pads all stored at my flat (some days I long for the minimal life).
I know this because I’ve had spray tan guns explode on me, tanning booths separate at Heathrow and arrive in another country half missing and I’ve left tanning tents in cabs and watched them disappear.
I’ve also had a kit stolen from the back of my car ! Whatever kit you’re working with, anything can happen so now I never leave home without tanning mousse and a mitt in my bag.
Patience is a virtue
It’s my job to be relaxed and in control around a client. I’m the one providing the just-got-back-from-holiday glow. Working with the glitterati means working with their schedules so I’ve learnt to live a very fluid life, to adopt myself around others’ timings, to drop plans last minute (I have amazingly understanding friends) and to predominately go with the flow. Sometimes clients cancel last minute, sometimes they’re four hours late, people change their mind and people have too much wine on a Friday and forget they have a tan on Saturday morning. That’s life.
Know when to call it a day
I’ve worked with the most incredible clients, but I’ve also worked with some that I swear have been raised by the Devil. There’s only so much one person can give and learning to walk away from something, however famous, fabulous and potentially career changing a client can be, if they’re consistently disrespectful then it’s time to close the door. After all, it’s just a job.
Enough is enough
Clients can develop Tanorexia – whereby they start wanting two tans a week, maybe more. In the early days I would happily do this for them but would watch them back on TV and read tweets and think – ‘hang on this is my reputation! I need to ween this client off!’.
Exfoliating is key
I’m telling you now – it’s everything. I can look at a client’s skin and tell if they have exfoliated or not. I can see the smoothness and the evenness in the tan’s application. I know it will last well on the skin and fade beautifully. Get all of that old tan off before you put the next layer on. I’ve just discovered Aesop Body Exfoliator – it’s pricey but worth it.
Ahead of the game
It’s important to offer clients the best they can get. I’m the only spray tanner in the world to work with Tan Luxe formulations. I spray my clients with Tan Luxe The Water – a purified water that is rich in Vitamin E, B5 and Raspberry Seed Oil – leaving the skin golden, glowing and hydrated. It’s the best tanning spray I have ever come across, plus it’s completely clear when applied so no stained bedsheets, no blocked pores, no stained bathroom tiles – i.e. no drama.
Confidentiality is key
A good friend once described me as a vault of information. I have seen and heard it all. Nothing shocks me anymore. Once I leave a client’s house I zip lock what I’ve just heard or seen and push it to the deepest chambers of my memory. I am paid for my confidentiality and I respect my rare life where I am behind closed doors and upfront and personal with clients, famous or not – that’s their baggage, not a gossip column.