The best fake tan for pale skin to add a little summer glow

  • Marie Claire is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission on some of the items you choose to buy.
  • Right this way for how to fake subtly sunkissed skin

    I used to hate fake tan. I could never find one that didn’t turn my pasty skin orange, so decided I couldn’t be arsed with the faff of it – until fairly recently, that is. Thankfully, times and technologies have changed since the naughties and the best fake tan for pale skin is easy to find and use.

    ‘Never be scared to tan [if you’re pale], as there are so many formulas now that are perfect for every skin type and tone,’ says Jules Von Hep, master tanner and founder of Isle of Paradise. ‘Choose a light, hydrating formula that you can build up over time.’

    Ok, ready for a tanning masterclass? Read on for everything you need to know to create a subtle, non-streaky glow with absolutely no hint of orange, before shopping the best buys below.

    Beauty Drawer

    How to avoid fake tan streaks

    ‘The trick to a truly flawless glow is all in the prep. Shave or wax at least 24 hours prior to application, and ensure skin is exfoliated with a dry brush or scrub,’ Jules says. ‘This means your skin will have an even surface, so the final result will be even, AND, more importantly, it will fade evenly like a natural tan would.

    ‘Remove any make-up and deodorant prior to application, but don’t use a cleansing oil as this will act as a barrier to the tan.

    ‘Prime your skin using Isle of Paradise Prep It Spray – this will lower your pH and will help the tan penetrate deeper into the skin. You wouldn’t put make-up on without a primer, so why tan without one?

    ‘Spray this liberally and allow to absorb into your skin while you apply an aloe vera based moisturiser to your hands, elbows, knees and feet, including the heels. If you are fair haired, apply some to your hairline and eyebrows too.’

    Now you’ve got your prep nailed, it’s time to master the technique for that streak-free glow.

    ‘Remember to always apply your tan in sweeping motions over the body, never circular,’ Jules continues. ‘This ensures that product is distributed evenly for the most natural, even looking tan. When it comes to tanning the back – you CAN do this alone! Just turn your mitt backwards and apply product directly onto skin, sweeping from side to side.

    ‘With all tans, apply two coats to the body and one to face. Starting at the ankles and working your way up means that tan will be dry enough to apply a second coat after a couple of minutes. Just start again from the ankles for the second layer.

    ‘Use what is left on the mitt to apply to hands and feet and remember to wipe in between fingers and over finger nails with a damp cloth or make up wipe after application.

    ‘Lastly (and my favourite trick of all) – hang a towel onto the back of your door and rub your wrists together. This removes those pesky, tell-tale tan lines.’

    How to maintain your tan and stop it going patchy

    So, you’ve managed to get the perfectly finished fake tan. But half of the bother is keeping it that way, without the dreaded patches that can appear after a couple of days time. What do you do to keep this from happening?

    ‘Keep hydrated,’ advises Jules. ‘Drink that water – happy hydrated skin won’t shed and will hold onto the colour for longer. If you’re going away and are on a long-haul flight, try to not drink alcohol as this encourages the tan to fade due to the dehydration on the skin.

    best fake tan for pale skin


    ‘I love maintaining an everlasting glow (I know, cue hair flick) by applying self-tan to my entire body, following with two consecutive days of rich moisturiser onto my skin. Then I apply a hit of Isle of Paradise Happy Tan to my body to lift the colour back up.

    ‘Two days after I will begin the scrub process, lightly exfoliating the top coat of tan off, and then applying my next coat of self-tan.’

    Shopping for the best fake tan for pale skin

    ‘Try light/medium tanning products, rather than going straight for the darker shades,’ says Bondi Sands brand manager Tiffany Whitworth. ‘These are likely to suit your skin tone better, giving you the most natural result,’ says Tiffany. ‘But if you want to embrace your darker side, there’s nothing stopping you.

    ‘Self Tanning Foams are the perfect product for beginners. They’re super easy to apply and quick drying, leaving you bronzed and delicious in minutes. Using a tanning mitt, apply the foam in long sweeping motions, working from the legs up, following the colour guide to make sure you don’t leave any white patches.

    ‘Tanning waters are the most hydrating tan possible, we are quite literally giving our skin a drink, and they are SO easy to apply,’ adds Jules. ‘The trick is to apply liberally. Your skin should be drenched after application and then blended with a mitt, swept gently over skin. The peach tones are perfect for a paler skin tone, as it will just brighten your skin and give you a sun-kissed glow.

    ‘We only use organic DHA in Isle of Paradise, which won’t dry out the skin and ensures a beautiful, even glow on every application. All of our formulas are packed with organic tanning actives and avocado, chia seed and coconut oils, for a happy, hydrated glow.’

    Ready to take on the world of tanning? Read on for our top five buys for pale skin below.

    Reading now

    Popular beauty stories