fake tan tips

How to fake tan: the tips and tricks for nailing your self tan

Goodbye patchy knees and streaky arms

Fake tanning is an art form. It takes practice, but with the right paint (the best fake tan), the right tools (fake tan mitt) and the right technique (our fake tan tips and tricks below) you can nail your at-home glow.

Fake tan tips & tricks

We sat down with tanning guru, James Harknett (who incidentally offers the best spray tan in London) to help us create this comprehensive guide.

‘Gradual, buildup tans are a great way to start, because they contain far less tanning agent than a mousse or lotion.
If you have a fair skin tone and you freckle in the sun, then a red-based tan will complement your colour,’ he advises. ‘Olive skin tones and those who tan well on holiday should choose a green base.’
So now you know which formula to opt for, here are your fake tan tips & tricks for faking it.

Tip 1: Exfoliate

It may sound obvious, but keeping your skin in good condition will help your cause when it comes to hitting the fake tan bottle. To avoid a patchy fake tan, you need to gently scrub skin before beforehand to lift any dead skin cells and reveal revitalised, ready-to-tan skin beneath.

Origins Incredible Spreadable Smoothing Salt Body Scrub, £25 Fabled

fake tan tips

Buy Now

Tanning pro Harknett says: ‘Wrists, ankles, elbows and knees are prime areas prone to colour grabbing and will easily turn too dark so you should always apply less tan to these areas. And make sure you exfoliate them first to keep the colour even.’
If you’re wondering how to remove fake tan, once your tan starts to fade then you can also exfoliate to get your natural skin tone back.

Tip 2: Moisturise

Be sure to slather your body top-to-toe in moisturiser before you fake tan, but do remember to let it fully sink in before you begin applying your self tan. You won’t get the best results if your skin is still slightly tacky. Pay particular attention to wrists, elbows, ankles, knees and feet as these areas can get dry and need extra moisture.
Moisturise every day when you step out the shower because patchy, dry skin just wont respond well to a faux glow and it’ll make it easier when you come to the bottle bronzing.
You should also moisturise every day after you’ve fake tanned, as it’ll make it last longer. Harknett always recommends the below to all of his spray tan clients.

Kiehl’s Creme de Crops, £18.50 John Lewis

fake tan tips

Buy Now

Tip 3: Apply your fake tan with latex gloves

Orange-tinted palms and grubby-looking fingernails are the tell-tale sign that you’ve been cheating that golden glow. The best way to avoid this look is to get into the habit of applying fake tan wearing latex gloves. Yes, it may feel a little strange at first, but after a few applications it will become second nature.
Once you’re covered all over, take the gloves off and use cotton wool pads to apply a small amount of tan to the back of each hand. As much as orange hands are a no-no, so are bright white.

Tip 4: Invest in a back brush

Unless your other half is a dedicated co-pilot during every fake tan venture, tanning your back can seem like an impossible mission. Investing in a back spatula or roller will help you to reach those nooks and crannies that are easily missed and difficult to reach, meaning a much more even and realistic tan.

Fake Bake Bronzie Dual Mitt, £14.99 Feelunique

fake tan tips

Buy Now

Tip 5: Dab Vaseline onto eyebrows and hair line

The last thing you want to do when fake tanning your face is end up with an uneven colour and a horrible tide mark along your hairline and eyebrows. Dotting a small amount of Vaseline along your brows and next to your hair line means that any slip of the hand when applying will prevent dodgy marks appearing in these areas.

Vaseline Original Petroleum Jelly, £2.09 Boots

fake tan tips

Buy Now

Tip 6: Buff

When the professionals want to ensure a tan is perfectly applied and avoid any sign of patchiness, they don a buffing mitt and gently dab away at any build up of tan to spread it evenly and avoid varying shades. These are generally cheap to buy and easy to use so get buffing.

Bondi Sands Application Mitt, £4.99 Fabled

fake tan tips

Buy Now

Tip 7: Wear loose, dark clothing afterwards

In an ideal world we would have unlimited time to let our fake tan completely dry, but in reality it’s always much more rushed that we’d like. The number one rule of dressing after tanning is to wear dark, loose clothing to avoid marking any wardrobe favourites. We recommend a loose black dress and bare legs in summer, then in winter go for baggy, wide-legged trousers and a loose matching top.

Tip 8: Polish and reapply

Now your tan has developed and you’re happy with the results, the work doesnt stop there. Stay glowing for longer by maintaining a strict routine of gentle exfoliation and lots more moisturising. And if you can feel the flawless fake tan starting to fade, then simply top up.
So there you have it – you’ll be a glow pro in no time.

Reading now

Popular beauty stories