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The Ultimate Guide To Using Fake Tan

Fake tan is one beauty product that instantly makes us feel good about ourselves. Popular with all genders, Premium Beauty News claims “over a quarter of 16-24-year-old men and women have used self-tan products”. Not only does it make us look great, but it even saves us from having to sit for hours in the sun’s harmful rays.

A well-applied tan can look amazing, but what is the best way to apply it, and how can we make it last? Here we discuss all the best fake tan tips, from making your own, which products to buy, how to apply them and how to prolong your tan.

How to prep for fake tan

When it comes to making your fake tan even, this is the question we all want to be answered. The key to a flawless tan is in your fake tan prep. We recommend using the following tips:


1. Exfoliate!

Make sure your fake tan glides smoothly on and sinks evenly into your skin by removing that top layer of dead skin cells. Pay close attention to drier parts of your body like your elbows, knees, hands and feet.

Use an exfoliating mitt to scrub the skin all over in the shower, or an exfoliating scrub before you apply.

Lifehack - use a new sponge scourer that you’d typically use to wash dishes. The soft scouring pad on these sponges is harsh enough to rub away any tougher areas of dry skin, without aggravating or damaging your skin. Gently exfoliate with the sponge and say goodbye to your dry skin. Celebrities like Claudia Winkleman even use this hack to remove stubborn fake tan lines.

Do you have rock salt at home? Add a small amount to your moisturiser and rub this into your skin the day before you tan. This grainy texture will help exfoliate your skin and prepare it for applying fake tan.

An alternative way of exfoliation can be a light chemical peel, and you may also like to remove any peach fuzz for a completely smooth application.

If you like to remove the hair from other parts of your body, do this the day before you fake tan. Otherwise, the tan serum you use could end up settling into your pores, giving you an uneven appearance and colour of the skin.


2. Moisturise

Depending on the product you’re using, you may need to moisturise in advance. Drink water, this will also help keep your skin look dewy and hydrated.

We’d recommend moisturising your skin every day for a week before you tan. This will make your tan glide on, giving a smooth, even application.

Should you moisturise before fake tanning?

If you’re using a mousse or gel tan formula, the directions might tell you to not moisturise beforehand. In this case, you don’t need to moisturise that day, but make sure you’ve hydrated your skin regularly in the days before.

If you have quite oily skin, it’s still important to keep it well hydrated and use a good body lotion. Apply a thin layer of a light moisturiser, or maybe use a few sprays of a dry oil spray.

When moisturising your face you might want to consider a product containing hyaluronic acid. This will help prevent the fake tan from settling into any fine lines or creases.

Can you moisturise after a fake tan?

Of course, you can! However, we’d recommend waiting about 8 hours for your tan to fully develop first. Moisturising after tanning will help make your tan last for longer and helps prevent your tanned skin from flaking away.

3. Apply

We’d always recommend applying a fake tan with a tanning mitt. For your back, you might want to get someone else to do the hard-to-reach parts for you, or you could invest in a special applicator.

When applying fake tan to your face, try using an old makeup brush to ensure even coverage for the perfect faux glow.

One common mistake is to start tanning from the top and working your way down. Tanning from your feet up is a better idea because you reduce the risk of touching the parts of you that you’ve already tanned as you work your way up.

4. Dry

Ideally, you don’t want anything to come into contact with your skin once you’ve applied your tan as this will leave patches and streaks. Try not to touch your tan again until it is completely dry.

If you don’t have time to wait for your tan to dry, get your hairdryer out and aim it at the parts of you that feel they’re taking the longest to dry.

Whatever you do, don’t get dressed until your tan has completely dried. You’ll get streaks and could also stain your clothes! It’s best to leave your skin bare as long as possible whilst your tan is developing.

RELATED: How to prep your skin for make-up

How to make a fake tan by yourself?

Alternatively, you might be interested in making your own DIY fake tan that lasts. You can do this with tea bags, water and a hint of vanilla extract. This recipe is a great way to make your own tanning mist that actually works.

Initially, you might be dubious, but this hack can work wonders. Mix these ingredients together in a spray bottle, apply generously and evenly to your skin and leave to dry. You might like to smooth this mixture over your skin with a tanning mitt for a more even look.

If this doesn’t work for you, try these alternative DIY fake tan recipes.

What is the best fake tan to use?

Whatever brand you buy, it’s important to buy the right shade and not apply too generously. Start with a light layer or maybe even use a gradual tan moisturiser or tanning water that will gradually deepen in colour as time goes by. This method is ideal if you want to look naturally tanned, but if it’s a deep golden tan you’re after you can keep adding layers until you reach the colour you want.

Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all best fake tan to use. We all have different skin types and skin tones so while some of us may have very dry skin that needs thoroughly moisturising, others might be looking for a lighter formula that won’t clog up oily skin. Read our article for more advice on finding your ideal skincare routine.