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Ultimate Guide to Self-Tanning

As we approach summer, many of us will want to add a bit of colour to our skin before we brave the bare legs. The safest tan is always a fake one, so if you’re wondering how to get a perfect self-tan at home then look no further. Our Ultimate Guide to Self-Tanning will tell you everything you need to know from choosing your tan to achieving a flawless finish that lasts for days.

Step 1: Choosing Your Self Tan Shade

Before you even put your hand in a tanning mitt, you need to decide which tanning product is the best for you. There are a plethora of products on the market, from lotions and mousses to sprays and even wipes. On top of this, the intensity of self-tans range from barely-there gradual tans to deep, instant colour products. So how do you know which product is right for you?

Firstly, consider your natural complexion. If you’re naturally very fair and don’t tend to tan naturally in the sun, then a self-tan that’s too dark for you might look unnatural. Also, have you ever noticed that speckled, patchy look that can often be a giveaway of a fading fake tan? That effect is caused by your new layer of skin becoming visible as your top, tanned layer sheds away. The more different the shades of your natural skin and your tanned skin, the more prominent and obvious this speckled look will be.

Fair-skinned women should therefore opt for a lighter self-tanning product – gradual tans such as Fake Bake Fair Gradual Self Tan can be a great place for self-tan newbies to start – while those with more olive tones can go for a darker tan.

Step 2: Choosing Your Self Tan Formula

Choosing between tanning formula is often down to personal preference. Many opt for creams or lotions because of their moisturizing properties, as well as the full, even coverage that they provide. We love the Fake Bake Original Tanning Lotion because of its non-sticky, fast drying formula – and the handy guide colour will also show you exactly where you’re applying it, so you never miss a spot.

If you’re looking for something a little more fool-proof that’s also perfect for getting the job done quickly, then a tanning mist might be the right choice for you. The Fake Bake Airbrush gives flawless, even coverage, and the 360 degree nozzle lets you reach those tricky areas with ease.
Self Tan Guide

Step 3: Preparing Your Skin

To ensure that your self-tan looks natural and lasts well, it’s essential that your skin acts a smooth base for the product. If you’re planning to shave or wax your body hair, it’s recommended that you do this at least 24 hours before applying your tan. This will give time for your pores to close, ensuring that tan doesn’t settle into them and leave you with that dotted effect.

Similarly, while it’s important that your skin is soft, moisturizing too soon before applying tan will actually put a barrier between your skin and the tanning product. To avoid this happening, moisturize around 8-12 hours beforehand – either the morning before you tan in the evening, or the night before a morning tan.

However, there are some parts of your body that will actually benefit from a slight barrier. Areas such as knees, elbows and ankles are dryer than other areas, and so tan can cling here and start to look unsightly. Immediately before tanning, apply a light layer of moisturiser to these sections, and then tan as normal.

Step 4: Applying Self Tan

Some people struggle with knowing how to actually apply fake tan, and worry that they’ll be left with uneven or unnatural results. However, with the right accessories and a simple application method, your tan will go on flawlessly every time. One thing you will definitely need to avoid the giveaway tanned palms, and ensure an even finish, is a tanning mitt. These can be picked up for little cost and can often be washed and re-used (some can even go in the washing machine!)

To begin with, apply a small amount of self-tan onto your mitt – remember, you can always add more but you can’t take away. Start at the bottom of your body and work your way up, moving the mitt in small circular motions to get that even finish. Take care over those rough patches that we mentioned to make sure you’re not applying too much tan that will settle into the dry areas.

When it comes to fake tanning hard-to-reach areas such as your back, it can be a good idea to get a friend to help so that everywhere is covered. If you’re on your own though, then flipping the mitt around so you’re applying with the back of your hand can usually help to reach the tough spots. Once you’ve applied the tan to your full body, don’t forget about your hands! Brush the tanning mitt gently over the back of your hands to give them a light colouring. Leave the palms untouched – these don’t tend to tan naturally, and so will be a giveaway that you’ve faked it!

How to Self Tan

Most tans will take around 8 hours to develop, and so it’s ideal to do your tan in the evening and wash it off in the morning. However, some rapid tans will develop a lot faster. The Fake Bake 60 Minute Self Tan Liquid, for example, can be washed off after just one hour – making it perfect for last-minute tanning needs. When you shower the self-tan off, use warm water as opposed to hot, and avoid using any soaps or shower gels. Also, don’t rub yourself dry with the towel afterwards; instead, pat the skin gently to keep an even finish.

Step 5: Maintaining Your Self-Tan

Once you’ve achieved your gorgeous glow, you’ll want to help it last as long as possible – and also make sure that once it does fade, it does so evenly.  The key to this is to moisturise, moisturise, moisturise. We recommend using a body moisturiser that is specifically designed to work with the ingredients in self-tan, such as the St Tropez Tan Enhancing Body Moisturiser. Using this daily will prevent the top layer of skin from flaking, meaning that your tan will fade naturally.

Following this guide will leave you with a healthy, natural looking faux glow. However, if you’re still not confident applying your own self-tan, then of course you can book in for a professional spray tan. We offer spray tanning services in some of our Regis salons – find out more here

Images: REX / Shutterstock

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