If you’re on the paler side, you’ve probably given sunless tanner a go at some point.
It’s a tough balance to strike between sunkissed and Oompa Loompa orange, and fake tan fails – from green skin to missed bits – are common if you don’t know what you’re doing.
With summer on the way, you may want to bronze any white bits that are on show, but don’t know where to start.
For one, there are so many products to choose from. Plus, there’s the worry your result may be streaky, too dark, or the wrong undertone for your skin.
So that you avoid these aforementioned disasters, we’ve got some top tips for fake tan novices.
Follow these and you’ll end up with a streak-free glow that looks natural rather than from a bottle – all without baking in the sun’s harmful rays.
Exfoliate and shave the day before
Part of the reason fake tan goes patchy is that it sticks on dry, flaky patches of skin.
Exfoliate at least 24 hours before you apply any tanning product, using a body polish or mitt to slough off any dead skin. Focus on elbows, wrists, knees, and ankles – these bits are prone to being forgotten about.
If you’re shaving or epilating, also ensure you do this at least 24 hours before tanning. This gives your hair follicles a chance to close back up and helps you avoid those annoying speckles that can crop up as the product pools.
Choose the right product
It’s important to choose the right fake tan for your needs, as they all have different ingredients and uses.
Gradual and instant tanners are best for first-timers, as it takes the pressure off a single application. However, mousses and creams with a guide colour (so you can see if you’ve missed spots) are great if you want a more permanent result.
Go for a light tanning water for your body if you have oilier skin, or something more nourishing like a self tanning dry oil if you need some moisture.
For the face, there are a number of products that give you a glow while attending to your skincare needs. Look for ingredients like hyaluronic acid, vitamin C, and vitamin E.
We like the Purity Face Mist from St Tropez, which can be spritzed on over or under makeup and won’t block your pores.
Check your dates
Whichever sunless tanner you go for, if it’s out of date you won’t get the same results.
When you open a new bottle, write the date on it in permanent marker. There will be a symbol showing you its shelf life that looks like an opened tub. Inside there will be a number followed by an M for months – 12M means you shouldn’t use the product after 12 months, for example.
The pigment in false tan can spoil, so if you use it after this period you may end up with a more greenish hue than expected.
Prep your skin
Although it’s best to apply tan onto clean skin, to avoid streaks you should moisturise tactically beforehand.
Two to three hours before tanning time, use moisturiser on any areas of your skin prone to dryness. This will stop the product clinging to flakes.
Do try to avoid deodorant and perfume, though, as these can alter your results.
Use a mitt and brush combo
A mitt is a staple for any seasoned tanner. A velvet applicator mitt protects your hands and provides an even finish free of fingerprints.
Go for one with an elastic strap around the wrist for greater control. We like this Filter by Molly Mae option.
For tricky spots that require more precision, invest in a kabuki brush such as this one from Skinny Tan. These bristle-packed tools seamlessly blend the product on your hands, face, neck, and feet – common problem areas when tanning.
Get yourself a spotter
The back can be the hardest part of your body to tan – that is unless you’re an expert contortionist.
There are tools to help you apply tan to these difficult-to-reach areas, but your best bet is calling in reinforcements. Ask a friend or partner to do your back for you, then get them to check for any streaks you may not be able to see when you’re finished.
Dust it off
Follow the instructions on your tan and wait until the product is dry before getting dressed.
On top of this, you can use translucent powder. Dust your chosen powder over any sticky areas like inner elbows or backs of knees to prevent creasing and stop sweat making a mess of your glow.
Bondi Sands’ Self Drying Powder is designed specifically for this purpose, but any translucent shade will do the job in a pinch.