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How To

How to Get the Perfect Fake Tan


Remain calm! We’ve got you covered…

As we transition our wardrobes and hairstyles between autumn and winter, it’s only natural that we want to remain tan. But the sun ain’t shiny so bright anymore and spray tans aren’t always applicable to our budgets. So we’ve put together a few tips and tricks to avoiding a dodgy DIY tan.

We know it’s hard to contort your body in impossible manners to get that annoying middle small of your back… But unlike most celebrities, we don’t have the moolah for a week-to-week spray tan, courtesy a la beauty therapist and we don’t often don’t have the time either. So please ladies, choose the right DIY tan and comply with a little TLC. In the matter of all things involving tanning DIY, do NOT, I repeat do not, slip-slop-slap!

Choose Wisely

 Ask around, trial and error a few months in advance and research online. What looks good on your friend, might not suit you, so it’s always good to be open to your options. If you’re new to tanning, it might be wise to start with a gradual tanning moisturiser – you’ll notice results in a longer period of time, but you’ll thank yourself later because they’re a lot more forgiving of mistakes. A tinted tanning mousse is the next level up. We want to be tan, not tandoori, so it’s important to be patient and choose your products wisely.

Exfoliate or Perish

Patchy. Patchy tan’s come to those who don’t exfoliate. It’s simple really. Patchiness is due to skin flaking unevenly, and exfoliating gets rid of dead skin cells and provides a even canvas for an even layer of tanning. Think nails – when you don’t take your chipped polished off, and lazily paint over the top with the same colour, you inherit build up and bumps and they look patchy and rough, rather than creating a wet-look, shiny polished, one-layered look. So, if you’re going for an even looking tan, avoid oily products because they often can create a barrier that stops tan clinging to your skin and developing properly. It won’t last as long as intended, so exfoliate the night before you tan or at least 12 hours prior.

Environment is Key

It seems logical to apply a DIY spray tan in the bathroom, since you do much of your home beauty remedies in the shower or in front of the mirror. But ideally, tanning in the bathroom is not going to be helpful, as the light is often fluorescent or incandescent. The best way to remember and use the best light for a tan, is that you’re looking to achieve a natural tan so you need to use natural light. Find a bright room in your house that either has a full length mirror or can temporarily house a full length mirror… keep in mind you’ll need a little privacy while your tan dries, so don’t use your family room or worse… your brothers room, whoops!

Moisturise to Maintain 

People often avoid DIY tans and spray tans in general because they become noticeable in areas such as knees, elbows, wrists, ankles, feet and hands. Due to these parts being dry areas of skin on the body, they dry up tanning product (or any lotion product really) a lot quicker and this is what makes them develop more darkly. So moisturiser before your tan and try to do it regularly. Chances are if you achieve a good DIY tan, you will invest in it for the long term, so moisturising needs to be taken up to keep the process happening – not just when you’re apply to apply your tan. Use a simple, fragrance-free moisturiser or you might run the risk of altering the colour of your tan. Also consider any scars you have or and remember your naval area and remember to moisturiser. Apply far more moisturiser than you think you’ll need because you’re better to be safe than home-bound for the entire weekend.

Protect Your Hands

Do not use bare hands to apply a DIY tan. Cover hands with latex or vinyl gloves to avoid build up on your hands – as soon as a tan is applied to the skin it will begin the stages of development. Put a mitt on top too, and this will ensure you get a streak-free finish on your DIY tan.

From the Toes Up

 To avoid smudges and creases, work from your feet to your face and apply on your arms last. Make sure you are thorough and completely cover yourself. Toes, ankles and ears all tan when you’re in the sun, so any tanning product you use at home should be applied to the same places that would be exposed in the sun and sometimes further if you want to avoid any white lines. Don’t forget your armpits, as that’s where it really show up as fake and graduate into your hairline too, as that can be a real giveaway. Once you’ve finish you can clean up your hair, nails etc.

Give It Time to Dry 

Most home tanning products give you directions, so make sure you read them and take note of the drying time. Mousses dry quicker compared to creams and lotions as their consistencies are a lot lighter. We reiterate the importance of patience, but if you’re not feeling it or you’ve got to tend to some important post-tanning business, use a hairdryer on cool of course to speed up the drying process. Avoid bathroom sinks and kitchens, don’t do the dishes and don’t work out or watch COPS because sweating will streak your perfect tan. Six hours is usually a good universal time to avoid water and allow your tan to develop. Don’t wear tight clothes either and seat belts can be a hazard and leave some peculiar lines, so don’t plan on driving after you’ve tanned.

The Finishing Touches

Once you’ve finished tanning, remove the mitt and glove and apply more moisturiser to nails, knuckles and down your wrists. Use a few dots of tanner on the back of your hands and work hands together rubbing and working up past the back of the wrists. Briefly clasp your fingers together and lastly rub wrists together like you’re rubbing your perfume into your wrists so you don’t have fake tan hands and obvious wrist tan lines… it’s the ultimate giveaway!

Good luck!



Writer and expert