For the most believable bronze, "it's essential to exfoliate your body prior to fake tanning to slough away the build-up of dead skin cells", explains Mel Sdao, tanning expert. For an even application, she recommends gently buffing your limbs twice weekly with a coarse, non-oil-based scrub, like The Body Shop Shea Body Scrub or daily with Dove Gentle Exfoliating Nourishing Body Wash.
Prevent streaks and dark patches while encouraging even wear by taking time to prepare your body. Begin by shaving or waxing 24 hours before application, allowing your skin to desensitise and hair follicles to close completely. Look for a nourishing razor, like Schick Intuition Naturals, $12.69, to offer you a boost of hydration as you shave. Dry areas like your knees, elbows and heels tend to absorb tan more quickly, causing an uneven result, warns Sdao. Prevent this by applying a layer of light moisturiser, such as Nivea Express Hydration Body Lotion over these areas just before you apply your tan.
For the most convincing DIY results, Sdao suggests applying your self-tan with a glove or mitt. This not only protects your palms and prevents streaks, but also buffs the product into your skin, giving a professional finish and blending away any excess. For salon-perfect results, she recommends dividing your body into sections, concentrating on one area at a time. Sweep on your chosen formula in long, even strokes, and be sure to give your tan time to dry and develop. Avoid wearing tight clothing immediately after application and, instead, opt for a loose-fitting, dark outfit to prevent unwanted lines.
Try: St. Tropez Self Tan Dark Bronzing Mousse.
For a foolproof faux glow, opt for a gradual tanner to build up to your desired shade over a few days. These clever creams combine moisturisers with a touch of self-tanner to create a subtle bronze. Use it in place of your daily body cream to control the depth of your tan. Try Clinique Self Sun Body Daily Moisturizer.
Seek help from the experts
If in doubt, head to a salon for a professional treatment. Book your appointment two days before a big event to allow the colour to settle. With the variety of in-salon fake tans now available, there's an option to suit everyone. If you're after a private and fuss-free option, try a tanning booth, such as VersaSpa. If you want an all-over glow but can’t factor in the usual 6–8-hour drying time, consider a tan that develops in two hours, like Benefit Full Body Spray Tan. Or, for an authentic glow that uses natural ingredients, opt for an organic formula, such as Naked Tan Professional Spray Tan.
Achieve colour quick smart
Have you been caught out at the last minute and haven't had time to apply fake tan? Try these wash-off bronzers.
Spray: Le Tan Fast Tan Instant No-Streak Tan.
Mousse: ModelCo One Night Tan Wash Off Instant Bronze Mousse.
Lotion: b collection by Bloom Tan in a Tube Instant Tan.
Last the distance
"Maintenance is as important as preparation," says Sdao. For staying power, lather on a moisturiser, such as Burt's Bees Richly Replenishing Cocoa Butters Body Lotion, twice daily. Tan extenders are also a great option as they contain a tanning agent to enhance your hue. We like Dr. LeWinn's After Sun Glow Moisturising Tan Extender. Or, for instant illumination, rub Napoleon Perdis Whipped Dream Tan Enhancer, into your limbs.
To prevent build-up or fix botched jobs, Sdao recommends giving your skin a brisk rub-down with a damp cloth. The fabric exfoliates your skin more effectively than a scrub alone and helps to fade fake-looking finishes. Alternatively, if you have some time up your sleeve, soak in a bath infused with essential oils for approximately 30 minutes – the oils will help to break down the colour.
Match your face to your bronzed body with a formula designed specifically to suit your complexion. If your skin is sensitive, opt for a gentle lotion, like St. Tropez Naturals Radiance Self Tan for Face. Or help turn back the clock as you bronze with Lancome Flash Bronzer Anti-Âge Self-Tanner SPF 15. Start by applying the product to the centre of your face, and work the solution outwards to your hairline and down your neck. Avoid your brows, especially if they're fair.
Offset your glow with bronzing products to suit your needs.
You want a summer sun-kissed look: Dust a bronzing powder, such as Elizabeth Arden Pure Finish Mineral Bronzing Powder over your temples, the bridge of your nose and cheeks.
You want a dewy result: Imitate that "I've just been on holiday" radiance by mixing a few drops of a tinted gel, like Guerlain Terracotta Skin Healthy Glow Foundation Second-Skin Effect into your regular foundation.
You want to boost colour: Sweep a powder, such as Clarins Limited-Edition Mosaïque Summer Bronzing Compact SPF 10, over your neck and décolletage to enhance your glow and ensure your face and body are the same shade.
Get Skin Smart For Summer