We are WELL AND TRULY in fake tan season, folks.
Say what you will about fake tan – maybe you find it insane that people will rub skin staining liquid all over their bodies in the name of vanity – but at least it’s existence means less of us are roasting ourselves in UV rays to achieve the same results. Sunbaking is bad, folks. Don’t do it.
There’s one little issue. Fake tanning is a bit of a bitch. Most of us have experienced the hell that is waking with streaky bits, patches and missed spots on occasion. Or – horror – a tan that’s far too dark for our natural tone, or worse… ORANGE.
That’s why I’ve called in the pro’s. No, not spray tanning professionals. The obsessives. The, dare I say it, crazies. I can say it because I am one of them.
Yep, we’re the guys and gals who have a proper fake tan routine, stick to it, and have learnt the hard way how to nail a bronzed glow minus the dramas that usually ensue.
Listen to us. We have lessons for you.
MITTS ARE LIFE
If you aren’t using a mitt to fake tan, do you even fake tan? Well, yeah you do but you’re probably dealing with stained hands and a streaky finish.
“Definitely use a mitt! And use circular motions to ‘buff’ it in,” says Jade, a long-time fake tan fan. “The Bondi Sands one is my favourite.”
Chloe, who says she gets spray tans once a week but will self-tan when away because according to her, Australia kills it when it comes to spray tanners, concurs.
“I don’t think it matters which mitt you use, but it is a non-negotiable for streak free finish.”
Some of us beg to differ on the “which mitt” front, though. Like, well, me.
“I recently found the PureTan Pro Mitt and it’s changed my life. I was using regular, oval-shaped mitts but found I punched a hole through the side with my thumb and went through them every 2 weeks. Costly, much? This one has a thumb spot and is WAY thicker than most.”
“You want to look for something that’s made from the thicker velvet fabric and has this on BOTH sides of the mitt,” stresses Amber, who’s been fake tanning for 15 years. “Don’t buy mitts that just have one side made from the quality velvet, then a shitty piece of fabric on the back because what will happen is the fake tan will soak through the shitty fabric and you’ll end up with a fake tan mark down the side of your hand. Also look for a mitt that has a plastic coating on the inside, also to prevent fake tan seeping through onto your hand.”
Some of our tanning crew even go further and buy specific tools for specific areas.
“I have a little sponge that I use to blend around hands, wrists and ankles, as well as my knees and elbows,” says Erin whose pal put her forward for this as she’s never seen a streak on her, ever. “You can get them from craft stores.”
Have you noticed your mitt gets a bit gross after a few uses? Don’t rinse it – machine wash it.
“I’ll wash my mitt every few uses in the washing machine and find it’ll last for ages,” says Monica, who says her fake tan addiction started at 16 when she worked at The Body Shop, and tanned her legs in their back room every shift with their Gradual Tanning Lotion. LOL.
YOU KNOW WHAT ELSE IS LIFE? EXFOLIATING
None of these fake tan addicts left out exfoliating as a core element of their routine. NONE. That’s because without exfoliation, you’re on a one-way road to streak-ville.
For the rookies – you should be exfoliating your skin before fake tanning every time – even when there’s no prior fake tan residue on there.
“An exfoliating tanning mitt will change your life, especially if you’re in a remove/then tan straight away routine like me,” says Chloe. “At the moment, my tan remover is J Bronze, but they’re all the same. They give a deep level of exfoliation, and you actually watching your tan come off in little balls, like pilling on a knit. SO much better than other gloves.”
Some also swear by proper removing liquids.
“I use Bondi Sands Self Tan Eraser,” says Erin. “It’s the BEST! I can’t believe it took so long for someone to make. I follow it up with a good scrub with some exfoliating gloves and it removes all the left over tan.
A big tip that came up? Avoiding all oil-based products – including exfoliators – on skin prior to tanning.
“I never, ever use an oil-based scrub first because then the tan won’t absorb as well,” says our Head of Editorial Josie, who says she’s never had a tanning streak in her life.
EVERYONE’LL HAVE A DIFFERENT FAVE
Don’t just buy into tanning hype – just like no skin tone or skin type is identical, no tanning tone or type will suit all.
“I think the key is patch testing. Before I try any new tanning product all over my body, I do a patch test on my stomach or top of thigh to see what the colour result is,” says Erin – clearly the wokest fake tanner alive.
Fake tan obsessives do know their shit though, so here are a few faves I rounded up.
“I have tried so many tanning products, but I always come back to St Tropez Dark Mousse. I’m actually quite pale but I find one coat gives me the perfect, natural colour I want,” – Mel.
“I use Bondi Sands Dark Self Tanning Foam. I’ve pretty much used everything on the market and it seems to not give me an orange result.Le Tan In A Can is the best for a light, natural tan though and very hard to get wrong.” – Erin.
“I’ve tried and tested every tanning product under the sun, but find Le Tan works best for my skin. I’m loving the new Ultra Dark range. I use mousse for my body, and a spray for my face.” – Joel
“Loving Tan 2hr Express Mousse is the holy fkn grail. It’s a green-based tan (they come in red or green-based, and you’ll either suit one or the other based on to your skin tone) and people swear I just hit up the beach when I rock up at work on a Monday freshly bronzed.” – Amber
“I’ll use Skinny Tan 7 Day Tanner in Dark because it’s so creamy and not drying at all, as well as impossible to streak or stuff up. It’s literally like applying moisturiser.” – Monica
“Nothing beats the old faithful that is Le Tan. I have been using it since I was 13 and it never fails to provide an even streak free finish. I also like Fake Bake – it is a UK tanning brand that develops gradually and makes you look like a Victoria’s Secret model (or is that just me?).” – Sabrina
“I love Bondi Sands Extra Dark tan, one layer is perfect for me. Clarins Radiance Plus Golden Glow Booster for face is also great during the week for top ups. Face tan seems to fade faster than the body for me, due to cleansing morning and night so using this prolongs my face tan.” – Jade
To make it even more confusing for you, most tanaholics have multiple products they use for different purposes.
MOISTURISER ON ANNOYING BITS RULES
You know how everyone tells you to put Vaso on your elbows/knees/palms? Apparently the tanaholic trick is to moisturise AFTER tanning instead.
“One tip I tell everyone is letting your tan develop for about an hour or two, then applying moisturiser to problem areas like wrists, hands, elbows, ankles – all the places that tend to get real blotchy. This blends the tan and makes it develop slower in those areas,” says Jasmine.
“I actually apply moisturiser to my elbows, ankles, sides of my feet, wrists and hairline AFTER I’ve put on the fake tan, despite 4568 articles saying you should do this first,” says Amber. “My theory is that you don’t want to dilute the tan formula to the point it doesn’t really take by having moisturiser as a barrier, rather you want to “even it out” once it’s on.”
Same goes for face – listen to Chloe, she runs an entire beauty website called TOMBOY Beauty. She knows what’s up.
“On your face, you need to apply a moisturiser to act as a barrier between your skin and tan, because tan in your pores can lead to congestion.”
YOU CAN AVOID THE DREADED ‘FAKE TAN SHEETS’
One of the biggest gripes people have when it comes to fake tan is staining their sheets.
“Just add a bit of Napisan in with your usual laundry detergent – I’ve found it takes the stains right out. I use only white sheets and none have tan stains on them.” says Mel.
Washing sheets post tan in general though is a massive pain. But did you know there are products on market you can use to protect your sheets?
“I did actually find a super handy product last year (which allowed me to buy a – gasp – white doona cover – revolutionary!),” says Cassidy, who constantly fake tans. “It’s called After Tan Co and they create Bamboo Sheet Protectors. They are SO handy and comfortable. You can even wrap yourself up in a cocoon type vibe if you want to.”
Express tans were also something people swore by to avoid stains.
“I’ll use St Tropez Express Mist to avoid sheet stains. It develops in three hours, so I can always shower before bed and my sheets stay white,” says Sonja.
Erin had an ingenious tip that I’m going to try tonight, in fact.
“I read somewhere only recently to brush your body with a big fluffy makeup brush and baby powder and it’ll stop your sheets from staining. Has been a life saver as I was hating wearing long clothes to bed in summer when I had tanned.”
THIS IS HOW YOU AVOID GOING ‘ORANGE’
Hell on Earth is waking up with an orange or too-dark fake tan that looks, well, fake. Luckily, our crew of borderline-insane tan nerds had some great tips to prevent this.
“Follow the instructions and rinse it off when it says to,” says Amber. “Don’t think you can just leave it on past the application time and it’ll be okay, you’ll end up very dark and it will smell more in the days that follow because the DHA (this is the ingredient which reacts with your skin to turn it brown) seems to permeate in more and sweat out through your skin.”
Sabrina says to go slowly if you want to avoid an unnatural hue.
“Less is always more (except for money). Start slowly and build up – apply two layers, then wait and see how it develops before adding any more.”
Tan products that have differing base tones can be a lifesaver, too.
“My tip for avoiding orange is for going with a colour base that suits your skin,” explains Cassidy. “This may take some playing around but for example, I prefer an ash base for a real deep brown tan. I’m also partial to a violet tan although this creates a more golden tan (which I still love) but you potentially should avoid if you’re worried about/or over sensitive to looking orange. There are also green based tans which are fantastic for some people with olive skin tones, but really don’t suit me personally.”
WHAT ABOUT YOUR BACK, THOUGH?
Ooooh boy, the tricks for getting tan on your back are both insane and phenomenal. Let’s start with the obvious – buying something that’s build for back tanning.
“ModelCo sent me their back tanning tool once, and it has completely changed my life. It’s a long mitt, essentially, and you rub it across your back like a towel. You have to hunch over, Hunchback Of Notre Dame-style to make sure you get all the spots but goddamn is it good,” says Mel.
There’s also this handy trick.
“I always blend with a mitt, and if you put the mitt on your hands backwards and then use the back of your hand, you can reach the centre of your back,” says Sonja.
And props to Joel for the most cooked – yet intriguing – back application tip yet.
“I’ve learnt a genius trick to use a long handled wooden spoon to tan my back and this works perfectly every time! I’ve included a pic for you cos it’s actually hilarious!”
Joel – I salute you. I want to be as wise as you are, that is my new life goal.