With the threat of colder grey days and very little sun around the corner, it’s hardly surprising many of us are reaching for the bottle! There is such a wealth of excellent self tanning products out there on the high street, but even the greatest of self applied tanners can look a little ‘false’ if the golden rules of pre-tanning skincare aren’t followed correctly.
However, with the Christmas party season about to creep up on us- complete with the requirements for sparkle and strappy dresses, faking it is the only way to go!
Not content to be outdone by the team of ‘Only Way Is Essex’ clones on the potential party scene, I have compiled my very own golden girl’s guide to foolproof beauty. The rulebook for a natural healthy glow to rival all others!
First, it’s best to wait several hours after shaving your bikini line, legs, or armpits, before applying the sunless tanner. Be especially cautious if you have sensitive skin too. Cuts, nicks, grazes and rashes are NOT a good look if you dare to bare this Christmas!
Always exfoliate thoroughly in the bath or shower with a soft cloth. The soft mitts often found in pharmacies are the best as nylon scrubbers can leave you with streaks.
Always use a good moisturiser as a pre-tanning agent. It prepares the skin and gives the self tan something to hold onto! The likes of St Tropez and Fake Bake usually market their own pre-tan moisturiser, but cocoa butter is just as good.
A dark outfit such as a black bikini is best while applying sunless tanners; and good if it’s a snug fit too. You’ll get best results by wearing the same thing every time. If you can get black thong bottoms, all the better. Dental floss is possible, but only advisable if you’re either very brave or a pro at self-tanning….
Next step is to apply the tanner to your back with a sponge-type brush ( Superdrug and Avon supply great ones cheaply). If not, you can buy a sponge type paintbrush, available at many hardware stores. Try and get one about two to three inches in size. Wash it and make sure it dries completely before using it. It’s better if you get brushes with wooden handles, as they don’t scratch the skin like plastic can. Some people even prefer to use sponge rollers! B&Q would also be highly amused if you told them what you were buying it for!
It’s best not to try to use a spray if you haven’t done sunless tanning before. The spray is awkward to use and needs practise to get an even application. Best not to try your first Christmas party looking you’ve been pebble dashed; the granite look works well on bathroom tiles, but not necessarily on one’s back mid-winter.
If you’re using a mousse-style tanning product; squirt it onto a baby wipe first and spread it over your skin first; thus avoiding streaking and black hands at the same time. There’s nothing worse than that tell-tale line down the side of your palms. The tan will get onto your hands quickly, so remember to wash frequently, and use soap and a nailbrush to give your hands and nails a good scrub. You could also try using Baby Wipes, Wet Ones and similar products on your palms.
Even better, get gloves – some inexpensive medical gloves will do just fine. Or again a visit to B&Q will provide you with little blue decorator’s gloves for a pound. It’s still best to wash carefully afterwards, as that tanner can seep through and leave lovely ‘bark-like’ effects on your skin.
Several minutes after putting on the sunless tanner, it’s a good idea to lighten the color of the elbows and knees by rubbing with a little lotion.
Blend the color in other areas by rubbing lotion; for instance the arms, wrists and hands; and also the legs, ankles and feet.
Sometimes the hands and feet appear too dark, so try using a lighter formula on just those areas. Golden legs and gravy browning feet look extremely odd.
When using a sunless tanner on your face and neck which isn’t specifically “for the face”, apply a lightweight lotion first, and let it soak in for ten minutes. This will prevent the sunless tanner from collecting in areas with fine lines .Those tell tale signs of ‘sun in a bottle’ are the last thing you want and it would literally be written all over your face!
So about those more sensitive areas? Your nipples and lips will be hardly affected by sunless tanners. Go completely over them when applying a sunless tanner. Avoiding those areas can lead the borders looking unattractive.
Is the bikini area worth doing? Probably not. You can end up with a dirty looking result as the tanner doesn’t absorb so well in that area. And exfoliation might not be a good idea!
As your skin darkens, so will the moles and freckles. It could be that some colorless moles actually become a lot darker. This is a sad byproduct of sunless tanning.
It is worth using sunless tanners on your armpits. People generally don’t have tanned armpits, but avoiding the area with good looking results takes skill. Try lightly wiping the area a few minutes later with a damp cloth to lighten it.
Spots and blemishes are another matter with fake tans. Scars can be an unknown quantity; usually they don’t darken very much, if at all and more recent scars will absorb less tanner. Note that stretch marks are a type of scar, and sunless tanner will cover them if they are a few years old. Newer ones don’t absorb the lotion so well and will probably be more obvious.
Your belly button may darken too much. To reduce this, rub with a cotton swab dipped in lotion after you have applied the sunless tanning lotion. If it looks too dark the next day, use a cotton swab with liquid eye make up remover to rub it.
Be aware that your sunless tanner may not contain sunscreen. There aren’t any sunless tanners with adequate sun protection. Apply sunless tanners before going to bed and use a normal sun screen product during the day.
Sometimes you may have some left of different brands, so you can mix them together in one container. This is not ideal with have several brands having a strong scent. Tanners which contain sun screen and fast-drying tanners don’t mix well with others. It’s best to test a little bit before mixing up a batch.
After applying the tanner you’ll probably feel a bit sticky, so it’s a good idea to apply powder with a large body powder puff. Powders based on corn starch are safe to use all over.
A sunless tan takes around three hours to develop. You can use hydrogen peroxide to lighten dark spots on your hands if you notice any mistakes there. Use a Q-Tip or cotton ball, and make sure to rinse completely afterwards. The peroxide might not always fix the spots, and can produce other problems if it drips onto other parts of your tan. Best to work carefully in the first place to avoid orange palms.
Use moisturizers every day – some have ‘top up’ tanning built in for a subtle, gradual build and will maintain the foundation tan.
Excellent tanning products currently on the market are favoured by celebrities and public alike. Some of the best ones include Xen- Tan, St Tropez and Fake Bake. Xen tan also provide excellent home spray tans at reasonable prices for those last minute top-ups.
So now you know the best way to fake tan, set aside a few hours and off you go – be bold and beautiful in the season to be jolly!