Fake tan, our ultimate guide to a streak-free application at home

Fake tan fan or first timer? Either way, we’ve unpicked all the dos and don’ts so you can glow like a pro all summer

Who knows why exactly, but a tan can give us a huge psychological boost, especially now it’s warm enough to peel off some of those layers of clothes. But if you haven’t been on holiday (that’ll be all of us, then) and you’re not an experienced tanner, it can require a certain confidence to fake it. Which is why we’ve enlisted the experts to answer your most pressing questions, so you can finally get to grips with your glow.

I already use a gradual tan, but I’m worried about using fake tan in case it goes wrong. Are there any good formulas for beginners?

‘To build your confidence, start with self-tan drops, which you add to your usual moisturiser and apply as normal. Once you reach the level of colour you’re happy with, you can stop – and then top up again when it fades. Or, if you want a formula that works faster and creates a rich, bronze hue, a mousse can develop in as little as 30 minutes. The longer you leave it, the deeper the colour, so just keep an eye on the clock.’ Jules Von Hep (@julesvonhep), A-list tanner and founder of Isle of Paradise

We love: St. Tropez Ashley Graham Limited Edition Ultimate Glow Kit, which includes a mitt and a mousse with a colour guide. Rinse off after an hour for a subtle glow, or let it develop overnight.

After a year without holidays, I’m tempted by fake tan. I’m in my 60s and my skin is dry, so I’m worried it won’t take properly. Any tips?

‘A gradual tan is the easiest way to get a long-lasting, hydrated glow while avoiding the ‘leathery’ look. Apply it instead of your moisturiser for three days to let the colour develop. Then, when you’ve reached your desired shade, apply on alternate days to maintain your glow. Dry skin can leave you with a patchy tan, so combat this by exfoliating before your first application.’ Jules Von Hep

We love: Bondi Sands Pure Gradual Tanning Lotion. It contains hyaluronic acid and vitamins C and E, which help skin stay hydrated.

I’m a big believer in ‘pale is interesting’, but I want to warm my skin up a little. How can I add glow without using fake tan?

‘A hydrating formula, such as a tanning water, gives paler skins a sun-kissed glow. The trick is to apply it liberally. Your skin should be drenched after application, then blended with a mitt. Use two coats on your body and one on your face. Start at your ankles and work your way up – the tan will be dry enough to apply a second coat after a few minutes.’ Jules Von Hep

We love: Isle of Paradise Light Self-Tanning Water. Easy to use, it adds a warming whisper of colour.

There is so much prepping with fake tan – are there any shortcuts?

‘Good prep means a good tan, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. If you usually wax, then opt instead for shaving 24 hours before applying your fake tan, as waxing can leave residue. Don’t over-moisturise beforehand, because it acts as a barrier between your skin and the tanning formula. Using a gentle body scrub the morning or night before is the ideal way to get rid of any dry skin that could cause patches and an uneven fade.’ James Harknett, celebrity tanning artist and global creative consultant for Fake Bake (@jamesharknett_tan)


How can I avoid the tell-tale ‘I’ve just fake-tanned’ signs?

‘Always apply the product in sweeping – not circular – motions, as this ensures it’s distributed evenly and will give you the most natural-looking tan. When it comes to your back, turn your mitt backwards on your hand and apply the formula directly to your skin, sweeping it from side to side with the mitt. Use what’s left on the mitt on hands and feet and remember to wipe between your fingers and over your fingernails with a damp cloth or make-up wipe afterwards to prevent orange stripes.’ Jules Von Hep


Don’t forget the SPF

Never sacrifice your skin for a tan. These will help keep you protected once you’ve perfected your bottle glow…

Boots Collagen Youth Activating Day Cream SPF30 shields skin from UVA and UVB rays and helps keep it moisturised.

Eucerin Actinic Control Fluid SPF100 is formulated to prevent non-melanoma skin cancer. Plus, it’s water- and sweat-resistant.

Soltan Once Advanced 8hr Protect Suncare Spray SPF30 means even distribution and less rubbing – perfect if you’ve fake-tanned first.

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