Fake it ’til you make it: The expert’s guide to self-tanning this summer

The art of self-tanning is fastidious and one that requires patience, precision and most importantly an exceptionally good formula. And, of course it’s far better for you and your skin if you resist the urge to sunbathe.

Two women who know their way around superior products are Zoë Philpott and Sarah Jackson Natan, founders of luxurious online beauty destination Inès. Bringing together French pharmacy favourites, and classic and cult products from around the world, the duo are local authorities on everything beauty. With summer around the corner, they’ve put together the definitive guide to a flawless faux glow that’s better than the real thing. 

Get ready for gloriously golden skin — minus the mess.

Get prepped
“The biggest mistake you can make when fake tanning at home is not spending the time to prep your skin properly.  The best results come when skin is as smooth and hydrated as possible. 

Start with a good and proper exfoliation — this will remove dead skin cells and ensure the tan absorbs evenly. The best way to do this is with a vigorous dry body brush; the Joanna Vargas Ritual Brush is a robust body brush that really gets the job done perfectly. This not only buffs away dead skin cells, it also smooths the skin, boosts circulation, helps minimise cellulite and stimulates lymphatic drainage. It’s incredibly good for you and excellent for the health and texture of your skin.  

Next, rinse off any dry skin in the shower and if you need a little extra exfoliation, use an oil free body scrub such as Cane & Austin’s Glycolic Body Scrub. This will buff, smooth and prime skin perfectly, especially on those notoriously rough patches like your knees, elbows and ankles — all those little areas where fake tan likes to collect and stain. 

Be wise with your product selections here. It’s important to use oil-free solutions, as oil-based scrubs and cleansers leave behind a residue that interferes with the efficacy of the tanners and can cause streaks too. And, if you’re tanning your face, the same rules apply — be sure to exfoliate with a cleanser or pad that includes some exfoliating acids to slough away dead and dull skin, and encourage even absorption.”

Moisture musts
“The most common cause of a patchy tan is dry skin, so it’s crucial to moisturise those notoriously tricky areas prior to application. Focus on wrists and hands, elbows, knees, ankles and feet — and perhaps around your nostrils if you’re face tanning.  

It’s a good idea to wait at least 10 minutes after showering until you are completely dry, then use a lightweight lotion such as Shani Darden Oil-Free Moisturiser or Dr Rogers Lotion for your face. For the body, our top pick is Codage Concentrated Body Milk, a super lightweight and nourishing formula that quickly absorbs and won’t mess with your tan. This will keep those areas from turning too dark or that nasty unwanted orange.”

The art of application
Always apply with a tanning mitt! Smooth on product in circular motions, blending and buffing the tan deeper into the epidermis. The more you buff and work the product into your skin, the better, this ensures a more even and streak free finish, helps to prolong the tan and encourages a better fade-out. 

Our preferred solution for tanning is a mousse as it’s a far easier to apply, sets faster and streaks less. Vita Liberata’s Phenomenal Mousse is in a league of its own when it comes to fake tanning — this mousse never streaks, is a completely clean formula and is odourless. Plus, it gives a real summer holiday colour not a bottle bronze, lasting exceptionally long, only leaving you with a perfect fade and no patchy bits. 

It’s best to use small amounts of the product each time – one or two pumps of mousse at a time and then, starting with your feet and ankles, working your way up to your shoulders to prevent any marks when you bend over.  Save your arms and hands for last and try not to race to wash your hands, just blend it gradually with your wrists and arms, as you don’t want white hands with bronzed arms.”

Prolong perfectly
“Once your tan has been applied, ensure skin is hydrated during the days that follow as hydrated skin will look more radiant and will ensure a more even fade. 

As oil breaks down your tan, opt for a hyaluronic-based body moisturiser and avoid any enzymatic body and skincare such as glycolic or lactic acids, as these can accelerate the fade time of tan.

To prolong your tan even longer, apply a low level DHA gradual tan such as Vita Liberata’s Gradual Tan. This will simultaneously hydrate skin as well as ‘top up’ your tan with a gradual buildable tan for prolonged golden tone that perfectly achieves that natural summer glow.”

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