The ultimate guide to how to apply fake tan correctly

The ultimate guide to how to apply fake tan correctly

Get a streak-free, long-lasting tan, with our handy guide to applying fake tan, ready for those nights out, holidays and festivals!

How to prep before applying fake tan

Step 1: Exfoliate everywhere you want to tan

No one goes into a fake tanning session wanting an uneven finish. So minimise your chances by exfoliating the night before with a body scrub. This will remove dead skin cells and make for a super-smooth base. Pay extra attention to the knees, elbows and ankles, as this is where tan can build up and create patches.

Rituals The Ritual of Karma Body Scrub

£14.50 (RRP £15.00) Save 0.50p

The Rituals karma body scrub is sugar based designed to exfoliate the skin to prolong an even healthy looking tan. Fragranced with holy lotus and white tea.

Step 2: Remove any unwanted hair 24 hours before

If waxing and using hair-removal creams are your preferred choices for hair removal, then make sure you defuzz at least a day before you want to apply your fake tan. These methods can take off the top layer of skin cells, so if you do just before tanning it may have patchy side effects as pores are left open and exposed.

Step 3: Moisturise dry areas

To keep the drier areas from going patchy, make sure you moisturise all over and pay extra special attention to the trouble areas such as knees, ankles and elbows where the skin is drier. Fake tan is prone to sticking into those loosened pores, creating dark dots all over your skin which disrupts your tan. Try to leave the moisturiser to sink in for at least half an hour before applying fake tan.

Bath & Body Works Mad about you body lotion 236ml

£13.00 (RRP £13.50) Save 0.50p

A Bath & Body Works body moisturiser blended with blackcurrant, bright peony and vanilla musk.

The best way to apply fake tan


Step 1 - Prep your tanning mitt

Take your tan product in one hand (this can be mousse or lotion) and tanning mitt in the other, and squeeze/pump straight on to the mitt. If using an oil or tanning water, then apply straight to the skin and then buff with a mitt to smooth out the product. To spread the product evenly on the mitt, scrunch your hand up into a fist before moving to step two.

Tan Organic Self Tan Oil 100ml

£20.90 (RRP £24.99) Save £4.09

We recommend TanOrganic self tan oil, as this will provide you with a streak free tan and no fake tan smell. The TanOrganic contains natural ingredients that nourish and moisturise the skin, making it also a vegan and cruelty free product.

Step 2 'Apply in circular motions

Focusing on one body part at a time, apply the fake tan in circular motions '_x0093_ making sure you reach every inch. A common mistake is to miss out the inner parts of the body (e.g '_x0098_inside of the arm') so make sure you apply your product to all areas to avoid patches from forming.

Build up the colour so that it's even, (if your product has a tanning guide this will be easy to see) and gently blend this in before buffing out any overlapping parts. If you prefer a darker shade, apply another layer to suit your needs. Refer to the instructions with the product you are using.

Step 3 ' Leave to dry down

Drying times may vary from product to product so always double check the instructions and leave to dry as per the recommended time slot. After the colour has developed, if you're using a tanning lotion, you may also need to wash it off and then you'll be good to go. Often, tanning products are best left to develop for at least four hours, but leaving it overnight before rinsing will leave you with the most intense results. Be sure that your skin feels dry to the touch before dressing to avoid staining your clothes and bed sheets.

The finishing touches

If you've applied a gradual tan, then to retain the new golden glow for longer, top up and moisturise every day. For most tanning mousses, lotions and waters, results should last around seven days. Once your tan begins to fade, proceed with exfoliation to buff off the remains of the tan and fully moisturise before applying more tan.

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