Expert masterclass: Join our self-tan masterclass and learn all the pro tips and tricks to create a flawless glow
January 13th 2022
April 15th 2020 / 0 comment
From pre-tan prep to finding your perfect formulation, here's your expert's guide for creating a gorgeous faux glow and how to apply fake tan properly
We've long coveted a flawless, golden glow and it seems our love of self-tan has only grown since the start of the pandemic, with body positive tanning brand Isle of Paradise reporting an uplift in sales of 270 per cent this year, with their busiest week ever taking place when the UK first went into lockdown. We may not have had anywhere to go, but you best believe we were going to glow on those Zoom calls.
It's no surprise we're such a nation of tan lovers when you consider the fact we've got a greater selection of tanning products and tools than ever before to ensure with the bronzed goddesses of our dreams. So which of today's types of tans is perfect for you? From mousses to lotions to spray tans, it can be an overwhelming process, so we asked celebrity tanning expert and founder of Isle of Paradise Jules Von Hep (who counts the likes of Sienna Miller, Millie Mackintosh and Poppy Delevingne as loyal clients), for his top tanning tips for applying and mastering the perfect tan for any skin tone.
“Prep really is so important when it comes to tanning and an area of beauty care that really gets overlooked,” says Jules. “This can result in streaks and uneven fading in colour. Put in the effort before your tan and you’ll reap the rewards during your self-tan's lifecycle.”
Don't forget it's as much about your formula as your application, too - read our guide on fake tan for sensitive skin if you're prone to reactions.
Here are his ten fake tan tips for making sure you glow from head to toe, whether it’s the middle of summer or the middle of winter. And if it goes wrong first time? We've got you covered - click here to read how to fix all manner of fake tan problems.
“Exfoliate, exfoliate exfoliate! This will remove dead skin cells and create a smooth and uniform surface on the skin for the tan to be applied to, which will in turn result in an even golden colour," recommends Jules. “Steer clear of exfoliators that contain oils, as these will only act as a film on the skin and while wonderful for locking in moisture, aren’t ideal for tanning." We love Bondi Sands' Coconut and Sea Salt Body Scrub, £8.44.
"For maximum exfoliation I love to use exfoliating gloves, working the scrub in circular and lengthways motions. Pay extra special attention to your elbows, knees and décolletage,” he adds. If you'd like to go scrub-free, the Dermasuri Deep Exfoliating Mitt, £19.95, is a great alternative. An easy-to-use glove that can be used in the shower to remove dead cells and quickly reveal smooth skin underneath, it’s the once a week exfoliating treat for days when a loofah alone won’t do.
“Any hair removal should be carried out 24 hours prior to tanning," advises Jules. "This is done to ensure the skin has calmed and any cuts have healed. I simply cannot bear it when a client tells me they are off to get waxed immediately after a spray tan – it defeats the whole point as the wax will whip off the tan in no time! No more, ladies PLEASE!”
“On the day of your tan application, be it at-home or in a salon, don’t moisturise your body or wear deodorant or perfume," cautions Jules. "Some tanners tell you not to moisturise your face, I personally can’t do it - I feel like my skin will crack! Just don’t use a facial oil on the morning of tanning.”
“If you’re tanning at home and shower just before your tan application, blast your skin with cold water before you get out," Jules recommends. "It might wake you up a little yes, but it will also shrink all of your pores and therefore reduce the chance of them getting blocked."
“Moisturise your hands, elbows, knees and feet as well as your nails with an aloe vera based moisturiser," says Jules. “If you have fair hair, add a light layer to your hairline and eyebrows to stop them from absorbing tan and changing colour." St. Tropez's Tan Enhancing Body Moisturiser, £10, is a great choice and we're also fans of Holland and Barrett's Aloe Vera Gel, £4.29, which doubles up as an effective after-sun treatment for sensitive skin types too.
If we've got a lot of time on our hands, we somtimes add in a fake tan primer - Lusso Tan's Primer, £14.50 is a fail safe to spritz all over your body pre-tanning. It includes lactic acid to improve skin texture and witch hazel to refresh the skin.
“I'm a firm believer that you really get what you pay for," says Jules. "If you opt for a brand that specialises in tanning, then you’re sure to get better results than from a brand that has one or two products in its skincare line that contain self-tan." A GTG favourite is Tan-Luxe's The Gradual, £22. Great for building up a natural looking tan on either body or face, its colour payoff is strong but not stark. The brand's Hydra Mousse, £35, also makes for an extremely innovative pick. A completely clear tanning mousse, it develops into a seamless-looking glow that leaves skin and sheets streak-free. Clever stuff.
“It’s also about personal preference vs format of tan rather than shade sometimes," Jules points out. “A lotion or tanning oil is the most hydrating to the skin, a mousse is the quickest to dry and in my opinion the easiest to apply, and a spray is the closest thing you’ll get to a spray tan.
“Self tans take 8-12 hours to develop, gradual tans build up day on day to deepen colour and are great for first time tanners, instant tans are non-committal tans and wash away with warm soap and water – they’re like the tanning world's answer to body makeup, and then the latest tans on the market are express tans – with a development time of 1-3 hours, these have changed the way in which we are tanning.”
Shop our edit of the latest self tan textures and options here.
“Always apply using an applicator mitt: pump your product onto the mitt and apply to the skin using sweeping motions, rather than circular motions - remember you want to evenly distribute the product," says Jules.
“Start at the ankles and work your way up, I’m a fan of one coat in the winter and two in the summer – but tanning is all about you and your personal preference! When it comes to your back, flip the mitt back to front, you’ll find it easier to apply or use a self-tan spray with 360° technology meaning it will spray at whatever angle you put it at.”
“When it comes to your face, I like to mix the self-tan with a small amount of moisturiser to just soften the formula and minimise the chance of breakouts," recommends Jules. “Mix the two together on the mitt and gently apply to the face. For hands and feet, use the leftover residue product on the mitt from your body application and just sweep over once. That is enough! Wipe your nails, palms and brows after application and apply some aloe vera based moisturiser (as before), at the bottom of your wrists and buff in using a buffing mitt to minimise the chance of a tanning sleeve.”
“For my clients it’s all about the next level of tanning – sculpting and highlighting," says Jules. “Add additional tan to the area you want shaded – so underneath the collarbones, underneath the bicep indent, the outer torso and in between the thighs. If you’re pushed for time, do this with a bronzer or an instant tan. Then highlight your tan with an illuminator, applying lashings to your shoulders, collarbones, cheekbones and the front of your legs to create sheen and definition."
To add a touch of subtle iridescence, we love Vita Liberata Body Blur, £32.50. Proving a hit with both fair and dark-toned testers in the GTG office due to its shade range, this wash-off skin finisher cleverly smooths over uneveness and adds a beautiful light-reflective glow to limbs.
We'd also highly recommend Charlotte Tilbury Supermodel Body, £45, courtesy of its cooling formula, silky texture and illuminating finish. A serious triple threat in the tanning stakes.
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