June 17th 2016
Confessions of a beauty writer - fake tan foul-ups
May 24th 2013
Though scarred by fake tan disasters, lily-limbed faux glow sceptic Rosie Green is persuaded to give it another go…
If there were an Association of Best Beauty Editors my membership request would be declined. Sad truth is, I have no place amongst the industry’s greats because whilst I can talk conceptual hair with Guido or contouring with Charlotte Tilbury, I am an imbecile when it comes to fake tan.
Proof of idiocy? Only a few years ago, in a pre-location shoot panic, I booked a fake tan treatment and a bikini wax. In that order. The hot wax removed the tan down there and I spent four days in a bikini, next to a supermodel, with a halo of whiteness around my nether regions. It looked like I’d had an unfortunate accident.
But then GTG asked me to reconsider bronzing. I told them I’m not averse to looking glowy a la Gisele, but that a combination of laziness (all that exfoliating) and the aforementioned disaster (one of many) had put me off. However I had recently embraced Soleil de la Mer’s Face and Body Gradual Tan, mainly because I thought its expense, (£65), might make it blunder proof. It did! It gave a colour that said ‘weekend in Portofino’ rather than ‘hen night in Magaluf’, smelt pleasant and left no untoward streaks.
Fuelled by success I called James Read, the tantrepreneur whose products sell out on Net-a-Porter and whose skill at creating honey hued limbs is legendary. James is generally only accessible to supermodels (Rosie HW), singers (Rita Ora) and pushy beauty writers, but thankfully his tanning studio will soon be open to all at Harvey Nichols Knightsbridge.
Anyway I am being tanned by James in his PR’s offices, which has lots of people but only a small screen of cardboard to protect my modesty. I ask James about tanning pale skin and he tells of a famous LA actress who is known for her pale complexion (and stints in rehab…), wanting, nay demanding to go dark, dark, dark. He said it tortured him to do so because with pale skin, “It’s all about building a tan in layers,” and “too dark,” he says, “will look obvious.” Anyway the trend amongst his A-listers is for ‘background tan’ - for skin that looks so “even and glowy it is as if it’s been Photoshopped.”
Naked, except for my knickers, I was grateful for the hours I had spent the previous evening exfoliating, shaving, tweezing and moisturising (nothing like knowing the last body James had seen belonged to goddess Rosie HW). Afterwards I dressed carefully (no bra allowed!) to go to a very important meeting and spent the next few hours trying to sound authoritative while slowly darkening and wondering if my boobs looked droopy.
Finally I look at myself in the mirror. I LOVE IT. I have legs that look like they belong to Margherita Missoni, my teeth are whiter, my skin tone more even. I want to look this way forever. I am never bathing again. Nichola Joss, St Tropez Global Tanning Expert and bronzer to Kate Moss says that “Exfoliating every few days will ensure self tan stays dewy, glowing and looking natural.” No way lady, I think. Until two days in when I notice a got-to-go grubby patch of tan on my neck. Then I reach for Guerlain’s Terracotta Sun Scrub, £36, because it smells so good it’s practically therapy.
I top up with the UK’s favourite gradual tanner (and Read-recommended) Dove Summer Glow Nourishing Lotion (which at £4.99 is approximately 13 x cheaper than the Crème de la Mer version, and it's reduced too). It doesn’t smell quite so luxe or feel so moisturising, but it works very well and at least you can afford to take your tan out for a meal.
Then I go for the real deal. Full on self tan. James Read Bronzing Mousse, £24.50. I’m surprisingly nervous. I’ve been here before and it hasn’t been pretty. I moisturise knees, elbows and feet diligently and do you know – it is anything but a disaster. I only did to mid thigh to the t-shirt line, so my torso and buttocks are still white (visual image - reverse Spanx). But my legs look great. I am thanking THE MITT, which Joss says is absolutely essential to even application.
It’s here I need to confess I am starting to look like Magda from There’s Something About Mary, but I have promised GTG I will test a decent range of tanners and my deadline is approaching. So I go for subtlety and book a Decléor Sunrise Aromatic Sun Treatment (from £60) which is known to be perfect for pale types.
Think fluffy towels and an hour horizontal. First I am buffed with a fruit seed/essential oils combo, and after aromatherapy balm is massaged into the skin to relax and boost cells’ natural defence system (no, me neither). Then finally there’s a careful application of self tan. The result? Subtly sun kissed. Limbs are lustrous and pins polished and presentable. Bliss.
Conclusion? I’m a convert. But know this, a mitt is essential. You’ll need a pro to work a spray gun. And if time and money allow then, ladies, well I’d always take it lying down…