An ever so slightly smug afterglow is one of the most satisfying byproducts of a summer holiday. Looking rested, radiant and sunkissed, despite actually wearing far less makeup than you normally do and having put away a jug or two of sangria on your travels, is just one of the perks of escaping to warmer climes. It’s no wonder that most of us want to cling onto our annual leave lustre for as long as physically possible, and that’s where tan maintenance comes in.
There’s no place for peeling or burning here; here’s how to get the most out of self-tan , ensuring that it looks even, natural and utterly convincing. If you’re still away, it’s also worth noting that using a high SPF will not only protect your skin, prevent premature ageing and stop you looking like a lobster, it will also help any tan acquired naturally to last longer. Gone are the days of frying in baby oil; it just doesn’t wash, and you will look like a leather purse pretty pronto.
Keep showers snappy (and a bit shivery)
As blissful as hot baths are, a soak in the tub will slough off your self-tan as it melts away your stresses. Short, lukewarm showers are your tan saving solution, as Head of Training for Clarins UK Marie McKeever highlights:
“Hot baths can dehydrate your skin, leading to faster peeling. Stick to cool showers and use a moisturising shower product to really lock down your colour.”
Play it safe with a shower product specifically designed to extend the life of your tan, such as For All My Eternity Tan Saving Shower Gel , £12.99. It doesn’t guarantee a bulletproof bronze, but the pH balanced formula won’t strip your skin of either its natural moisture or your meticulously applied tan. Glycerin and organically certified aloe vera keep skin soft and smooth without a hint of harsh detergent; tanned or not, this gel is a very proficient gentle cleanser in its own right.
Polish, don’t punish
Exfoliating skin is particularly key before applying self tan, to ensure that you have a healthy, smooth canvas, but after three to four days of wear your fake tan could probably do with some brightening and polishing up too. Beware of oily scrubs and acidic exfoliators, however, as they will exterminate your tan, dalek style. Instead gently smooth away dullness and scaly skin with a light, refined scrub such as Sanctuary Spa Cooling Glacial Scrub , £14.90. It’s sweet relief for skin that’s hot and bothered, and the almost fluffy texture allows you to smooth over rough patches without buffing away colour. Keep things light for a longer-term tan affair.
Peel off patchiness
Not over scrubbing is all very well, but stubborn patches of tan often lurk around armpits, necks, feet and near bra or bikini straps. For rust coloured residue, slick James Read Tan Perfecting Enzyme Peel Mask , £15, onto offending areas and give it 10 to 20 minutes to get to work. I found that leaving on for a bit longer meant that it nibbled away most of the tan gunk, but do treat carefully if you’re sensitive of skin. The peel is designed for the face, but I found it just as effective when spot applied to problem areas on the body, and it’ll prep skin perfectly for additional top ups. Applying tan over a layer of already tired tan is a surefire faux glow giveaway.
Go high maintenance
On holiday you basted yourself in sunscreen every few hours (if you were well behaved), thus were constantly topping up your skin’s moisture levels. Obviously in an office environment this is both uncalled for and strange, but don’t give up your holiday habits in the aftersun department. Just because you haven’t seen the sun for a day or five doesn’t mean that your skin won’t benefit from the refreshing and rehydrating effects of a decent aftersun, and often you get more bang for your buck that you might with a pricier body lotion. A brilliant budget option with additional bronzing backup is Garnier Ambre Solaire After Sun Tan Maintainer , £6. It covers the basics in terms of moisturising glycerin and vitamin E, with a very small amount of tanning agent to boost your base colour. It’s housed in a hefty tube, so baste it on with abandon, or if you’re feeling flash invest in St Tropez Tan Booster , £15.00. It contains just a touch of the classic, much trusted tanning formula, smells very ladylike and makes limbs look instantly sheeny and suntanned.
Play the long game
For the ultimate in tanning endurance opt for a product that lasts longer in the first place. Vita Liberata Phenomenal 2-3 Week Tan Mousse , £37.50, may cost you dear initially but for what it saves you in faff, streaks and reapplication, it’s worth it. This really is gold standard stuff; the mousse formula is easy to apply, no matter how unpracticed you are with a tanning mitt, it genuinely doesn’t smell of tea steeped digestives, it dries quickly and it turns a convincing caramel colour, depending on whether you opt for Fair, Medium or Dark (rest assured, no orange hues here). It claims to last up to four times longer than your average tanning potion, and while I haven’t tested it for the entire three week extent as yet, credible sources have informed me that it does stick around for an impressive amount of time, remaining relatively even.
Body oils both feel both indulgent and beautifying when compared to a bog standard lotion, but many oils can actually break down fake tan, negating the glamorising benefits somewhat. He-Shi Sublime Dry Oil , £20, on the other hand is designed to prevent tan fading, while also serving a multitude of moisturising functions. Dry cuticles? Dab on a little of this to soften them instantly. Ragged split ends? Apply this clear oil overnight and rinse out in the morning to keep them at bay. As for stretch marks, fine lines and flakiness, it also claims to keep those niggles under control too. As post-holiday companions go, it’s a healer.
Glow your own way
Apologies for the tragic subheading, but it does suit the introduction of customisable Clarins Radiance Plus Golden Glow Booster , £20. A facial fake tan phobe, this tiny vial of liquid self tanner has made a little nest in my makeup bag; it doesn’t even miss a weekend minibreak. It’s always on call because it makes me look healthy and outdoorsy, even if I’m neither of those things at the time, and it’s almost impossible to balls up. Simply blend a few drops with your skincare of choice, apply and wait a wee while for the glow to show. I’ve never once noticed any streaks, and it’s so quick and easy, which is a good thing really seeing as a tan on your face is the first to fade. Using this will allow you to wash and exfoliate your face as normal, keeping it fresh and bright without sacrificing a suntan. Best of both worlds.
Top it up
There’s an even faster route to a golden gleam than the fake stuff, and that’s the brush/ bash on and go option. Instant tan is even better if it lets you tailor your preferred finish to the occasion or season, and these two achieve just that. For body By Terry Tea to Tan , £55, may be upscale but it’s certainly unique. A tanning ‘ink’, the translucent liquid sinks into skin pretty much immediately and doesn’t transfer onto your clothes/ furniture/ loved ones. Shake it up for a shimmery finish, or apply the water ‘still’ for a matte, ultra natural hint of bronze. I can see it working well on every skintone; it’s an injection of colour for the pale among us and those with darker skin can use this as a velvety dry oil, sparkle or no sparkle.
Although Tea to Tan can be used on the face, I love the feeling of swooshing a powder bronzer over temples, cheeks and décolletage. Guerlain Terracotta 4 Seasons Tailor Made Bronzing Compact , £49, is a high-end bespoke bronzing option, but ‘option’ is the name of the game here; it gives you a lot of them. As the name implies, the bronzer offers up four harmonising shades, each with a finely milled formula that illuminates skin without making your cheeks look like disco balls. SPF 10 gives you a whisper of sun protection and the fact that 4 Seasons is available in no less than six combination gives you a grand total of 24 shades of bronzer to dabble in, theoretically. Just don’t choose your colour palette by hair colour as the compacts are named; I’ve never understood why brunettes are presumed to have darker skintones and blondes to be the fairest of them all (holler Snow White). Otherwise, all good in Guerlain’s hood.