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.