With the thermometer peaking over the summer months in the UAE, it’s near-impossible to keep up a sun-kissed glow without faking it by hitting the bottle. But as even top models such as Georgie Jagger agree, fake tan is really difficult to get right.
The truth is that home tanning products have come a long way from the days of orange streaks and distinctly biscuity colognes. The shelves are lined with products that promise a safe, natural-looking all-over tan with very little effort – but that doesn’t stop a lot of us shying away from tanning at home, whether that’s based on lack of confidence in how to apply it or past experiences (giveaway orange palms, anyone?)
According to the experts, however, we have nothing to fear – so we have asked those in the know to answer 10 of the most commonly asked questions when it comes to self-tanning at home…
1. How do I choose a fake tan?
‘This is a hard question to answer, as it’s all about personal preference and format of tan, rather than shade,’ says St.Tropez tanning and skin finishing expert Jules Heptonstall, who counts the likes of Sienna Miller and Poppy Delevingne as clients.
‘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 salon tan. Gradual tans, on the other hand, build up day on day to deepen colour and are great for first-time tanners. Finally, instant tans are non-committal and wash away with warm soap and water – they’re like the tanning world’s answer to body make-up.’
Try: Newbies can’t go wrong with Sephora Gradual Self-Tanning Body Lotion (Dh69, stores nationwide), which allows you to build a colour slowly (and without mishaps) until you have the perfect result.
If you’re confident in self-tanning and prefer a deeper colour, opt for Clarins Self Tanning Milky Lotion (Dh160, stores nationwide). You’ll get natural results and the moisturising effect lasts at least 24 hours.
Finally, if you like the results you’ve had from spray tans in the past, why not try it at home? Created by one of the world’s best-respected tanning technicians, James Read Clear Bronzing Mist (Dh132, Basharacare.com) boasts a fast-drying formula and 360-degree nozzle to help you achieve the perfect result at home.
2. Do I really need to exfoliate before application?
‘Yes! Exfoliate exfoliate exfoliate!’ says Jules Heptonstall from St.Tropez. ‘Prep really is so important when it comes to tanning and an area of beauty care that really gets overlooked. 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 life cycle. Exfoliating will remove dead skin cells and create a smooth and uniform surface on the skin for the tan to be applied to, which will result in an even golden colour.’
She adds: ‘Avoid 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. While scrubbing, pay extra attention to your elbows, knees and décolletage.’
Try: The Organic Pharmacy Seaweed, Lemon and Eucalyptus Body Scrub (Dh295, Basharacare.com) is packed with sea salt and sugar for the most effective scrub pre-tanning. A little goes a long way too, so the pot will see you through the summer.
3. What about moisturising?
Jules Heptonstall says: ‘On the day of your tan application, don’t moisturise your body, or wear deodorant or perfume. 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.’ Shauna Ramskill from Vita Liberata UAE adds: ‘The exception to this rule is for hands, elbows, knees and feet. To ensure an even result, it’s important to use a moisturiser on these areas prior to tanning.’
Try: Kiehl’s Creme de Corps (from Dh41, stores nationwide) is an ideal choice, infusing skin with instant moisture, but absorbing quickly.
4. How can I avoid orange streaks?
Practise makes perfect – and top tanning technician James Read believes it’s all to do with the application.
‘Always use a tanning mitt to apply self-tan. The coverage will be more even. Apply a 5p [about 25 fils] sized dollop to your mitt at a time and always move in a circular motion. If you don’t have a mitt use an old sock. And make sure you wash your hands thoroughly after application.’
Celebrity make-up artist Rachel Wood adds: ‘Make sure you really get between your toes and round the back of the ankles, across the ears and under the armpits, as that’s where it really shows up as fake. I always make sure the tan goes into the hairline too, as that can be a real giveaway – just make sure you wipe blonde or grey hair to avoid staining.’
Try: The James Read Tanning Mitt (Dh31, Basharacare.com) has a soft flock texture to effortlessly blend fake tan into your body and face. It’s the perfect weapon against those orange streaks.
5. How long do I have to wait before showering?
Patience is a virtue! Shauna Ramskill says: ‘To allow maximum development, I always recommend clients wait between six to 12 hours before showering. If you have pale skin, wait eight to 12 hours – while if you have medium or dark skin, only six to eight hours will be needed.’
6. Where is the best place to tan?
‘People always put fake tan on in the bathroom,’ says Rachel Wood, ‘but the light is not always great there.’
Instead, choose to apply your fake tan in a bright room, where you can see yourself in a full-length mirror. You also need privacy, as you’ll need to stay undressed until the tan is completely dry.
7. Is there any way to remove fake tan if the result is streaky?
‘Forget the myth about lemon juice – it won’t help to remove unwanted stains,’ warns James Read. ‘Use whitening toothpaste mixed with a little water instead.’
And if you want the whole tan to be gone pronto? Jules Heptonstall recommends: ‘Swimming in chlorinated water will help to remove it, as chlorine softens the tan. Follow this by a sauna to encourage your skin to sweat, and scrub your skin with exfoliating gloves. Repeat in a hot bath with bath oils, which help to break down the composition of the tan.’
Try: Body Blendz Watermelon Exfoliating Mitt (Dh65, Glamazle.com) is good to have on hand in case of mishaps. When it comes to bath oils, stock up on Elemis Exotic Frangipani Monoi Body Oil (Dh264, Elemis.ae) for a luxurious blend of coconut coprah oil and sweet scented frangipani flowers. It’ll make your fake tan mishap seem worth it (well, almost).
8. Can I use fake tan if I’m pregnant?
Shauna Ramskill advises: ‘In line with industry standards, I’d advise not to use tan in the first trimester – but after that, you can go ahead, picking a brand that is completely non-toxic.’
Try: Go organic with Tanorganic Certified Organic Self-Tan (Dh139, Holland & Barrett), which has a formula with no synthetic ingredients, parabens, colours or fragrances and is fully Ecocertified. Better still, you’ll get a natural-looking result with very little effort, making it a top buy for all mums-to-be this summer.
9. Will self-tanning stop me getting a real tan?
‘No, you will tan as usual while wearing self-tanners,’ says James Read, ‘but you also need to bear in mind that they won’t protect your skin from the sun.’
He adds: ‘As long as you’re wearing SPF too, they do give the perfect base to build up your colour around the pool because as the self-tan begins to fade, your natural colour will be starting to come through.’
10. How can I stop my tan fading quickly?
LA-based tan technician Susie Hatton advises: ‘There are plenty of things we can do to beat the fade. It’s best not to let your skin get wet for eight hours. Don’t exfoliate for at least a week, shave your legs as infrequently as possible, and moisturise from head to toe after you shower.’
On the subject of moisturiser, St.Tropez technician Sophie Evans adds: ‘Proper hydration is what will make your glow last, but an oil-rich formula will make it slip right off. Use a very basic lotion that isn’t oil-based, and moisturise in the shower or right after.’
Try: Keep it simple with Dove Essential Nourishment (Dh12.75, supermarkets nationwide) – a rich, easily absorbed cream that will care for your tan as it nourishes your skin.