15 fake tan tips

Nikki ParkinsonBeauty 43 Comments

As you know, I’m vain.

This very fact ensures that I put a fake tan on my list of beauty things to do throughout spring and summer.

I understand this is not for everyone. And that’s ok.

I have many a pale-skinned friend who is very happy in their porcelain perfect skin – I wish I had their skin.

It would save a whole lot of crazy beauty action from here until next year when it cools down again and I can encase my motley pale skin in long layers.

But, like anything, what you incorporate into your beauty or dressing routine is about what makes you feel most comfortable in your own skin (pun intended).

Me? What makes me feel most comfortable when exposing more skin, is having a faux glow.

I’m not talking a way-too-dark or Tandoori-style-dodgy-orange faux situation.

I’m talking a light fake tan that just takes the neon edge of my limbs. It’s something that makes me more confident when wearing shorts and frocks.

So, today I thought I’d share with you my 15 fake tan tips plus some products I’ve come across of late that I’ve been using at home.

Of COURSE the main tip I want to leave you with is that a fake tan does in no way protect you from the sun. You will still need to apply a sunscreen.

15 fake tan tips

1. Don’t deviate too far from your natural skin colour when opting for a fake tan. Fake is fake, yes, but you want it to look realistic. I always ask for light because if I were to tan, that’s as close to the skin colour I’d go.

2. Do book in for a salon tan if you have a special occasion coming up. This is when I don’t muck around. I want to put my trust in the professionals because this is not the time for me to be risking it myself. The optimum time to book in for a tan before an event is one to two days before the event. The colour will develop over 48 hours from the time of spray tan. Don’t leave it until a special event to “trial” a new salon tan – that could end up a disaster. Find your ideal salon colour long before you need it to make you feel fabulous at an event.

3. Ask someone with similar skin to yours about a salon spray tan recommendation. On the Sunshine Coast I used to visit Lime Health and Beauty at Cotton Tree because owner Leigh Campbell had similar skin colour to me. She uses the Aviva range of spray tanning solutions. I’m now getting good results from Naked Tan spray tanning at King’s Beauty in Bardon (Brisbane).

4. Opt for an express salon spray tan that can be washed off in two-three hours. This is something I’ve got so used to with the Aviva and Naked Tan salon tans. Before finding these, I’d had tans that I had to leave on over night. Not nice for your sheets and not nice for those in the vicinity of your general aroma. Think barbecued chook … but not in a good-give-me-some-chips-on-the-side kind of way. Only use water to wash off though – no soap at this stage. Pat dry afterwards.

5. Prep for your skin for your salon or home tan. Shave the day before – not the day of or the solution will sit in the hair follicle and create a not-so-special dotty appearance to your legs. Let’s just say I found out the hard way on this one. Exfoliate on the day. I do a dry body brush. If I’ve got some residual tan, I’ll use an exfoliating mit to get rid of the last of that. Don’t use any moisturisers.

6. Moisturise the underside of your hands, around your nail beds, your heels, elbows and lightly over the top of your feet before your salon or home tan. These are the areas where you don’t the tan to grip. Either they are typically a dry area of the skin so take to the tanning solution in a stronger way than the rest of your skin or they are areas that will look quite strange with a stronger colour. A light moisturiser makes it not get absorbed as much in those areas and therefore a more natural result.

7. Don’t use deodorant before a spray tan. Yes, this is another good vote for the two-hour express tan as your own personal aroma does blend beautifully with the barbecue chook one. NOT. If you do use deodorant, there is a strong risk that the spray tan will turn your underarms a lovely shade of green.

8. Take dark, loose clothing to change into after your tan. Oh and leave the bra and undies off. They will just rub off what’s been sprayed on. A long Kaf.Tanned kaftan has been my saviour in this department. I simply slip this on, head straight home and wait out the two hours until I can shower and dress normally. I’ve now started using this dress from Little Tanning Dress.

9. Look after your tan investment. If there is ever a time I’m religious with moisturising the skin on my body, it’s when I’ve paid for a spray tan or taken the time to do it myself. I want that baby to last. Keeping the skin hydrated morning and night and avoiding anything resembling exfoliation is key.

10. Use a gradual tanning product stretch out your salon or home tan even further. This is a trick I do if I want to make my tan last longer than a week – especially on the legs and arms. See, if I do a salon tan one week, it’s still there in seven days time. Left to its own devices it would be all but gone by day 10 but this way I’ll get almost two weeks.

11.  Just use a gradual tanner full stop. This is the easiest and most foolproof way to get a fake tan without streaks. Depending on the product, you still may have to fully exfoliate every couple of weeks to create an even tanning skin but apart from that you should see a lovely colour within a day.

12.  Create your own gradual tanner with your favourite moisturiser mixed in with a tanning lotion or mousse. Use two parts moisturiser; one part tanning solution. I find this makes for a less fake tan smell and can be as nourishing as your skin needs.

13.  Use a wash off fake formula if time really is of the essence. These are great. Think moisturising bronzers that give an instant glow, stay put like makeup but can be easily washed off in the shower afterwards.

14.  Go easy when using home or salon fake tan products on your face. If in the salon, I get just one light spray across my face instead of the two coats everywhere else. This is more a natural look for me. At home use less of the body product (if that product is ok for use on the face) or a face-specific product mixed with a bit of moisturiser.

15. Adjust your face makeup to suit your fake skin colour. The pale face and dark skin look is not a good one. It’s a bit tricky but what I’ve found works best for me is using a darker shade of BB Cream for everyday or blending my regular foundation with bronzer to better work in with the colour on the rest of my body. Ideally I’d go and get colour matched for my favourite foundation when I have a fresh spray tan … I’ve just not had the opportunity to do that. It’s on the list!

5 fake tan products to try at home

5 fake tan products to try at home

1. Garnier Ambre Solaire Natural Bronzer Wash-Off Tinted Shimmering Bronzer $9.95: This is your go-to party fall back. It’s the tube you have on hand should you find you are seeking a little last-minute colour and a little shimmer. It’s at a good price and washes off in the shower after your event or party.

2. Loving Tan Deluxe Bronzing Mousse $29.99: Use the Loving Tan applicator mitt and the back applicator to ensure a salon-like application at home. The colour is fabulous and the mousse formula goes on easily and evenly for instant colour (you can dress after a minute) – the colour then develops further over six hours before you shower. The formula is certified organic DHA and is paraben and alcohol-free.

3. Vita Liberata Luxury Tan $69.99:  This is marketed as a longer-lasting tan but it’s one that you need to do three successive applications of to achieve that. There is a lot of other stuff going for it too – it uses natural, certified organic and Ecocert ingredients with a formula that is hydrating to ensure a tan fades without patchiness. Available in fair, medium and dark, it’s a celebrity fave of Gwyneth Paltrow, Sophia Vegara and Kim Kardashian.

4. TanOrganic Self Tanning Oil $42.50: This Irish-developed range is Eco-certified and is without parabens, colours or synthetic drying agents. The self-tanning oil is a world first and can be applied without the need for gloves. It gives a tan that lasts up to four days after application. The Oil is a lighter shade than the solution in the range but is darker than most gradual tanners. Love the citrus scent and moisturising qualities.

5. Naked Tan Goddess Glaze $29.95: This is what I’ve been using over the past month to maintain my Naked Tan salon tans – and stretch them out. It’s enriched with shea butter and coconut oil, the fragrance is subtle and it gives you a beautiful glow for the life of your salon tan. Make sure you wash your hands immediately afterwards though – even gradual tans will leave a colour in places you don’t want colour.


I also recommend these gradual tanners: St Tropez Gradual Tan in Shower; St Tropez regular gradual tanFake Bake Gradual Self-Tan for fair skinPalmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula Natural Bronze Body LotionDove Summer Glow Gradual Self Tan Body Lotion; Eco Tan Winter Skin 

Do you fake tan? What do you use? Favourite products? Best salon product? Please tell us all but make sure you include your skin type and colour. If you have a salon recommendation then leave that too. If you’ve never fake tanned leave us with your questions!

* Products 1-4 were gifted to me for editorial consideration

Comments 43

  1. Hi There, I need a quick advice! i have a wedding to
    attend on saturday and i bought a navy dress yesterday, after trying it on i
    realised how white my legs are!!!! just my legs, everywhere else seems to be
    okay, i’m not a fan of getting a spray tan as im not sure who is good or what
    is good etc and time is running out, What would your opinion be i’m thinking as
    it is now tuesday i could buy the Gradual tanning Dove and start tonight til
    saturday and then atleast there would be a little something on my legs or suck
    it up and find a salon for a spray tan ??

    1. The gradual tanner is probably sufficient Jane if it’s only legs. Apply morning and night from now until Saturday and I think you’ll be happy with it. It’s always tricky to do the emergency spray tan – I can do it but only because I trust where I go and the colour they do.

  2. My top tip if you DIY is to use a foam/mousse product with an applicator glove, the result is a quicker more flawless application with less mess. I also love booth spray tans as it takes two minutes and it tans you perfectly evenly, everywhere. If you use a spray on DIY, use a dark towel to really buff the tan into your skin immediately after application it eliminates patchiness (top tip from tanning booth staff).

  3. Love this post Nikki, I do love a spray tan. I like the idea of doing a little tan action at home. Not sure why I haven’t done that for years! I’m totally going to give Loving Tan a go, I did always love a mousse type tan. Gosh that sounds weird :/

  4. I’ve tried to fake tan but I’ve never had success so I stay porcelain white. It’s safer that way than looking like marble chocolate. Or orange.

  5. Perfect timing Nikki! We just launched Naked Tan in our Buderim Salon on the Sunshine Coast today! Universal Hair Salons – Worth checking it out. Of course. 🙂

  6. I am a huge fan of the spray tan – my current fave is the express/2 hour Moroccan tan my beautician uses. I also like the express Kardashian. The two hour tan has been a game changer as it can be done early dinner time and washed off before bed. The best! x

  7. Hi Nikki, ooh great post and timely – it actually felt like summer down here today! Will pop that wee Garnier number in the trolley next week 😉 Like Lisa, my gradual tanner of choice is Dove. Might have to try St Tropez products tho, given all the recommendations here. Was going to ask you about the new Clarins product where you add a few drops to your regular moisturiser…then I saw Nellie’s comment…love that about your blog, the discussions and tips! xx

  8. I mostly use gradual tanners even though I’m not a big fan of their smell…I really like your idea of making your own gradual tanner instead! If I have an event on or something like that then I’ll often use the St Tropez bronzing mousse. It’s my favorite tanning product so far.

  9. I’m too doing the faux glow look right now. I’m currently using gradual tanners and top them up after every other shower as I find it glides on better with slightly damp skin. As you say, you still need to exfoliate the lot off to avoid the streaky patches every so often and I found a coffee scrub works a treat as it stimulates the blood flow too. I’ve been hearing wonderful reviews of the Loving Tan shown and I’m tempted to try it now after you’ve included it here. Thank you Nikki!

  10. I’m too doing the faux glow look right now. I’m currently using gradual tanners and top them up after every other shower as I find it glides on better with slightly damp skin. As you say, you still need to exfoliate the lot off to avoid the streaky patches every so often and I found a coffee scrub works a treat as it stimulates the blood flow too. I’ve been hearing wonderful reviews of the Loving Tan shown and I’m tempted to try it now after you’ve included it here. Thank you Nikki!

  11. This is such a timely post. I wore a dress on the weekend and was rather shocked by my own pale legs! I’m a bit skin-cancer paranoid so have always been an avid sunscreen wearer and a big ‘fake-baker’.

    I usually tan myself (unless it’s a special occasion) – I’ve found most mousse ones are pretty fail-proof and I use a tanning mitt thingy so I don’t wind up with orange palms 🙂

  12. Finding somewhere that does a good spray tan is worth the effort. I love the even colour and subtle cover that a good spray tan provides. I haven’t tried anything at home but I have decided I am going to give it a go as I wear pants a lot so my legs are neon white. Being that I have a couple of skirts I want to wear to work I thought it might just be easier to try something at home that I can slap (aka very carefully apply) on my legs.

  13. I’m a pasty skinned fake tanner here too, I would never ever go out in skin flashing clothing without it on in summer. I used to work as a beauty therapist and always advised our clients not to shave/ wax the day of a tan as it can seep into open pores a little and look blotchy.
    For home jobs always make sure your skin is super dry so no applying as soon as you hop out of the shower.
    Invest in a tanning mitt they don’t cost a lot and you can get one at the chemist or supermarket- they are awesome! They protect your hands and give a much more even result.
    For top ups, face and backs of hands I always have a tan in the can spray that I use. Super quick and ensures a nice even result, spray the backs of your hands while making a “bear claw” after you have tanned everywhere else and for
    The face cover your hair with a towel take a deep breath and hold while you spray your face (eyes closed gently) so you don’t breathe it in.

  14. Thanks for those helpful tips. I have very fair freckly skin and my skin just does not tan. I cannot live without my fake tans in summer. I have been using St Tropez mousse for years, I apply it with a tanning mitt and the mousse has colour as you apply so you can see where the tan is going and you dont end up with annoying patches.

  15. Don’t worry Nikki I am vain too,it makes me who I am!
    This is a very timely post as soon as the dresses come out so does the fake tan I sometimes do the fake tan and then top up within gradual tanner but as I’m am naturally olive skinned I can get away with a gradual fake tan mousturiser and I am loving the Dove summer glow gradual self tan body lotion it gives just the right colour to my arms and legs to soften the veins and scars and I do exfoliate every 2 weeks or so,just to get rid of the patchy areas and it smells nice and I can mousturiser and tan at the same time!,Win win.

  16. Your opening sentence in this post!!! GOLD – I love you Nikki 🙂
    And I love a good tan. As vain {and possibly deluded} as it sounds – I feel healthier and thinner and more vibrant with a good tan! Best part of summer! I want to try the Eco tan, as a lot of people rave about it. Fake tans have a come along way these days – I remember when they were all dramatically fake looking and orange. I can’t fault most of the recent mousse ones I’ve tried lately. They all seem to rub on smoothly and evenly, but some are a bit smelly afterwards though.
    Great tips.
    C x

  17. Great tips Nikki. I love love Eco tan invisible tan. It’ organic, developed and made here in Australia – +++. I only use on my legs all summer – arms seem to always be tanned and everywhere else is not for public viewing anyway. Smells lovely and gives gorgeous golden glow.

  18. Fantastic tips! Thanks Nikki! I went a little crazy on catch of the day on the weekend and purchased an at home spray tanning kit and a few st tropez tanning products to try! Fingers crossed I don’t turn myself into a scary orange streaky monster! Armed with your tips I’m sure I’ll be fine…. Eeeeekk!! 😉

  19. Had my first one this spring and am converted, have now had 3! my hot tip is be careful after showers, don’t rub the skin with your towel, pat dry. I don’t think you’re vain Nikki, if it makes you feel more confident then go for it I say x

  20. Like you, pale skin isn’t my favourite look for myself for the warmer months. I love the St Tropez tanning mousse & the ST Tropez face tanning cream. It’s the most natural one I can find where I don’t feel orange. Thanks for the tip on not shaving beforehand. I always wondered why I got dots!

  21. You must have been reading my mind – I’ve been thinking about this very topic a lot lately! The hit of warmer weather here in Rads (and getting the pins out in frocks) has made me realise I need to get back into a fake tan routine ASAP! Awesome tips here, thanks lovely. x

  22. HI Nikki, I am a fake tanner each summer too, but recently started having allergic reactions to spray tans. Must be another gift of turning forty 🙂
    Can you recommend a spray tan that is hypo allergenic? Also, Clarins have a wonderful product that is a tanning liquid. You literally mix one or two drops into you night moisturising cream and it builds up to give you an authentic (non smelly) tan.

    1. Hi Nellie, many of the formulations are now organic … you are not necessarily allergic but it may just be one particular ingredient in the brand you have been being sprayed with … the only way would be to do tests with different kinds to try and narrow down what that ingredient might be.

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