21 fake tan tips | Styling You

21 fake tan tips to give you a glow this spring-summer

Nikki ParkinsonBeauty 15 Comments

{Editor’s note: post updated October 17, 2017}

I’m always upfront about three things when it comes to my relationship with fake tanning:

1. I’m vain. I like how a fake tan gives me a glow. Naturally, I have a mottled white skin. A fake tan acts like a complexion-enhancing Instagram filter on my skin.

2. I don’t believe in sun-baking to get that glow. Skin cancer is no joke. Sun-damaged skin is not attractive and totally avoidable.

3. I realise that a fake tan is not for everyone – and that’s very ok. Porcelain skin is stunningly beautiful. I just don’t have it.

For me, the major improvements in fake tan products (salon and home efforts) in the past five-10 years have seen me embrace every improvement.

There has been a lot of trial and error to find what works for me and to make my fake tan go the distance.

My personal preference is a salon spray fake tan – out of laziness and the need for a uniform finish for the number of photoshoots I do as part of my work here on the blog.

By sheer number of spray tans I have in the name of work, I’ve accidentally become an expert on spray tanning so I thought I’d update and share my 21 fake tan tips to give you a natural glow this spring-summer.

21 fake tan tips | Styling You

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. If you have pale skin, start with the lightest shade on offer and work up from there if needed.

2. Do book in for a salon tan if you have a special occasion coming up. This is when I don’t muck around – if I have an event or a photoshoot happening, I put my faith in the pros.

3. 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.

4. Don’t leave it until a special event to “trial” a new salon tan – that could end up a disaster. Find and trial your ideal salon colour long before you need it to make you feel fabulous at an event.

5. Ask someone with similar skin to yours about a salon spray tan recommendation. I get great, consistent results getting from Loving Tan spray tan at G&Co Beauty Boutique. I mostly get the medium shade. Georgie is so thorough with her tanning – evening using a kabuki brush to blend out the spray tan on the next, feet and hands.

6. Remove hair on legs the day before – not the day of – the tan 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.

7. Exfoliate on the day of your fake tan. I use a tanning scrub mitt. This gets rid of any residual fake tan but also gets rid of dead skin cells so that the skin is smooth and primed for the next fake tan.

8. Don’t use any moisturisers on the day of your spray tan. Simply pat dry your skin and leave moisturiser-free before the fake tan.

9. However … DO moisturise the underside of your hands, around your nail beds, your heels, elbows and lightly over the top of your feet. These are the areas where you don’t want 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.

10. Don’t use deodorant before a spray tan. If you do use deodorant, there is a strong risk that the spray tan will turn your underarms a lovely shade of green.

11. 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 dark-coloured, loose dress in a breathable cotton or bamboo fabric works best.

12. Experiment with the optimum time for leaving on your choice of salon spray tan. Back in the day, spray tans had to be left on overnight. 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. These days most are of the two-hour-wash-and-wear variety. I find if I leave mine on three hours, it produces the best result for me.

13. Stay cool and dry. In that post-tan, two-to-three hour window, you need to avoid rain and sweating. In summer this tends to mean putting the aircon on and staying put for the basting period.

14. Post-basting, only use water to rinse of off the spray tan residue. Don’t use soap until the next morning. Pat dry and mositurise afterwards.

15. 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 had a salon 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. I do love a spray-on moisturiser like Vaseline Spray Moisturiser for ease of keeping my back moisturised.

16. Use a gradual tanning product from day three to 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.

17.  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. My fave gradual tanner is: The Bronzer Gradual Tan

18.  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.

19.  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. I love The Bronzer Instant Tan.

20.  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. 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 fake tan product mixed with a bit of moisturiser.

21. 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. I’ve also have two foundation colours – one for my normal skin colour and one matched to my spray tan.

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!

Comments 15

  1. The tips are amazing! It is very hard to find something knowledgeable now 🙂 I know TheBeautyInsiders website has something similar though <3

  2. Thank you Nikki I usually use a gradual tanner or make my own with tan and mousturiser! Having a fake tan evens out my skin in summer,especially my legs Xx

  3. Don’t be shy about going for a salon fake tan if you’re plus sized. I was so nervous about my first time being sprayed in a salon, but it ended up being no big deal. The technician was great, she’s seen it all before and knows exactly how to get you to stand and which bits to lift to get a great all over result. If you’re really shy, arrange for someone to come to your home with a portable booth. I loved arriving for our Fiji holiday already sun kissed and felt much more confident slipping on bathers and sundresses.

  4. I have fair skin, green eyes and fair to dark blonde hair, so a light tan is what I think suits me best. I have used gradual tanning products before, but I don’t like the almost sticky feeling some leave on the skin (almost cloying). Any tips?

      1. Thanks Nikki, I purchased some Palmer’s and plan to apply after a shower. Incidentally, the product came with a mitt, all velvety and soft, and I suspect this will help achieve a smooth and even application; the smell and volume of the lotion appears light so I’m hoping I’ve finally found a winner! Thanks for the Top 21 Tips – great to bear in mind. Happy Spring 🙂

  5. Great tips Nikki. I find that St Tropez Mousse is pretty foolproof to DIY but it’s applying fake tan on your hands that can be a dead giveaway. Using a applicator mitt is super helpful- St Tropez have them, as do Model Co.
    A recent discovery to prevent your sheets from being destroyed is a Tanzee, it’s like a silk sleeping bag. Stops your sheets from staining, you sleep in it and toss it in the wash. No need to change all the sheets just because you fake tanned!!

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