The Ultimate Self Tan Guide - How To Apply Fake Tan Like A Pro

The Ultimate Self Tan Guide - How To Apply Fake Tan Like A Pro

Summer has come back around again, and for many of us, this means the intimidating feat of applying fake tan streak and error-free. From choosing the right fake tan, nailing the technique, and ensuring its longevity, we’ve put together the ultimate guide for you to get that seamless, sun-kissed look. 

Whether it’s a tan for your long-awaited holiday, or you just want to look bronzed for cocktails in the beer garden, here’s how to apply fake tan like a pro. 

How To Prep For A Fake Tan

Skin prep is the key to a seamless and long-lasting fake tan. 

Remove Hair The Night Before

If you want to shave or wax before you tan, then you must do this the night before you fake tan. Doing this right before tanning will take off the top layer of skin cells, which could cause a patchy finish. 

If that’s not enough of a problem, doing your tan straight away after hair removal may be clogging up your pores and causing  ingrown hairs or strawberry legs. 

Exfoliate Where You Plan To Tan

Applying tan over skin that hasn’t been exfoliated will cause your colour to fade quickly as the skin cells shed. Exfoliating will also minimise your chances of an uneven finish and streaky tan. 

Exfoliate the night before with a  body scrub to remove any dead skin cells and make a smooth base. It’s important to exfoliate the night before you tan to ensure the tan can sink into the skin properly. 

If you’ve forgotten to exfoliate the night before, quickly run an exfoliating or buffing brush over the skin before you apply the fake tan; just remember to rinse the dead skin cells off. 

Moisturise Your Dry Areas

Fake tan will stick to your dry areas and look patchy; this usually happens around the elbows and knees. It’s important to moisturise all over, but pay special attention to these problem areas. 

If you’re short on time, try to leave the moisturiser to sink in for at least half an hour before applying fake tan, but it’s best to moisturise the night before, as with your shaving and exfoliation. This is because moisturiser can leave a film on the skin, which causes streaks and blotches. 

Always ensure your skin is 100% dry before you fake tan; water left on the skin will erase or dilute the tan, resulting in, you guessed it, streaks and patches. 

How To Apply Fake Tan

Never, and we mean EVER, apply fake tan with your bare hands unless you want to look like you dipped your hands into a bag of Wotsits. For seamless application, grab yourself a tanning mitt to ensure an even, streak-free finish. 

With your mitt in one hand and your product in the other, pump the tan onto the glove. Then, to spread the product out evenly, scrunch your hand into a fist. 

Focusing on one part of the body at a time, apply the fake tan in sweeping motions, making sure you reach every inch of your skin. A common mistake is avoiding the inner parts of the arms or the legs, this will make the tan look unnatural and just a bit weird, so make sure you apply your product everywhere. 

Sweeping motions are better than circular motions as they distribute the product more evenly. 

How To Fake Tan Your Hands And Feet

The hands and feet are often the most challenging part of the body to tan, which means they are also the telltale signs of fake tan; no one wants patchy knuckles and toes. Therefore, this should be the last part of your body that you tan to avoid product build-up. 

Using a buffing or kabuki brush will allow you to buff the tan in for the most natural look, always focusing on the tops of your hands and your feet where the sun will naturally hit. Spread your hands and claw your fingers, then buff around your knuckles and the insides of your fingers to avoid the pale lines. Take a similar stance with your toes for an even finish. 

Give your hands and feet a little clean afterwards for an even better glow; wipe your nails, the soles of your feet, the palms of your hands, and your wrists for a beautiful finish. 

Some tanners swear by using a darker tan on the body and a lighter shade for the hands and feet to look the most natural. 

How To Fake Tan Your Face

Following the same preparation steps as the rest of your body for your face, brushing your teeth before is also a good shout, as it can collect at the sides of your mouth and remove the tan. If you’re a blondie, apply moisturiser or jelly to your hairline and eyebrows to prevent colouring these hairs. 

Depending on the tan, you can apply the same product you used on your body to your face, but do check beforehand. A dedicated face tanner is formulated for this specific area and is often more natural-looking. 

As with tanning your hands and feet, apply your tan with a buffing brush; this will push the tan deeper into the skin and minimise the risk of streaking or patching. Starting in the centre of your face, buff the colour in circular motions, remembering to blend the colour into the hairline and down towards your neck to meet the rest of your tan. 

How To Fake Tan Your Back

Asking a partner, housemate, or friend to tan your back is the best way to ensure an even finish, but if you’re too shy to ask for help, there are a handful of hacks for a tanned back. 

Turn your mitt around so the applicator side is on the back of your hand, and reach around to spread the tan; this will give you more flexibility to reach. If you’re really struggling, grabbing yourself a mist tan rather than a lotion or mousse will help you to tan the areas you cannot reach. 

Make That Tan Last

Once you’ve finished your tan, you need to take care of it whilst it develops. Loose, preferably dark, clothes will help you to avoid smudging your tan. Avoid sweaty workouts or water-based activities - that includes doing the dishes until you’re rinsed off!

Stay moisturised to improve the longevity of your tan and avoid any uneven patches as the tan fades.  A layer of moisturiser is essential after you wash your tan off to lock in the beautiful colour. 

Now, all you have to do is go out and enjoy that beautiful summery glow.


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