Sunday, 9 September 2012

Fake Tan.

I need not lament on  how Irish weather cursing our skin with pasty pale complexions (seems to be silly to do so when I'm in Boston). It's probably the most stated thing by Irish bloggers and beauty junkies.

Fake tan in America is completely under the radar. In Ireland and the UK one is completely inundated with a choice for fake tan. "Self-tanners" in the US are incredibly limited, the only options I've been able to find are Jergen's Natural Glow (a gradual tanner), L'Oreal Sublime Bronze Shimmering Gel (only in medium shade, not dark) and L'Oreal Sublime Bronze Tan Wipes (like those ones people at home used in the 90's). Finding a tan mitt is completely out of the question. Admittedly, Americans are exposed to the sun more so than us Western Europeans and tend to sunbathe whenever they can find the time.

However that leads me to another point. Sunbathing isn't the healthier option of tanning. A lot of people don't use SPF (quite like a lot of individuals I know at home!) and tan using sunbeds when the summer sun has left. I don't need to drone on about the dangers of skin in sun. At very least, you can burn which is painful and looks unattractive, and worst, you can develop skin cancer. We all know that fake tan is a far safer option.

I was reading false tanning tips in a American magazine over here and it was terrible advice. Then I've listened to or worse still, witnessed people at home and how they tan, which again was not the best method.

So I'm going to give a full rundown of the best method for tanning.

For Overnight (7 hour development) fake tan- e.g. Tantastic, Wow Brown, Vita Liberata, L'Oreal Sublime, St. Tropez, St. Moritz

You will need:
Exfoliating shower gel (or alternative)
Moisturiser or body lotion (one which contains no tan)
Tan mitt
Fake tan

1. Shower and exfoliate your skin. Use some exfoliating shower gel, or make your own (some sugar and vanilla essence- or mix sugar in a bowl with your regular shower gel) and slough with a loofah/ exfoliation gloves/ a shower sponge while using circular motions. Using your hands isn't going to work as well for this. If you have any remaining stubborn patches of tan then use a pumice stone (lightly!) to remove it.

2. Dry your skin completely.

3. Moisturise! People often neglect to do this, and that is why their tan looks abysmal or obviously fake. You need to moisturise your knees, elbows, wrists and hands and feet.

4. Tie hair up. Apply tan with a tan mitt. A tan mitt is the best option when applying tan- you'll avoid the orange tan hands look and if you follow the advice down below, you'll also avoid the white hands look too. Not only does it allow your hands to look normal, it also gives a more even application.

My recommendation is to apply tan directly on the mitt and work on skin as opposed to applying tan to the skin and using the mitt to rub it in. (Tan to skin method can leave streaks and patches)

Start from the bottom up. So feet go first, blend on to lower legs (don't forget the backs!), upper legs and thighs, moving towards your bum. Please, put some tan on your bum cheeks. I've seen to many drunk girls in clubs with orange tan up to their thighs, falling over to reveal a white bum. Move it to your hips, lower back, bottom of your stomach, working your way up to the waist, ribs, boobs, (or chest if you're a man). Some people can stretch awkwardly and apply tan to their back themselves (I'm a seasoned champ at this), but ultimately, it's easier to get a friend to do it.

Once the back is done begin with arm one. Start from wrist and work your way up, blending to your shoulder and collar bone. Repeat for arm two.

Apply tan to chest, front and back of neck and lightly to a moisturised face (optional-makeup can be used to match your tan to your face).

Finally, using what is remaining on the mitt (don't apply any more tan to the mitt at this point) rub the tan onto the backs of your hands and lightly on your fingers, blending with the wrists. Put more moisturiser on your hands after this step!

Ensure there are no white patches or streaks before moving on to next step.

5. Allow tan to dry. This may take 5 minutes, it may take 20. Wait for it to dry. You do not want to be a streaky mess in the morning.

6. Dress. Typically I like to put tan on before I go to bed, as if it has the biscuity smell, you (and everyone else) will have to deal with it all day. Plus, you risk staining your clothes.

I wear old pajamas when wearing tan to bed- long sleeves and pants that reach my feet. It makes for an unattractive look, but the glorious tan you wake up with in the morning more than compensates for this.

7. Allow tan to develop. Developing times vary from brand to brand, but most recommend 7 hours. During this time do not exercise, shower or do anything which would cause your skin to get wet.

8. Shower. This is fairly straightforward, wash off that fake tan smell. The water going down the drain looks a horrible shade, but you, my friend, look wonderfully bronzed.

9. Moisturise (again). This locks in the tan. Do this all over. This step isn't necessary, but it prolongs the life of your tan and allows it to fade evenly.

10. Boom. You're done.

For Gradual tanners (daily use, slower developing) fake tan- e.g. Dove, Johnson's Holiday Skin, Jergen's Natural Glow.

You will need:
Exfoliating shower gel (or alternative)
Moisturiser or body lotion (one which contains no tan)
Tan mitt
Gradual tanner

1. Shower and exfoliate your skin. You only need to do this before your first application, it makes no sense to continue to do this before each application, as it will not allow the tan to build.

2. Dry your skin completely.

3. Moisturise your knees, elbows, wrists and hands and feet.

4. Tie hair up. Apply tan with a tan mitt- yes, even gradual tanners.

Start from the bottom up as outlined in step 4 above.

Gradual tanners do not have colour guides, so ensure you're applying it as evenly as is possible.

5. Allow tan to dry.

6. Dress.

7. Allow tan to develop. This process varies for each individual, some may take to the tan overnight (I normally do), for others it may take 4 consecutive days to notice the tan developing.

8. Shower each day, approximately 6+ hours after applying the gradual tanner.

9. Once you have developed the shade of tan you desire, reduce application to once each other night, you can maintain a gradual tan for weeks at a time, this is because of the DHA (active tanning ingredient in tanners) to moisturiser ratio. As mentioned before, moisturiser locks in tan.

10. Moisturise daily, to further prolong lifespan of tan and to maintain even tone of tan.

Hair removal in conjunction with gradual tan is less likely to effect the evenness of the colour and development of tan, though I'd suggest waxing prior first application. (Gradual tanning is time consuming enough without having to factor in slots for hair removal).

Though I seldom do the gradual tanning method (lazy daisy!), it gives the best results overall. You can maintain a great tan year round if you keep on top of it.

For instant, wash-off tan- e.g. Sally Hansen Airbrush legs, Rimmer Sunshimmer.

1. Shower before application, remembering to complete any hair removal before applying the tan.

2. Dry your skin completely.

3. Tie hair up. Apply tan with a tan mitt.

Start from the bottom up as outlined in step 4 above.

4.Allow tan to dry.

5. Dress, carefully- despite the bottle's attempts to convince you otherwise, instant tan does transfer on to other clothes/objects/people.

6. Avoid all forms of contact with liquid on your skin- rain, drink spillage, sweating. As this will remove the tan.

7. Shower the tan off when it is no longer required (the morning after the night out you required it for).

Enjoy being a golden goddess without; streaks, white hands, orange patches, unevenness and other tell-tale-tan signs.


  • Paint nails with at least a coat of clear polish as this prevents the tan from staining nails.
  • Put some moisturiser/vaseline on eyebrows and hair line before applying tan to the face if you are light haired (if you are so inclined) to prevent them staining the hairs a wonderful orange tinge.
  • The face does not require as strong an application as the body- do not apply tan as liberally as you would with the body, it is far more absorbent, you do not want an oompa loompa mask.
  • Keep separate tan mitts for each type of tan you use- one for gradual tanning, one for overnight false tan, one for instant tan (Sally Hansen in particular). The various types of tan mixing in with one another causes unnatural colouration and streaks. This does not need to be applied to different brands of one tan, unless there is residue from an obvious colour guide (e.g. green).
  • Please, shower or bathe off the tan before going out in public. Putting on tan, especially overnight tan on immediately before leaving the house results in one smelling awful, having unnaturally dark tan, running the risks of horrendous streaks and staining clothes/other people/various objects. (One of my own friends stained my white wall by leaning against it with unwashed overnight tan on.)
  • Do any hair removal the night before you apply the tan. I know some women have quick growth and like to shave their legs everyday. For this I recommend shaving before applying tan as opposed to after.
  • I strongly recommend wearing a long sleeve top to bed after applying overnight tan so to avoid the inner elbow triangles of doom (caused from bending your arms towards your face while you sleep). Avoid having the top too tight as it can cause streaks and lines and too loose where the inner fold of your elbow can rub skin on skin.

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