Before reaching for the tan bottle, there are a few things to take into consideration if you want your glow to be beach-brown rather than streaky orange this summer.
- Do I really need to scrub before a tan?
Yes. But, you need to be careful about when you scrub. The reason why, is the active ingredient in fake tan (which you will see as “DHA” on the ingredient list) works on dead skin cells. It’s recommended to scrub before a tan to make sure you have a more even layer of dead cells for the tan to work on (so it doesn’t just flake off after you’ve applied). It’s also recommended that you scrub about 24 hours before you tan so you have a nice, even coating of skin cells. If you scrub right before you tan, it is more likely that you will get a patchy result. If you are pushed for time and can only scrub just before you tan, make sure to only use a granular scrub (as enzyme-based scrubs will remove way too much skin), and make sure to only scrub very lightly, concentrating on dry areas like knees and elbows.
- What kind of tan is best for me?
Most ranges of tans have various applications – cream, mousse, spray etc. Cream tan is best for dryer skins, and tanning newbies. Mousse tans are great for a fast application but beware; most dry quickly so you need to work fast. An applicator mitt or gloves are definitely recommended. Sprays are fantastic for touch-ups, but they are messy, I wouldn’t recommend for an entire application. If you are using spray, do it in the shower, and make sure to stand on a towel. There are even some one-night-only tans that are free of DHA – they won’t last beyond a shower but are great for anyone that has allergies to the active ingredient in fake tan.
Generally, the different types (mousse, cream etc) won’t mean darker or lighter – this will be indicated on the bottle. If it isn’t, the darkness of your tan will be determined by the amount you apply. You can layer – but be careful as it is easy to streak when you have loads on.
- How do I prevent streaks and uneven bits?
It’s best to always use a tan that has a ‘guide’ colour for easy application. This shows you where you have applied and gives you instant tan while the DHA works underneath on your skin for about 6-8 hours (some fast tans are now 2-3 hours).
Before you begin, grab a nice thick body moisturiser, a put a small amount in any dry patches or creases (like on knees and ankles, around knuckles, wrists and elbows) – this will stop the tan from sucking in to dry patches.
Work quickly, applying from bottom and work upwards. Try and work near a mirror so you can have a look at the back of your legs and arms. It’s also a good idea to have tissues nearby – you can use them to very lightly blot any patches.
- How do I make it last?
DHA is naturally drying on the skin, so good body moisturiser will help keep your tan on longer, it will also help it to shed more evenly when it does come off. Gradual tan is great for maintaining the colour in-between, because it provides moisture as well as colour. Also, don’t forget that fake tan does not protect you from the sun! Keeping your sunscreen routine up is very important – and the protective barrier that sunscreen forms will also be beneficial to keeping your tan moisturised and even.
If you still don’t trust yourself to tan, go to a salon and have a spray tan, and maintain with a gradual tan. Otherwise, start with a cream tan from a brand that you trust. St Tropez is fantastic colour – it has a ‘green’ base, which sounds funny, but never goes orange on the skin like tans with traditional red base.