Beginners Guide: How to Fake Tan

Beginners Guide: How to Fake Tan

Summer is fast approaching and if you’re like us, it can be quite daunting to bare those very pasty pins after a long and very cold winter. Put your worries at bay because here at Lookfantastic HQ, we’ve put together a selection of the best tans that promise to leave you bronzed and streak free!

If you’re a newbie fake tanner or just need some handy tips, we’ve given you a step-by-step guide on how to fake tan so you can achieve that gorgeous sun-kissed skin, as well as our top tips.

Secret Tips for Perfect Tanning

If you’re always struggling with getting your tan streak free and perfect, this might be where you’re going wrong. These are our secret tips for making sure your tan goes on smoothly and evenly:

  • Don’t apply deodorant or perfume before tanning or while it develops. It can prevent the tan from adhering to the skin and may even turn some tans green!
  • Make sure you allow your fake tan to fully dry before dressing. When you do dress, stick to something that’s loose and dark, so it doesn’t rub against your skin or show any marks.
  • It is best to apply in the evening and let tan develop overnight. This will give it the best amount of time to full develop (most tans need at least 4-6 hours).
  • When you wash off your tan after it has developed, keep water slighter cooler than usual and resist the temptation to use scrubs or soap; it can fade your tan. Just rinse until the water runs clear.
  • Hair removal should be done 24 hours prior to tanning. Fake tan is prone to sticking into those loosened pores, creating unattractive dark dots. That’s definitely not the look we’re going for!
  • If you struggle with getting orange palms, be extra careful and pop on a pair of latex gloves underneath your tanning mitt.

Your Step-By-Step Tan Routine

  1. Decisions, decisions, decisions…
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    Decisions, decisions, decisions…

    First, you should decide on the type of tan you want to apply.

    If this is your first time tanning, you may want to opt for a gradual self-tan like the Fake Bake Fair Gradual Tan Lotion. This will give you a more subtle and natural color change.

    If you’re feeling a little more adventurous and want a stronger and deeper-looking tan, then we recommend choosing a dark glowing self-tan like the Xen-Tan Mousse Intense.

    For different options of how dark to go, the St Tropez Self-Tan Express Advanced Bronzing Mousse gives you full control. Leave it on for 1 hour for a sun-kissed effect, 2 hours for a golden glow, or 3 hours for a deep, dark bronze color.

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  2. Exfoliate
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    Before you apply any tanning products, it’s really important to exfoliate. We recommend doing this 24 hours prior to tanning. Not only will this get rid of dead skin, but it will also create the perfect base for your chosen tanning products.

    When exfoliating, it’s really important to pay extra attention to those really dry areas like your feet, ankles, elbows and knees. If you have any other areas that are super dry, make sure to exfoliate them as well.

    For the best results, we like to alternate between using a gentle but effective scrub like the Fake Bake Body Polish or using an exfoliating mitt every other day.

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  3. Moisturize
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    After exfoliating, it’s crucial that you apply plenty of moisturiser. Fake tan (annoyingly!) will cling to any dry areas, so you want to make sure you are well-hydrated beforehand.

    It’s really important to go over and moisturise those dry areas, making sure to leave at least 2-3 hours before tanning, as you could prevent the tan from adhering to the skin.

    We really like the ST Tropez Tan Optimizer Body Moisturizer as it’s fast absorbing and doesn’t leave any oily residue behind. It also provides superb moisturizing benefits for the skin too!


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  4. Application
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    When applying, we suggest using a tanning mitt like the St Tropez Applicator Mitt. Using a mitt ensures that the tan application is as smooth and easy as possible.

    For fool-proof application, it is best to start from the bottom up. Start with the shins, applying in circular motions and adding more product as required. Applying methodically helps make sure you don’t miss any patches.

    Just be careful around the hands and feet; the best way to avoid orange streaks is to buff any leftover tan from the legs and arms lightly over these. Less is definitely more. As for the back, it really is best to ask someone to give you a hand with getting it all covered!

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  5. Get the Glow
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    Get the Glow

    Don’t forget about your face! After getting your body perfectly bronze, you don’t want to leave your face unmatched. This can be the step that most of us are a bit scared of but using a specially designed tan for the face will help give you an even glow all over, without risking blocking your pores or going too dark.

    Our current favorite is the James Read Sleep Mask Face Tan. If it is good enough for Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, it is good enough for us! The special formula is designed to go on before you head to sleep and nourish the skin whilst developing into a natural glow.

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  6. Maintain
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    Now you have got yourself bronzed and beautiful, the trick is keeping it even and long-lasting.

    The main way to keep tan fading evenly is to keep exfoliating gently and moisturising. This will also help keep your skin in tip top condition if you want to top up your tan again in a few days.

    We find that most tans last for about 5 days, but for an extra long-lasting effect, try out the Vita Liberata PHenomenal 2-3 Week Tan. It really does stay around and is brilliant before heading off on a holiday.

    To boost your glow, we also love using body oils like the NUXE Huile Prodigieuse Or. It makes limbs looking silky smooth and beautifully bronzed, perfect before a night out.

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We have a huge selection of fake tans and tanning accessories on Lookfantastic, so whatever you are looking for you can find your perfect match.



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I'm a beauty fanatic living in Utah. LOVE me a deep red lip. You will almost never see me without one. It's basically my trademark. I'm a living, breathing clone of Scarlett Johannson. So if you ask me if anyone's ever told me that, you will be the two million and oneth person to tell me that, but I love the compliment! I love anything and everything to do with beauty and skincare. A clean, radiant face is the key to any flawless face!

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