10 Fake Tanning Tips for Total Beginners

Natalie Baker
30 May 2013
Best instant fake tanning products
Best tried and tested instant tanners

Still scared of fake tan? The latest formulations are easier to apply than ever before. With a range of colour options and gels, mousses, lotions and sprays to choose from, there's never been a better time to faux a golden glow. Don't be daunted by the thought of applying sunless tanner, instead follow these simple steps to get gorgeous sun-kissed skin.

Hair removal

Remove hair 1-2 days before tanning. This will ensure you leave enough time for skin to settle and calm down before applying your fake tan. Shave or wax just after tanning and you risk removing some of the colour which can lead to patchiness.


An even looking tan starts with a smooth base. Tackle dead skin cells by exfoliating. Use a body scrub and shower puff to banish dull, flaky skin. Pay attention to dry areas like the knees, feet and elbows.

Moisturise dry areas

Moisturise your body 30 minutes before you intend to apply your fake tan. Just before you're about to apply your false tan, moisturise your elbows, knees and heels again. This will prevent the tan clinging to dry areas.

Apply vaseline

Pull your hair back into a tight bun and wear a hairband to prevent any stray strands from getting in your away. Dab some Vaseline along your hairline and across your brows. Use a cotton bud to wipe away any excess greasiness. The Vaseline will protect your hairline from and brows from becoming discoloured by the tan.

Ditch the deodorant

Shower to remove perfume and deodorant before tanning. Perfumes can prevent fake tan from adhering to the skin and give your false tan a green-tinge when it develops.

Use a mitt

Want to avoid stained palms? Use a tanning mitt or gloves. Orange palms are one the biggest tell-tale signs that your colour came from a bottle. Once you've applied the tan to your body, remove your gloves and lightly tan the back of your hands.

Select your tan

Select a tan that you feel comfortable with. For beginners, a mousse with a tinted colour guide is one of the easiest formulas to work with. I recommend U-Tan's California Mousse. It blends effortlessly and gives realistic looking results. If you're feeling nervous opt for the lightest shade available and build the colour up over several days to stay in control of your colour.

Allow to dry

Allow your fake tan to fully dry before you even think about dressing. When your tan is dry, throw on a loose, dark t-shirt to prevent staining your clothes.

Apply at night

Apply your tan at night so the colour can fully develop as you sleep. Most fake tans take between four and six hours to develop so the evening is the best time to apply them. Shower in the morning to remove the guide colour and you'll be left with beautifully bronzed skin.


Maintain your tan by regularly moisturising. Fake tan can be drying on the skin so frequent moisturising is essential to prolong the life of your tan. Aim to exfoliate every couple of days to help your tan to fade evenly.

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