Pasty legs, begone! Your fake tanning guide for post-lockdown re-entry

Joanna Taylor
·4-min read
 (Tan Luxe )
(Tan Luxe )

Limbs looking lacklustre? You’re not alone. This time of year has us looking our pastiest at the best of times, but throw in a winter sun travel ban and we’re practically transparent.

If you’re looking to revive a sallow complexion for your re-entry into normal(ish) society, listen up, because we’ve asked the world’s best celebrity fake tanning experts for their tips on how to achieve the perfect healthy glow.

Prep & prime

Before you even look at a tanning mitt, ensure the skin is ready for application, says Amanda Harrington, the woman behind the glow of Regé-Jean Page, Dua Lipa and Nicole Sherzinger. “Just like you would prep your face before applying makeup, tanning is no different.”

Firstly, says Harrington, “remove any unwanted hair 24 hours prior to a tan application. Waxing and shaving helps with exfoliation and doing these 24 hours before allows enough time for the pores to close again.”

Then, “soak in a warm bath for about 20 minutes to remove any leftover tan from previous applications. This will soften the skin and will ensure you are removing all dead skin when you move on to the next step, exfoliation.”

Scrub the body using a gentle yet effective exfoliant, such as the Susanne Kaufmann Body Scrub, £51, and “be sure to remove any deodor­ant or body moisturiser with oils before tanning.

“Oil causes DHA [fake tan’s super ingredient] to break down which in turn makes the tan separate on the skin.”

Susanne Kaufmann Body Scrub, £51Susanne Kaufmann
Susanne Kaufmann Body Scrub, £51Susanne Kaufmann

James Read, founder of James Read tan and the man behind the sun kissed limbs of Lada Gaga, Ryan Reynolds and Rosie Huntington Whiteley, adds that moisturising pre-application is key. “On the day of, apply moisturiser all over your body first before tanning, this will make the tan last longer and stop the tan being uneven. It also stops the tan from clinging to dry areas.”

Read has an unusual tip for ensuring pores don’t suck up the tan, leaving you with brown spots. “Rub some frozen peas over your skin beforehand. This will close up your pores and stop the self-tan from blocking them.”

Rub some frozen peas over your skin beforehand

James Read

Best fake tans

Harrington’s Body lluminating Bronzing Mousse, £36, in combination with the Big Body Brush, £45, is perfect for contouring muscles (or lack thereof) and uses hydrating hyaluronic acid, soothing aloe vera and firming CQ 10 to nourish the skin.

James Read’s speedy and super hydrating 1 Hour Tan Glow Mask Face & Body, £30, gel formula glides on easily with a mitt.

Jules Von Hep’s clever Self Tanning Water, £18.95, develops in four to six hours and contains colour correcting technology to even out blotchy or yellow skin tones.

For a gradual tan, look to the new streak-free Tan-Luxe Peptaglow, infused with tripeptides and amino acids to top up your daily skincare routine, or the Lancaster Sun 365 Self Tanning Jelly, £26, which is nice and discreet.

For the face, the hyaluronic-enriched St Tropez Self Tan Purity Bronzing Water Face Mist, £22, is perfect for keeping on your desk and gives an even coverage even over makeup.

James Read 1 Hour Tan Glow Mask Face & Body, £30James Read
James Read 1 Hour Tan Glow Mask Face & Body, £30James Read

How to apply fake tan

Jules Von Hep, founder of Isle Of Paradise, says: “Always start from the ankles and work your way up to the heart and chest. And when it comes to the back, you can do it alone! Just turn your mitt backwards so the foam sits behind the knuckles and apply product directly onto skin, sweeping from side to side. Alternatively, apply by taping an applicator mitt to a wooden spoon - it works, trust me.”

Read recommends leaving “the hands and feet until last by working the excess product from the arms onto the hands and left over product from the legs onto the feet and ankles. I recommend two layers, this will ensure you don’t miss areas.”

“After applying your tan, use a cotton bud to buff a small amount of moisturiser into the hair line using a flannel,” continues Read, “this will stop you getting a tan line. Do the same down the side of the hand, wrists, feet and ankles. This is so the fade-down is natural, like a real tan.”

Post-tan maintenance

To maintain that tip-top glow for as long as possible, Harrington says, “keep showers fairly tepid and be sure to pat yourself dry with a lightweight towel.”

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Body Gel Cream, £3.33Neutrogena
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Body Gel Cream, £3.33Neutrogena

And her number one tip? “Hydration. When your skin is hydrated your tan will look more radiant and fade more evenly. Avoid retinol or any enzymatic skin care as these can accelerate the fade time of tan on the face and body. And oil breaks down your tan so opt for a hyaluronic based body mois­turiser.” Try Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost Body Gel Cream, £3.33.

Read recommends using a hydrating sheet mask 24 hours after applying self-tan to help the colour

e.l.f. Cosmetics
e.l.f. Cosmetics

Finally, add tanning drops, such as the e.l.f. Cosmetics Sunkissed Booster Drops, £10, to an after sun or body lotion to rejuvenate your tan after three or four days.