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40 mins

My guide to the perfect golden glow
Some people may think “I can’t be bothered spending ages on fake tan”. But in my mind, what’s the point in being tanned if it’s all uneven and patchy? You want the result to be natural and flattering to your colouring. Of course everyone makes mistakes with fake tan…god knows I have had some disasters in my time but generally they were caused by being careless or trying to rush the process.

By following tips from other bloggers over the past couple of years, I know I have my perfect routine for a flawless tan and hopefully this post will help anyone who is a tanning novice or just a bit scared of the stuff! I personally prefer to have a golden/honey tan rather than being REALLY dark because I find that can be ageing.

Posted by Liparazzi from Aberdeen, Scotland, United Kingdom • Published See Liparazzi's 7 projects »

You Will Need

  • Step 1


    It may sound obvious hint but regularly maintaining a good skincare routine for your body will keep your skin consistently in good condition will help when it comes to fake tan. It's best to either moisturise every morning when you step out the shower or (like me) apply it every night before bed. I never have time in the morning to faff around with body lotions and I hate the way my clothes cling to me when I have it on! The more regularly you take care of your skin on your whole body, the less work you will have to do when you want to hit the fake tan bottle and the more receptive your skin will be to fake tan.

  • Step 2

    Exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate

    I can't put enough emphasis on just how important it is to exfoliate your whole body before you even attempt to apply fake tan. It's imperative to lift all those dead skin cells and reveal revitalised, ready-to-tan skin beneath. Applying your chosen fake tan to parched, uneven skin will simply leave you with tell tale signs like patchiness and streaks. I like to use exfoliators or scrubs without any oil ingredients in them so I don’t end up with an oily residue on my skin after showering. It’s just about creating the best possible base for the fake tan to adhere and absorb into the skin. Exfoliating will also help any moisturiser penetrate your skin more effectively and will prevent in-grown hairs and blemishes on your body by unclogging your pores.

    Exfoliating gloves are also a must have because they are easy to use, cost-effective and give the skin a good buffing. They are designed to be used in the shower (a modern-day version of the loofah) and they make it easy to exfoliate every day just using your shower gel. Remember to wash your gloves regularly to prevent bacteria build-up.

    As a side note - I always shave my legs and underarms AFTER fake tanning. Everyone has different views on this but I find the fake tan settles into pores when you shave beforehand and sometimes you can be left with a dotted effect. Granted that shaving 12 hours after using fake tan will remove a little of the colour BUT I would rather that than having a weird looking tan.

  • Step 3


    Be sure to thoroughly moisturise with an oil-free body lotion before you fake it (this could affect the result of the tan and create a barrier between the skin and tanning product) and remember to let it fully sink in. Pay particular attention to wrists, elbows, ankles, knees and feet – any areas that can get dry and need extra moisture. I always moisturise lightly again over hands and feet to ensure the skin is properly hydrated. I love Dove Body Silk because it absorbs instantly into the skin and leaves it super soft. I have also been using the new Garnier 7 Day Moisturiser which is slightly richer and takes a bit longer to sink in BUT it has left my skin in amazing condition after over a week of applying it every night! A cheap all time favourite light moisturiser of mine is Vaseline Cocoa Butter Lotion.

  • Step 4

    Application Tools

    The tools you use to apply your fake tan can make a huge difference to the finished result. If I am using a particularly dark self tanning product like Xen Tan or He-Shi then I most definitely always either wear gloves or use a tanning mitt. Applying these darker products with your hands is just too risky because it's more than likely you will end up with tanned palms which is NEVER a good look! To avoid tanned hands and grubby fingernails, it's safest to use one of these application options. The gloves feel weird at first but you soon get used to them. I have recently started using a He-Shi mitt and have found it really easy to use and also easy to clean. It also esnures a really even and thin application (this is important when it comes to drying time and an even result). I also use a Backhand Lotion Applicator to get to the hard-to-reach areas on my back. It’s GENIUS and makes self tanning a whole lot easier and it gets Chris off the hook (he once had orange palms from putting fake tan on my back…the things we do for love!)

  • Step 5

    Preventative Measures

    A great tan tip is to apply a small amount of Vaseline along your brows and next to your hair line to avoid staining those areas (very important if you have light coloured hair!). Tanning the face should be treated with caution and dabbing the jelly means that any slip of the hand when applying will prevent dodgy tide marks appearing in these areas. Be extra careful on the area above your lips as product can collect in the hairs on your face and create a dark patch…nobody wants a fake tan tasche! I always lightly sweep a cotton pad above my lip to collect any excess product.

    Don’t use too much product…use as little as possible in fact to ensure a subtle and even result and to reduce the drying time.

  • Step 6

    Hands and feet need less tan

    Apply GRADUAL tan to hands and feet to avoid the colour being too dark OR dilute your existing tan with moisturiser to avoid having to buy too many products.

  • Step 7


    An extra step you can build into your routine for a flawless result every time is to don a buffing mitt (St Tropez do one) to ensure your tan is perfectly applied and avoid any sign of patchiness. This also helps to blend the tanning products into your hands and feet to merge into the gradual tanners. The St Tropez buffing mitt only costs £3.57. You can also use a baby or face wipe to gently rub around your nail cuticles and between fingers just to ensure a flawless finish.

  • Step 8

    Wear loose, dark clothing afterwards

    In an ideal world we would be able to wander around in the buff post-fake tan with our weird tan-drying poses. However, I doubt any of us have the time (or brazen nature) to do that. Now let's get one thing straight...I never ever apply fake tan in the day or before I go out. I saw guy on Made in Chelsea applying St Tropez tanning lotion on his face before a night out and was horrified. This would surely result in a weird patchy, uneven tan after you have danced the night away and sweated half of it off?! I only ever apply fake tan before bedtime to give the product the optimum time it needs to develop and do it's job without any disturbances. I always make sure I wear reasonably loose pyjamas to avoid any product being rubbed off in the night and creating a patchy tan.

  • Step 9

    Self-tan Remover

    If it all goes completely pear-shaped and you are left with distinctly orange palms or wrist that look like they have been tangoed, the don’t panic. St Tropez (and some other brands) do self tan removing products that can be applied with cotton pads to diminish the tell tale signs!

    Once again, the Estee Lauder self tan for the body gives a really natural golden colour and is great for people who don't want to go too dark. The Xen Tan one gives a deep tan but doesn't make you look like you're starring in Jersey Shore. The darkest formulation is definitely the He-Shi Dark Foaming Mousse and I ONLY use this on my legs as they are the palest part of my body (due to the lack of sunshine in Aberdeen!). I feel like this would be too dark to use on the rest of my body though. It is incredibly easy to use and I was mega impressed by the formulation!

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