While not everyone is prone to getting a golden glow every summer (I know I fall into that camp), it’s hard to deny the allure of a flawless tan. And while we’d never advocate tanning for the sake of tanning (see: sunburns, irreversible UV damage, and skin cancer), thankfully there are other options. Not only have self-tanners evolved to meet your every need but the results can, dare we say it, sometimes be better than the real thing! So, in honour of this new approach to tanning, we’ve created this step-by-step guide to getting a sunless tan with our newest addition to the self-tan family – James Read. Let’s get started, shall we?
Step 1: Choose the Right Formula
The key to finding the best self tanner for you depends on a few factors, including how much time you’re willing to devote to the process. If you have a few weeks before your bod’s debut, consider going with a gradual formula like the James Read Gradual Tan Day Tan Body, which goes on like a body lotion but builds to a bronzy hue over the course of repeated uses. If you need quicker results, try a mousse or lotion that intensifies over the course of a few hours, like James Read Self Tan Express Bronzing Mousse. And if you’re literally about to head out the door, try a fast-acting body bronzer like James Read Self Tan Instant Bronzing Mist.
Step 2: Prep Your Skin
Once you’ve chosen the right formula, it’s time to prep your skin. Because dry patches and unshaven areas can collect more formula and lead to streaky, uneven results, start by hopping in the shower and scrubbing down. A head-to-toe exfoliator will rid your legs and arms of dead skin, leaving them ready for silky-smooth application, while the James Read Tan Perfecting Enzyme Peel Mask removes old tan and smooths your complexion ready for a new application. Pro tip: skip the post-shower body lotion, which can prevent formulas from absorbing into the skin!
Step 3: Apply (Carefully!)
When it comes time for the main event, take the time to apply your sunless tanner slowly and evenly. For rough areas like knees, ankles, and elbows, apply a thinner layer of product than you would elsewhere (trust us, streaky knees look even weirder than regular knees). If your formula calls for it (or if you’re extra paranoid about streaks), reach for a tanning mitt, which will provide you with an even application and avoid any weird product buildup between your fingers or on your palms.
Step 4: Chill (for Real)
We know it’s hard, but one of the most important steps in your self-tanning process is being patient while your chosen formula works its magic. Whether you need to sit still for a few minutes or a couple hours, refrain from getting dressed or running around. Our suggestion? Lay down (on a towel, don’t forget to protect all fabrics!) and queue up your latest Netflix obsession.
Step 5: Maintain Your Glow
So you’ve conquered the sunless tan —now. how to make it last all summer long? In addition to keeping skin hydrated by taking mild showers followed by a daily (non-oil-based) moisturiser, you’ll want to re-apply your self-tanner on a regular schedule. (Depending on your formula of choice, every two weeks to a month should do – or try the James Read Gradual Tan H2O Tanning Mist for a subtle daily top-up.) Finally, and most importantly, don’t forget to protect your skin with SPF – unlike your fellow beachgoers, the sun can see right through your bottle bronze.
– Maura M. Lynch