Whether you’re a tanning pro or a complete newbie, the potential to end up looking like a satsuma after some at-home tan application (come on, we’ve all been there!) can be enough to put off even the most dedicated glow-seeker. Thankfully our years of self-tan attempts (read: mistakes along the way) have left us well equipped with the best fuss-free tips for achieving the perfect, streak-free tan at home!
Choosing the right formula
Self-tanners come in a wide range of formulations, from lotions to mousses to gels, meaning there’s plenty of options no matter your skill level. Whichever formula you opt for, try to select a product with a guide colour or light tint so that you can see where the colour is as you apply – helping you avoid dreaded streaky lines! If your skill level is that of a beginner, we recommend opting for a lotion as they take a little longer to absorb meaning you can correct any mistakes as you go along. The Vita Liberata Body Blur Instant HD Skin Finish is the perfect ‘Instagram filter in real life’ tan for a gorgeous glow and it washes off if it all goes wrong.
Next up: gels! Often super hydrating in their formulas, gel tans are great for those with drier skin types to keep skin looking healthy AND bronzed. The Trilogy Instant Bronzing Gel is packed with the light-reflecting mineral mica to add luminosity to skin, whilst its quick drying formula means it’s a great option for a last minute night out!
For the tan pros out there, a mousse formula works perfectly for achieving a gorgeous bronze glow that dries quickly. The Vita Liberata pHenomenal 2-3 Week Tan Mousse (which comes in shades fair, medium and dark) offers instant colour to help guide your application and help avoid missed spots. Plus, the organic botanical formula with Odour Remove™ technology leaves limbs soft, conditioned and without that ‘biscuit-y’ smell.
Getting the perfect colour match
The next two words are your BFFs when it comes to self-tanning: PATCH. TEST. We’ve all been there. You’ve spent hours applying what looked like your perfect tan only for it to transform into a shade that can only be described as… clementine, just a few hours later. Avoid this by testing a small patch somewhere unobtrusive (we’d recommend your stomach) to see how your skin reacts before you go for the full body application!
Matching your face and body
Once you’ve ensured your full body tan will leave you looking bronze goddess status and NOT that of an umpa lumpa, the next important step is the ensure your face matches that of your body. Opting for a customisable tan for the sensitive (and often more blemish prone) skin of your complexion is a failsafe way to ensure the best application possible for an even and consistent finish. Add 1-3 drops of the Balance Me Gradual Tanning Drops into your regular moisturiser depending on the level of holiday glow you’re seeking, and transform skin to match your desired level of bronze!
Prepping the skin
Once you’ve decided on your formula of choice, one of the most important stages when it comes to tanning is the preparation. For the best results you need a super smooth starting point. After all, you wouldn’t paint a wall without getting the plastering right first, would you? A salt-based body scrub works a treat when it comes to sloughing away dead skin cells. We’ve got a whole guide on the best ways to exfoliate here! It’s also a great idea to apply a little moisturiser to dry patches like elbows and ankles to avoid the tan settling too much in those places. The Yes To Carrots Nourishing Body Lotion is perfect for a really fresh scent or, for a little extra luxury in your routine, we can’t get enough of the Rituals The Ritual of Sakura Magic Touch Body Cream.
Take your time! While it’s tempting to slap it on as quickly as possible, spending a few extra minutes working the product in will really show in the results. Use a mitt to eliminate those dreaded fake tan palms and apply a generous amount of product! There’s no need to scrimp – it’s important to cover each area of skin generously for the most natural, and streak-free, glow. Apply to your body in sections – arms, stomach, legs, and hands and feet at the end – using long sweeping motions until the product is absorbed.
Looking after your tan
Once you’ve got the perfect glow, it’s time to look after it! Don’t forget to wear SPF if you’re out in the sun – it’s important to protect your skin anyway but any burning could lead to all that hard work peeling away! Around three days after tanning, exfoliate lightly to help remove any areas that have begun to fade to ensure your tan remains even across your body and doesn’t give away the telltale fake tan signs.
Handy hints and tips
Unfortunately, we’re not all flexible enough to tan our own back – and don’t always have a friend on standby for back tanning duties 24/7! The solution? Grab your trusty tan mitt and place it over a long-handled body brush, securing it in place with a hair band.
Want to avoid tell-tale tan signs? Get your hands and feet right! Imagine you’re on a beach – the sides of your feet and between your fingers won’t get the sun, so don’t tan these areas. For perfect hands and feet use whatever solution is left on your mitt after tanning the rest of your body, then just brush the mitt across the tops of them.
If you end up streaky, get in a bathtub and soak it off. Sit in water for 20 – 25 minutes, use a good body scrub, and try to get the colour off.
So, that’s it! Follow these tips and you’re sure to achieve a streak-free, naturally bronzed application that will prolong your natural tan, or add some colour if your skin is too sensitive for long periods of sun exposure!
– Charlotte Rollin