Founder of his own eponymous tanning brand, and tanner to the stars, James Read is the go-to guy for all things glow. Not only is every single product in his collection hand-picked and tested by James himself, but A-listers like Rosie Huntington-Whitely and Cara Delevingne rely on him when they want to fake sun-kissed skin. We caught up with James to chat tanning tips, trends, and how to avoid those tell-tale streaks…
How did you get into tan and what was your big break in the beauty industry?
I have worked in the industry for 15 years and was one of the world’s first self tanning experts. I gained experience with many tanning/beauty brands, allowing me to work with celebrities to build knowledge and my name. To me, it was about elevating a self tanning expert onto the same level as a make-up artist or hairdresser. I helped to achieve that which I am proud of. I launched my first salon at the Sanderson Hotel and introduced the first tanning menu. To me a spray tan needed to be more – it needed to be an experience. It’s about different looks that you can achieve with self tan. When I started in the industry it was all about the over dark tan and now it’s about the glow. Myself and St. Tropez helped to change that perception. I launched my own brand 5 years ago after finding my investor on Twitter a year before – and the rest is history!
What prompted you to start your own line?
There was no self tanning brand on the market by a tanning expert. I wanted to be the first.
What sets James Read tan apart from other formulas on the market?
I helped to introduce skincare and self tan. Why have 3 products when you can have 1 that does it all? I launched my James Read Overnight Tan Sleep Mask Tan Face 4 years ago, which has since won over 18 beauty awards – including top 100 beauty products of all time in the British Vogue 100 Beauty Hall of Fame. This product really helped to change people’s perception of tanning and led the way for self tanning brands to adopt this concept. Now you have many overnight self tans and even brands using the name sleep in the title of their products. To me it’s about leading and not following.
How can we prevent telltale streaks and unwanted patches when self-tanning?
Always use a self tanning mitt to achieve a perfect tan application and never over apply your self tan.
We all want a tan that lasts – how do we get it to stick around for longer?
My trick is to use an aftersun. This is designed to make a real tan last longer and it also works the same with a self tan! If you go on holiday always use a waterproof SPF too, as this will protect your tan from sea and swimming pools.
What’s your #1 tip for tanning newbies?
Start with a gradual tan to see how a self tan will look on your skin. Once you are confident, then move on to a darker self tan. Also, less is more with the face! Keep it natural as it’s the first thing that people see.
If someone could only buy one product from your range, what would you recommend?
All of them! That’s a hard one as I love them all but my top 3 faves at the moment are; James Read Gradual Tan H2O Tan Mist, James Read Self Tan Instant Bronzing Mist and, of course, my James Read Overnight Tan Sleep Mask Tan Face.
What do you think the next big tanning trend will be?
That would be telling! Next year the trend is gonna be something really cool but my lips are sealed at the moment.
What’s next for the James Read brand?
We have been working on some really cool new products. I like to follow Chanel’s ethos when it comes to product development which is, if you are going to do a similar product to another brand, wait 3 years and make sure when you do it’s totally different but also so much better. I am pulling out all the stops next year…