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Summer beauty how-to: applying fake tan


A-list tanning guru James Read has given golden glows to Lady Gaga, Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan, among many other stars. Based at his salon at London hotel The Sanderson, he is the UK's leading self-tan expert and gave Stylist the following advice on how to apply a fake tan:

1. Preparation is key

24 hours before tanning you should shave or wax and exfoliate with a granulated body scrub, paying close attention to the driest parts of your body such as your elbows.

2. Ensure skin is clear

Old product can easily go unnoticed, that is, until you apply fresh tan over the top resulting in a blotchy finish. To ensure skin is completely clear, rub a facial wipe (try Nivea Visage, £3.36, boots.com) over the neck, wrist and décolletage and around the armpits before you start applying tan.

3. Apply product in stages

The trick to an even coverage is to ‘map’ out your body and apply product in stages. Start with your face and work your way down; neck, décolletage, arms, stomach and legs, leaving hands and feet until the very end.

4. Keep the face lighter

Your face should always be slightly lighter than the rest of your body so choose a specifically designed facial tanning product. Open pores and blemishes tend to be emphasized or even darkened by fake tan. Running an ice cube over your face before application will seal and close pores, whilst a dab of moisturiser over blemishes will prevent product build up.

5. Use a tanning mitt

For the most even coverage a tanning mitt is essential. If using a cream or mousse, product should be applied directly onto the mitt and then swept over skin. When using a spray tan, make use of the mitt to even out any product.

6. Tanning hands and feet

To tan hands and feet, use the excess product from arms and legs rather than applying product directly. Using the mitt, apply tan to one hand and then switch to do the other.

7. Go by the clock

For a dark tan leave product on for 8-12 hours, preferably sleeping in it overnight. For a lighter shade leave on for 5-6 hours.

8. Remember aftercare

Aftercare is just as important as preparation. Moisturising daily will prolong the colour and exfoliating every 3 to 4 days will ensure your tan fades evenly. However, don’t be tempted to apply self-tan any more than twice a week; excessive product build-up will change the tan colour - for the worse. If it’s a subtle colour-pick-me-up that you are after, instead, add a teaspoon of self-tan to your daily moisturiser.

James Read’s product recommendations:


Sisley Self Tanning Gel (£71, harrods.com)


Light-Medium – L’Oreal Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Spray (£12.76, boots.com)

Medium-Dark – Xen-Tan Dark Lotion Absolute Luxe (£39.99, xen-tan.co.uk)

Gradual Tan – He-Shi Day to Day Gradual Tan (£14.50, he-shi.eu)

Wash-Off – St Tropez Wash Off Instant Glow Mousse, (£15.32, st-tropez.com)



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