How to apply fake tan

If you want a golden glow even when there’s no sun, fake tan can provide the solution.

Modern fake tans don’t have the tell-tale orange tint or the unpleasant smell, but they can still be somewhat tricky to apply.

However, if you follow our top tips you could find applying fake tan is surprisingly easy. So if you want a smooth, all-over colour with no patches or white bits, take a look at our guide below.

Prepare, prepare, prepare

You’ve probably read about the importance of exfoliation but the importance of this step really can’t be overstated.

If you want a tan which is even, exfoliating well is essential. If you have any dry, flaky bits of skin the fake tan will cling on, creating those tell-tale dark spots.

Exfoliate your whole body thoroughly, and don’t forget your face too! Avoid oil based cleansers as these will leave a barrier on your skin, making it more difficult for the fake tan to sink in.

Applying the tan

First of all, decide which direction you want to work in and stick to it. Either work up from your ankles or down from your shoulders in large sweeping movements.

You’ll need to use either a mitt or wear latex gloves if you want to avoided the dreaded orange palms! Don’t think you’ll be able to scrub it off afterwards, it will be too late!

Some areas, such as your bottom, will need a circular movement. Try to switch between vertical and circular movements smoothly to get an even application.

Don’t apply tan to the tricky bits such as the elbows, wrists, hands, feet and knees as you’re doing the rest of your body. You’ll need to come back to these parts afterwards.

For the elbows and knees, mix a bit of moisturiser in with the fake tan before applying. This will stop the drier skin in these areas from “grabbing” the colour and going darker.

woman applying fake tan to her legs

For the feet and ankles, once again mix in some moisturiser with the fake tan and apply carefully. You’ll need to make sure you work it into all the nooks and crevices, including between the toes. Pay special attention to around the Achilles tendon as it’s here where streaks often show.

The same moisturiser/fake tan combo will work well for the hands and wrists as you’ll want to have a graduated tan which blends well into the arms. A good way of applying the mixture is to rub the backs of the hands against each other. Make sure you work the colour into the area where the thumb joins the palm of the hand and down into the wrists so there’s no obvious tidemark.

Tips and tricks

Even if you’ve exfoliated to within an inch of your life, there’s a chance that you could still get those ugly dark spots on your legs.

This is caused by open pores which react in the same way as dry skin, grabbing onto the colour. The easy way to avoid this is to tighten up your pores before you apply your tan. You can do this by rubbing your legs with something cold and chilly; a pack of frozen peas is ideal! This makes the pores shrink and allows the colour to be distributed more evenly.

Most types of fake tan will last for about 7 days. Avoid saunas and steam rooms, as well as hot showers if you want to keep your colour for as long as possible.

Look gorgeous!

Tanning pills offer an easy way to get a golden glow without any help from the sun, but fake tan provides great results too. Providing you know how to apply it and follow our guide to the letter, you can be sure that next time you break out your bottle of fake tan, you’ll end up looking simply fabulous!