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You might think that applying tanning lotion is simply just rubbing it in and washing it off when you’re done. Believe it or not, there is a specific way it should be done to give you the best possible results.
Indoor tanning lotions can get expensive, but they play a vital role in achieving great color. They supply your skin with the essential moisture it needs to soak up those tan-producing rays. Tanning lotions also nourish your skin with essential oils, extracts, and vitamins that soften and smooth skin and prevent signs of aging.
If you apply tanning lotion without properly preparing your skin, you could be missing out on your tan’s full potential! Before you head to the salon for your tanning session, follow these steps to prep your skin, apply your lotion, and clean up after tanning.
- Before You Apply Tanning Lotion
- How To Apply Tanning Lotion
- How To Wash Off Tanning Lotion
- Tips for Beginner Tanners
- Exactly What You Shouldn’t Do When You Fake Tan Your Face
- Summer Beauty Essentials
- 8 Tips For Self-Tanning Your Face So Your Glow Looks Totally Natural
- 10 fake tan tips everyone needs to know
- FAKE TAN TIP 7: RESEARCH YOUR TAN TYPES
- FAKE TAN TIP 8: TRY A MITT
- FAKE TAN TIP 9: MODIFY YOUR TECHNIQUE FOR YOUR FACE
- FAKE TAN TIP 10: SCULPT, GLOW AND GO
- 1. Remove hair and exfoliate
- 2. Make sure your skin is completely clean
- 3. Moisturise dry areas just before application
- 4. Use a tanning mitt
- 5. Apply your tan in front of a mirror
- 6. Don’t forget your face
- 7. Wear loose clothing while it dries
- 8. Do not shave or wash post-tan
- 9. Moisturise one day after your tan, and from there on
- 10. Top up with gradual tan
- Ready to tan? Check out the best fake tans:
- How to Apply Self-Tanner
- STEP 1: Exfoliate
- Exfoliator for the Face
- Exfoliator for the Body
- STEP 2: Moisturize
- Moisturizer for the Face
- Moisturizer for the Body
- The Very Best Self-Tanners For Your Face, Whatever Your Skin Type
- Tan-Luxe The Face Illuminating Self-Tan Drops
- Dr Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Glow Pad – Intense Glow
- Isle of Paradise Self Tanning Drops
- Chanel Soleil Identité Perfect Colour Face Self Tanner SPF 8
- James Read Gradual Tan Sleep Mask Face Retinol
- Bali Body Face Tan Water
- Amanda Harrington Illuminating Bronzing Mist
- Coola Sunless Tan Anti-Aging Face Serum
- St.Tropez Self Tan Purity Bronzing Water Face Mist
- Sisley Sun Glow Gel
- Shop Our Self-Tanning Favourites
Before You Apply Tanning Lotion
- Exfoliate. Use a pre-tan exfoliator to scrub off dry and dead skin. Smooth skin will help you obtain a streak-free tan.
- Shave. This avoids tanning lotion accumulating near hair follicles. No one wants a bunch of little bronzed spots all over their legs!
- Wear something you’re okay staining. Many tanning lotions are tinted right out of the bottle or contain bronzers that darken with UV light.
How To Apply Tanning Lotion
- Squeeze a generous amount of lotion into the palm of your hand. Too much lotion is better than too little since dry skin won’t absorb as much UV light as moist skin!
- Rub the lotion evenly over your skin to avoid dark patches.
- Avoid putting too much lotion, especially bronzers, on the face, specifically under the eyes, around the nostrils, or by the hairline.
- Before you tan, wipe off lotion from the palms of your hands and in between your fingers. Lotion sometimes gathers in between fingers, making them darker than the rest of the hand, which would just look weird!
How To Wash Off Tanning Lotion
- Wait a few hours before showering to ensure you’ve given the lotion adequate time to work it’s tanning magic. For lotions with bronzers, you typically need to leave bronzers on for a few hours after tanning to get the full results of the bronze.
- Use your favorite body wash to lightly soak the skin and wash off the lotion.
- DON’T Exfoliate again until you’re ready to tan again!
Tips for Beginner Tanners
When I first attempted indoor tanning, I had no idea what I was doing! No one likes feeling unprepared. I didn’t have tanning goggles, I didn’t have tanning lotion, and I certainly had no idea how to apply it either!
Luckily for me, the people at the tanning salon I went to were super helpful and talked me through the steps. My love for tanning was instant, and after months of tanning, I became a certified tanning technician at that very salon! Now, it’s my pleasure to get to help guide other first time tanners!
So here are some of the questions that most commonly get asked by newcomers:
Does tanning bed lotion really work?
Absolutely! Tanning lotion ensures skin is properly moisturized to absorb the maximum ultraviolet light that develops a tan.
Did you know dry skin can repel up to 50% of UV light? That means if you’re not using a tanning lotion, you could be losing up to 50% of your tan’s potential color! And that doesn’t even take into consideration all of the other benefits that tanning lotion offers your skin.
Tanning lotions have the ability to:
- Create a darker tan through the use of bronzers.
- Enhance and extend the life of your tan.
- Increase micro-circulation and oxygenation to stimulate the melanin cells that produce your tan.
- Soften and smooth dry or rough skin.
- Help prevent the signs of aging associated with tanning.
Can I use regular lotion in a tanning bed?
No. You should never use a regular lotion in a tanning bed. If a lotion isn’t designed for a tanning bed, it should never be used in one. It could contain ingredients that can actually damage the acrylic of the tanning bed.
For this same reason, you should not use sunscreens or oils in a tanning bed. In fact, when you show up at the salon, they may actually ask to see your lotion to ensure you are using proper tanning lotion. Those tanning beds are expensive and they don’t want to replace them just because someone used the wrong lotion.
How long before tanning should you apply tanning lotion?
Yes, but most people wait to apply their tanning lotion at the tanning salon.
When you put lotion on too early, your skin has time to absorb the moisture. This can be good for some skin types, but not those with dry skin. If you have drier skin, it’ll suck up that moisture and leave your skin wanting another coat before you’ve reached the salon. Remember, dry skin is the #1 enemy when trying to get an amazing tan.
Another reason many tanners wait to put their lotion on is that your skin needs to be very well-hydrated. Speaking from experience, it feels kind of uncomfortable being all lathered up with lotion while dressed and driving to the tanning salon. It rubs off on your seat, your clothes, and this can also leave you needing a second application. More lotion, more money!
The best way to avoid needing to reapply your lotion is to just do it the one time. While you’ll probably feel rushed trying to apply your tanning lotion quickly the first few times, you’ll soon be a pro and will be able to blend, rub, and wipe in no time!
Should I put tanning lotion on my face?
If you want an even tan over your entire body and face, then yes, put tanning lotion on your face. This will ensure you don’t look like you’ve face-swapped with someone who’s way tanner than you!
Tanners who use dark bronzer lotions sometimes choose a lotion without bronzers specifically for their faces. Bronzer lotions, when not evenly applied, can cause streaks or blotches. Using a tan accelerator lotion on your face can prevent discoloration on your face.
You can use cosmetic bronzers or a tinted face moisturizer after you’ve tanned to even out your face’s color.
Can I use any moisturizer after tanning?
It’s important to moisturize after you tan because it helps enhance and extend your tan’s color. While your skin will benefit from using any moisturizer, a specifically designed after-tanning lotion has additional things to help sooth your skin.
These lotions can offer anti-aging ingredients like hemp seed oil to help minimize fine lines, or aloe and vitamins to help sooth skin and repair UV damage. My personal favorite is Juicy by Designer Skin. It smells so yummy!
Indoor tanning is definitely one of the best ways to achieve a long-lasting tan without spending hours under the sun. Please remember that tanning indoors does come with the risk of exposure to UVA and UVB rays. If you have extremely sensitive skin and burn easily, definitely consider opting for a spray tan or self-tanner instead!
If you’re aware of the risk and ready to get a killer tan, then I hope this guide on how to apply tanning lotion was helpful for you! Happy tanning!
Exactly What You Shouldn’t Do When You Fake Tan Your Face
A golden glow really is the ultimate summer beauty look, team it with some beachy waves and you’re basically a bond girl in the Bahamas. But, sometimes that beachy glow can be a lot harder to achieve than it looks. Or, perhaps you just don’t really fancy exposing yourself to the dangers of sun damage (find out why here). This is where fake tan comes in to save the day, well almost – if we’re being honest, fake tanning is a skill that can take time to perfect. It’s a minefield of streaky legs and orange hands, and fake tanning the face is no exception – it may be even harder! To help you avoid looking like an Umpa Lumpa, we’ve compiled the ultimate list of dos and don’ts.
- Exfoliate before you tan: Exfoliating with a gentle oil-free scrub will help buff away any dead skin for the patch-free coverage.
- Do an ice facial: By giving yourself a quick ice facial you’ll close your pores and tighten your skin, which will create a smoother surface for application. Find out how to give yourself an ice facial here.
- Buy a specific product: Finding a fake tan that’s targeted specifically for your face isn’t essential but it’ll definitely help if you’re a beginner! We love using St. Tropez’s Self Tan Untinted Classic Bronzing Face Lotion, $30, in the evening and waking up looking flawless.
- Mix in your moisturizer: If you’re feeling a little nervous about fake tanning your face, try mixing a pea-sized amount of product with your moisturizer and apply to your face as normal. This will allow you to build up your tan daily, giving you a more natural look.
- Protect your brows: Is there anything more horrifying than fake tanning your eyebrows? Seriously, when we spend so much time grooming them, having them turn orange is actually heartbreaking! To avoid it, apply a little moisturizer on to your brows before you tan.
- Moisturize before: By moisturizing the morning of application you’ll give your fake tan a more polished finish. This means you need to pay special attention to your eyes and your hairline, not just your T-zone.
- Don’t forget your ears: Just use any leftover product on your hand or your mitt. Otherwise, your ears will be a total giveaway!
- Don’t stop at the hairline: If it’s a tanning lotion continue to spread the product onto your hairline using a cotton bud, as there’s nothing worse than a thick orange line framing your face.
- Don’t move: If you constantly move your face while fake tanning, the product will gravitate toward the natural lines of your face emphasizing your expression marks or wrinkles. This also means you shouldn’t really drink or eat straight after, but if you do need a drink, use a straw!
- Don’t go heavy on your neck: As you wash and cleanse your face twice a day, your fake tan will fade a lot quicker compared to the fake tan on your body. This means you don’t need anywhere near as much product on your neck, otherwise your neck will be a shade darker than your face. If you do use too much product, simply wipe your neck with a face wipe until it matches the shade of your face.
- Don’t forget to wash your hands: By washing your hands right before and straight after you tan it’ll help you avoid having majorly orange hands – it’s the ultimate fake tan giveaway!
If you don’t fancy fake tanning and prefer to hit the beach, check out this post for our beach essentials.
Tanning under the sun or inside a bed is bad for your skin and your health (no surprise there). But, you can get a gorgeous glow the safe way — that is, with a spray tan or self-tanning product. Since a perfect self-tanning outcome isn’t always guaranteed, here are 21 tips for making your faux glow look authentically sun-kissed.
1. For an even tan, exfoliate your body from head to toe before applying any self-tanner. To prevent your tan from looking splotchy and fading unevenly, use an oil-free exfoliator (oil creates a barrier between your skin and the tanner and will leave it streaky) before getting started. Kristyn Pradas, the tanning expert, who spray-tans Angels for the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, recommends exfoliating skin and shaving with a new razor the day before or the day of to further exfoliate your skin.
St. Tropez Tan Enhancing Polish dermstore.com $18.00 Jergens Natural Glow Color Primer In-Shower Scrub amazon.com $12.00 Vita Liberata Super Fine Skin Polish dermstore.com $30.00
2. After showering and exfoliating, apply an oil- and fragrance-free lotion to your hands from your wrist to your fingertips, on the backs of your heels, and on your elbows and knees. These areas tend to be dry and will absorb more pigment than other areas of your body, causing unevenness. If you have large pores or dry skin, you should also apply a moisturizer on your face 20 minutes before applying your self-tanner, Kristyn says.
3. Stick tape to the bottoms of your feet when using a spray self-tanner to cover your skin in case you step in fallen residue. One clear sign of a fake tan: orange spots on the soles of your feet. Painter’s tape or gaffer tape is thick yet not too difficult to remove when you’re finished.
4. Always apply tanner in a cool, dry area to keep yourself from perspiring. It’s important to exfoliate and rinse off before you tan to remove any dead skin cells (which cause unevenness), dirt, oil, and anything else that might create a barrier between your skin and the product. However, you’ll want to leave the steamy bathroom before the application process. Here’s why: Humidity, water, and sweat can break down the self-tanner, creating a streaky mess, so move cool, dry place instead.
5. If self-tanner intimidates you, try body makeup that washes off. Body makeup and bronzers are great for evening out the skin on your legs and arms, while giving you an instant glow. They can also replace self-tanner if you need a quick glow for a night out. At the end of the day, rinse the bronzing formulas off with soap and water and you’re back to your makeup-free skin.
Benefit Hoola Zero Tanlines Body Bronzer nordstrom.com $25.50 Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs amazon.com $6.99 L’Oréal Paris Sublime Bronze Summer Express Body Makeup Lotion amazon.com $8.28
6. To successfully apply tanner in your knuckle creases, bend your fingers so your hand looks like a claw. Think about it: You don’t walk around with your fingers straight all day long, so make sure you’re covering all the nooks on your body that might show when you move around.
7. Skip over your elbows and ankles when applying tanner to your arms and legs. Because the skin on these areas will soak up more of the product, skip them during the first pass. Then, go back and brush over them lightly with remnants of the tanner left on the mitt, blending the tanner well to prevent the color from looking too concentrated.
8. Contour your cheekbones with a small sponge brush and a self-tanner that’s made specifically for your face. Applying tanner to your face can be a little intimidating because, well, it’s your face. But if you keep the product concentrated right below your cheekbones, under your jawline, and on the sides of your forehand — and then a thin layer over the rest of your face — you’ll create a subtly contoured effect that won’t look like you just slapped a bunch of tanner on. Learn exactly how to do it here.
9. Instantly tone your body by contouring from head to toe. If you’re someone who loves a good contour, concentrate the tanner in certain areas on your abs, butt, legs, and arms for a naturally contoured effect. Learn how to do it here.
10. Use a self-tanner with SPF when you’re outside, so you can protect your skin while still getting a gradual “tan.” If you love the sun-kissed look and skip sunscreen because of it, you’re in luck! These multitasking formulas allow you to protect your skin without having to skip out on a gorgeous glow.
Jergens Natural Glow + Protect Daily Moisturizer Sunscreen SPF 20 amazon.com Vita Liberata Self Tan Dry Oil SPF 50 sephora.com $54.00
11. Make it easier to cover hard-to-reach areas, like your back, by assembling your own “mitt stick.” Gather your tanning mitt, a hair tie, and a back brush. Then, slip the mitt on top of the brush head and wrap the hair tie around the handle to keep the mitt from sliding off. Apply the tanner to your mitt and swipe it across the harder-to-reach areas.
12. Distribute the self-tanner on your mitt evenly by applying it to the center of your mitt before folding it in half. This helps you apply less product to your face, hands, elbows, knees, and feet using the tip of the mitt. You also won’t end up overdoing it and applying the same amount to your face that you would, say, your thigh.
13. Use a sponge brush to blend the tanner on your hands. After applying the tanner, lightly blend out the product with a sponge brush (like the kind you get at the craft or hardware store). This evens out dark spots and prevents any streaks from appearing after the tan develops. Kristyn also suggests doing this in between your fingers, toes, and on your knees, which tend to crease and often need blending.
14. Scrub the palms of your hands with an exfoliator after you’ve finished applying your self-tanner. Scoop a small amount of a scrub onto the middle of your palms and gently rub your hands together. Even if you use a mitt to apply your tanner (Kristyn says a mitt is the best way to ensure your tan is streak-free and your palms remain colorless), it’s easy to make mistakes when the product is still wet. The grittiness of the exfoliator will help remove any leftover tanner that may have gotten on your skin in the process. Whatever you do, don’t submerge your hands in water. Instead, follow the next step to get the remaining grit off your hands.
15. After you exfoliate the underside of your hands, rub your palms with a makeup wipe to remove the exfoliator. The last thing you want to do while allowing your self-tanner to dry and develop is get your skin wet. Instead, use a makeup wipe to clean your palms a bit. Kristyn also suggests using a facial toner, such as Sea Breeze, that contains alcohol to help remove any tanner from your palms.
16. Use a cotton swab or makeup wipe to remove the tanner on your nails and cuticles. After you’ve applied the self-tanner carefully and evenly all over your hands, go back and remove the product from your nails and cuticles. One by one, gently rub each fingernail and toenail with a wipe or cotton swab until the product is gone to prevent stains.
17. Instead of waiting for your tanner to dry when you’re in a hurry, lightly blast your skin with the cool setting of your blow-dryer to speed up the process. This is so much easier than standing in your bathroom naked and literally waiting for paint your tanner to dry.
18. Lightly pat areas such as your armpits, elbows, and knees with a talc-free baby powder to prevent the product in those areas from creasing. After your self-tanner is dry and before you put your clothes back on, Kristyn suggests dusting powder over areas prone to creasing or sweating while the product develops.
19. Line your bed with a dark flat sheet, so you don’t have to change the bedding every time you tan. If you self-tan often and your tanner of choice has a guide color, you’re familiar with the annoying stains the tanner leaves behind. Although self-tanner residue will come out in the wash, changing the sheets every time you tan is a pain. Instead, try a bed protector or line your bed with a cheap dark sheet to sleep on for easy clean up.
Millenium Linen Twin Size Bed Sheet Set amazon.com $17.64 Black Tanzee Self Tan Sheet Protector tanzee.com.au $59.99
20. Use baby body wash and oil-free lotion to maintain your tan. Oil-based products will make your fake tan fade faster, so skip all products with oil while trying to preserve your tan. Also, stay away from exfoliators and opt for gentle cleansers to allow your tan to fade evenly and naturally.
21. If your tan still fades unevenly, use a self-tanner remover to speed up the shedding process. No matter how thorough your application is, sometimes the tanner can still leave behind stubborn buildup. So, before reapplying a new layer of tanner, remove all the old tan with one of the erasers below.
Tan-Luxe Glyco Water Self-Tan Eraser hsn.com $30.00 ModelCo Tan Remover Exfoliating Soap modelcocosmetics.com $12.00 Bondi Sands Tan Eraser prettylittlething.us $25.00
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Brooke Shunatona Brooke Shunatona is a contributing writer for Cosmopolitan.com.
While we usually like to fake (not bake) our tans, there are plenty of reasons why we love the sun. It boosts levels of serotonin (nature’s own Valium, proven to alleviate anxiety). Not only that, but it produces vitamin D which is good for bones, teeth and skin. But to avoid premature ageing and skin cancer risks, you need to take care for a safe, sun-kissed glow.
1. Always, always avoid sunbeds
Don’t fall for the myth peddled by some salons that they can give you a ‘healthy’ tan with a sunbed. “It’s the wrong UV – tanning beds pump out huge amounts of UVA and virtually no UVB (which stimulates vitamin D), and can increase your risk of skin cancer by 75%” says Dr. Nick Lowe of The Cranley Clinic in London.
2. Apply the right sunscreen
Don’t just rely on SPF; on the bottle you need to look for the term ‘broad spectrum’ or the UVA logo plus the word ‘high’. We recommend La Roche-Posay Anthelios.
Go for SPF30 over SPF50. “It filters 97% of UVB rays, while SPF50 filters 98%. The latter can give a false sense of security and can be so chalky you may not reapply it every two hours like you should. If you have very dark skin (south Indian or black), SPF15 is sufficient.” Explains Dr. Lowe.
Courtesy of brand REN Clean Screen Mineral SPF30 ren feelunique.com £24.00
3. Understand your tanning time
Your skin reaches a tanning cut-off point when it physically can’t produce any more melanin, the tanning pigment, so it’s pointless to lounge by the pool all day. “Everyone has their own melanin cut-off, typically two to three hours or much less if you have fair skin” says Dr Lowe. “After this you’re just subjecting your skin to the risk of UV damage.”
4. Seek some shade
“Taking breaks from the sun will reduce UV intensity and your sunburn risk and means your tan will be healthier and longer-lasting” says Dr. Frank Schwanke, Head of Suncare R&D for Beiersdorf.
Summer Beauty Essentials
Skin Doctors InGrown Hair Solution Skin Doctors feelunique.com £12.99
Swipe this over your body after shaving and it’ll help prevent razor bumps and ingrown hairs.
St. Tropez Self Tan Purity Body Mousse St. Tropez lookfantastic.com £24.80
Arguably the best fake tan yet. Easy to apply, dreamy golden shade and zero streaks, guaranteed.
AMELIORATE Transforming Body Lotion AMELIORATE lookfantastic.com £22.50
Full of lactic acid, this smoothing body lotion minimises Keratosis Pilaris (aka dry, bumpy skin) asap.
Vichy Anti-Blemish Sunscreen SPF30 Vichy lookfantastic.com £12.35
Sick of your sun cream breaking you out? Vichy’s genius new formula won’t clog your pores.
5. Swap ‘tan-accelerating’ creams for supplements
Skin cancer authority, Dr. Marko Lens, says ‘tan-accelerating’ creams are BS. “Nothing you apply to your skin can improve the production of melanin, skin’s protective dark pigment. But taking a daily 25g beta-caretone supplement can. It doesn’t mean you need less sunscreen, but it boosts skin’s natural defence against UV by improving its ability to tan.”
Try Imedeen Tan Optimizer tablets which prepare the skin for the sun and protect cells from UV induced oxidative stress using a duo of antioxidants.
Courtesy of brand Imedeen Tan Optimizer (60 Tablets) Imedeen lookfantastic.com £40.00
6. Eat sun-friendly foods
Certain foods are known to increase lycopene, the skin’s own SPF. An antioxidant found in tomatoes, and other red and orange fruit and veg, it can boost your sun protection by a whopping 33%. One of the best sources is tomato paste – did someone say spag bol?
Dermatologist Dr. Samantha Bunting says “I’m a big fan of a group of antioxidants called polyphenols. Green tea is a great example. Sip it after a sushi lunch.” (Fish, rich in omega-3 has anti-inflammatory powers too).
Dark chocolate is packed with flavonoids that can help protect against sunburn, while caffeine is thought to help cut your skin cancer risk. “It’s best taken in an espresso shot right before you hit the beach” she says.
7. Faux your glow
Remember that fake tan offers no sun protection, but it can help you stop burning by easing the first day pale panic on holiday. Treat yourself to a spray tan before the big bikini reveal or find the perfect one to use at home with our round up of the best fake tans.
Tantour, £26, Huda Beauty
Perfect for when you can’t decide between a sunkissed glow or a chiseled look, this hybrid powder provides both!
Bronze-Tour Powder, £52, Rodial
We all know the struggle of trying to use bronzer for contouring, only to find it’s too orange, and using contour powder to bronze, only to find we look a bit lacklustre. Well, Rodial have solved this particular problem, creating a powder that is just golden enough to act as bronzer, while giving us kick-ass contour at the same time.
Matte Bronzer, £20.50, Milk Makeup
Ever since Milk Makeup launched into the UK, we’ve been obsessed with the on-the-go stick products. But perhaps our all time favourite is this creamy but matte bronzer. It blends in effortlessly for a believable tan while the swipe-on format also means it’s great as contour.
Match Stix Matte Skinstick, £21, Fenty
Super convenient for contouring and blendable for an all-over glow, the Fenty Matte Skin Stick is our latest bronzing BFF. Our Deputy Beauty Editor likes to use it to chisel her cheekbones and temples, applying directly to the skin and then using a beauty blender to blend it in. As per Fenty, it’s available in five different shades to suit various skin tones.
O!mega Bronze Perfect Tan, £35, Marc Jacobs
This silky-matte bronzer is a favourite for those who like radiance, but not shimmer.
Terracotta Bronzing Powder, £37, Guerlain
Guerlain’s Terracotta bronzing products always receive lots of praise, and for good reason. With eight shades to choose from, you’re bound to find the right level of bronze for you.
Beach Stick Ibiza, £30, Charlotte Tilbury
If you’re a fan of strobing, this one is for you. It applies a gorgeous sun-kissed complexion with a glossy finish.
Amazonian Clay Matte Waterproof Bronzer, £25, Tarte
The colour is rich enough to use it for contour and to fake a tan.
Invisible Bronze Powder Bronzer, £25, BareMinerals
This one should be your go-to when doing a no-makeup-makeup look. The colour blends perfectly with any foundation for a healthy-looking complexion.
3-in-1 Bronzing Powder, £15, St. Tropez
Leave it to St. Tropez to nail our makeup for summer. This trio bronzer is matte and ideal for those looking for some warmth, without the dewy end.
Chocolate Soleil Bronzer, £25, Too Faced
Too Faced’s gorgeous bronzer not only smells faintly of chocolate (careful not to eat it!), but it also ensures a perfect tanned glow. It’s also perfect for contouring due to its matte finish.
Soleil Tan de Chanel, £40, Chanel
This is an incredible bronzer if you’re after a dewy look. With a cream base that turns into a moisture-pack powder, the formula glides onto the face and leaves a super glowy finish.
Ambient lighting bronzer, £45, Hourglass
The beautiful marbled effect of this Hourglass bronzer makes it tempting enough. But when you take into consideration the fact that it gives a gorgeous glow and has a light, airy texture, it’s extremely hard to resist.
Delice de Poudre Bronzing Powder, £7.99, Bourjois
This high-street classic is an affordable alternative option to many of the pricier bronzers on offer. This is a great all-rounder, and it smells like chocolate. Yes, we’re serious.
Bronzing powder in Laguna, £29, NARS
Bloggers and celebrities alike love this bronzer, and for good reason. It’s not orange-toned and is matte, which makes it perfect for contouring, as well as adding a holiday glow.
Matte Bronzer in Salute, £9, Topshop
This new Topshop Beauty bronzer is matte, a great shade and has a silky smooth texture, making it a lovely affordable option. Pick it up on your way to the checkout in Topshop!
Hoola Bronzer, £25.50, Benefit
Another classic, Benefit’s Hoola is a bronzer in a compact little box, making it perfect for travel. It has a warm tone and a lovely silky feel, and is an iconic product we will always love.
Bronzing powder, £52, Tom Ford
There’s nothing like a Tom Ford bronzer when it comes to luxury. This lovely compact comes in two sizes (the larger at £68) and is packaged beautifully. The product in the pan is also stunning, and you only need to lightly run your brush over it in order to get the perfect amount.
Pro Bronze Fusion, £30, Makeup Forever
We were very excited when we heard that Makeup Forever was coming to Debenhams in the UK. The brand, which was previously hard to source here, offers an amazing range of beauty products, and this lovely shimmering bronzer is one of our ultimate favourites.
8 Tips For Self-Tanning Your Face So Your Glow Looks Totally Natural
You’ve finally gotten the hang of self-tanning your body. You hardly ever end up with orange wrists anymore. But when it comes to your face… well that can be a little tricky. That’s where these tips for self-tanning your face come in. Because it’s one thing to try and hide streaky ankles and elbows, but it’s a little more difficult to conceal mistakes on your face. And it’s not exactly good for your skin to go in and try to exfoliate away a bad tan on day one.
The good news, though, is that self-tanning your face isn’t that much different from self-tanning your body. You’ll generally take the same sort of precautions as you would tanning your arms and legs, just with a smaller, more detailed area. The real issues come with how dark of a color you should choose compared to your body, and what to do with those weird borders like your eyebrows and hairline. But fear not. There are ways to make a faux tan look totally natural. So you nail a self-tanned face every time, here are eight tips to keep you from ending up with a streaky, orange mug.
1. Choose The Right Formula
Tarte Brazilliance Self-Tanning Face Towelettes, $10, Amazon
First things first: It’s important to choose the right formula of self-tanner for your face. Especially if you have sensitive skin or are prone to breakouts, it’s good to go for a tanner made specifically for the face. Also be sure to check the ingredients list so you know if there are any that will cause irritation. As far as color goes, shoot for something slightly lighter than you think you need. Your face doesn’t have to perfectly match your body, and it may even appear more unnatural if it does. If you’re worried about over-doing it, try a gradual tanner so you can work your way up a bronze you love.
2. Finish Eating First
Clarins Radiance-Plus Golden Glow Booster, $26, A mazon
You can mess up the tan around your mouth if you eat, drink, or brush your teeth right after applying it. So make sure you’ve taken care of everything you need to before applying your face tan so as to prevent accidentally rubbing any of it off.
Jergens Natural Glow Face Daily Moisturizer, $8, Amazon
Just like you would your body, remember to exfoliate your face before applying a sunless tanner. A gentle exfoliator will help slough off dead skin cells and even the texture of your skin without irritating it so your tanner will go on more smoothly and evenly.
4. Use An Ice Cube
Vita Liberata Trystal Minerals Self Tanning Bronzing Minerals, $45, Amazon
Celebrity skin-finishing expert, James Read, shared this (literally) cool tip with Imabeautygeek.com: Run an ice cube over your skin before starting your sunless tan. Even though it may sound a little crazy, the colder temperature will help temporarily tighten your pores so self-tanner doesn’t settle into them and cause uneven spots.
5. Moisturize Delicate Areas
Clinique Self Sun Face Tinted Lotion, $31, A mazon
Just as you would apply moisturizer to dryer areas like elbows and knees before self-tanning your body, you should do the same with key areas around your face. Moisturize around your nose, eyebrows, and hairline so none of these places turn orange and so your hair doesn’t accidentally become dyed from the tanner (which could happen if you have blonde or light hair).
6. Don’t Forget The Ears
Tan Towel Face Tan 15 Pack, $30, Amazon
When you self-tan your face, you actually have to go a little beyond, say, where you might normally apply makeup for the tan to appear natural. Make sure to buff it into your hairline (after applying some moisturizer there first), down your neck, and even onto and around your ears so that everything looks seamless.
7. Blend, Blend, Blend
Josie Maran Argan Liquid Gold Self-Tanning Face Oil, $50, Amazon
So you’re not left with any weird, orange streaks, blend until your tanner is perfectly buffed into your skin, and then blend a little more. Especially if you use your fingers, be sure to wash your hands immediately after you finish applying tanner so you won’t be left with orange palms. If you don’t like using your hands though, try a face mitt or a foundation buffing brush to make sure everything is properly blended and streak-free.
8. Practice After-Care
James Read Self Tan Express Glow Mask Face, $38, Amazon
To make sure your tan fades evenly instead of looking splotchy, it’s important to keep your skin hydrated by moisturizing every day. Also avoid using exfoliating treatments like topical acne medications and retinol. When you’re ready to remove or touch up your tan, use a gentle exfoliator to help scrub away what’s left of your tan.
No one will be able to tell you didn’t just come back from a tropical vacay.
Images: Courtesy of Brands
10 fake tan tips everyone needs to know
MORE GLOSS: 8 gradual tanning moisturisers reviewed
FAKE TAN TIP 7: RESEARCH YOUR TAN TYPES
“It’s also about personal preference vs format of tan rather than shade sometimes,” Jules points out. “A lotion or tanning oil is the most hydrating to the skin, a mousse is the quickest to dry and in my opinion the easiest to apply, and a spray is the closest thing you’ll get to a spray tan.
“Self tans take 8-12 hours to develop, gradual tans build up day on day to deepen colour and are great for first time tanners, instant tans are non-committal tans and wash away with warm soap and water – they’re like the tanning world’s answer to body makeup, and then the latest tans on the market are express tans – with a development time of 1-3 hours, these have changed the way in which we are tanning.”
Shop our edit of the latest self tan textures and options here.
FAKE TAN TIP 8: TRY A MITT
“Always apply using an applicator mitt: pump your product onto the mitt and apply to the skin using sweeping motions, rather than circular motions – remember you want to evenly distribute the product,” says Jules.
“Start at the ankles and work your way up, I’m a fan of one coat in the winter and two in the summer – but tanning is all about you and your personal preference! When it comes to your back, flip the mitt back to front, you’ll find it easier to apply or use a self-tan spray with 360° technology meaning it will spray at whatever angle you put it at.”
Are all tanning mitts created equal? According to our team of self-glow pros, no: GTG swears by the bBold Microfibre Glove, £6.95.
FAKE TAN TIP 9: MODIFY YOUR TECHNIQUE FOR YOUR FACE
“When it comes to your face, I like to mix the self-tan with a small amount of moisturiser to just soften the formula and minimise the chance of breakouts,” recommends Jules. “Mix the two together on the mitt and gently apply to the face. For hands and feet, use the leftover residue product on the mitt from your body application and just sweep over once. That is enough! Wipe your nails, palms and brows after application and apply some aloe vera based moisturiser (as before), at the bottom of your wrists and buff in using a buffing mitt to minimise the chance of a tanning sleeve.”
FAKE TAN TIP 10: SCULPT, GLOW AND GO
“For my clients it’s all about the next level of tanning – sculpting and highlighting,” says Jules. “Add additional tan to the area you want shaded – so underneath the collarbones, underneath the bicep indent, the outer torso and in between the thighs. If you’re pushed for time, do this with a bronzer or an instant tan. Then highlight your tan with an illuminator, applying lashings to your shoulders, collarbones, cheekbones and the front of your legs to create sheen and definition.”
To add a touch of subtle iridescence, we love Vita Liberata Body Blur, £29.95. Proving a hit with both fair and dark-toned testers in the GTG office due to its shade range, this wash-off skin finisher cleverly smooths over uneveness and adds a beautiful light-reflective glow to limbs.
We’d also highly recommend Charlotte Tilbury Supermodel Body, £45, courtesy of its cooling formula, silky texture and illuminating finish. A serious triple threat in the tanning stakes.
Here’s what to do if your fake tan goes wrong, plus top tips if you’re a bride looking to tan for your wedding
We may earn a commission for products purchased through some links in this article.
Whether you like your skin to look slightly sun-kissed, or full-blown ‘I just spent two months in Spain’, fake tan is our favourite way to fake a holiday glow.
And no matter what depth of colour you choose, or type of tanning formula you use, the secret to a golden glow lies in the application. We’ve spoken to the top tanners in the business to gather some tanning hacks – including a genius way to use your tanning mitt.
So read, remember and get ready for glowing, gorgeous skin.
1. Remove hair and exfoliate
Whatever your hair removal method is, it’s always best to be silky smooth and hair-free right before you tan.
You want to create the smoothest canvas possible, which is why it’s also important to exfoliate.
“You need to blitz and buff away all evidence of your previous tan to ensure an even base so your new glow goes on beautifully and looks flawless”, says Carly Hobbs, Sienna X Expert Tanner and Brand ambassador. “Fail to do so and you could get patchy results, with some darker areas.”
However, while most of us slather on our favourite exfoliator in the shower, a top celebrity tanner has revealed that’s exactly where we’re going wrong.
Jimmy Coco, who gives the Kardashian and Jenner sisters, as well as Ashley Graham, Gigi Hadid and Heidi Klum, their glow, maintains that we should exfoliate *after* we shower.
Speaking to Refinery29, he said: “Scrubs and soaps create a barrier on your skin that creates uneven, streaky, blotchy results.
“Your tan can’t get in and do its job if you have any residue on the skin.
“I have always told my clients that you need to exfoliate after the shower.”
If your previous tan is being extra stubborn, Celebrity Tanner and Founder of Isle of Paradise, Jule Von Hep, offers this clever tip: “Go swimming, the chlorine will soften the tan, then take some exfoliating gloves and scrub in the shower.”
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2. Make sure your skin is completely clean
And we mean REALLY clean. Even just a hint of deodorant or perfume can cause disaster.
“Deodorant will go green as it reacts with the tan on contact, and while it doesn’t stay green, it’s not a good look”, says Carly. “If you are able to shower pre-tan, be brave and go for a cold rinse to encourage pores all over the skin to close so your tan goes on seamlessly.”
As for perfume, you should remove it and also avoid applying it post-tan as it can mess with your tan’s development.
“I was once working with a client on Strictly Come Dancing and each week she’d come in on show day with a huge patch on her neck, it took us weeks to work out that immediately after her spray tan, she was spraying her neck with fragrance which was breaking the tan down as it developed”, shares Jules. “Do not do this! Spritz a hair mist if you need a scent.”
3. Moisturise dry areas just before application
Unless you want to end up with ankles, knees and elbows two shades darker than the rest of your skin, dry areas must be moisturised pre-tan.
Carly recommends focusing on the following areas: elbows, knees, knuckles, between the fingers, inner wrists, ankles and toes.
A tan primer is best, as it acts as a barrier to stop the tan from catching.
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4. Use a tanning mitt
When asked if a mitt was best, Jules replied, “Girl, yes. A mitt protects the tan from absorbing into the hands but also helps evenly distribute the product.”
The only exception? “If you’re using tanning drops or waters you can rub these in using your hands, just wash your palms with micellar water afterwards. But as a rule, I always use a mitt.”
However, it seems many of us having been using our mitts wrong. James Read at Violet Grey told Byrdie that we shouldn’t just pop tan onto the mitt and blend it in. Instead, he says, you should squeeze or pump the fake tan onto the lower half of the mitt (where the heel of your hand is), then fold your top fingers down and slap the mitt together, which spreads the product more evenly. Finally, only apply the tan using the top half of the mitt. If you need more product, repeat the slapping motion.
Explaining why this is the best method, James said: “You’re diluting the tan and making it thinner. This is especially important if you’re applying it to your face—this way, you’re lightly buffering the tan onto your face without it being too dark. Only small amounts are going on, and you’re only getting a thin layer.”
5. Apply your tan in front of a mirror
If you’re tanning solo, stand in front of a mirror to make sure you don’t miss any spots.
“Work methodically from legs, upwards and take your time”, says Carly.
When you think you’re done, twirl back and forth, checking the back of your knees and lift your arms above your head to ensure you didn’t miss the underside.
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6. Don’t forget your face
Whether you decide to tan your face or not, you can’t forget it altogether.
If you choose to tan this area, both Jules and Carly agree that less is more. “Repeat after me, two coats on the body and one on the face”, says Jules.
It’s also important to use products that are safe, or specifically formulated for the face. Jules recommends his Isle of Paradise Self-Tanning Drops: “Mix your desired amount of drops in with your normal face moisturiser (the more you drop the deeper the glow – I advise 2-3 drops). Sweep moisturiser over your skin, massaging in upward motions, and down the neck to the décolletage.”
If you choose not to tan this area, you may want to switch your shade of foundation to match your tanned body, making sure to blend down the neck for a seamless transition.
7. Wear loose clothing while it dries
Wearing restrictive clothes, under-wire bras or anything that rubs onto the skin is a big no-no post-tan.
If you’re going for a professional spray tan, do not show up wearing “skinny jeans, leggings, gladiator sandals or sports bras”, says Jules. “You want loose, floaty, effortless chic garments. My clients who work in fashion always wear jumpsuits.”
“Try to resist anything too sweaty after you tan”, says Carly. A.k.a it’s better to be cold than too hot.
If you’re at home, a floaty dress or loose-fitting pyjamas are perfect. And black is always best.
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8. Do not shave or wash post-tan
Another important reason to shave pre-tan is because if you do it afterwards instead, you’re at risk of shaving away your tan as the blades tend to pick up any dead skin cells as well as hair.
Carly also says to “avoid baths all together so you don’t soak your glow away”. Opt for showers instead.
9. Moisturise one day after your tan, and from there on
If you wish to maintain your glow and ensure an even fade, moisturising is a must.
“A faux tan loves being hydrated, so treat it daily, if not twice daily to Sienna X Radiance Body Balm, which not only moisturises but makes your tan pop and is good for the skin as it’s packed with vitamin E,” says Carly.
Too time-poor to moisturise?
“Use your tanning mitt to swipe it on at super speed. It’s especially handy on chilly mornings when moisturising is not the most fun.”
Our beauty editors have tried hundreds of body moisturisers and can assure you these are the best
Our beauty editors have tried hundreds of body moisturisers and can assure you these are the best
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10. Top up with gradual tan
If you really want your tan to last as long as possible, top it up after a few days with a gradual tan.
It will keep you going until you’re ready to start back at number one again…
And, if all else fails, a clever rewind product such as St Moritz’s Advanced Tan Remover, £9.99, will give you the power to wipe the slate clean.
Ready to tan? Check out the best fake tans:
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How to Apply Self-Tanner
STEP 1: Exfoliate
Application: Exfoliating is a must if you want a long-lasting and even tan. After exfoliation product will be able to sink into the skin more effectively. It also helps smooth the skin, so that the tanner doesn’t leave unnatural dark patches.
Exfoliator for the Face
Use an exfoliator like Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant with glycolic or salicylic acid that will remove dead skin and dull skin on the face prepping it to absorb color more evenly and effectively.
Exfoliator for the Body
Exfoliate your body with a scrub like Kiehl’s Grapefruit Body Scrub. It will exfoliate and smooth the skin, revealing softer skin that will easily absorb the self-tanner.
STEP 2: Moisturize
Moisturizer for the Face
Choose a lightweight moisturizer like Juice Beauty Oil-Free Moisturizer and dab just a little onto dry spots to prevent them from turning dark or orange.
Moisturizer for the Body
Apply a richer body moisturizer like La Mer The Body Creme to dry areas of the skin will soften, soothe and hydrate skin, preventing those areas from looking patchy post application.
The Very Best Self-Tanners For Your Face, Whatever Your Skin Type
The seasons may well have truly transitioned but that doesn’t mean you have to put your fake tan on the back burner. In fact, self-tanners for the face are having a bit of a moment. With increasingly sophisticated formulas that contain skin-loving ingredients like hyaluronic acid, fake tan may just be the ticket for dry, lack-lustre skin in need of a pick-me-up.
The trick to tanning the face, especially during the colder seasons, is to go as natural as possible. As Isle of Paradise founder, Jules Von Hep, says: ‘faces that have too much self-tan on look unnatural – think tanned, natural, effortless skin – not tangoed,’ so follow his general rule of thumb – ‘repeat after me, two coats on the body, one on the face.’
Here are 10 of the very best fake tans to revive your skin during the winter months without a single streak in sight…
Tan-Luxe The Face Illuminating Self-Tan Drops
This will give a natural glow, as if you’ve spent a weekend poolside in St Tropez. Simply mix 1-4 drops of the bronzing liquid into your usual facial moisturiser and apply evenly over the face. Leave on overnight to wake up with luminous skin.
Tan-Luxe, The Face Illuminating Self-Tan Drops, £35 from FeelUnique
Dr Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Glow Pad – Intense Glow
This is the product for you if you want minimal faff and maximum results. Not only does this exfoliate your face, buffing away dead skin cells, it also decongests your pores for smoother skin. It contains a whole load of antioxidants and is extremely travel-friendly – a good one to pack in your carry-on if you’re short of space!
Dr. Dennis Gross, Dr Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Glow Pad – Intense Glow, £34 from Lookfantastic
Isle of Paradise Self Tanning Drops
The brand founded by spray tan wunderkind Jules von Hepp, Isle of Paradise is full of hero products that suit every skin type. The drops, however, are particularly special – and certainly one to use if you’re a tanning novice. They come in light, medium and dark. Jules himself recommends adding 2-3 drops into your daily moisturiser and then sweeping the product over your skin in upward motions – don’t forget the décolletage!
Isle of Paradise, Self Tanning Drops, £19.95 from Beauty Bay
Chanel Soleil Identité Perfect Colour Face Self Tanner SPF 8
A rich texture that melts easily into skin? Sign us up! This luxury cream leaves skin radiant and glowing and, unusually for a tanning product, offers a small amount of SPF, making it the perfect choice for overcast mornings when you still want protection.
Chanel, Soleil Identité Perfect Colour Face Self-Tanner, £32 from John Lewis
James Read Gradual Tan Sleep Mask Face Retinol
A multi-tasker in the truest sense, this product contains retinol to promote cell turn over and hyaluronic acid to hydrate, all while giving you a healthy glow. But best of all? The gel is colourless and has been formulated to protect both clothing and linen
James Read, Sleep Mask Tan Face, £30 from jamesreadtan.com
Bali Body Face Tan Water
A toner and tan in one! Use a cotton pad or your hands to apply, making sure you work it into your hairline, ears and down your neck. For optimum results leave 4-6 hours before applying your favourite moisturiser on top.
Bali Body, Face Tan Water, £25.95 from balibodyco.com
Amanda Harrington Illuminating Bronzing Mist
Amanda Harrington’s range is unrivalled when it comes to tanning the face. After you’ve applied the Illuminating Bronzing Mist, use the Face Buffer Brush to blend for the most even tan of your life. There’s even a Pre-Colour Primer, which creates the optimal base for your tan and also contains low-level tanning agents to extend the life of your glow.
Amanda Harrington, Illuminating Bronzing Mist, £28 from amandaharrington.com
Coola Sunless Tan Anti-Aging Face Serum
This multi-tasker is perfect for the perpetually busy, combining skin care and tanning into one seamless experience. This lightweight serum gives a subtle glow and has solid skin care credentials to back it up -hyaluronic acid to hydrate, algae to detoxify and plant stem cells to rejuvenate. This formula is also vegan and reef-friendly, giving a tan you can feel really good about.
Coola, Sunless Tan Anti-Aging Face Serum, £49 from Cult Beauty
St.Tropez Self Tan Purity Bronzing Water Face Mist
A really easy product to use, simply spritz and go – no need to wash off. Trust the tanning experts at St Tropez to produce a product free from that notorious ‘fake tan smell’. This tan has an uplifting tropical scent that will have you thinking about booking your next holiday in the sun…
St. Tropez, Self Tan Purity Bronzing Water Face Mist £22 from Boots
Sisley Sun Glow Gel
If you’re looking for a temporary bronzing fix, look no further than Sisley’s Sun Glow Gel. This one requires minimal effort and zero upkeep as it’s easily removed at the end of the day with your regular cleanser, delivering an instant complexion boost.
Sisley, Sun Glow Gel, £64 from John Lewis
READ MORE: The Best Fake Tans That Won’t Go Streaky
Shop Our Self-Tanning Favourites
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We could go on and on about how brilliant this self-tan is. But, all you really need to know is that it lends skin an even, deep, believable tan that will have everyone asking, ‘where have you been?’
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A-list tanning expert, Amanda Harrington, has bottled her secret with this facial tanning mist. The idea is to use the brush, spritz it with tan, then buff it in for the most even tan yet.
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If you’re in a rush, this quick-drying formula is the one. It develops into a deep tan (their darkest formula yet) with dual action tanning actives.
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Cult tanning brand Isle of Paradise’s Ultra Dark Mousse is your go-to if you want intense, deep results within 10 minutes. Although you’ll have a dark tan, this eco-friendly product can leave you with a light conscience as it’s cruelty-free, vegan, organic and – just to top it off – smells like coconut, rather than biscuits.
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Packed with hyaluronic acid, this lightweight formula plumps and hydrates skin whilst delivering a natural, golden glow that’s completely steak-free.
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A hydrating facial oil and fake tan all in one. Apply a few drops before bed and wake-up to a healthy, believable, bronzed glow.
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The enriching jojoba oil extract in Nip + Fab’s new oil will keep your skin super soft while providing a radiant, bronzed tint to suit every skin tone.
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Rapidly absorbed within minutes, this quick-fix natural looking tan is a must-have to take you from garishly unmissable to flawlessly sun-kissable.
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With no need to rinse off and a speedy dry time of 2 minutes, you can spritz, blend and go, for maximum efficiency. There’s even a free tanning mitt.
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Bali Body’s best-selling mousse is 100% vegan, natural and provides that Bali radiance without the air fare.
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By using organic botanical soaked cloths (that are also 100% biodegradable) Vita Liberata has rolled a skin treatment and golden tan solution all into one. And with ingredients to rival an acai bowl recipe, you’ll not only be ready for a holiday in Bali but your skin will smell practically good enough to eat.
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Now in an even bigger size to last you all summer long, you can possess that unattainable (until now) and luminous glow to rival Charlotte’s A-List client list. The light-reflecting pigments give skin a lovely finish, while hidden caffeine extracts reduce any signs of puffiness.
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You can use this shimmering oil it on its own as a highlighter, smoothed on to shoulders and across your collarbone for a real holiday glow.
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The Aussies have tanning down to a T, as proven by Bondi Sands’ Liquid Gold. Packed with Argan Oil, this foam guarantees not only a rich tan, but a gleaming, luxurious sheen to the skin, too.
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The permanently grey skies of Scotland have made it a surprising hub for tanning expertise. UTAN has collaborated with fellow Scot and YouTube sensation Jamie Genevieve to create Skin Idol – a tan and body makeup hybrid. Using blurring and blemish-perfecting technology, it’s basically a flawless Instagram filter for your legs.