Achieving a flawless faux glow is no mean feat.
First, there's choosing the right type of tan. Mousse, lotion or mist? Then, there's nailing the technique, because no-one wants blotchy limbs. And that's before we've touched on how to ensure it sticks around - heck, there's even a tanning hotline for when it all goes horribly wrong!
But luckily for you guys, we've enlisted the very best tanning experts in the biz to lift the lid on the quick, easy and downright clever tips and tricks they swear by for nailing that seamless, sun-kissed look, because no-one needs to know you got it from a bottle...
But before you start, check out our pick of the best fake tans for the perfect faux glow here.
1. Body Prep Is Key To A Seamless Faux Tan
If you want your tan to stick around, you need to prep your skin. Applying colour over skin that hasn't been exfoliated will only fade as the cells shed, and we're not about that.
'I urge all tanning pros at home to exfoliate gently the morning or evening before tanning application - you'll really notice a difference in the strength of the tan,' says leading tanning expert, James Harknett.
'Opt for a scrub, like Sisley's Energising Foaming Exfoliant, £78. It doesn't leave a greasy film on the skin and it's perfect for preparing an even base for tan. After scrubbing leave the skin clear of oil and moisturiser. These are what cause streaks and blotches. Clear, clean skin is all you need.'
But how can we ensure fake tan doesn't collect on our elbows and knees?
'The only areas that need just a little moisturiser before tanning are parts of skin that are prone to feeling more dry like the less fleshy pieces of skin such as the elbows and knees,' says James. 'Tan can over absorb in these parts of the body so just moisturise delicately on them, especially on the ankle bone.'
And Jules Von Hep, Global Tanning Director at Tan Luxe, also once taught us to apply a light layer of hand cream to our wrists to help avoid the annoying muddy marks that always accumulate there.
Don't even think about hitting the bottle (of tan, obviously) without a slathering of this feather-light lotion on problem areas, like knees and knuckles. With vitamin E and aloe vera, arguably two of the most moisturising ingredients out there, it kicks telltale signs of your tan being fake right to the kerb.
2. Ace Your Fake Tan Application Technique
First thing's first, don't use your bare hands unless you want your palms to look like they belong to an Oompa Loompa.
For seamless application, get yourself a mitt, like the Xen-Tan Luxury Tanning Mitt, £4.00 or the Cocoa Brown by Marissa Carter Double Sided Tanning Mitt, £6.99 which will make light work of bronzing your back.
'Using a mitt ensures an even, streak free finish,' says Jayne Cooper, St. Tropez Tanning and Skin Finishing Expert. 'Sweeping motions are better than circular motions as they distribute the product more evenly, ensuring you have a flawless finish.'
Gotcha, and to avoid any tan seeping right through, it might be a good idea to pop on a pair of latex gloves first.
3. Treat Your Hands And Feet Differently When Applying Fake Tan
Stained knees and elbows are one thing, but patchy knuckles and toes? We'd rather not. To avoid the telltale signs of a faux glow, Jayne suggests simply using the residue product left on the mitt after body application.
'Your hands should be the last body part you tan,' she says. Just brush the mitt over them lightly, et voila.
4. Yep, There IS An Easy Way To Tan Your Back
If tanning your back yourself feels a little like acrobatics or you're a bit too embarrassed to ask your housemate to do the honours, try either one of these foolproof tricks:
'Turn the mitt around so that the applicator side is on the back of your hand,' says Jayne. 'This will give greater flexibility to reach more or your back. Alternatively, use a mist rather than a lotion or mousse. You can either spray the air and walk into it or simply spray over your shoulder.'
Cancel that appointment! Thanks to the controlled nozzle and ultra-moisturising ingredients, the results are the closest we've seen to a professional tan - virtually seamless.
Bondi Sands' Everyday Gradual Tanning Foam might be clear, but don't underestimate its ability to leave behind an honest, believable glow. Switch it with your body lotion. It ensures a constant colour that never looks patchy and keeps scaliness at bay thanks to the aloe vera and vitamin E.
5. Tweak Your Technique When It Comes To Tanning Your Face
The cell turnover on our faces is more rapid than anywhere else on our bodies, and if you use AHAs or retinol, that'll only speed the process up. So, Jayne suggests incorporating a liquid tanning solution into your daily moisturiser to avoid the dreaded fade.
'That said, all St. Tropez products have been formulated to ensure that they are right for the face. The Gradual Tan Tinted Everyday Moisturiser + Primer, £18 combines tan and moisturiser for an instant hint of sheer bronze thanks to the optical diffusers and bronzing powders and a lasting golden glow as it develops.'
- Tan Luxe's The Face, £35
Mix a few drops of this liquid gold formula into your moisturiser or serum and it'll do all the hard work for you. Expect a subtle, sun-kissed radiance minus the orange tinge or annoying patchiness.
Subtle tanners in this beauty editor-approved face tan mask work their magic on pallid skin while you snooze. The best part? You can be sure that even a generous pump won't stain your pretty silk pillowcase.
6. Keep Those Peksy Little Brown Dots At Bay By Doing THIS
We've all been there - spent a good hour waiting for our golden glow to develop only to wash it off and notice a rash of little brown dots all over our legs - er, what are they?
'If you ever seem to have little brown dots appearing on the legs, particularly on the shins after tanning, then you are shaving too close to your tan application,' says James. 'Shave at least twenty-four hours before and the the pores will then have time to seal over again. Any waxing is best done two days before. This will also allow any wax residue to be washed away leaving skin clear.'
Alternatively, Carly even suggests blasting your legs with cold water (if you can hack it) before application to minimise the appearance of pores. A cold compress (like a damp flannel) also works wonders.
7. Taking It Slow Will Result In A More Even Finish
As the saying goes, you can't rush things you want to last, and according to Carly Hobbs, expert tanner and Sienna X brand ambassador, you should dedicate at least half an hour to applying, buffing and perfecting your tan. It may sound like a given, but we've lost count of how many speedy jobs have lead to streaky limbs. Hello, tanning hotline?
'Pop on a playlist – the sunnier the tunes the better in winter – and treat it like, well, a treat,' she says. 'Go over every single bit of the body, then double check your handy work in the mirror.'
Calling all time poor tanners! You need Bondi Sands' latest innovation in your life. The recommended time for achieving a glow akin to spending three weeks in Santorini is one hour, but even thirty minutes leaves behind a gorgeous sun-kissed tint.
- NKD Skin Tinted Self Tan Mousse, £14.95
We were blown away by the genuine bronze hue this lent our peaky limbs. It's super hydrating so is much less likely to cling to parched patches.
8. Nurture Your Tan
'Just like when you've popped to a salon, once you've finished bronzing at home you need to take care of your tan while it develops,' says Carly.
'This means loose clothes (preferably dark ones), no sweaty workouts and not doing the dishes! All of these can mark or dent your tan so it's best to avoid them until you've rinsed off and patted dry.'
And if you cant be bothered to sit around and wait, you'll be blown away by St. Tropez' latest invention - the Gradual Tan 1 Minute Everyday Pre-Shower Tanning Mousse, £14.50 that takes just one minute (yep, you read that correctly) to develop. Just don't underestimate it. After two days, it made our pasty limbs look like they'd been soaking up the sun in the Maldives.
9. Avoid Your Pets Immediately After Tanning - Yep, Really
'Another major thing to consider is pets, especially dogs,' says Carly.
'Yes, they are cute but they also can be attracted to the scent of your glow because fake tan is made with a special kind of sugar called DHA, which reacts with the amino acids on your skin and the oxygen in the air to turn you bronzed. Because of this, dogs often fancy a lick of your arm or leg, so cover up and avoid your furry friend until you've showered!'
Well, you learn something new every day, right?
10. The Right Water Temperature Makes All The Difference When Washing Off Fake Tan
Yep,water temperature is a big deal. Anything too hot could sabotage your glow and anything too cold might leave you feeling uncomfortably sticky - not cool.
'When it comes to showering try and keep the water a little cooler than normal,' explains James Harknett. 'Avoid hot soaks. Shower until your guide colour has been washed off completely and ensure the water is running clear off the skin. From then on, shower in warm water as this can help preserve the colour for longer.'
11. Moisturise, Moisturise And Moisturise Some More To Keep Your Colour On Lock-Down
If your skin is dry and flaky, it'll only result in uneven patches, not good when all anyone ever wants are flawlessly bronzed, supermodel pins.
'[After showering] simply pat your body dry and moisturise all over,' says James. 'I love the Natura Bisse Vitamin C+C Vitamin Summer Lotion, £50 because it locks the colour into the skin and allows a gentle fade over the week.'