With the British summer more unpredictable than Taylor Swift's next PR move, is it ever possible to get a natural looking tan without going on holiday?
We're not even fussy - for us fair skinned types even a light glow would be desirable, minus the skin damage and sunburn, of course.
Even with occasional bursts of glorious sun (Bank Holiday weekend, we miss you already), a suntan is a badge of honour that only a few of us can easily attain. Unsuspecting afternoons in the park can end up in dodgy tanlines and inevitable red noses.
The solution? A cheeky bit of fake tan.
But for anyone who's ever used tanning products before, the risk of looking like an oompa-loompa is pretty high. Orange tan marks, golden palms, brown knees - sometimes the self tan accidents are just as bad as the sun-induced ones.
Enter stealth tanning.
The perfect method for tanning newbies, a stealth tan is the subtle way to self tan and achieve that elusive bronzed result. But patience is key.
Replacing risky overnight colour changes with a gradual tan that builds up over time, stealth tanning is the easiest way to fool your friends and colleagues with a faux glow.
Natural tan or not? Your secret is safe with us.
Check out our top tips and tricks for getting the sneakiest fake tan around...
Slow And Steady
A gradual tanner is key to the stealth look. Because the pigments in gradual tanner are diluted and take time to develop, it's actually really difficult to overdo it on your first go. It's also a lot easier to spot when the colour isn't developing the way you want it to or if you're applying too much to one area.
Exfoliate Your Skin First
With normal tanning, you need to prime your skin in order to avoid patches - fortunately with gradual tan, a patchy tan is way more easily corrected. Exfoliation is always recommend in order to make your tan last longer. Why? Because fake tan clings to dry patches of skin which leads to an uneven finish and also fades quicker as skin shed. Sounds gross, but it's totally necessary.
Try... Optiat Coffee Scrub made from used coffee grounds, you're also doing your bit for the environment by using this cruelty-free scrub to prime your skin.
Layer It Up
Add a layer of gradual tan every other day over 7-10 days, and the slow bloom of colour will be unnoticeable until you suddenly get that glorious comment of, 'You're looking quite brown recently, have you been on holiday?, to which you can internally fist-punch the air in victory.
Most gradual tanners come in the form of a body moisturiser so getting it into your daily routine isn't too tricky. Just apply after your morning shower and allow to absorb before you get dressed.
Or slap on before you go to sleep and avoid wearing your best pjs for a week.
Try... Dove Derma Spa Summer Revived Body Lotion. Not only does this keep your skin hydrated (which prevents patchiness), it also comes in two shades for you to choose from depending on your skin tone.
It's All About The Face
It's easy to concentrate only on getting a golden bod, but the biggest giveaway is forgetting about your face.
Although gradual tan is super low in pigment, you may want to dilute it slightly with face cream and rub mainly on the forehead and centre of your face. Whatever you do, don't forget to blend and wash those hands afterwards people or orange palms will be the reward for your efforts.
Allergic To Fake Tan?
There is a chemical-free alternative for the sensitively skinned amongst us and the good news is that it's super stealthy, as well as gentle. Isla Apothecary does a Jasmine Radiance Body Oil which includes pigments of mica (the bits of colour in mineral make-up).
It's a blend of copper pigment suspended in a mix of cold pressed seed oils that will lightly stain your skin with a hint of colour as you apply it. Don't let the dark colour fool you, it's super lightweight and easy to layer.
A New Way To Highlight
You don't have to go all-over bronze - sometimes a uniform tan can be a bit obvious. For gals with super fair skin (especially those who haven't been abroad), why not just hint at a post-holiday glow with strategically placed gradual tan?
Focus on the places that the sun would naturally hit - your shoulders, forearms and collarbone, as well as your cheekbones and nose.
A dusting of matte bronzer over these areas using a large fan brush will do the trick.
Try...Morphe M495 Fan Brush. There's no risk of overload with this giant fan brush. Use it in light, sweeping motions across your skin.