How to apply fake tan

Top tips for getting the perfect faux glow


The perfect fake tan can work wonders, giving you confidence to make you glow inside and out! Self-tanning is easier than you might think - learn more about the application technique and different types of tan available so you can give yourself that beautiful bronze tint at home.

How to choose the right fake tan

Mousse or spray? Lotion or oil? From the best fake tan for pale skin to the easiest ones to apply, we’ve got you covered:

First time: If you’re a little nervous, start with a gradual tan that builds up over time. This way you can give yourself a tailored glow. Use it every day for a darker, longer-lasting colour, or less often for a subtle look.

Dry skin: A hydrating tanning oil or lotion will have you looking and feeling moisturised and glowing in no time.

Short on time: Why not try a mousse; they’re fast to dry and quick to apply. A gel is a good option too if you need to get dressed straight away.

The A List tan: For coverage and a professional finish, go for a self tan in a spray format – they allow you greater control too.

Quick fix: Instant tan is your new best friend; just don’t get caught in the rain!

How to prep for your fake tan

Tanning prep is kind of a big deal. These top tips will save you from scrubbing and reapplying later: 

  • Exfoliate beforehand to remove the dead skin cells at the surface – smooth skin is less likely to streak
  • Wax or shave at least 24 hours before or you’ll whip off half of your glorious golden tan. This will also stop the colour settling in pores, which can give skin that dotted appearance. Use a new razor when shaving for the smoothest finish
  • Moisturise dry areas such as knees and ankles, plus toenails to prevent them from darkening. We don’t recommend moisturising all over though, as it can stop the colour from going on evenly
  • Blast your face with cold water to close your pores, so your fake tan is more receptive on your skin

How to apply your fake tan

Now for the fun part - how to fake tan without a streak or splodge in sight. No one will know it’s faux.

A tanning mitt or glove is a must. No amount of baby wiping will save you from stains. Pop your mitt on the end of a body brush to reach difficult areas like your back. 

Start by using circular motions to distribute. Then swipe vertically for a smooth, even finish. 

Work from the ankles upwards. Your feet are the driest area, so mix moisturiser with your tan to stop them absorbing too much colour. Add a little moisturiser to your hairline and eyebrows too to prevent staining. 

Pick up a precision sponge for tricky areas like fingers, toes and knees.

Mind the hands. They’re the ultimate fake tan tell-tale, so use a cotton bud to remove excess tan from fingernails, cuticles and in between each finger. 

Blow-dry your body for speedy drying (and keep warm while you wait!).

Try tantouring. Up your tan game and apply a little extra to collarbones, outer thighs and biceps for dreamy definition.

Top tip: for a slick finish, dab fake tan onto a make-up brush and apply it like a foundation to awkward areas like your ankles and feet to avoid ugly patches.

How to make your tan last

Drench your legs in moisturiser after the tan develops. If you need to put socks on immediately, shake some talcum powder into them first to stop your tan rubbing off.