Style... The bronze age
Sick of unsightly elbows and hard-to-hide streaks? Follow our perfect fake tan guide
We've all been there: you wake up in the morning having lashed on the fake tan the night before, you strip off to have a shower, only to be faced with a frightening sight. You're orange and you're streaky, and frankly not fit for public viewing. You're probably quick to blame the product, but given the incredible advancements in the fake tan industry in recent years, it's most likely your fault.
The reality is, fake tan application is a skill. And one that needs time and careful attention. According to Shelley Martin, co-founder and co-owner of He-Shi Tan, one of Ireland's best-selling brands - loved by Christine Bleakley (pictured) - preparation is one of the most important steps in the tanning process, and one that we all frequently forget about. "Preparing the skin for tanning allows a smoother, more even application and will help your colour last longer, with a more even wear-off," she says.
The desired aesthetic among Irish women has changed somewhat in recent times, Shelley says, with consumers looking for a healthy glow, rather than an overly bronzed look. "We've seen a move away from the quite obviously faking it to a more natural look. In effect, it's about enhancing our skin's own colour," says Shelley, who we have enlisted to give us her expert advice to consistently achieving successful fake tan application.
No matter whether your tan is real or fake, the key to prolonging a golden glow is to moisturise thoroughly every day
Do's and Don'ts
● The golden rule is that it's always easier to add than to take away. Don't go too dark too soon. Remember your tan will develop over the next number of hours, so allow for deeper development.
● Natural skin tone should dictate the shade of fake tan you choose. So if you're fair, opt for a tan that's designed for pale skin. Gradual tanners are also very popular among fair-skinned women.
● Always use a tanning mitt. It will ensure your tan is applied smoothly and evenly, and will help to avoid those tell-tale streaks.
● Avoid shaving immediately before fake tan application. Also, try and avoid shaving the day after you've applied fake tan as it may unsettle the tan.
● Leave applying fake tan to your hands until last, and don't add more product to the mitt - use what's already on it.
● The formula you use is entirely up to you, but if you're a beginner or aren't too confident in your ability, opt for a tinted formula.
Fake Tan Toolkit
Golden Glow Moisturizing Body Lotion, €36, Clarins, available in department stores nationwide
I used this in the lead-up to my wedding day, as I fully trusted the product to enhance and naturally bronze my fair, freckly skin.
Gold foaming Mousse, €32, He-Shi, available in retailers nationwide
Available in two shades, this mousse tanner is a joy to use as it's odourless, paraben-free, safe to use on the face and develops into a gorgeous natural tan.
Verbena Body Salt Scrub, €31, L'Occitane, available in L'Occitane boutiques nationwide
Leaves skin silky smooth and in optimum condition for fake tan application.
Prep and Maintain Tan Eraser Mitt, €7.99, St Tropez, available in selected retailers nationwide
A nifty little mitt that not only exfoliates the skin and makes it tan-ready, but also removes any unsightly tan build-up or corrects mistakes that may have occurred.
Your Step-by-Step Guide to Applying Fake Tan with Shelley Martin
1. Exfoliate the skin 24 hours before tanning. This will remove dead skin cells and prepare the skin for tanning. I recommend massaging He-Shi Exfoliating Bodywash, €14.50, all over the body whilst showering and using He-Shi Exfoliating Gloves, €5.25 per pair, for an even deeper exfoliation.
2. Moisturise dry areas of the skin (hands, feet, elbows, etc) before tanning to avoid unwanted colour building up in these areas.
3. For a perfect, streak-free finish, always use a good-quality tanning mitt, applying the tan to the skin in smooth, circular motions, working upwards, from the feet.
4. Using the guide colour, apply and layer until you've reached your desired colour. If needs be, have a friend is on hand to help you with the hard to reach areas, such as the middle of your back.
5. Your tan will develop over the next six to eight hours, so it's best to avoid showering or vigorous exercise during that time. Leaving the tan on overnight will deepen the colour further.
6. Wear loose clothes to bed. Shower in the morning, but don't wash the body with anything harsh.