Belfast Telegraph

Fake tan: How to give yourself beautiful bronzed look

How do you create the perfect self-tan? Katie Wright gets the experts’ advice

Everybody knows at least one: the fake tan-aholic who always looks beautifully bronzed even in the dead of winter.

For those who've been slathering on the dihydroxyacetone (that's the active ingredient, FYI) since their teens, achieving that just-been-on-hols glow is a doddle, but what if you've always been too scared to venture down the self-tan route?

If visions of ending up looking like David Dickinson or Ross from Friends after his spray tan disaster have deterred you, you needn't worry - a subtle lifelike tan is easily achievable at home.

"It doesn't have to be scary," says Carly Hobbs, tanning expert and Sienna X brand ambassador. "If you're new to tanning, take things slowly and start with the best kind of products - and preparation is everything."

So how exactly do you prepare and what are the best tanning products for newbies?

Here, Hobbs and two other tanning pros share their top tips for before, during and after your tan...

Before: how to prepare your skin for fake tan

"For as long as possible pre-tanning, exfoliate and moisturise as much as possible to keep skin soft, supple and tan-ready," says Hobbs. "On the day of your tan, exfoliate to get rid of that last bit of dead skin cell build up."

Waxing should be done 24 hours before tanning and shaving 12 hours before. "Leaving these time frames allows the follicles, from where the hairs are whipped out, time to calm down and the pores on the surrounding skin to close so you don't get a spotty tan," she explains.

"Apply a coat of nail polish to your nails on your hands and feet, as this will prevent tan from staining the nail plate," says Marissa Carter, founder of tanning brand Cocoa Brown.

If you have dark circles under your eyes, Carter advises applying Vaseline to stop the tan from further darkening that area: "You can also add a small amount of petroleum jelly through your eyebrows to prevent the tan from discolouring them too."

During: the best tanning technique

While moisturising in the week leading up to your tan is important, skip the lotion on the day. "Ensure your skin is free from any products, moisturisers, oils, make-up and deodorant on the day you tan as this can affect the final results," warns Jayne Cooper, St Tropez skin-finishing expert.

"St Tropez Gradual Tan One Minute Everyday Pre-Shower Tanning Mousse is the perfect product for beginners. Simply apply to dry skin with or without a mitt, leave for just one minute and shower as normal and your tan will develop over the next eight hours."

If you are using a product that requires a longer development time, you must use a mitt.

"Apply your chosen tan in upward sweeping movements, overlapping each area," Cooper recommends.

"Let your tan dry before having a drink or brushing your teeth as accidental drips may wash away the colour. This also applies to tanning with wet hair," says Carter.

Same goes for doing the dishes, and you can't get sweaty so exercise is out of the question.

"Sit back and relax in loose clothes as your tan develops, and ideally go bra-less too so you don't dent or mark your gorgeous glow," Hobbs says.

"Have a quick warm, not hot, shower after your development time, but don't use shower gel all over in the shower.

"Instead keep soap or cleanser to just bits and pits so not to strip off all your hard bronzing work."

After: how to treat your tan

So you've prepped thoroughly, tanned carefully and now you're bronzed to perfection. Well done! Now what?

"The first time you shower after you've applied your tan, use shower gel but don't exfoliate your skin," warns Carter.

"Moisturise daily with an oil-free moisturiser to keep your skin hydrated and gently exfoliate every two to three days, which can extend your tan by up to three days," Cooper says.

"Self-tans will last on average five to seven days depending on which product you're using."

Once it's faded, exfoliating or using a tan remover mitt will remove any last traces.

"Don't forget your SPF when going out even when you're tanning - faking it doesn't protect you from the sun," Hobbs says.

"And if ever you want to strip off your tan, dive into the swimming pool. The chlorine will pare back all of the colour."

Sun block: You will still need protection after you've self-tanned

Cocoa Brown by Marissa Carter Tough Stuff 3in1 Body Scrub, £4.99, Superdrug

Cocoa Brown by Marissa Carter 1 Hour Tan Mousse, £7.99, Superdrug

St Tropez Gradual Tan One Minute Everyday Pre-Shower Tanning Mousse, £14.49, Superdrug

St Tropez Applicator Mitt, £4.99, Superdrug

Sienna X Gradual Self Tan Lotion, £16

Sienna X 1 Hour Self Tan Tinted Mousse, £25

Ameliorate Transforming Body Lotion, £22.50, FeelUnique

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