Are you longing for the beach and some sunshine? With spring just around the corner, it’s time to start prepping our skins to get ready for the warmer weather. If you are shredding your layers of clothing in preparation and want to add some colour to your body, a fake tan is a thing for you. However, as we grow older self-tanners may highlight fine lines and wrinkles or even darken age spots if not applied well. Preparing the skin as well as choosing the right product is critical to achieving that ‘bonne mine‘ look.
The power of self-tanning for mature skin
With so many products on the market, it can be daunting trying to find the right ones for you. If you are nervous about self-tanners or just a complete novice, the best way is to try a tanning mist or a mousse as these products are much easier to apply. Even better if you choose a gradual self-tanner. Most of these products come in at least two options: light to medium and medium to dark. They may not give you an instant glow, but this is the best way to build an even and natural-looking tan, giving you the control to decide how dark you want your skin to be.
Smart prep steps
Whatever your complexion is, just remember the results are always better if the skin is even, smooth and hydrated. When using fake tanning, prep your epidermis by doing an all-over exfoliating treatment. Slough away any flakes with a scrub, focusing on rough spots like the knees, elbows and heels. Start at your ankles and work up the body ensuring you don’t miss any areas, concentrating especially on those drier parts (they don’t absorb the tanning products very well and might appear darker and patchy if not prepared and dehydrated).
Don’t forget to thoroughly rinse off the exfoliating product in the shower and then dry your skin (water left on it will erase and dilute the tan resulting in dreaded streaks and patches). Do this treatment at least a couple of times over the next few days before applying the tanning products.
Self-tanning without streaks
If you’re doing the tan yourself at home, have a pair of disposable gloves, body moisturiser, tanning lotion, and a tanning mitt to buff your skin.
Wear the gloves and start applying the products in upward sweeps all over your body starting at your ankles. When you do your elbows and knees, remember to apply less product to these areas so the colour application is more even.
Avoid using tanning lotion meant for the body to your face: you need a specific product for that delicate area. When doing your face, start with your normal skincare routine, moisturise first and then apply the tanning lotion. If you have deep lines on your face and neck, use a very thin layer on the skin and build up the colour over a couple of days. Bear in mind, the tan will fade quicker on your face than on your body.
After applying the tanning product, remove your gloves and wipe the back of your hands on your buttocks or back of your thighs to pick up some product. The gloves protect the palms of your hands from the self-tanner. Put the tanning mitt onto one hand and use it all over your body to buff out streaks and any very wet areas. Leave the product on your skin overnight if you can, and rinse it off in the shower the next morning.
After you achieve the flawless, sunless tan you sought, certain measures can be taken to prolong it: wash with a gentle cleanser and make sure your skin is always moisturised. Also, fake tans afford zero protection against skin damage and worse. If you want to prevent your age spots from darkening, wear at least SPF30 with an extra UVA shield.
In case you’re not confident about doing your whole body, try just applying self-tan to your legs only to see how the colour takes and how long it takes to fade.
For best results, check out the brands listed below which offer various options for all complexions.
- Paler skin tones – St Tropez Bronzing Water, Clarins instant tanning gel
- Medium/Olive skins – Vita Liberata tinted self-tanning lotion, Coola Sunless tan dry body oil
- Darker skins – Xen Ten Dark Lotion, Sunescape
Pros & Cons of self-tanning
Self-tanners work by reacting with the top layer of the skin, with DHA (a sugar-derived ingredient) darkening the colour of the epidermis to result in a tan. If you are not sure if this is good for your skin, maybe you need to consider the pros and cons of self-tanning to decide whether you want to try this method or not.
Benefits of fake tanning
- Gives your skin an even tone.
- Gives your skin a natural-looking glow.
- Adds colour to your skin without having to sunbathe.
- Can be done at home or at a salon.
- Easy to use at home.
- Suitable for all skin tones.
Disadvantages of fake tanning
- Can enhance areas of dryness on your skin if not exfoliated thoroughly.
- Does not protect your skin from sun damage. Apply an SPF over the top daily.
- Using the incorrect product can turn you orange.
- Can stain bedding and clothing.
- Goes streaky in swimming pools.
Do you know?
In the 1950s women used tea bags to darken their skin and give the illusion of a tan. The problem with this method was it could stain clothing and wash away if you got wet. By the 1970s fake tanning products were available in some stores. In the 1980s fake tanning products became really popular! But it wasn’t until 1993 when the brand St Tropez tanning products launched in California and later in the U.K. in 1996 that fake tanning really hit the cosmetic market and was here to stay for good! Since then fake tanning products are widely available for in-home use, salon use and spray tanning booths.