I’m pretty sick right now, my darlings. It’s not glamorous. In fact, it’s quite disgusting. I’ve been spending my past few days coughing, swaddled in a grey sequin cardigan, sucking on Burt’s Bees lemon & honey drops while watching endless episodes of Gossip Girl. (Hey, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do!)
But I had a Dayquil-addled thought on Sunday that felt genius. I may feel sick, but I don’t have to look it! It was time to get my tan on.
Confession time: I love fake tan. I usually give it a rest over the winter, but this year, I started up again in earnest on February 2nd. Extreme! Yes, in the safety of my own home, I obsessively exfoliate, moisturise, & apply fake tan. It doesn’t matter to me that I’m wearing a fake fur coat every day — it’s worth it!
A lot of people hate on fake tan, which is a bit extreme, I think. Yes, “pale is beautiful”, but that definitely cuts out a LOT of the world’s population, doesn’t it?! If you don’t want to — or simply CAN’T — do alabaster skin, you have options!
I am always amazed by the number of people who have never experienced the transformational properties of a tan, but are adamant that it isn’t for them. If you do it properly, I promise, you’re not going to look like Snooki! It will just make you look a little glowy & more healthy. Never fear!
Getting your colour from a bottle is so much more healthy than spending hours lying out in the sun, or even worse, in one of those high-tech microwaves — it is super damaging! (You might not care now, but in ten years, you will!) No one’s saying you have to cross the line into full-blown “tanorexia”, either. Going just a couple of shades darker will add a healthy kind of air to your appearance. You can be subtle about it, believe me!
So, in case you feel like joining me on the golden side, here are my tips on how to get the perfect tan… & no sunshine required!
1. The best time to fake bake is at night before you go to bed: it gives you ample time to let the colour soak in! In the morning, just hop in the shower & rinse it off, revealing golden brown skin. Lovely!
The first thing to do is get in the shower & do any hair removal you deem necessary. Be as thorough as possible: for me, this means using an exfoliating mitt & using shaving cream (I like EOS!).
Then you should do a proper exfoliation. My favourite thing to use is Kae Savon Noir black soap. It smells like olives, grapefruit & eucalyptus, & will leave you feeling clean, hydrated & all firmed up! I have never been to Turkey, but apparently this smell will transport you right to a Hamam! The same company that makes the soap also makes the Kae Exfoliating Hammam Glove, which I think is fabulous. It gives you a really great scrub. (Of course, you can use any exfoliating mitt you please, but I recommend this one!)
You can also make your own killer body scrub by simply combining olive oil & brown sugar. It works like a charm & it’s cheap as chips!
2. Moisturise those dodgy bits: elbows, knees, ankles, feet & wrists. The reason we do this is because dry skin soaks up way more colour. That’s always a major tell-tale sign that you got your colour in a bathroom, not in Tahiti!
My favourite body lotion is Treat Whipped Coconut Tahitian Vanilla Organic Body Cream. Honestly, you cannot even imagine how delicious it smells! It’s summer in lotion form. It smells like the sea, the sun, coconut tanning oil & vanilla-scented hair. UNF! Even better than that, it’s made without any nasty ingredients, & it’s the most hydrating & delicious cream I’ve ever used. I keep a tub of it on my desk & use it as hand-cream every day. Sublime!
Some of my other favourites include Lush’s Dream Cream & Mountain Ocean Coconut Skin Trip (I also love their 90s surfer-style label). Ideally, you want something thick & rich, with an exquizz scent. Fake tan doesn’t smell fabulous, so if you can use something to counteract that, you should!
Once you’ve done a liberal application of lotion, grab a latex glove! (St. Tropez et al have tanning “mitts” you can use, but they’re pricey, & I think a latex glove works just as well!)
3. Let’s get crazy! It’s time to apply your tanning product!
There are about three trillion (approx.) tanning products on the market, but unfortunately, as with so many things, when it comes to fake tan, you get what you pay for. I personally love St. Tropez Self Tan Bronzing Mousse for a multitude of reasons. Firstly, it’s really easy to apply, because it comes out of the can in a dark brown colour. When you put it on your skin, you can see any blotches or streaks. Secondly, I don’t find it has that horrible “fake tan smell” that so many other brands too. Yes, it has a scent, but it mostly smells like perfume. Thirdly, it gives the nicest, most genuine-looking colour of anything I’ve tried.
Don’t be alarmed, by the way, if it looks really dark. It won’t be that deep on your skin, I promise!
Start at your feet & work your way up. Apply the tan to your skin by moving your hand in circles. Be sure to look in a mirror & make sure you don’t miss any important bits! It’s all too easy to forget to do BOTH butt-cheeks (!!!), or the backs of your thighs, or the undersides of your arms!
Let your tan dry for at least 60 seconds before you put on clothing. Dark (i.e., something that won’t get stained), loose clothes are best.
4. The next morning, all you have to do is take a shower & splash off the excess. You’ll see it whizzing down the drain, & when you step out onto the bathmat, you’ll witness your golden shoulders & have a big smile on your face!
Now, the trick with fake tan is that it requires maintenance. That’s almost more important than proper application technique, because otherwise when it gets all manky a few days in, your hard work will be ruined!
In order to keep it looking good, you should top up your tan every day with a gradual tanner. The moisturiser in it will help keep your skin looking golden, while continually depositing a little dose of colour. My favourite is Palmer’s Sunless Tanner & Instant Bronzer, which is SPF 15 & smells like a chocolate milkshake. I cannot get enough of this wonderful stuff! The colour is great & the scent is delicious!
Another lovely product you can use to make your tan look brilliant is St. Tropez Gold Illuminator. Apply a little bit to your legs, arms & collarbone for a superb shine! This is perfect for a night out when you want to glow like a golden goddess!
If you want your face to match your body — which it should! — yes, you can use your bottle of St. Tropez Bronzing Mousse. I like to just use a little bit. Apply it where you’d put a bronzer: under the cheekbones, & around the edges of your face. But if you’re a bit nervous about going overboard, you can use St. Tropez Instant Glow Face Lotion. I bought a small tube of it at Sephora & I use it on my face almost every day. It’s a gel, which makes it easier to apply, & you can use it on bronzer-friendly areas or do your entire face if you feel the need! I love it. It’s ace.
You can take care of your tan by taking shorter showers (more water means more of the tan washes away!), avoiding steam rooms or saunas, & not doing the dishes… unless you’re wearing gloves! (You can always neglect to mention that bit in an effort to avoid such a boring chore!)
If tanning isn’t quite for you, you could also attempt to beat the winter blues by looking at wonderful summery photographs, never leaving your house or alternatively, booking a flight to the Bahamas! Mmmm… Sounds good to me!
Yours in golden solidarity!