How to choose the best fake tan for you and make it last longer

Forget the sun – our fake tan tips and tricks will leave you golden and glowing, the safe way.

When it comes to fake tan there is a lot that can go wrong, so fake tan tips are always welcome. We’ve compiled everything you need to know about how to choose the best fake tan for you, the best way to apply the stuff and what you can do to fix any disasters! Here’s to not ending up like Ross from Friends…

The best fake tans for every purpose

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Like finding the perfect pair of jeans, nailing down a fake tan that works for you can be time-consuming and messy. From mousse to oil, check out our handy guide to see what works best for you.

Mousse:In our opinion, mousse is the easiest to apply. The whipped formula blends easily and dries quickly. Some come with a tinted guide colour, although if you want to avoid stains on your bedding, go for a clear mousse.

Spray: This is great for covering hard-to-reach areas, like your back. A quick mist over the face (hold your breath and close your eyes) and hands gives a natural hit of colour.

Water: The new kid on the tanning block, these liquids are applied directly to the skin, then rubbed in with a mitt. They’re colourless so limit staining but require thorough blending as there’s no guide colour.

Oil: This is one of the most hydrating tan types, so if you suffer with dry, tight-feeling skin, this is probably the best choice for you.

Lotion: Like oil, lotion is ultra hydrating. Sensitive and mature skin types will get a great finish.

The best fake tan for dry skin

Dry skin is possibly the most difficult to skin to nail a fake tan regimen for. Here are the best options to try out for your parched skin.

fake tan tips

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Instant tan: Tans don’t come more foolproof than Rimmel Sunshimmer Water Resistant Wash Off Instant Tan, £6.99. The colour washes off so if you decide you don’t like it, just get in the shower and rinse with soap and water. It’s so easy to blend and the results are instant!

Nip+Fab Fake Tan Mousse Express, £23.95, works in as little as an hour so if you’re in a hurry, rinse off the guide colour after 60 minutes. The longer you leave it on, the deeper the tan. What makes it foolproof is the addition of glycolic acid to gently exfoliate dry patches for an even finish.

Gradual tan: There’s been a new wave of clear tanners that forego guide colour to minimise staining on clothes and bedding. St Moriz No Mess Gradual Tanning Mousse, £6.99, is a colourless foam that leaves a beautiful glow after a few hours.

Did you know that skin loses four times more moisture during the night? That’s why L’Oreal Sublime Bronze Overnight Elixir, £14.99, is loaded with water magnet hyaluronic acid to replenish lost moisture as you tan. Apply it before bed, then rinse off in the morning and you’re left with a warm, week-away bronze that fades evenly over two weeks.

Water tan: St Tropez Purity Bronzing Water Gel, £33, is infused with hydrating ingredients to give skin a 72-hour moisture burst. These thirst-quenchers help minimise streaks and encourage an even golden glow.

Isle of Paradise Self-Tanning Water, £18.95, Boots, comes in different colour-correcting tones. Green cancels out redness for a flawless, golden hue. Peach is ideal for paler complexions that want a light, healthy glow. Finally, the violet tan gives a deep, dark colour, neutralising ash tones in the skin. Mist over your body until skin is saturated then blend with a tanning mitt.

Top five tips for fake tan

  1. Apply the formula to a mitt, such as Velvotan The Original Tanning Mitt, £3.99, Boots, and start tanning from the ankles up, using sweeping motions, not circular, to distribute the tan more evenly.
  2. To colour your back, flip your tanning mitt over so the sponge side is facing up and sweep from side to side.
  3. Use what’s left on the mitt to apply to your hands, feet and face.
  4. Clean your nails and in between your fingers using a face wipe to avoid stains.
  5. Wait 10 minutes for the colour to dry, then dress in something loose, like a maxi dress.
  6. Leave the tan on for the recommended time, then wash off the guide colour in lukewarm water until it runs clear.

How to make fake tan last longer

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Shave at least 24 hours before tanning, wax 48 hours prior, so that pores have a chance to shrink back and you’ll avoid those pesky little brown dots.

Exfoliation is the key to a streak-free glow so use a dry brush or scrub the day before tanning. We love Nspa Body Brush, £3, Asda.

When you’re ready to tan, remove make-up and deodorant and make sure skin is free of lotion, which will act as a barrier to the tan.

If you’re fair-haired, apply a little Vaseline to the hairline and eyebrows so they don’t end up tinted.

‘Concentrate exfoliation where your bra sits. It’s this area where the tan can cling darker,’ says James Harknett, celebrity tanning expert.

How to stop fake tan going patchy

Make the most of your new glow with a little TLC to nurture your tan.

Keep showers and baths short and on the lukewarm side – and pat yourself dry, don’t rub.

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Moisturise all over every day to keep your tan looking flawless – it will also help it to fade evenly, rather than going patchy and mottled. Skinny Tan Moisture Hit Body Lotion, £15, prolongs the shelf life of your glow.

Finally, drink plenty of water to keep your body hydrated so it holds on to the colour for longer.

How to fix any self-tan disaster

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Too dark?: Head to the gym sauna or steam room – the steam will help to soften the colour by a few shades.

Major streaks?: Soak in a bath spiked with oil for half an hour to break down the DHA in the tan. Use a body scrub or exfoliating mitt to even out stripes and repeat daily until faded.

Smears on the face? Soak a cotton pad with toner and sweep across your skin to minimise uneven patches.

Words: Stephanie Maylor, updated by Aleesha Badkar