Our tan-talising guide to beautiful bronzing
Artificial tan is increasingly being seen as a viable alternative to skin-damaging sunbathing and sunbeds. With ever-improving formulas that take the mess and fuss out of faking it, the artificial tanning market is a lucrative one. However, many consumers are still nervous of home tanning treatments – everyone has heard horror stories of tango-orange tans, streaky finishes and horrible lingering odours. Although formulas are improving all the time to minimise the risk of such problems, your role is crucial in encouraging consumers to take the tanning plunge. Advising customers on the right products for their needs, along with the correct tanning techniques for best results, will encourage them to take the tanning plunge and hopefully keep them coming back to your store for more.
First, finding the right product for your customer is key. For example, those who have never used fake tan before should use a different product from seasoned self-tanners. Similarly, those who are after a light golden glow will need to use a different format from those who require a deep, dark tan. Beginners should opt for one of the many wash-off products now available; these can be applied for a special occasion or night out, then removed in the shower afterwards. Shelley Barrett, CEO and founder of ModelCo, advises: “Our One Night Tan is perfect for customers who are hesitant or scared to use a self-tanning product, where the tan lasts for days.” Nichola Joss, St. Tropez skin finishing expert, agrees: “I would recommend starting with wash-off products if you’re a novice, then gradually work up to a self-tan – practice is key.”
Alternatively, tanning moisturisers (also known as gradual tan) are a fairly safe bet for those lacking in tanning experience. These contain a lower level of the tanning agent DHA, and are designed to be used daily or several times a week to build colour over time. Alison Whiting, brand operations manager for MakeBelieve, says: “MakeBelieve Gradual Self Tan is great for first-timers – it is a gentle lotion that allows users to build colour gradually.” Tanning moisturisers are also great for those with fairer skin who want a natural-looking result.
International tanning expert, James Read, says: “Those with a light ‘tantone’ should go for a gradual tan – these are lighter on the skin and you can build up your tan if you want to go darker, but I would recommend that you apply no more than twice a week as otherwise you will cause build up on the skin which can take up to two weeks to clear. Another good trick is to customise your own tan by mixing a teaspoon of self tan with your daily moisturiser.” Read suggests that those with a medium ‘tantone’ or after a slightly deeper result should opt for mousse, gel, spray or other liquid-based products, while those requiring a dark tan result should go for lotion, as these usually come out darker and last the longest. Read also advises opting for a separate facial tanning product: “It’s good to go for a separate product when it comes to the face as these tend to be lighter and more hydrating. The face is the first thing people see, so you want it to look natural,” he says.
Once the customer has selected their tanning product, you should advise them on how to prepare their skin before tanning, to ensure the best possible result. The first step in preparing to tan should always be exfoliation. Alison Whiting says: “For a smooth, even tan, you should always get rid of any old skin cells and start with an even canvas to promote a smooth, even application.” Shelley Barrett adds: “The key to a flawless tan is perfectly prepped skin. ModelCo Tan Prep Body Polish’s formulation has been especially developed to help neutralise the skin’s pH levels to its optimum, for the most effective self-tan application.”
James Read suggests that exfoliation and hair removal (waxing or shaving) should be completed 24 hours before tanning, to ensure no product is left on the skin. He continues: “Make sure you have removed all body lotions, make up and deodorant immediately prior to applying your tan, as they can affect the results.” Steps should also be taken to avoid unwanted staining when it comes to applying the tan. Whiting advises: “Rub a little moisturiser onto the elbows and knees, as these areas are a little drier than the rest of the body [so will absorb more of the tanning product]. The moisturiser will act as a barrier between the skin and tanning lotion to avoid dark patches.” Read adds: “Rub moisturiser into your hairline to avoid staining, and rub an ice cube over your face before applying tan, to stop your pores from becoming blocked.”
The key to good application is to make sure no areas are missed and that those areas that naturally catch the sun less do not appear as dark. James Read says: “When applying your tan, map out the body in stages. Start with the face, neck and shoulders and work your way down, being careful not to miss any areas. Leave the hands and feet until last. Finish by working the product from the arms to the hands, and legs to the feet, using excess product.” The right technique also depends on the product used. Any liquid-based products (such as lotion, mousse or milk) should be applied with a mitt.
Nichola Joss says: “I always recommend using a mitt to apply product, as this gives an even, sheer application. Remember to leave the feet, knees and hands until last, and use the product left on the mitt to glide over these areas – the mitt absorbs some product so there will be the right amount on the mitt for these tricky areas. Use wipes to tidy up the palms, soles of the feet, ears, backs of the heels and the insides of the wrists – these areas tend not to tan naturally, so this way the tan looks real.” Alison Whiting adds: “Take your time – don’t rush the application as you will end up with patches and streaks. You need to ensure your body is covered evenly – if you’re not confident, try a self-tanning product with guide colour, such as MakeBelieve Self Tan Lotion with Bronzer.” When using a tanning spray, Read advises: “Layer your tan in fine layers and build them up – this will make the colour deeper and help the tan to fade more evenly.” Read also advises not rubbing or over-applying self-tan, as this will look uneven and cause build up.
The correct aftercare can not only prolong the life of a fake tan, but also make it fade more naturally and without patchiness. James Read advises: “Don’t wash your hands for eight to 12 hours, otherwise you’ll have brown arms and white hands – not a good look! Leave to dry for 15 minutes before dressing and for best results, leave your tan on overnight before showering.” Sophie Gordon, Sienna X spray tan expert, adds: “Avoid any perfumes or oils immediately after application as these will strip the tan. After showering with an AHA-free shower gel, pat the skin dry gently and apply Sienna X Radiance Moisturising Balm, for a moisturised, golden finish.”
In the days following your tan, keeping skin hydrated is crucial. Alison Whiting explains: “Moisturise, moisturise, moisturise! This is key to prolonging your tan and ensuring that it fades evenly – self-tan clings onto dry skin so if you don’t feed the skin with moisture, your tan can fade in patches.” James Read says: “Exfoliate three to four days after application to help your tan fade evenly. If you want to add some life back into your self-tan after you’ve exfoliated, mix some self-tan with moisturiser and apply to your body.” Nichola Joss adds: “Once a week, you can substitute moisturiser with a gradual tanning moisturiser to lightly boost your colour and prolong your tan.”
International tanning expert and creator of www.thetantalist.com, James Read, reveals the current top trends in tanning…
The Retro Tan
Whatever the season, The Retro Tan (a throwback to 70’s deep and rich coloured skin – think Farrah Fawcett in her iconic red bikini). She was the original poster girl – all it took was one little red swimming costume to create worldwide pandemonium. This poster sold over 12 million copies, defining the beauty of that era and now ours. This deep looking tan was seen on the S/S11 catwalks, from Roksanda Illincic to Topshop Unique, to complement the bright clothes and big hair. This deep, 70’s, retro-looking tan (complete with signature flicked-out hairstyle) had a shimmering wet look to it and still looks just as good when re-created today. Use products that work with your skin tone, remembering that if you want your tan to look real, don’t deviate too much from your original skin colour. Finish with a layer of thick moisturiser, applying it where the light might hit, as if you were making a poster of your very own.
The Make Up Tan
There is a new craze in tanning, which involves layering make up, outside of the realms of bronzer, onto face and body to define and enhance a tan. Once you have applied your colour, take a red lipstick and, using fingers, dab the rouge onto your collarbone and décolleté. The red will work with the skin’s natural pink tones to give the illusion that you have just been in the sun. You can also use it to highlight other areas such as shoulders or the jaw line, to give a chiselled effect. Brown eyeshadows are a nifty way to highlight parts of the body and Smashbox’s Artificial Light Luminizing Lotion also really reflects the light to give the skin that added boost. The look on the catwalk this A/W has been all about using products to enhance the skin rather than change its colour entirely, and by using products to reflect light on certain parts of the body, it will give a truly toned effect. Another trick is to mix thick body moisturiser – such as Sisley Confort Extreme Body Cream – with Laura Mercier Loose Bronzing Powder, which has a sparkle to it, before applying.
The Body Con Tan
The trend for using products to enhance the body. This year is about powerful women, in control and not afraid to make a statement. Over the past few years we have seen a growing popularity in body-con dressing (is there anyone who hasn’t heard of Herve Leger dresses nowadays?) and now it has moved across into beauty with The Body Con Tan. The secret to this trend is using products to sculpt the body, reflect the light and highlight areas of skin that are on show, for a flawless appearance. To achieve this look, custom-blend your tan by mixing a small amount of self-tan with some thick moisturiser, and apply to the body using your fingers, massaging the formula in as you go. This will encourage blood to come to the surface and enhance radiance. Follow with a self-tan mist, spraying down the areas of the body that will reflect the light, such as fronts of the legs, down the side of arms (hone in on those triceps), and décolleté. Then, using a liquid illuminating highlighter, go over the same areas (once the mist has dried, of course) for an extra ‘pop’ of light.
The Complexion Tan
The Complexion Tan, of which I have seen a big rise in popularity over the last few months, is about using products to complement your skin tone, but not overpower it. This year is all about using products to add extra definition and reflect the light. Use the right products when tanning to make sure your tan looks real. The looks at the Golden Globes, Oscars and BAFTAs were all about products being used to enhance the skin but not look over-tanned; its that weekend away look, giving your skin a candle-lit glow.