Avoid the orange look and follow the golden rules of fake tanning

WHAT do sunbeds, mustard gas and chimney sweeping have in common? Well, as of last month, they are all listed as certain causes of cancer by the International Agency for Cancer Research, a branch of the World Health Organisation. This move followed the publication of a study which showed that the risk of skin cancer increases by 75 per cent when people start using tanning beds before the age of 30. If you ever needed another reason to avoid those UV lights, this is it.

So where does that leave those of us who want to give our skin a healthy glow? If you are one of those people who was tricked by the Met Office’s early promises of a “barbecue summer” and eschewed a trip to a region where sunshine is guaranteed for a British-based holiday, then you are unlikely to have developed a bronzed look while huddling inside a bright red cagoule.

The only solution is fake tan. Now, this is not without its dangers. Thankfully, though, they are more of a social than a medical nature. Orange hands, streaky legs and eyebrows that have been stained just a little bit ginger are a hazard for all fake tan users. Fortunately, there are a few simple tips to reduce the chances of disaster, and to ensure that your summer glow lasts you all year round.

1 Avoiding streakiness is the key, and there are several ways to reduce the chance of it happening. Firstly, always exfoliate. Tracy Watsham, assistant manager at the Dorchester Spa in London, says: “There are some really great scrubs out there, many by the main fake tan brands. But there is no real need to spend a fortune on exfoliation products and you can even make your own, using salt and oil”. Clare O’Connor, a tanning expert with the chemist Boots, says that gradual tanning products are a great way to avoid streaks:“They have a smaller amount of the coloured ingredient, so unevenness is less noticeable”. Also, avoid shaving or waxing for 24 hours before you apply tan.

2 The second major danger with fake tanning products is the dreaded spectre of orangeness. Once you have turned yourself tangerine-coloured, the only solution is to exfoliate, which removes the dyed outer layer of skin. Prevention, though, is of course better than cure. Clare O’Connor of Boots says that the only real tip here is to avoid using a highly alkaline product – such as soap – on the skin before applying the fake tan. If you have showered or washed, wait 30 minutes before you apply your fake tan.

3 Another common problem is patchiness. The drier areas of skin, such as the elbows, knees, and ankles and can easily become too dark to look natural when you apply fake tan. The key to reducing this problem is to moisturize these areas. A light moisturizer is best, as it soaks in quickly and allows you to get on with applying your tan. Also, don’t apply the fake tan directly to the dry areas, but to the main parts of the leg and arm and then smooth it over them.

4 Allied to the problem of getting too much tan in some places is getting too little in others. One place that is hard to fake tan effectively is your back. The people at the Zen spa in Notting Hill suggest that you cut a piece of cling film approximately a foot and a half long and fold over to make a strip. You then apply dots of tanner to the strip and smooth it over your back.

5 Finally, even if you have expertly and evenly tanned the rest of your body, you can still go and spoil the whole thing by giving yourself the ultimate giveaway: orange palms. Obviously, the easy solution is to use disposable gloves or a mitt to apply your tan. “When you have finished with the rest of your body, use the same technique as you would for knees and elbows and sweep the product over the back of your hands,” says the Dorchester Spa’s Tracy Watsham. However if you do decide to run the gauntlet of applying tan without gloves or a mitt, remember, whatever else you forget to do, to wash your hands afterwards. Sounds simple, but many a tan has been spoiled by forgetting.


Body scrub by Xen Tan, £12.95

Bronze Goddess by Estee Lauder, £22

Faux Glow by Fake Bake, £10.99

Gradual body tan by No7 at Boots, £12.95

Tan Body Butter by St. Tropez, £15