How-to: Fake tan without tears

16:00, Oct 29 2012
Tan feature
Prep your skin with scrubs: Nellie Tier, $38; Natio, $22; The Body Shop, $34.75; Manicare gloves, $9.
Tan feature
For normal to oily skin: St Moriz, $19.99; Garnier, $20.49; Estee Lauder, $60.
Tan feature
For dry skin: St Tropez Lotion, $49.95; Clinique $45. Quick-drying products: L’Oreal Paris, $29.99; Garnier, $20.
Tan feature
Gradual tan: Dove Summer Glow, $9.29 and Le Tan, $22.99.
Tan feature
Fixing the mistakes: TanOrganic Tan-Erase, about $29.95; St Tropez Tan Remover, $29.95.

Avoid wrinkles and sun damage this season by getting your tan the easy way. Done right, fake tans can be flawless, flattering, and fabulous.


PREP: Fake tanning prducts grab onto dry and rough skin and cause over-dying in certain areas, so try to remove as much dry skin as possible prior to application. Scrub the areas you're tanning with a body scrub or exfoliating tool, working in small circular motions. Pay special attention to tougher areas like knees, elbows and feet.

GOLDEN GIRL: Get smart this summer and get your tan from a bottle.

TRY: Nellie Tier May Chang & Mandarin Body Scrub, $38; Natio Meditate Body Scrub with Bakhur $22; The Body Shop Chocomania Body Scrub, $34.75; or Manicare Exfoliating Gloves, $9. 

APPLY: Some people prefer to apply fake tan with gloves to protect their hands from dye, while others simply wash their hands well afterwards.

If you're really nervous about getting orange knees or elbows then take a damp flannel and gently wipe off any excess product from these areas. Now use your fingers to blend the leftover product back into the knees and elbows. Work a damp flannel into your hairline and over your eyebrows if you're tanning your face as well to stop product buildup.


A great tip for a super smooth application is to apply your product with a tanning mitt, which is specially designed to evenly distribute product on your skin without streaking. It will also protect your hands from the product.

TRY: St Moriz Tanning Glove, $16.99; St Tropez Applicator Mitt, $15.95; or TanOrganic Self Tan Mitt, about $10. 

HANDS AND FEET: Novice fake tanners often find getting the hands and feet to look natural is too hard, so simply avoid these areas completely. Unfortunately this often makes us look like we have 'floating' white appendages.

Here's an easy trick to hands and feet that look naturally tanned: Try painting your tanning product on with a cosmetic brush or sponge - this way you can avoid the nails and get product into every crevice. You should have avoided your palms, but rub them with a damp flannel just in case to make sure they're completely free of product. As these parts of the body tend to absorb product faster, you only need to apply the product for a short time. Allow your hands and feet to dry for 10 minutes, then apply hand or body lotion all over your hands and feet. Wipe off everything with a damp flannel. Your hands and feet should be subtly tanned and blend in well with the rest of your body. 

LET IT DRY: Different products have different drying times, but it's always good to overestimate the time needed to avoid streaks and smears. In a hurry? Speed up your dry time by turning the hairdryer on your skin. Wear loose and flowing clothing until you're absolutely sure the product is dry.


DRY SKIN: Creams are great for dry skin as they have added hydration and are less likely to go patchy. Mature skin tends to be drier, so rich, creamy products that have time to soak in are great for you as well. 

St Tropez Self Tan Bronzing Lotion, $49.95: This cream is very moisturising, and gives a deep rich tan without an orange glow. Perfect for those after a deep tan or with darker skin. As it's dark, be extra careful around elbows, knees and hairline. 

Clinique Self Sun Tinted Body Lotion, $45: This cream is tinted so you can see where you've applied it, with a subtle shimmer to flatter the skin. Develops after about three hours into a light, natural tan. Even though Clinique has a tanner designer specially for the face, this is great for the face as well. 

NORMAL TO OILY SKIN: Mousses and gels are good for normal to oily skin.

St Moriz Instant Self Tanning Mousse, $19.99. This mousse is very dark brown in colour and applies a brown rather than orange-based tan to your skin that dries almost instantly. Great for those who prefer a deep tan, or darker skin tones. Almost scent-free.

Garnier Ambre Solaire No Streaks Bronzer $20.49: This product comes out as a gel and leaves a faint shimmer on the skin. Tans to a medium honey-toned brown. Be careful to rub it in well as it is prone to streaks because it dries so quickly. Has a strong and sweet 'fake tan' scent.

Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess Tinted Self Tan Gelee, $60: This product gives an instant temporary glow while working on a gradual tan that builds over three hours. Great for pale skin or those after a gentle tan.

NO TIME: Spray-on tans are best for those who need their product to dry fast.

L'Oréal Paris Sublime Bronze Salon Airbrush Self Tan, $29.99: This spray-on tan is tricky to master, but once you've got the hang of it (spray at 30cm away) the results are great. It produces a light to medium tan that may need to be built up. Beware - it's quite sticky until it dries.

Garnier Ambre Solaire Bronze Spray, $20: This product comes in light and dark shades so pick the type right for you. It's a natural looking tan, but has a strong 'fake tan' scent. 

GRADUAL TANS: Gradual build products are fantastic for those first starting out with fake tanning, or those who like a light and gentle tan. Use the same application techniques as mentioned above, but you can build the tan gradually over a few days or weeks depending on how you like it. 

Dove Summer Glow, $9.29: This product smells like a normal Dove moisturiser with just a faint tanning scent. While it gives a gradual build-up of colour, pay attention to your ankles and knees as it's still capable of streaking.

Le Tan Tanning Cream Gradual Tan, $22.99: This delicious product smells strongly of coconuts - and holidays! It gives a great golden tan that looks natural and builds up well over a few applications.

EXTEND THE LIFE OF YOUR TAN: Fake tans get blotchy over time as the skin dries out. Keep your tan looking fresh by exfoliating gently every 3-4 days and moisturising once or even twice daily.  

FIX THE MISTAKES: There's no instant fix for a botched tan job, but you can encourage your tan to fade by exfoliating regularly.

TanOrganic has a specially designed tan removal mitt (essentially a super-powerful buffing glove, about $29.95), available in pharmacies which can get rid of nasty stains.

St Tropez makes a tan removal lotion (St Tropez TanRemover, $29.95), or some people also find that sweeping the skin with nail polish remover helps to fade the colour.