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How-To: The Flawless Fake Tan

Model on Sun Lounge with a Flawless Fake Tan


Summer is just weeks away, and you know what that means? Tanning season has arrived!

The days of baking in the sun for hours on end has long been replaced with the delicate art of the perfect fake tan. Sunless tanning is the safer, healthier way of getting that golden, all-over glow, but doing it right can sometimes be an uphill battle.

We’ve all seen pictures of the fake tan gone horribly wrong, and no one wants to hit the beach this season with a patchy, orange tan. The trick is to choose the right product, and apply it carefully.

Here’s the rundown:


Tanning Products

First, let’s talk types of fake tans. There are heaps of different formulas available, and choosing the best one for you will depend on your skin type, experience and what you’re trying to achieve. 


Fake Tanning Products Creams & Mousses



Mousse is one of the easiest types of fake tan to apply. It dries super-fast, lasts long and doesn’t leave a mess, and the instant colour makes it easy to immediately see if you’ve missed any spots. If you’re a beginner, mousse is a great tanning product to start with!

Mousses don’t have much moisture in them though, so they’re best suited for people with normal to oily skin. If you have dry skin, it can actually make your skin dryer. So if that’s you, it’s best to keep away from mousse products or occasionally switch to using a tanning lotion to replenish your skin’s moisture.


Lotions go on smoothly and evenly, and applying them is really just the same as applying moisturiser. They are usually tinted formulas that can be easily mixed with your own facial or body moisturiser to lighten the shade.

Great for beginners, lotions are easy to apply and especially ideal for people with dry or mature skin because they’re extra moisturising.

Spray Tan

Spray tans are best if you’ve had experience with self-tanning, because if you’re just starting out then they can be one of the harder products to apply. Don’t worry though – once you’ve gotten the hang of it, sprays are actually quite easy to use. You just have to spray it directly onto your skin from about 15cm away, and then blend it in with a tanning mitt.

A spray tan will normally take a few minutes to dry, and you need to rub it in carefully to make sure it all gets blended evenly, smoothly and without streaks. Recommended for the more confident self-tanners. 


Woman Applying Fake Tan to Her Legs with a Mit


Gradual Tanner

Gradual tanner is the perfect way to ease yourself into a tan if you’ve never done it before, or if you’re not sure how a particular tone will suit you. It’s applied daily over three or four days until you reach the level of colour you want, which gives you much more control over how dark you get and makes it a lot easier to fix up any spots you miss.

Gradual tanner normally comes as either a mousse or a lotion, and can last anywhere up to five days before it starts to fade.

Wash Off

If you don’t want to commit to going bronze, wash off tanner is a great way to trial different shades or give yourself some temporary colour for a special occasion. You just apply it before you go out, and then rinse it off when you get home. It dries super-fast and won’t smudge onto your clothes.

Wash off tanners can also be used to enhance the tan you already have, especially if you’re going out and don’t have time to apply a proper fake tan.  

Tanning Salon

Visiting a tanning salon will give you a professional spray tan, applied evenly and smoothly for a natural glow. While opting for a professional tan will be more expensive than doing it yourself at home, you need to remember that you are paying for the beauty therapist’s skills as well as the product, and that the results will reflect that.

If you’re not confident about self-tanning or are worried about turning yourself orange, a tanning salon is a much safer bet. 


Woman Receiving a Spray Tan at the Tanning Salon


Whatever product you choose, getting the right tone will take a bit of trial and error. It’s always a good idea to start with a lighter shade and gradually work your way up to as dark as you want to go. The tone needs to look natural and work with your colouring, so don’t be afraid to experiment with a few different types of products and shades to find the perfect one.


Application Tips

The steps to apply all these types of fake tans are very similar. Whether you’re using a mousse, lotion or spray, it’s important to take your time and apply it carefully – otherwise you’ll end up with noticeable missed spots!


Tanning Cream Tube


#1: Exfoliate and moisturise. This should be done for a few days before you apply your fake tan. Exfoliating will remove dead skin cells and traces of your previous tan, and moisturising will keep your skin smooth and soft to help achieve an even, all-over tan.

#2: Hair removal. Do this the day or night before you tan, to prevent the product from settling unevenly into your open pores.

#3: Shower. This should be done about half an hour to an hour before you tan, to remove oils, moisturiser and deodorant from your skin. Make sure you’re completely dry before you start applying the self-tanner.

#4: Choose a bright, naturally lit spot: Natural lighting will make sure you don’t over tan. It’s also a good idea to have a large mirror in the room with you – usually in your bathroom or bedroom – so that you can see your whole body and spot any areas that you might miss on the back of your arms or legs.

#5: Use a tanning mitt. This will help you apply your tan much faster and cleaner, as well as stop your hands from turning orange. Just don’t forget to apply tanner to your hands too!

#6: Apply the tan. We recommend that you start with your legs and work your way up, rubbing in your fake tan in a slow, circular motion. Take your time and make sure it’s rubbed in evenly, checking the mirror frequently for any missed spots. Depending on how dark you want your tan, you can apply an extra coat or two – just give each coat a few minutes to dry before you apply another one. 


Woman Applying Fake Tan to Her Leg with a Mitt


#7: Dry off. Follow the instructions on your particular product about drying time, as each type will vary – some dry instantly while some will need you to wait for a while. You can stand in front of a fan to help it dry faster. Make sure it’s completely dry before you get dressed or have a shower, or you might end up with smudges or patches.

#8: Let it develop. Once it’s dry, you can go to bed and let the tan develop overnight. Developing time will also differ between products, so check yours for how long you need to wait for best results. After it’s developed, you can have a shower and rinse off – just be careful not to exfoliate or scrub too hard.

#9: Keep moisturising. It’s important to moisturise every day to keep your skin smooth, and your tan looking healthy. If your skin gets too dry, your tan will become patchy pretty quickly.

#10: Maintain the glow. To keep an even, consistent tan, you should self-tan about once a week with your chosen tanning product.


Rather Leave it to a Professional?

Beauty therapists at a beauty or tanning salon are properly trained to provide an even, streak-free and authentic-looking tan. If you’d rather not mess around with products at home, visit a local tanning salon for an all-over glow that will have you bronzed and beach-ready in no time! 


Three Women with a Flawless Fake Tan from the Tanning Salon


To make it even easier, register at Oz Beauty Quotes and we can cut down your search time by connecting you with the best beauty and tanning salons in your local area.