The Ultimate Guide to Fake Tan

If you’re searching for that all year round glow, fake tanning is one of the safest methods of achieving that beautiful sunkissed look from the comfort of your home. While fake tanning doesn’t have to be super complicated, it’s something that a lot of us have reservations or questions about.

We’ve put together our ultimate guide to fake tan to help guide you through the fake tanning process and answer some of the most popular questions about fake tanning. We’ll get you feeling confident about fake tan in no time!

How to use fake tan

There are a few steps to using fake tan: preparation, application and maintenance. Our guide to using fake tan is sure to help you achieve a long-lasting tan free from pesky streaks.

How to prepare for a fake tan

Preparation is key as this stage makes sure that you have a clean and smooth surface on which to apply your fake tan.

  • Exfoliate anywhere that you want to tan using a body scrub. This removes any dead skin cells and ensures that you have a super smooth base to work with that’s free from bumps
  • Remove unwanted hair a day before you want to fake tan. Shaving can remove the top layer of skin cells which could result in patchy tanning if you shave the same day as you apply your fake tan
  • Moisturise any dry areas such as your elbows or knees so that they don’t turn patchy when you apply fake tan – try to let the moisturiser sink in for around half an hour before you apply


How to apply fake tan


How to apply fake tan

Crunch time – you’re now at the stage where you have to apply your fake tan. Make sure that you have a tanning mitt to hand as this is going to help you get an even finish (and won’t over-tan your hands in the process!)

  1. Squeeze or pump some fake tan straight onto the tanning mitt
  2. Scrunch your hand up into a fist to make sure it’s spread evenly
  3. Focus on one body part at a time and apply in circular motions
  4. Make sure you haven’t missed the inner parts of the body (such as inside of your arm)
  5. Build up the colour gently to make sure it’s even
  6. Buff out any overlapping areas
  7. Work quickly to avoid any noticeable streaks from drying
  8. Leave the colour to develop for the allotted time

How to maintain your fake tan

To prolong your tan, we recommend keeping your skin moisturised and hydrated. You can do this by applying a top-up moisturiser every day, or by turning down the temperature of your showers and baths so that your fake tan doesn’t start to flake or peel.

How to fake tan difficult areas?

Some areas of the body are easier to fake tan than others – your hands can be difficult to not saturate with fake tan and not all of us have the flexibility to be able to evenly fake tan our backs! So how do we tackle these difficult areas?

How to fake tan your back

If you have a friend available, having them apply the fake tan to your back is the easiest solution, or if you’re super flexible simply applying your fake tan in the mirror can achieve the even results you’re after.

If neither of these methods is available to you, a lot of fake tan pros use cling film to apply the product to their back – apply a tiny amount of fake tan to a strip of client film and gently rub the product onto your back like you would dry your back after a shower. Not confident using cling film? Grab a wooden spoon and attach your tanning mitt to the end to extend your reach!

How to fake tan hands

  • Moisturise from your fingertips to your wrist to stop the fake tan sticking in any dry patches
  • Make sure that you bend your hand into a claw shape so you don’t end up with white knuckles
  • Try not to wash your hands straight after tanning to prevent a sleeve effect
  • Blend a small amount of moisturiser into the inside of your wrists
  • Use a wet wipe on your nails, cuticles and the palm of your hands to remove any excess colour

Can you use fake tan when pregnant?

No matter how much you want that year-round glow, it’s important to make sure that you’re using fake tan safely – especially while pregnant! We often get asked ‘can you fake tan when pregnant’ and the official word is that it’s generally considered safe to use creams and lotions for self-tanning during pregnancy but that spray tans should be avoided as we don’t know the impact inhaling the spray may have on your baby.

How long does fake tan take to dry?

Fake tan can dry in as little as five minutes, which is why it’s important to work quickly to eliminate any streaks or blend overlapping areas. Fake tan can actually take around 4 – 8 hours to fully develop, though, which is why most fake tanning experts recommend that you apply it on an evening to wash off on a morning.

How long does a fake tan last?

If you apply and maintain your fake tan properly, it should last around a week. Fake tan can last as little as five days or as long as ten days though depending on the application and how it interacts with your skin. Be aware that your fake tan will naturally fade before this time; your skin regenerates itself naturally which causes old skin cells to fall away to reveal paler skin underneath.

How to remove fake tan

If your fake tan application hasn’t gone as smoothly as you hoped, or you simply want it gone quickly without waiting for it to fade out, there are a few methods you can use. 

How to get fake tan off:

  • Exfoliate your skin – fake tan fades as old skin cells fall away, so you can speed up the process by exfoliating in circular motions to break down the tan and boost the renewal process, try soaking in bath oils first to make it even easier to remove the fake tan
  • Steam – sitting in a steam room for 30 mins can help to soften the tan, then you can use a wet towel to exfoliate in circular motions to loosen any remaining fake tan
  • Lemon or Lime juice is often used to remove stains and works the same way for fake tan – simply apply the juice to a damp flannel, microwave for two minutes then rub the flannel over any patchy areas (be careful not to burn yourself if the flannel is too hot!)
  • Swimming in a pool that uses chlorine can have an abrasive effect on the skin which helps to break down fake tan – take a shower afterwards and gently exfoliate to remove the tan further

How to get fake tan off clothes:

Accidents happen, but all is not lost if you get fake tan on your clothes!

  • Check the care tags of the garment in case there are any specific guidelines for stain removal
  • Run cold running water or sparkling water on the back of the stained fabric to loosen the fake tan particles
  • Whatever you do, don’t rub the fabric! Use soapy water with a touch of detergent to dab at the stain – gently work the solution in with your fingertip but don’t scrub
  • Run your clothing through the washing machine as normal
  • Avoid tumble-drying the clothing until you’re sure the stain has gone, otherwise the heat will cause the stain to set!

How to get rid of fake tan smell

Not all fake tans smell, but especially if you’re using a spray tan there’s a distinctive odour that can turn most people off using fake tan. Depending on your body chemistry, the scent can range from the inoffensive such as biscuits or baked bread to the unpleasant such as gym socks or wet dog – gross. 

‘Fake tan smell’ is caused by DHA (Dihydroxyacetone) which is the ingredient that causes skin colouration – so it’s an unavoidable part of the fake tan formula. Some fake tan products are already fragranced or contain odour neutralisers to mask any unpleasant smells, otherwise, you may find that using a scented body wash or scented moisturisers can help to cover the scent in the first couple of days after you apply your fake tan.

Feeling more prepared to take the fake tanning plunge? Browse our collection of fake tan products here at Beauty Base!

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