Spray tans - sound simple, but in reality the pitfalls of a patchy tan are all too easy to encounter. Between wearing an inappropriately clingy outfit post-spray, to streaky legs and the dreaded face fade, spray tan disasters are always waiting to happen.
Which is why we've turned to the two main men of spray tanning, Isle Of Paradise founder and industry pro Jules Von Hep, and the man known simply as the Tom Ford of tanning, James Harknett, for their guide to making your spray tan last as long as possible.
Because when you've actually bothered to treat yourself to a pre-holiday treatment, there's nothing worse than it fading before you've even got off the flight.
Here's how to get a spray tan the right way (and make it last way longer)...
It all depends on your spray tan maintenance (see below) but generally your tan should last around ten days. Of course, if, like most people, you tend to shower on the regular, your spray tan will fade over the course of the following week.
Which is why we would always recommend getting your spray tan one to two days before the event you want to look bronzed and glowy for. That way you can make the most of your tan at its peak and pre-fade.
Read on for the pro tips and tricks to making your tan last as long as possible...
Plan your hair removal wisely
'Hair removal can still be one of the main reasons a tan looks patchy or streaky,' says James. 'Removing hair tears away the first layer of skin, which is what the tanning agent is colouring, therefore it’s essential to time the hair removal right. If you wax, then do it 48 hours before the treatment and shaving should be 24 hours.'
Exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate
'Exfoliate your skin using an oil free body scrub and, if you want to go the extra mile, incorporate some exfoliating gloves or a dry body brush too,' says Jules. 'If you use retinol, – do this the evening before your spray tan.'
Take a shower
'Just before you tan it’s a good idea to take a cool shower and wash away deodorant, body lotion and freshen the skin from perspiration which can react with the tan and cause a slight yellow effect,' explains James.
The Jules Rules
If you're going into a salon for your tan:
1. Pack some make up remover. I always use , Cotton Pads, and (for deodorant and underarms) and a hair tie.
2. Pack a cloth bag to put your jewellery as it’s best not to wear any as your spray tan develops post application.
3. If the spray tan formulation being used contains a guide colour, pack the perfect post tan outfit – jersey maxi dresses and jumpsuits are great. Do not wear active wear, it’s too tight and will completely ruin the spray tan. Trainer socks with pumps also work well, avoid flip flops or gladiator sandals as the straps can cause havoc with the tan developing.
4. Wear a thong or be prepared to go naked if the spray tanner doesn’t choose to use paper pants. If you’re having a spray tan before holiday and wear a variety of different types of swimwear I always advise my clients to go naked to avoid tan lines – we’ve seen it all babe.
5. A serum is ok to apply onto your face before your tan application (just tell your spray tan artist to tan your face last so the serum has sunk in). Don’t apply a moisturiser as the formulation is too thick.
6. Try, if you can, to brush your teeth before your spray tan, that way no toothpaste will gather around your mouth and interfere with the tan's development.
If you’re having a :
1. Shower no less than 15 minutes before your spray tan application (this plumps up your skin cells for a deeper lasting more hydrated tan).
2. Don’t get your hair wet and remove make up and deodorant.
'Ensure your spray tan artist dries you using the spray tan gun, with no mist coming out of it to speed up the drying process,' says Jules. 'Do not get wet during the tan's development time – no exercise, no outdoor kissing in the rain, and nothing that will make you sweat (hint).
Stay away from the perfume and make-up
'Do not wear deodorant or perfume (if you have an appointment after, apply perfume to your hair instead). Do not wear liquid foundation or tinted moisturiser – concealer is fine to apply.'
'Try to wait as long as you possibly can before getting dressed to give the tan maximum absorption time,' says Jules. 'When you get dressed, if you've worn socks, fold down the upper part so the elastic isn’t pressing directly onto the skin.'
'Keep your skin hydrated at all times. Whenever you see someone with a patchy tan it’s because they are dried out, explains James. 'DHA, the tanning agent can dry the skin, so moisturise generously morning and night with a light weight body lotion.
'After moisturising, gently dust the body with a powder to create slip and movement. Pay attention to around the boobs and joints like the inner arms. The powder works like an invisible shield for the tan, stopping the body’s natural moisture and perspiration from stripping the colour to early.
'It’s also a good ideal to sprinkle some talc or mineral powder in your sports bra and trainers if you work out or do regular Pilates or yoga. This will stop the fabrics from digging into the tan and causing any patching.'
How To Boost Your Spray Tan
According to Jules...
'For an instant hit, apply Isle of Paradise Happy Tan on day 4 and then alternate days after, or mix Isle of Paradise Self Tan Drops with your moisturiser of choice 4-5 days after your spray tan appointment just once.'
According to James...
'To boost your tan and maximise the colour for the longest time try adding Clarins Radiance-Plus Golden Glow Booster for Body to your existing body lotion. Just a few drops added evenly will slightly darken the tan. Apply to dry skin after showering before bedtime and use latex gloves or a mitt .'
16 Of The Best Fake Tans For The Perfect (And Safest) Faux Glow
A potent blend of plant, essential and omega oils; argan, apricot, raspberry, marula, kukui & jojoba, help to hydrate, protect and soothe the skin. These are combined with Tan Luxe's unique slimming and stimulating complex, Supersculpt + Eco-cert organic tanning actives that improve skin’s elasticity and texture. Not to mention, the seriously handy rollerball that leaves your hands tan-free.
Instagram's hottest new tan brand on the block, Bali Body's Bronzing Lotion gives an instant hit of tan whilst vitamin E helps smooth out any bumpy bits.
100% organic, vegan and cruelty free, Isle Of Paradise are the guilt-free tanning brand that are all about body positivity, not beach bods. Choose between the light, medium and dark refreshing self-tan waters that come in peach, mint green and lilac shades respectively, to colour correct as you fake tan. Genius.
The worst part about fake tanning? The waiting time. Give the hour long mitt routine a rest with St Tropez's genius one-minute pre shower mousse. Simply apply all over, wait for 60 seconds and wash off in the shower. Et voila!
If heavy creams, lotions or mousses leave you looking more of a muddy mess, than with a faux glow, then this hydrating coconut water mist is for you.
It's time to renounce your tanning fears. Thanks to the clever sponge concealed in the hoola-skirt lid, applying this body bronzer is completely mess free. The silky formula delivers a super-natural colour result that has an impressive knack of blending perfectly with any complexion in need of a quick boost.
With Bondi Sands' tanning foam, bronzed supermodel limbs are within reach. The product harnesses the nourishing benefits of aloe vera and vitamin E, while the coconut scent instantly evokes palm trees, blue skies and lulling waves.
Tan addicts all over the globe rate Clarins' lightweight liquid for the way it livens up lack-lustre skin without the dreaded orange tinge. Smooth over your neck and chest for a subtle, sun-kissed look that has an amazing slimming effect.
Tanning aficionado and Fake Bake Global Creative Consultant James Harknett champions the Flawless Coconut Tanning Serum for its lightweight consistency. 'I think it's amazing that this can also be used like a skincare product. I have really dry skin but I can now tan knowing it is nourished and hydrated at the same time. My A-list clients are also devoted and use it as a top up on their travels. It leaves their skin smooth and fades naturally.'
There's a reason why this has achieved cult status over the years! The cooling mist builds a gradual tan with every spritz and dries within seconds so you can pull on clothes without fear of it transferring. Airbrushed pins, yes please.
Thanks to the tint, you can see exactly where you are putting this tan but the best part is that it is compatible with bed sheets and clothes – and that's all down to the drying speed. It is the perfect skin-enhancer for those with medium to darker tones.
Use your hands to blanket your body in L'Oreal's weightless lotion and you'll soon see why it has come up trumps! Sans the pungent fake tan smell, this lends skin a gorgeous golden brown colour that, before, only lounging on a sun-slicked beach could provide. Plus, you can use it on your face.
The gel-like consistency of NKD Skin's gradual tan moisturiser means there is no sticky, oily residue so you can go about your daily business while the colour develops. We defy you not to be incredibly impressed by the warm, faux-glow it lends.
This moisturising formula boasts skin-soothing aloe, so your limbs are as smooth and silky as they are golden. The fresh fragrance and unbeatable drying time takes the chore out of tanning, even in the colder months – dare we say it is almost enjoyable?
This science-driven tanner gets limbs holiday-ready in a matter of minutes, but it is the clever moisture lock technology that sways it for LouisvuittonShop. Hydrating properties ensure your skin stays smoother for longer, meaning the colour fades really evenly - no unsightly streaks or blotches here!
'The Sienna X Deep Self Tan Tinted Lotion is my go-to bronzing beauty because it gives an 'Oh have you been away' kind of glow but there's nothing fake about it,' says expert tanner and Sienna X brand ambassador, Carly Hobbs.
'It doesn't even smell like a faux tan, more like holidays, as it's infused with green tea and lemon extract. It gives a naturally sun-kissed finished that looks good for a week before fading away like a sun tan. It's also so simple to use, apply using the Sienna X Luxury Tanning Mitt in long sweeping motions from head to toe for a fool-proof, even finish. Pretty and super safe.'