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How to perfect your faux glow with self-tan this summer

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Vogue Beauty Editor Lauren Murdoch-Smith shares her tips on choosing the right products to try now.

As tempting as it might be to take full advantage of British Summer Time – however fleeting that might be – and lay out in the sun tanning, we know that the safest and most reliable way to get your glow on is to fake it. That means finding the right self-tan for you and mastering your prep and application skills

We consider Vogue Magazine the absolute pros when it comes to all things beauty, and so this week we asked their Beauty & Wellness Editor Lauren Murdoch-Smith for her team’s steer on the latest tanning trends, tools, and tricks: “We've always talked about how self-tan gives us a sun-kissed glow and now, tanning brands are offering skincare-inspired products to actually deliver on this golden-glow quest that we all crave. From tanning facial waters to tanning glow drops you add to your skincare, they've been developed to give you the most natural tan without giving the faux tan game away.”

When it comes to finding the right match, trial and error is key. For beginners, we might suggest tanning drops which can be added to your moisturiser to gradually build up a natural-looking glow. Or if you’re looking for something deeper and longer-laster, try a mousse but – and we can’t stress this enough – definitely use a tanning mitt to protect your hands. And maybe you’re looking to just tan your face? We’re living in the golden age (pardon the pun) of specialist self-tanners and there have never been so many targeted facial formulas available. Scroll down to find our pick of the best below.

So, is there a right or wrong way to apply fake tan? Absolutely. While the products themselves have become easier to use, and harder to mess up than in years gone by, these products will still darken the top layer of your skin for a number of days, so getting it right (and even) is all-important. And as Lauren quite rightly points out, “Ensure you have the best skin base first by prepping 24 hours before by exfoliating and applying plenty of moisturiser so your tan develops evenly - a healthy glow guaranteed.”

7 Pointers To Perfect Your Faux Glow This Summer

1. Preparation is key to nailing a smooth, streak-free glow. Our first and favourite way to prep the skin is by adding body cream to your driest and thickest areas of skin. We’re looking at you elbows, ankles, and knees! These thirsty patches are the areas that will absorb the most fake tan – and so adding a moisturiser to them first will provide a small barrier and allow just the right amount to be absorbed. Also, the better-hydrated the skin, the more even and long-lasting the tan will be too.

2. For a more in-depth body prep, think about indulging in a salon treatment and kill two birds with one stone. We love the full body mineral salt scrub at Adorn Beauty (£40) - an exfoliating therapy to polish, slough away dead skin cells, and, leave the skin glowing. Or for something a little more long-lasting, try micro-needling at Thérapie Clinic (from £119.95) to get rid of dead skin and make the perfect base for a flawless tan.

3. Focus on your feet! Contrary to what you might instinctively do, we recommend starting at the bottom – as feet are the trickiest body parts to get smooth coverage on, so they’ll need all your energy before you get tired or bored!

4. When it comes to your legs, more is more. You can’t over-do blending and adding more tan to ensure it’s really even won’t make your pins more tanned – it will just make sure you’re streak-free. For any drier areas that you may have forgotten to lotion-up first, just apply a body cream afterwards to even out the shades.

5. This might sound obvious, but consider it a reminder. Wash those hands when you’re finished, yes even if you’ve used a mitt. You don’t want the backs of your hands to be totally without tan though, so once clean and dried, pop a tiny dab of self-tan on the back of one hand and rub both backs of hands together blending evenly without involving the palms of your hands.

6. If it all goes wrong, do not panic. Fake tan does wash off. If your hands are particularly mismatched tonally (dare we say orange), try scrubbing them with a homemade mixture of lemon juice and salt, then rinse. Natural fruit acid is a great way to exfoliate the skin and remove fake tan quickly. And if you’ve gone a little too enthusiastic on the rest of your body, avoid a panic scrub and instead lather on body oil before soaking in a hot bath, then going in for a gentle exfoliation. This will soften the skin and help ensure that you subtly fade – and don’t strip – your tan away unevenly. To remove unwanted patches try a product containing glycolic acid. This ingredient is brilliant for removing the very outer layer of your skin. You will find it in cleansers and scrubs but industry insiders always use Nip + Fab cleansing wipes – perfect to quickly fix unwanted blotches. Just be careful to protect your skin afterwards with a good SPF.

7.Finally, if you’ve got a big wedding, event, or, holiday coming up that requires urgent streak-erasure, there are specially-formulated products designed to gently remove fake tan in just five minutes without harsh scrubbing. Tanologist Self-Tan Eraser & Primer 200ml, Superdrug £10.99 is our personal go-to.

Best For Beginners 

Instant Self Tanning Jelly Body 125ml NEXT £18.95
PS Self-Tan Serum, Primark £4
NX Glow Body Brush, NEXT £6
Tanologist Face & Body Mitt Duo, Superdrug £5.99



Best For CBD Lovers 

utan x Jamie Genevieve CBD Tanning Water Facial Mist 100ml, Superdrug £14.99


Best For Custom Colour 

Isle of Paradise Self-Tanning Drops 30ml, Boots £13.30
NX Glow Self Tan Mousse, NEXT £14
Self Tan Glow Booster Serum 15ml, M&S £12.50


Best For Faces 

ESPA Gradual Tan Face Concentrate, NEXT £20
Autograph Overnight Glow Mask 50ml, M&S £12.50
Clarins Radiance-Plus Golden Glow Booster for Face, Boots £21
Bondi Sands Pure Self Tanning Face Mist 70ml, Superdrug £14.99
Clinique Sun-Kissed Face Gelee Complexion Multi-Tasker, NEXT £25


Best For Gradual Tan 

Dove DermaSpa Summer Revived Fair to Medium Self Tanning Body Lotion 200ml, Boots £3.50
St.Tropez Gradual Tan Tinted Lotion 200ml, NEXT £18
MooGoo Natural How Now Brown Cow Gradual Tanning Cream, Holland & Barrett £12.49


Best For Skin Prep

File A Foot, The Body Shop £5

Best Skincare Self-Tan Hybrid

Bondi Sands Pure Self Tanning Sleep Mask, Superdrug £14.99


Best To Even-Out Dry Patches 

This Works Perfect Legs Body Butter 200ml, NEXT £40
Shea Intensive Foot Balm 150ml, L’Occitane £25
Weleda Skin Food Body Butter 150ml, Holland & Barrett £19.75
Dream Cream, Lush £18


Best To Fix Mistakes 

Nip+Fab Glycolic Exfoliating Pads 60 Pads, NEXT £17
PS After Glow Self-Tan Eraser, Primark £3
Tanologist Self-Tan Eraser & Primer 200ml, Superdrug £10.99


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