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Self-tanning: when you get it right you feel on top of the world. When you get it wrong plans are cancelled and patchy limbs are promptly hidden under long sleeves. Whether you have been self-tanning for years or have only just started to explore various types and formulas, there’s always plenty to learn when it comes to achieving an undetectable faux glow. From maintenance and preparation to tanning your face and avoiding muddy-looking hands, we’ve enlisted the help of MECCA’s Skincare Specialist and self-tanning pro Lucy Shaw to answer some common tanning questions.
Always exfoliate! Try exfoliating the day before tanning—use a dry brush, a scrub or exfoliating mitt and then follow with moisturiser all over. This will ensure any areas of uneven or dead skin cells are swept away and the tan will develop evenly. The ingredient in self-tan that creates the colour is attracted to dead skin, so an uneven build-up of skin could result in your tan developing unevenly. We’ve all been there.
Keeping the skin moisturised with a nourishing body cream such as Kiehls Crème De Corps or Abhatti Suisse Kanva Body Lotion will alleviate any scaly skin or uneven shedding. Slather it on morning and night.
It’s best to shave at least 12 hours before you tan to avoid potential irritation. Shaving removes a few layers of skin along with the hair which can risk irritating the skin, particularly if using a new razor and applying a tan product directly onto skin afterwards.
Yes! But keep in mind that if the product hasn’t specifically been designed to be applied on the face, it probably hasn’t been tested on the face, which means you could run the risk of irritation.
The face is generally lighter than the body, so tanning it is going to result in a dramatic difference in shades. To avoid this try mixing tan drops or tanning product in with a face moisturiser for a more subtle colour. Another way to achieve a nice glow on the face is to spritz skin with James Read H2O Tan Mist Face as the final skincare step. This lightweight gradual mist will also help keep skin hydrated.
Avoiding anything that looks too orange or ashy is a good place to start. A formula with a red-based undertone mimics the post-sun glow skin naturally develops after a day outdoors, and it also compliments yellow or beige undertones. The Dr. Dennis Gross Tanning Wipes are available in different colour depths that compliment all skin tones as well.
Moisturiser can help and hinder the tanning process. Oil or emollient on the skin will dilute the tan which is great for areas like the feet, hands, face, elbows and knees. To ensure the tan develops correctly, make sure skin is completely free of any oily residue and only apply moisturiser in areas where the tan could cling to.
It’s always best to check with a doctor first, as everybody’s skin is different and can often respond to products differently during pregnancy. Most formulas are safe to use, but just like any other skincare product, try to avoid retinol, vitamin A derivatives or strong exfoliating acids.
Unfortunately, it’s not possible with most formulas. Try applying the tan earlier in the evening and wash off before bedtime (if it has a short development time). Alternatively, the James Read Sleep Mask Tan Body is a colourless gel that develops overnight and promises to spare white bed sheets from an orange mess.
Use a mitt to avoid any mishaps. When applying tan with hands, be sure to wash them thoroughly (including nails) to remove the tan that’s been applied on the body. Then apply a body cream all over the hands and take a pea size amount of self- tan on the back of the hands, add the same amount of body cream and rub the backs of the hands together to ensure everything is evenly dispersed over the back of the hands, wrists and fingers.
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