The Ultimate Guide To Natural Looking Fake Tan

Achieving perfect, natural looking fake tan is always the goal, right? Trust me, I’ve had far my fair share of fake tan disasters. Orange hands, huge white streaks, the dreaded cling from the previous weeks fake tan – I’ve been there. After wearing it for quite a few years now I’ve found the best techniques for application, products that work well and a fake tanning routine that delivers the natural fake tan look.

The tanning essentials

When it comes to fake tanning these are the things I tend to use as part of my routine…

  1. A fake tan mit/ old sock (I will explain later)
  2. Your fake tan of choice
  3. Exfoliating gloves/ exfoliating body brush
  4. Body butter / body moisturiser
  5. Body scrub


Skin Prep

Before fake tan goes anywhere near my body I always make sure to prep. I tend to do this the morning that I’m due to apply my tan that evening. I start off by making sure I remove as many dead skin cells as possible with a body brush and a good body scrub. At the moment I have been loving the Hempz Pomegranate Body Scrub*, this is enriched with hemp seed oil so it removes any dead skin whilst leaving my skin feeling soft and hydrated – love love love this stuff! Another favourite is the Soap and Glory Breakfast Smoothie Scrub, it smells amazing and really does get rid of any flaky/ dry skin.

After exfoliating I move on to moisturising, I love using a rich body butter at this point or something that’s really good for dry skin. To be completely honest I don’t have a favourite. I tend to try out new ones quite a lot, but anything moisturising is key.

I will usually exfoliate three times a week to keep on top of removing old fake tan and then moisturise every day, doing this stops the fake tan coming off awkwardly helping it stay fresh.

Tanning favourites and application

Onto actually fake tanning, there are so many different types of fake tan you can buy and I’ve tried pretty much all of them. I love using gradual tanner when it comes to the summer months, my favourite is Dove Summer Glow in the medium/ dark shade. The only issue I find with gradual tanner is not being able to see where you put the product, there’s always that risk of waking up to find that one white streak you missed! I still follow the same exfoliating and moisturising process mentioned above when using gradual tanner.

At the moment I’ve been using the St Moritz Mousse tan for a more intense look. I have tried St Tropez but found this to be just as good, if not better! This is an instant tan that develops on the skin in around 5-10 hours and it also has a guide tan so perfect for beginners as you can see exactly where you have applied the product. I usually apply this in the evening and then shower it off the next morning, admittedly this doesn’t smell great when it has just been applied, but once showered the typical tan smell has pretty much gone. I always go for medium and that leaves me with a really natural looking tan, not at all orange or overly tanned.

I always think someones hands are the biggest giveaway as to whether they’re wearing fake tan or not. I’ve been that person with brown arms and white hands before – it ain’t a good look. I’ve found the best way to do my hands is to wear a disposable glove, you can pick up a pack of 100 for around £1 and then the tan never sinks through the applicator onto my hands. After applying the tan to my whole body I can then go back to the hands and apply a small amount so it blends more naturally.

When applying a mousse tan I used to use a tanning mit but found they never fit well and not only make it difficult to actually blend the tan in but it would just absorb all the product and make a mess. Now, I just use a sock! Not only does it mean I can blend the tan in seamlessly but it’s cheaper and far easier and I can just throw it in the wash afterwards. When it comes to applying a gradual tanner I just wash my hands after applying it and then apply a drop on the back of my hand and rub the backs of my hands together and blend down my arms.

I apply fake tan usually 3 times a week just after I have exfoliated and I’ve found this to work well for me. I don’t actually tan my face at the moment and just use makeup so my skin matches the same colour as my neck.

For a quick fix
When I need to be tanned and don’t have the time to wait for gradual tanner or the St Mortiz tan to develop there are a few products I turn to. The Cocoa Brown 1 Hour Express Tan is my go to for when I’m in a rush, this is double the price of the St Mortiz tan however it smells amazing and it does give an even more intense tan, it also has a guide colour but develops in just 1 hour! Another favourite is the Soap and Glory The Righteous Body Butter Sun Kissed Tint, if you’re going on holiday and want to add a glow to your complexsion aswel as a tan then this is perfect. It has more of a red undertone so looks incredibly natural, also perfect if your have dry skin as it’s moisturising too. Although this does wash off straight away, so if you know you’re going to be near water I would give this a miss as it will start coming off.


Top tips
1) Don’t forget to go around your ankles and feet with the tan
2) Try and apply tan in natural day light or good lighting if possible
3) Keep your skin hydrated
4) If you shave your legs don’t apply fake tan straight after doing this as it will settle into where the hairs were
5) Whatever you do, don’t tan the palms of your hands…

If you are a fake tan wearer I would love to know your favourite products and tips for the perfect tan…

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    Sophie Wuthrich

    April 17, 2017Reply

    Great advice for fake tanning Jodie! I've never actually fake tanned in my life and these were definitely some handy tips. I'm quite lucky in the sense that I have naturally tan(ish) skin but for some reason my neck is white! As in I don't know what I should match my makeup to, my neck or the rest of my body hahah. Anyways, love the post thanks for sharing!-Sophie xx | Cherries & Perfume ♡

    Danielle Alexa

    April 17, 2017Reply

    I always use the St Tropez in dark and I do live it, but I want to try the Loving Tan out, but it is just so hard to get here in the UK without having to pay import taxes!Danielle xx

    Lauren Victoria

    April 17, 2017Reply

    This is such great advice! It was only last summer I properly started to get into trying out different tanning products. I love the gradual tanners. My favourite is Palmers. Not only does it smell like cookie dough, but it works so well so quickly and it's so moisturising too. I do want to start trying more mousse formulas, so will definitely check out your recommendations xLauren |


    April 17, 2017Reply

    Some great tanning tips! I also use St Moritz and find that it does the job just as well as some of the more expensive tans. Thanks for sharing xLaura |

    Alicia S

    April 17, 2017Reply

    I've only recently gotten into fake tanning, and the Superdrug solait moose has been a life saver for me (to the point I don't have to stress about exfoliating before applying it). It's a gradual tan but it has a tan guide so I can always see where I've missed. I use a mitt as it's the easiest for me and then it comes to my hands or feet I use use any remaining product I have left on the mitt opposed to applying more.Alicia

    Lucy Cole

    April 17, 2017Reply

    Fake tanning is something I really want to get into now the suns making an appearance! Some fab tips here, thank you!xx Lucy x |

    Leanne Page

    April 17, 2017Reply

    I can't go without tan anymore, none of my makeup would match me now haha! I love the sound of the Hempz scrub. I have a in shower moisturiser from them which i love! I love st mortiz tan to. The new pro range is amazing

    The Makeup Directory

    April 17, 2017Reply

    Using a sock is such a clever idea, I always find that mitts slip off my hand!! I'm saving this post for reference because I really want to get into fake tanning properly this year. I always dabble with it but never have a good consistent routine!The Makeup Directory

    Faye Laura

    April 17, 2017Reply

    I'm bookmarking this for the future! I've never fake tanned because I'm so terrified of turning orange, but I also don't naturally tan because I'm as fair as a sheet, so I really want to give it a go!

    Caterina Sosso

    April 18, 2017Reply

    I've never fake tanned before but this would be very useful if I'll decide to 🙂 Caterina |


    April 18, 2017Reply

    Some amazing tips! I've been fake tanning for years (too many to admit), but I always like to see how everyone else applies it xxLily |

    Adele Miner

    April 18, 2017Reply

    I really want to give that soap and glory scrub a go..thank you so much for sharing this! You have such a lovely blog here by the way, you should be proud of all your hard work!

    Primrose Bigwood

    April 18, 2017Reply

    Absolutely love this, fab tips and gorgeous products! x

    Alina Bostan

    April 18, 2017Reply

    I'm actually scared of fake tanning, as I fear the orange and streaky look. But you make it sound so easy and I love all the tips/advice you've given me. Will definitely have to try it at some point since I'm so pale at the moment xxBeauty with charm


    April 18, 2017Reply

    I love fake tanning you just feel so much better don't you?! I definitely am a victim of fake tan hands – mine are usually so dark it's unreal haha! xxLaura |

    Lucy Alice

    April 19, 2017Reply

    I love the way fake tan looks when its done, but my hands are always a giveaway so I'm definitely going to use your tips! I've recently started using Skinny Tan and I'm loving it!Lucy | Forever September

    Jessica Blu

    May 14, 2017Reply

    I've just started to fake tan, so thank you for these tips!

    Mel Eaglestone

    May 14, 2017Reply

    I've never worn fake tan because I'm positively terrified of mucking it up but this is a great guide to getting it right :)Mel ★

    Toni Robinson

    May 14, 2017Reply

    I've been using gradual tanners for years, and only started using the St Moritz range last year. It so affordable – I love it! XxToni | sheergloss

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