How To: Nail Your Fake Tan

Seeking out a Victoria’s Secret-esque glow? Don’t do anything until you’ve given our must-see tanning guide the once over.

  • Story by Photo Stephen Tilley

Seeking out a Victoria’s Secret-esque glow? Don’t do anything until you’ve given our must-see tanning guide the once over.

At home As self-tanning products become more sophisticated, there’s no excuse for not having a natural glow on your wedding day – just make sure you achieve a gold more along the lines of Jennifer Aniston’s look, not a tangerine that would put the Geordie Shore lot to shame.  

For foolproof application, exfoliate skin then moisturise, concentrating mainly on dry or rough areas. Wait for at least a couple of hours before applying self tanner– your skin must be totally dry.

Work methodically over your body. Dry areas attract product so it’s a good idea to gently blot your knees, elbows, ankles and feet with a dry tissue to avoid any build-up. Cover scabs or scars with Vaseline. Try to leave your clothes off for as long as possible so the tanner can dry completely, and don't shower for eight hours. If you’d rather build colour slowly, try a gradual tanner that combines a bronzer and moisturiser. The beauty of these products is that you can easily control the final effect – simply apply tanner daily until you reach the desired level of colour.

One step further If you want to take the often risky guess work out of tanning, visit a professional. Salons now offer great fake tanning options often starting from $45, either in an automatic booth or with a spray-tanning therapist. The great thing about getting a tan applied professionally is that someone else can spray those hard-to-reach places, ensuring a streak-free look. It’s important to prepare your skin in the same way you would for an at-home self tan, whether you do it yourself or employ a tanning therapist to exfoliate and moisturise you as part of a treatment package. Suzanne Brown at Auckland salon Skinfit ( suggests opting for no bronzer in the spray-tan formula, which will mean the resulting tan reflects your natural skin tone. You can always add bronzer on the day if you need a top-up. Although spray tanning sounds like a messy business, that isn’t necessarily the case. ‘Large air compressors, such as the Mystic Spray Tan, force the spray into a fine mist so that it’s instantly absorbed into the skin, preventing a streaky tan,’ says Suzanne.

Choosing the right colour and therapist is essential, so booking a trial is the best place to start.

Tools of the Trade: 
Going DIY? Give one of these winning products a go: 

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