The Winter Fake Tan Hacks Worth Knowing

The Winter Fake Tan Hacks Worth Knowing

With the right technique, products and textures, a warm glow come winter can improve the look of your complexion and boost your mood. Two experts share their application tips to achieve a natural, believable colour.

Invest In The Right Tools

“A great tip for tanning in winter is to disperse either your mousse, liquid or lotion onto a foam mitt and then apply it in long sweeping motions,” says A-list tanner James Harknett. “This helps you get a more balanced and natural finish towards the wrists and ankles as the tan is thinned out as it reaches those areas. Also, try using a make-up brush to apply your tan in delicate areas. We all know self-tanners will turn darker on the knees, elbows and feet, so the light touch of a brush is ideal for creating a more subtle and believable glow." 

Avoid Formulas With Alcohol 

“Some tanning formulas contain high levels of alcohol,” warns tanning master James Read. “Try to avoid these as they can be very drying and come winter, we want to add moisture, not strip it from the skin. Look for gradual tanning products instead. These often contain key skin ingredients that hydrate and nourish, while providing a subtle glow. Another benefit is you can build them up, which is ideal for the winter months. One day you can have a light golden tone, the next you can amp it up to a much deeper vacation-like colour.” 

Remember To Exfoliate First

“Prep is still vital even in winter, and this includes exfoliation,” explains James Harknett. “Once hair removal has been well timed, exfoliate all over the body on the morning or night before. REN’s Guerande Salt Exfoliating Body Balm is brilliant at shifting dead skin cells and providing a smooth, even base that’s ready for colour.” 

Treat Your Face Differently 

“When it comes to the face, tanning drops are preferable,” advises James Harknett. “Just a few pipetted into your night cream will add a warmth to your complexion that’s really natural-looking. They’re also ideal year-round as you can control the glow or extend it if needed. Plus, being a tanning water, there’s no chance of the residue staining your sheets. Make sure you run it down your neck for full coverage.” James Read agrees: “When you apply tan to your face, start from the hairline and work down your face in stages so you don’t miss bits. Make sure you include your neck, taking a light dusting over your ears, too.” 

Remember: self-tan is not a body dye or make-up where one shade suits all; it works with an individual’s unique tone, so not all products will automatically look authentic.
James Harknett

Adopt The ‘Ski Tan’ Technique’

“This might sound odd, but all it means is tanning around your winter outfit – it’s known as the ‘ski tan,’” says James Read. “It’s about tanning on and around the only areas on show – for instance, if you’re wearing a sleeveless dress, it’s the arms, face, hands and neck. Focusing on specific areas allows you to be more precise and thorough, in turn, getting an even blend that’s consistent, instead of frantically sweeping all over your body in a last-minute panic. Always leave tanning your hands until last. This way, you can work the left-over product from your arms downwards for a natural fade. You can also use facial mists on your hands if you’re nervous of going too dark.” 

Make Sure You Do Your Research

“One of the main misconceptions of DIY tanning in winter is that the colour will look fake,” says James Harknett. “Many believe it can only be a Fanta-coloured streaky mess. To avoid this, it’s crucial you use a brand that complements your skin tone. Tones can vary and we all tan differently in the sun. For your glow to mimic a real holiday tan, take the time to research your brands. Read online reviews and ask someone with a similar undertone to you what they like. Remember: self-tan is not a body dye or make-up where one shade suits all; it works with an individual’s unique tone, so not all products will automatically look authentic.” 

Stock Up On Face Masks 

“In winter, use a hyaluronic acid face mask after you’ve self-tanned to prolong your colour,” says James Read. “Try to avoid sleeping with the heating on too, as this dries out your skin and can cause your tan to turn patchy. When investing in face masks, stick to hydrating ingredients and nothing with retinol in, as this will just remove all traces of colour.” 

Finally, Make Subtle Tweaks

“A lot of people think once their tan is on, they can’t make tweaks, but you can,” explains James Read. “A good hand sanitiser on the palms and fingertips will remove any excess colour seamlessly. Likewise, use a cotton bud drenched in a fake tan eraser to get rid of patchiness in delicate areas like the eyes, hairline and on your wrists. You should also use a tiny amount of moisturiser on any dry patches pre-tan – this will stop colour going darker in different areas.” 


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