If there's one thing I'm rather thankful for, it's the fact that I never really got into tanning at a young age and I'm by no means saying this to brag, Oh no no no! more so because judging by my previous beauty faux pas, I would have really put some effort into it.
Instead, the most I really dabbled with was a bit of Garnier Summer Body and left it at that. Having holidayed a fair bit as a child I'd always enjoyed being in the sun and it wasn't until much later in life that I swapped out sun worshipping for bottle bronze and I've never looked back.
I don't want to ham this up but fake tanning is a bit an art! You find the products that work for you, the textures, the shades, the consistencies. You find the tricks and tips that work with your skin, where to moisturise first, how long to moisturise for prior to tan application, what pressure to use when exfoliating, what mitt to use, what face tanner to use, I can keep going but I'm hoping to cover this throughout this post so stay with me.
When I first started tanning, I would receive a few comments about my "bad fake tan" and initially I brushed it off. However the more time I have spent perfecting my tanning routine, the less those comments have surfaced to which now, I cannot remember the last time I received one. If I'm honest, it's all been totally positive feedback when it comes to my current tanning tekkers, so it was about time I wrote the whole shebang down for you in the hope that it can save you from any tanning disasters in the future. I hope.
As a bit of a disclaimer here before we get into the good stuff, if you are expecting this to be easy, quick or anything other than absolutely high maintainance, you can just go on over and close the browser now. However, once you get into the swing of your routine, it should become second nature with the pro's killer tan every day far out weighing the cons less sleep and a bit less cash.
PREPARATION IS KEY
Prepping your skin, pre tan application is essential. If you are planning to just slap a bit of product on and come out with a flawless tan you are very very wrong. The base of your tan needs to be clean, exfoliated and hydrated to perfection.
I have my showers abnormally hot apparently. This helps with softening any dry skin areas ready for a quick buff over. I find these types of showers comfortable and you should find yours comfortable also, so if you enjoy your shower below 30 degrees weirdo you do you boo!
I then take my trusty exfoliating mitt, starting at my toes and working my way up, exfoliate my entire body in circular motions. If you've read my shaving hacks post you will know I have to do this every morning anyway so I embrace the process and now don't even think about it. I always opt for an exfoliating mitt over any other form of exfoliation. Scrubs tend to leave a residue on your skin that can affect tanning application and loofah brushes can be way too harsh, sponges lack control and basically, the mitt just works! It's as if you were applying moisturiser to your whole body plus they cost £1 which is just fab!
Speaking of shaving hacks, you may want to refer to that post now, as you will want a fluff free surface for application also so head on over and give that a little read before moving on to the next step which is hydration.
As I jump out of the shower, I dry myself thoroughly and apply the St Tropez Prep & Maintain Moisturiser to my feet, ankles, knees, elbows, hands and sometimes neck and allow to soak in whilst I brush my teeth and saunter off to my dressing room.
MAINTENANCE IS ALSO KEY
Taking care of your skin and your tan doesn't stop at the preparation stage unfortunately, especially if you intend on keeping your tan perfect every single day in the same way that I do. You have to maintain the condition of your skin because tanning can also dry it out considerably more and ensure you keep up that daily exfoliation to avoid the dreaded patchy phase. So carrying on the use of the Mitt and St Tropez Prep & Maintain it does exactly what it says on the tube throughout tanning.
You can also use the St Tropez Prep & Maintain moisturiser at night all over your body as my skin can get quite dry towards the end of the day so I slather a thick layer of it all over me, pop on some old PJ's much to my husbands horror and marinate through the night, waking up to smooth hydrated skin again. I've tried a number of moisturisers in place of this particular product as its quite difficult to find in stock, and I'm sorry to say none have been as good for moisturising and blending dry areas so if you do find it in stock, buy in bulk!
CHOOSE YOUR WEAPONS
It's taken me a long time to find the perfect product for me. I started off using the Bondi Sands tanning oil which was my first step into tanning, however I now look back and see how it clung to my wrists and dry areas no matter how much I prepped my skin. I tried MANY of the tans you see on the market now before discovering my first love, the St Tropez Express Mousse. The colour of this tan was perfect for the olive under tone of my natural skin meaning my tan looked as natural as fake tan can look. The guide colour made it perfect for always knowing where I had applied, so I could buff where applicable and the quick developing time made it perfect for my morning tanning preferences. Just a note, if you choose not to wash off this tan like I dont because I'm 'Ard be prepared for the guide colour to transfer a fair bit. I've found it mostly washes out absolutely fine but just as a pre warning before you all come after me.
My second tan of choice in my tanning routine, because there's more than just one, is by far my favourite of all the tans forever and ever amen, St Tropez Purity Mousse. I use this most days if I'm perfectly honest with you, it's almost fool proof. I say almost because I'm yet to come across someone who A. doesn't love it and B. has had a tan fail with it. Using this almost every day gives me the most gorgeous natural glow I've ever seen. If it's a powerful intense tan you want, I'd say this bad boy isn't for you but if you want a tan that looks so natural people generally cant tell it's from a bottle then this bad boy is definitely for you.
Your choice of mitt is also very important. I've recently discovered double sided mitts that have a more velour type texture to be the best, the blending capabilities are exceptional, they last a lot longer and because they are double sided, should any tan spill onto the other side, it doesn't seep through onto your hands and stain. I then use a revolutionary contraption from Model co. to tan my back because this girl don't need no man to tan her back that is, to take the bins out however, she definitely does Mr Millen-Gordon don't get any ideas.
So now is the important part, your routine. This isn't going to be a once a week thing, this is going to be an every day thing but if done right it shouldn't take more than a few minutes longer than your usual so lets go;
Slather yourself in body cream, I tend to go for Prep & Maintain from St Tropez if I can as some other moisturisers break down the existing tan however, it will be washed off in the morning so won't mess with the new tan too much! As mentioned, Prep & Maintain is quite hard to get hold of.
Get into some old Pyjamas and marinate all night long.
Jump in the shower! Exfoliate from the tootsies up using an exfoliation mitt and your favourite body wash. Currently I'm using Aeosop. Shave or de fluff with your chosen method and wash hair thoroughly.
Towel dry thoroughly and Apply Prep & Maintain to feet, ankles, knees, elbows and hands.
Dry hair, I use the Dyson hair drier because it is blooming quick. I don't even need to straighten my hair after as it does it all for me.
Once Prep & Maintain is soaked in and hair is completely dry I start the tanning application.
To kick start my tanning routine I go for St Tropez Express to get the depth to my tan from the outset.
1 pump per lower leg & 2 pumps per thigh then blend into knees and feet; really buff around the toe and ankle area.
1 pump for stomach & hips
1 pump for lower back and glutes
1 pump per arm and blend into elbows and hands
1 pump per chest and neck
and blend into face using the Purity face mist
Allow to dry and then pop on an old or dark coloured dressing gown leaving on for up to three hours or if you are like me, don't wash it off, get dressed and go.
Before bed, apply a layer of Prep & Maintain to hydrate skin.
Jump in the shower and lather up using your favourite body wash and gently buff from the toes up.
Shave, de fluff if necessary, I am incredibly hairy so I'm not too clear on what normal peoples de fluffing routines look like!
Apply a layer of Prep & Maintain all over
and post skincare routine spritz face with Purity face mist
and you are good to go.
Shower, exfoliate as normal, de fluff where necessary, wash hair if necessary.
Apply Prep & Maintain to hands, feet, knees, elbows and ankles.
Brush Teeth and head to dressing room.
Starting from the feet up apply Purity Mousse. I tend to apply this in the same way I do Express however you can apply more of Purity as its a more natural golden colour. It also smells epic. With purity you don't need to wash it off at all and you can get dressed straight away.
Spritz face with Purity Face mist to blend.
THURSDAY, FRIDAY & SATURDAY
Either repeat Tuesdays routine if you feel your tan is looking tip top or repeat Wednesdays routine if you feel it's faded a little.
Basically keep exfoliating, applying Purity Mousse & Spray or Express when needed (always a full body application) and enjoy always having a golden tan!
So as I mentioned, this is neither quick, cheap or easy but if you fancy on some occasions, prolonging your tan and maybe not going through the drawn out patchy phase quite so often, there are some great techniques and hacks for taking care of your tan an skin.
I'd also like to note that this post isn't sponsored by St Tropez, purely for the sake of disclosure I wanted to make that clear. I am a fan of St Tropez and I work with them because I actually asked them to work with me due to my love of their products and it's such an honour for me to be able to do so. But I've wanted to put a little step by step guide in place on my blog for people to revert back to whenever they have any questions about my tan and the weird ways that I keep it looking the way it does. With that being said though, I still have areas I need to improve, I'm still working on perfecting the blend when it comes to feet but I will not be beaten.
If you have any bottle bronze hacks of your own though, do let me know in the comments below and I would love to know your fake tan holy grail products too whilst you're tapping away.
Photography by Michaela Tornaritis