How to fake tan like a pro

Fake tan gives you that perfect summer glow but it can also make you look stripey, orange and over-cooked if not used correctly.

Here are our tip tips to avoid any faux tanning disasters …

The golden rules for fake tan

Trial it

Always do a patch test first, and if you’re using a new brand, always begin with a lighter variation.

This way you can avoid looking unnatural and you can always top up your tan.

Scrub down

Exfoliate the skin so there’s a clean canvas for the tan to grab. Use a gentle scrub to avoid irritation.

Moisturise: If you have really dry skin, apply a body moisturiser but be careful not to use one that is too heavy or oily, as this can impede the effectiveness of your tan.

Start low

Apply from the feet up in long massaging motions, using the fake tan sparingly on ankles, elbows and knees.

The tan will take more quickly in those areas because the texture of the skin is thicker.

If in doubt, blot these areas with a tissue afterwards to avoid any uneven colour.

Stain pain

Wear loose clothing and wait at least four hours before coming into contact with white clothes or sheets.

And if you’re caught orange-handed, try washing your hands with a scrub that contains alpha hydroxy acids.


To ensure the longevity of your tan, always pat your body dry after showering – don’t rub – and avoid spending prolonged time in water, as this will cause your fake tan to prematurely fade and look patchy.

fake tan tips

How to fix fake tan fails

If your tan goes horribly wrong, there are some great fake tan removers on the market – or you could try these at-home tips.

If your fake tan looks too dark

There’s no way to get rid of it all – but you can tone it down.

Stand in the shower to soften the skin then use a fine-grain scrub to exfoliate away the dead skin cells that are holding the colour.

If your tan looks streaky

On newly applied fake tan, rub a cut lemon over the area.

This allows the fruit acids to gently bleach out the colour.

For older tans you’ll have to wait until those layers naturally exfoliate off.

If your tan is disappearing unevenly

Blotchiness happens when dry patches of skin soak up extra fake tan.

To remove tanner, soak for at least 10 minutes in the bath, then dry off and buff the dark patches with a dry towel until you see the colour coming off.

If you’re prone to dry skin, always exfoliate and use a moisturiser before you apply your tan to prevent this from happening.

When is the best time for your beauty treatments? Find out with our best-time beauty calendar.

Written by Nikki Yazxhi.