Beauty school: tanning


I recently had a question that inspired me to write a post on the essentials of self-tan. We have so many new innovative self-tan products and brands, it’s worth trying out several options to find the best for you. Cassie’s question was about information on products that you can apply directly on the leg for an instant bronzing effect, so I will start there:

Question: Alison, I remember you said you sometimes used a bronzer on your legs for quickness. It was a large compact but could you tell me if it was Laura Geller, Doll 10 or another make? Thank you, Cassie

Answer: The first product that I ever did this with was the Laura Geller Body Bronzer in the super size which comes in a variety of shades. This can be used either wet or dry. In recent years we have also launched the Doll 10 Body Bronzer and also we have some really great new products such as Cover Mark (coming soon on AYBNI), which is a professional cover product that is great for varicose veins and scars etc. and is also waterproof. Benefit and Tarte do some liquid/lotion body tints which give colour but not coverage, but my current favourite is definitely Vita Liberata Body Blur which was made for X Factor and is a cross between body make-up, body primer and a cover and bronzer, all mixed together – it makes the skin not only have a great colour but look more perfect and therefore helps to disguise imperfections. I also use it on the face, I’m that addicted to it! If you have a pale skin and you haven’t had time to self-tan and you want to put a colour on quickly, I would certainly recommend the Laura Geller Body Bronzer or this Body Blur depending on whether you want more of a powder or a mousse texture, as the others have to be layered or require a good skin tone base to begin with while these can be used as a ‘paint on tan’.


I think it’s really interesting how there are now so many new launch products within the tanning sector that give instant gratification and can be showered off to remove, which is especially helpful when you need either a quick fix or you are not good at self-tan. These can also be used to enhance or glorify your fading tan or patch up a self-tanning mistake.

This brings me onto the point of tanning mistakes which can be avoided nowadays with so many different formulas. Gentle progressive tans for the nervous or the busy because mistakes take longer to show up and you can correct them on day 2, 3 or 4’s application more easily.

Stronger-coloured tans are often easier with a guide colour in such as Vita Liberarta’s because then you can prevent mistakes. My top tip if you are doing your whole body is always use a full length mirror to check the backs of the arms and your whole body and if you haven’t got someone to help you apply it to reach all the difficult bits, then use your tanning mitt, put over the end of a back scratcher or extended body brushing brush to get to those hard to reach places.The Duo

Top Tips for tanning:

  1. Whether progressive, gentle formulas or instant, always exfoliate face and body once to twice a week
  2. A tan will not disguise poor quality dry skin. It will grab and darken and show up these areas so daily body moisturising or a skin that is in good condition is essential
  3. Warm weather or humid conditions that cause perspiration can affect the self-tan’s ability to sink in and take properly. This even includes having too hot a shower and too quick an application after so ideally make sure you are applying onto a normal temperature skin that is no longer perspiring
  4. Do not apply deodorant, anti-perspirant or perfume before tanning application as this can prevent the colour developing in quite a large area especially under the arm if you have used a spray anti-perspirant
  5. for some hands (like mine) just washing after application is not enough, so if you have the type of skin that grabs easily, always apply even progressive tan with disposable gloves or buy one of our products that comes with a mitt. You can buy the gloves in boxes of 50 – 100 in the chemist and if you run out at home or in a hotel, you can wrap your hands in cling film or a disposable shower cap for an emergency, speedy application
  6. If you have an oily skin or you need speedier applications, the lighter weight gel textures such as James Read and Tan-Luxe’s Tan Drops from  would suit you best; this and the spray tanners
  7. If you are a frequent self-tanner, it is easier to apply and use either a serum added into your skincare, such as Tan-Luxe or a product that skincare has been added into the tanning product so that you are not missing out on your anti-ageing ingredients. We have many night creams and moisturisers from Judith Williams, Vita Liberata and UTan that have tanning in them as well
  8. Common mistake areas – if you are using a spray formula – are the top and bottom of the feet. The reason for this is that when you are standing there spraying your body, you then get a whole body’s application of spray fall down onto the top of your feet and as you move around you walk it into your soles which gives an incredibly strong stain. To avoid this, don’t move around and apply some body lotion to protect the top of the feet from being over-tanned
  9. Key areas should never have full strength tan applied to them directly. These are underarms, elbows (inside and out) wrists, hands, knees (front and back) ankles, feet and ears. Always use the dragging method where you apply your product to the large areas above and below and when they are starting to sink in drag any excess left on your glove or mitt over that area
  10. Self-tan maintenance – nowadays modern tanning involves perhaps having a few of these different formulas at home, as sometimes its quicker to maintain a tan whether real or fake instead of doing the full session again. This can be done by quick applications of spray tanning waters (which dry almost instantly) or using a progressive tan as a body lotion, especially if you are trying to maintain a dark colour. Or try using self-tan that’s already in your SPF with the very clever 3-in-1 formula from Vita Liberata Body Oil – it has self-tan, body make-up and SPF all wrapped up into one!

I hope this has inspired you to re-think your self-tanning ‘wardrobe’.

1 Comment

  1. Jackie Ruffoni July 20, 2016 at 2:03 pm -  Reply

    Hi Alison. Thanks for all this information.
    Could I ask about the pre sun products?
    Using Elemis pre sun right now but skin is quite tingly 3 days in. Only sat in sun for 30 mins on Monday. I use U/Sun 50 on face and body normally.
    This time a different make for the body. Should I use a more sensitive one? If so which one?

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