Fake tan‘s a tricky one. Get it right and you’ve nailed bronze goddess vibes in one twenty minute session. Get it wrong and you’ll wake up with your own handprint etched into your thigh (been there. Didn’t love it). How do the celebs do it? How do they look ten out of ten flawless every, single, time? The answer is their ‘glam squad’ – an expert league of professionals who know how to perfect every smudge, streak and stripe for an utterly seamless finish.
While we can’t all have our own personal tanner, we can tap up Amanda Harrington, tan guru to Sienna Miller, Dua Lipa and Poppy Delevingne, for her insider expertise. Deftly honed over a long career of working with the best in the business on cover shoots and red carpets, Harrington admits, “I’ve picked up the best tanning tips from years and years of trial and error when I’ve been on jobs. I have had a lot of orange friends in the past!” Now though, she’s just launched her own brand, built from her own experience of what works and what doesn’t. Here’s what she’s learnt along the way.
What is the most common mistake you see people making with fake tan?
What do we need to do in terms of prep and what are the things to avoid?
Prep the skin by exfoliating off all dead skin cells to reveal the renewed skin which is softer and prime it for the hydration. That way the colour (tan) will blend and absorb perfectly onto your new skin.
How far in advance do we need to think when we’re planning on giving ourselves a faux glow?
For bridal I would always say 48 hours before to give the colour time to settle into a lovely glow and to give yourself time to have at least two showers before the event and apply a refreshing body cream. For an event, I would tan 24-36 hours prior. Tanning ahead of a holiday can be up to 8 hours before travel. You want the colour to be fairly substantial if going on holiday and you can always top up and extend the tan with a low level DHA once you’re there.
Do you favour a particular texture (mousse, cream, spray, gel etc) or does each work well for different looks/finishes?
I don’t have a favourite texture because I never tend to use just the one. It’s all about layering different products in a way which will make the skin look the perfect version of itself. All textures are fine on their own and will do what you need them to do, but they will look incredible when they are layered, just like makeup.
When it comes to applying where should we start? Is there a method or an order that works best?
Remove any unwanted body hair and scrub at least 24 hours before you start the tanning process. Prep your body the way you would your face before you apply makeup [with an oil-free primer]. Then I always apply a rich balm in areas where skin is very dry, which stops the tan from collecting and looking patchy (my own Ultra Balm is my number one go-to product). The best method has to be light layering of the product. Apply your mist or mousse in long strokes as a first base, then go back in with the product using a brush to buff and blend the tan deeper into the natural contours of your skin. It’s the only way to ensure a beautifully natural finish.
How can we avoid streaks?
Prepping properly will ensure the product applies more evenly and buffing the tan with a brush rather than spreading it with a mitt will achieve a streak-free finish.
How do we cover hard to reach areas like our backs?
People often get a little scared about tanning the back and not getting an all over finish. The best way to make sure it is even is to save a little extra time for that part of your body, and divide the back into 4 areas, this will save you from twisting and turning and getting yourself stressed. Cover the top of your back by reaching each hand over the opposite shoulder and rubbing in the colour. The lower should be a lot easier to do by just bringing your arm behind your body. Make sure you have a mirror behind you to see what you’re doing.
What should we avoid after tanning? Are there products that will disrupt the tan after its on?
There are certain ingredients that break down tan – for instance, body oil would lift colour and break down tan quite quickly. It can also lead to streaking. Retinol or any enzymatic skincare can accelerate the fade time of tan on face and body. So, choose light hyaluronic based lotions which are oil free. The same goes for SPF sun tan lotions – if you have fake tanned before the holiday, choose an oil free spray or mist. SPF can contain a lot of mineral oil which can affect tan. This is why I created my own line of ‘tan compatible’ skincare which works in harmony with your tan to ensure it lasts longer and has incredible skincare ingredients that looks after the skin.
How can we hold onto our tan for longer and ensure it fades evenly?
Keeping your skin hydrated is the best way to prolong a tan. Ensure you are applying a daily oil-free body moisturiser which will lock the colour in for longer.
These are the products Amanda swears by
Amanda Harrington London Pre-Colour Primer, £22
It keeps the skin nourished but also contains low levels of DHA and therefore works great as a gradual tanner to top up colour post tan.
Amanda Harrington London Bronzing Body Mousse, £36
This comes in three shades – Natural Rose, Natural Honey and Natural Olive – and is infused with radiant light-reflecting particles alongside skin quenching ingredients, aloe vera and hyaluronic acid.
Amanda Harrington London Face Mist, £28
This comes in the same shade range as the mousse and also contains firming collagen and CQ10 to rejuvenate skin.
Amanda Harrington London The Big Body Brush, £55
What most sets Harrington’s offering apart is her use of a buffing brush over a mitt and it’s this which makes all the difference to ensuring your tan applies streak free.