Time to get a J.Lo glow on [Image: Getty]
Now that summery days are finally here, we’ve been burning every pair of tights we own and saying a not-so-fond-farewell to our thermals. That’s right: it’s time for bare legs. And bare arms. And possibly bare bits of tummy, too, and anything else you choose to flaunt in the warm weather. If you like to go a little more caramel-coloured in summer and are short on a trip to the Bahamas or the melanin for it, fake tan is the answer to your prayers. Some DIY is best left to the professionals; if you need to re-plumb your flat, install a plasma screen, or cut down a tree, you should probably make a few calls. However, tanning at home’s come a long way from disastrous orange affairs and ruined bedding. In fact, it’s probably harder to get it wrong than it is to get it right. Read on to learn how to get a flawless tan in an evening, all by yourself.
1. Prep your skin
Fake tan can collect in areas like collarbones, ankles, knees and elbows if you aren’t careful - apply a thin layer of rich moisturiser to these areas to avoid product build-up. We love the Yes To Carrots Super Rich Body Butter (£9.99, FeelUnique.com) - you can also apply a little bit of this to wrists, the jawline and ankles after tanning and buff upwards with your mitt to soften the line of tan for a more natural finish.
2. Make sure your legs are ready
If you want to have your legs hair-free as well, try and shave the day before tanning to avoid the product possibly irritating your skin or clogging up exposed pores. Not a good look.
3. Make sure you’ve got the right shade and formula
After years of trialling and testing, we’ve learned that creamy liquid products are usually the easiest to blend. The Vita Liberata pHenonemonal 2-3 Week Liquid Tan (£37.50, Boots, below right) is a fave with Team Grazia - a few pumps will do your calves, and then another couple each for arms, midriffs, thighs and your back and décolletage. Medium is best for fair skin tones looking for a glow, but the darker shades work well on warmer skin tones or for anyone looking to get a deeper tan. Pump into a mitt, then close your hand to distribute the product evenly, starting at the top of your body and working down. Use the excess on the mitt for feet, and then do a half pump on one hand, and rub the backs of your hands together for a natural, bronzed look.
4. A mitt will help you be a smooth operator
For a streak-free finish, you can’t beat a mitt. It will help the product glide on and avoid that oh-so-attractive patchy look. Try the He-Shi Tanning Mitt (£4.95, www.he-shi.eu, above left), which has a special lining to ensure minimum product wastage and a really clean finish.
5. Don’t forget your face
Gorgeous tanned body and pasty white face? Not the best look. We love the Clarins Instant Smooth Self Tanner (£19.00, counters nationwide, below left), a gel-cream which you can use before make up to help build a subtle glow. The more days you use it, the darker you’ll go. Good even for oilier skin types, this will help give you a naturally sun-kissed look.
6. Prolong your tan
Aside from the barrier cream, moisturising before tanning isn’t a great idea as it will mean your skin can’t absorb the colour probably. The day after, however, start moisturising to keep skin soft and hydrated and avoid patchy dryness. We love Garnier’s Oil Beauty Oil-Infused Nourishing Body Lotion (£4.99, Boots, above right) to keep skin looking radiant.
7. Exfoliate with caution
Exfoliating before tanning will get your skin ready for the pigment and help avoid patchy bits, but once the tan is on, go easy when you exfoliate to avoid it fading too soon. Exfoliating 2-3 days after tanning is a good bet - use a glove like He-Shi’s Exfoliating Glove (£3.95, www.he-shi.eu, below right) to buff yourself to remove dead skin and help your tan fade evenly.
8. Extend your tan
If you want to give yourself a hit of moisture and really maximise your glow, try something slightly shimmering like This Works Skin Deep Golden Skin Elixir (£45.00, www.thisworks.com, above left). It’s a blend of nourishing oils and actual gold to feed your skin and give it a really healthy look. Try down the centre of your legs and tops of shoulders for a truly radiant look.
9. Don’t panic if you make a mistake
It happens! If you wake up the next day a little bit too dark in places, use Nivea’s Visage Face Pure & Natural Cleansing Wipes, (£3.09, Boots) on the area. It will help melt away excess colour quickly. Lemon juice also works, as does any toner you might have lying around for your face that has any kind of exfoliating acids in it.
10. Consider a quick-fix
Need the tan now? Caudalie’s Divine Legs (£26.00, www.uk.caudalie.com) is a fab tinted body lotion that gives gorgeous, believable colour in seconds and can be washed off with water. No need for a mitt, apply with your hands (then wash them!) for a speedy bronzed look.