How To Apply Fake Tan On Your Face
How To Apply Fake Tan On Your Face

How To Apply Fake Tan On Your Face

6 minutes read

Many of us dream of having a golden tan. So much so that research by Mintel revealed the British people spend a whopping £35 million a year on fake tan products. So, let’s talk about how to fake tan like a pro and answer all your self-tanning questions right here, right now. 

How to apply fake tan to your face correctly

Model with sultry bronze glow

Yes, you can have a natural glow without sunbathing. Even better, you can even choose the shade you want – a sunkissed flush or a deep, dark tan. Self-tanning products include a substance called DHA that makes the skin darker and boost glow. 

Clarins’ sun care products blend the DHA with erythrulose to ensure an even colour and glow. All skin tones can benefit from self-tan – from the palest to melanin-rich – as it counteracts any ashiness. Plus, with adjustable effects, you can customise your tan easily and inject anywhere from a glow like you’d get from a two-day spa break – to a three-week vacation hue – in one self-tan session. 

Follow our expert step-by-step guide:

Step 1: exfoliate

Smooth your face before you apply a fake tan with a decent facial scrub, £26. The Gentle Peeling Smooth Away Cream is ideal for all skin types; it eliminates dead skin cells and impurities, leaves skin soft and radiant, and ready to tan. 

Step 2: moisturise 

Next, hydrate the skin so your fake tan lasts longer and applies evenly. Avoid oils as this can make application tricky and it can react with certain self-tanners – breaking the formula down and making it patchy. Instead, use a light lotion or cream. 

Remember: moisturising your face day and night is always essential and even more critical after applying a fake tan to make it last longer. Add a little extra cream to any sunspots or freckles as this can soak up the self tanner like a sponge and make the area even darker. 

This could also be a good time to clean your teeth as you want your face to remain dry while the tan is taking effect.  

Step 3: decide which self-tanning product to use?

Choose the texture you prefer.  

Lotion: The lightweight milky lotion, £24 works well on the face and body – aloe vera extracts mean it absorbs quickly into the skin.  

Gel: The fast tanning Instant Gel, £24 offers speedy results – it imparts a subtle glow and you can get dressed quickly after application. 

Drops: Create your own shade by adding Radiance-Plus Golden Glow Booster For Face, £23 to your regular day or night moisturiser. Start with one drop and increase the amount until you get the desired effect. 

Face Self Tanning Drops

Step 4: how to fake tan your face

For the smoothest, most even finish, use a self-tanning body applicator mitt. Place the product in the centre of the mitt (the palm of your hand). Smooth on evenly – avoiding eyebrows and hairline. Distribute in small circles and really buff into the skin, applying small amounts of product at a time. If you have fair hair, then clean your hairline and eyebrows with a cotton wool ball dipped in toner.

Step 5: let the tan develop 

It can take six to eight hours for fake tan to develop – so no cleansing or cleaning your teeth. 

Self-tanning tips 

How to fake tan your face without breaking out

Self-tan can help skin look more even as it tones down redness associated with some types of blemishes. If you want to keep with your anti-blemish regimen – then add some tanning drops to your existing products. 

How to fake tan your face without going patchy 

When applying fake tan, blend the product in gently and evenly and make it absorb into your skin. No product residue should be left on the skin, as this is when you’ll emerge with streaks.  

Be careful when applying under the eyes and on the eyelids, prep skin with an extra layer of moisture, dab onto dry patches, sunspots and moles. 

Is fake tan bad for your face and you?

A dermatologist’s take on ‘can fake tan can damage your skin?’ It’s a resounding ‘no’ from the industry. Anything that keeps you out of the sun is a good thing. 

When it comes to spray tans at a salon? Then you have to take special care to avoid inhaling, ingesting, or getting it in your eyes. 

As well, you can consult our fake tan during pregnancy guide if you are pregnant and have concerns about fake tan as part of your beauty treatments routine.

Do you put gradual tan on your face?

Gradual tan is an excellent option for a natural radiance. Beauty Daily says, “Self-tanner gives you a summery glow all year round without the harmful effects of UV rays”. 

The brand’s self-tan products keep you looking golden and glowing whatever the weather. The best product for a light, natural and gradual tan on your face? Radiance-Plus Golden Glow Booster for Face, £23.

Can you spray tan your face?

Yes, here’s how: 

  • Take a large powder brush; spritz the self-tan spray onto the brush, then use circular motions, buff into the face, blend into the hairline and down towards the neck, and decolletage. You can always do a second layer, and just buff into the cheekbones to subtly sculpt. 
  • If you’re applying mousse, use it like any fake tan product – put a little in the palm of your hand and apply to your face evenly.  Make sure you apply up to your hairline and around the eyes. You can also use a brush on the hairline to ensure it blends with the scalp for a more natural look. 

The best way to avoid orange palms is to use either a wet wipe or washcloth to clean off your nails, between fingers and palms. Self-tanner turns nails yellow, and it will not wash off. Never give your hands a thorough washing post tanning session as this will also remove the bronze hue from the top of your hands. 

How to keep a tan on your face

  • Wash your face with hand-hot (not steaming) water and use a gentle foaming cleanser, £24; pat, don’t rub dry.  
  • Keep skin hydrated – moisturise morning and evening.
  • Use lightweight sunscreen daily. We recommend Sun Care Water Mist SPF50+, £26.
  • Avoid exfoliating products and skin clearing retinol, AHA acids and benzoyl peroxide. Instead, apply a serum to keep skin radiant and nourished.
  • Once a week, apply a refreshing hydrating mask and before you fake tan again, use an exfoliator to clear the way. 

How to get fake tan off your face quickly

Your face is sensitive so don’t scrub away like you would your hands! Follow these gentle instructions below, and read more on our ‘how to remove fake tan‘ guide.

  1. Have a long hot bath or shower and use the steam to open pores.
  2. Cleanse using a muslin cloth and then exfoliate with a scrub
  3. Check out our Fake Tan disaster guide here to help remove streaky self-tan in a flash. 

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