Fake tan is a gift from the gods on those days when you want to get your arms and legs out without looking like a milk bottle, even though they haven't seen the sun in months. If you fake it well, the resulting light, beautiful tan will also let you get away with a more summery wardrobe, whatever the weather.
How it works
Fake tan colours the surface of the skin using a different chemical reaction to the one that causes natural tanning.
Its active ingredient, dihydroxyacetone (DHA), is a naturally-occuring sugar that comes from the bark of the chestnut tree.
It reacts with the keratin in the skin, causing brown pigment to form and create a tan. Colour intensity depends on how much DHA your fake tan contains.
The night before you apply your fake tan, exfoliate and moisturise your skin to get rid of dead skin cells and to get an even colour all over. Only ever apply fake tan to clean, dry skin.
Apply in gentle sweeping movements with flat hands, making sure you don't miss any bits out (remember your neck and the undersides of your feet!).
When you reach problem areas such as your eyebrows, hairline, heels and elbows, apply the product with a lightly-dampened piece of cotton wool.
Be careful to apply less to tricky areas like the elbows and knees: if you're over-generous, it will be easily visible. Leave to act for a few hours and wash your hands really well after applying. Don't shave, wax or remove hair for 24 hours after faking it, otherwise your skin could get irritated.
- You can get an all-year-round tan whatever the weather without putting your health in danger.
- Fake tan used to leave orange streaks, especially on the knees and elbows, but technology has moved on. These days, no-one needs to look like they've been Tangoed.
- Fake tan comes in creams, gels, liquids, wipes and even all-over sprays: the choice is yours.
- Fake tan contains lots of silicone, which is an active, non-greasy moisturiser and hydrates tissue.
The results only last an average 4-6 days and gradually disappear as the skin exfoliates itself naturally.
Application can be tricky. Avoid streaks and other catastrophes by following the instructions closely and if you're not very confident, get hold of one you can wipe off clean immediately after application so that you can go back and correct any mistakes.
Did you know?
- There are two commercial classsifications of fake tan, according to their DHA content: 2.5-3% for fair skin and 5% for darker skin. It's better to test fake tan before you take the plunge and slap it on all over!
- As a rule, fake tan doesn't contain sun protection. Don't forget your sun-cream if you're exposed to any rays: just because you look like a tanned goddess doesn't mean you can't burn!
- You can get fake tan that contains active moisturiser and is fragranced with lemon to mask any unpleasant smell. Use alcohol-free fake tan on your face and hypoallergenic or non-fragranced fake tan to avoid allergies.
Photo: Bobbi Brown