To ensure our tans are red-carpet ready this summer, HELLO! Online turned to bonafide bronzing expert Sophie Evans from the luxe self -tanning line, St Tropez. With more than 14 years of beauty experience, Sophie has worked with some of the biggest stars — from Victoria Beckham to Kate Beckinsale — and offered up all the tricks of the trade for getting a natural, sun-kissed look at home.
“A tan is only as good as the skin you’re working on,” says Sophie. "The trick is to look after your whole body from head to toe."
So let’s get started!
STEP 1. EXFOLIATE EARLY: “Some people think self tanner is a miracle cream – and it is! – but you need to prep your skin to get the full benefits," says Sophie. This means scrubbing your whole body eight hours before applying your self tanner — and never immediately before. You don’t want the skin to be too clean or too perfect, as the skin’s natural bacteria and oils allow the self tanner to develop more evenly.
STEP 2. WAXING AND SHAVING: Don’t be afraid to self tan on stubble and shave the next day, and be sure to wait at least 24 hours after waxing to avoid a "pitted look," as well as infections. Depilatory creams will take off self tanner, too, so don’t use those immediately before or after applying.
STEP 3. MOISTURIZE SELECTIVELY: Moisturizer is key, says Sophie, but never moisturize the whole body. The trick is to apply lots of moisturizer selectively – to your hands, elbows, knees, feet and heels – as these areas go about seven shades darker than the rest of your skin. Try an aloe vera-based moisturizer or cocoa butter, which works great with self tanning lotions.
STEP 1. USE A MITT: "Tanning without a mitt on your hands is sacrilege,” says Sophie. If you don’t like a mitt, then at least use rubber gloves! It’s your secret weapon for a flawless, even result (and clean, streak-free hands).
STEP 2. DON’T RUB: People often make the mistake of deeply massaging self tanner into the skin, but that’s a big no-no. “Self tanner is a dye – you want it to sit on the skin,” Sophie explains. “If you rub and rub, you’re actually taking skin off, and that’s what causes streaks." After pumping a small dollop of lotion onto the mitt, gently apply the lotion onto the skin in long, circular, smooth movements, bit by bit, until you've covered your whole body.
STEP 3. BLEND WITH MOISTURIZER: Apply dabs of moisturizer with two fingers as you go along, wherever blending is difficult. This will prevent streaking and harsh lines. Pay special attention to dry patches, eczema and psoriasis, where more moisturizer may be needed.
STEP 1: BABY WIPES: Use baby wipes to rub off excess tanner, if necessary, and be sure to always use the wipes on your nails after applying, as self tanner turns nails yellow.
STEP 2: SLEEP ON IT: A tan is left better overnight, says Sophie. It's when you're most relaxed and your pores open up. In the morning, hop in the shower and you're good to go!
STEP 3: USE SELF TANNER SPORADICALLY: Sophie recommends re-applying your self tanner every seven to 10 days to keep your tan fresh. To prolong your tan in-between use a gradual self tanning moisturizer daily – it’s quicker, easier and better for your skin than using self tanning lotions every day.
IF YOU’VE MADE A MISTAKE:
STEP 1: TRY TAN REMOVER: Scrub the area with tan remover immediately if you want to get rid of your tan. Keep in mind, however, that tan remover will only remove self tanner completely before four hours – after that, it won’t be as effective.
STEP 3: HAIR REMOVAL CREAM: Depilatory creams can work wonders in removing self tanner, but they're harsh on skin, so be sure to do a patch test first.
STEP 4: EXFOLIATE: Exfoliating rigorously afterwards will help get rid of a poor self tanning job. To correct a white streak, scrub, apply a bit of self tanner and scrub again to blend it out. Chlorine and swimming can also help strip the tan quicker!
BIGGEST TANNING FAIL: "Wearing too much of it – it makes you look dirty!” says Sophie. “Exfoliate lightly every couple of days so it’s constantly fading evenly and that will keep your skin even."