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A summer self tan is an instant and safe way for you to achieve a sun-kissed glow compared to spending hours in the sun. There are now multiple options to choose from including lotions, instant bronzers and even tanning drops, giving your skin a fabulous glow. If you don’t know where to start, follow our simple guide to get prepped and you’ll be able to achieve a salon quality tanning from the comfort of home.

What does fake tan do to your body?

Before we explore how you can give yourself a flawless fake tan, it’s important to explain how it works. Whichever sunless tanner you choose, many feature an active ingredient called DHA, also known as dihydroxyacetone. It sticks to the skin’s surface layer, causing a chemical reaction that leaves compounds called melanin. The melanin darkens your skin, creating a natural looking tan that will last between five to seven days.


One of the biggest mistakes people make when self-tanning is not prepping their skin properly. For the best results it’s necessary to prime the skin so it’s a smooth and clean canvas your fake tan can easily stick to, otherwise it can cause issues including streaks, patches and speckled legs. Here are your most asked questions answered along with our most popular products to help you create the perfect base for your tan.

Should I shower before fake tan?

Shower at least half an hour before you plan on self-tanning to cleanse your body and remove any deodorant, make-up or moisturiser that will cause your tan to become patchy or streaky.

Should I shave before self tanning?

Fake tan sticks to hair-free skin easier, so ideally shave one day before your tanning. This gives your skin time to close up the pores, preventing streaks and brown speckles.

Can I stop fake tan staining my skin?

Staining is caused by tan building up on dry areas of your body including the hairline, elbows, hands and feet. You can prevent this before your application with the Tan Truth Professional Barrier Cream. It uses a superfood blend to create an invisible shield that protects and nourishes your skin for a soft finish. During application use a tanning mitt like the Velvotan Tanning Mitt, which has a waterproof barrier that prevents your hands staining when using any self tanner.

TOP TIP: If you have blonde hair, protect it against staining using a shower cap.

Should I moisturise before fake tanning?

It’s important to keep your skin hydrated before you plan on tanning in two steps: Exfoliating and moisturising. Exfoliating your skin with the Tan Truth Pre-Tan Exfoliating Scrub gently removes dead skin cells and unclogs pores, creating an even base ready for a smooth application.

After you exfoliate, apply a thin layer of moisturiser on your body focusing on areas prone to drying:

• Elbows
• Feet
• Hands

Avoid moisturisers featuring coconut oil, grapeseed oil and mineral oil as they will strip your tan. Instead, go for the Sienna X Secret Tan Primer, a lightweight lotion enriched with vitamin E and aloe vera to rehydrate your skin. It works with any type of fake tan and is quick drying, guaranteeing a flawless base ready for your treatment.

Here’s our top picks for the best self tan prep

Which type of fake tan is right for me?

There are so many different fake tans out there that it’s often difficult to know where to start. We’ll look at some of the most popular self tan products to help you find the right look for you whether it’s a sun-kissed, glow or a deep bronzing. We’ve chosen a few of our favourites to help you get the most natural results and get into an easy tanning routine.

Lotion: Sienna Gradual Self Tan Lotion

Tanning lotions add a subtle glow you can build up over time while keeping your skin moisturised. The award-winning Sienna X Gradual Self Tan Lotion is a perfect example. Using a soft blend of aloe vera and cocoa butter to hydrate your skin, it adds a natural glow that develops in just a few hours.

Who is this perfect for? First-time tanners as well as pale, mature and sensitive skin types

Spray Tan: Body Drench Instant Bronzing Spray

Spray tans give your body an instant bronzing with long-lasting and natural results. These require a tanning mitt and shower cap for the most even application, though it’s also best to get disposable sticky feet to prevent staining the soles of your feet. Spray tans can develop anywhere between three to eight hours, making them perfect for leaving on overnight and rinsing in your morning shower. The Body Drench Instant Bronzing Spray is an ideal choice for a smooth and easy at-home tanning, featuring a lightly tinted formula and 360⁰ nozzle that creates a fine mist for a quick streak-free glow.

Who is this perfect for? First-time tanners wanting instant bronzing

Tanning Mousse: Tan Truth Express Self-Tan Mousse

Tanning mousse is one of the most popular fake tans because its velvety texture glides effortlessly onto your skin. It can last as long as seven days while developing in as little as two hours, requiring a tanning mitt for even application. Our top pick is the Tan Truth Express Self-Tan Mousse, a lightweight mousse rich in nutrients and the brand’s exclusive Skin Firming Technology to give your skin a radiant glow while maintaining its elasticity.

Who is this perfect for? Regular tanners with sensitive skin

Liquid Tan: Way To Beauty Self Tanning Liquid

Liquid tans feature a lightweight formula that dries in seconds, a must-have if you want instant colour. These require a tanning mitt for application, and the Way To Beauty Self Tanning Liquid happens to offer one for free! Its 100% natural formula rich in vitamins and aloe vera gives your body a luxurious glow free of streaks and patches, refreshing your skin with a soft finish.

Who is this perfect for? Regular tanners wanting instant results

Choose the right fake tan for you

Should you fake tan your face?

Some fake tans can be applied on your face, but many feature ingredients that can cause breakouts, redness and irritation. Instead we recommend using tanning drops or serums for your face because they seamlessly fit into your skincare routine. In fact, just adding a few drops of the Tan Truth Tanning Drops to your moisturiser is enough to give your face a sun-kissed glow.


Now that you’ve applied your new fake tan, you’ll want to keep it fresh for as long as possible. Here are the answers to some of the most requested aftercare questions, along with the must-have products that help you keep your skin glowing long after your application.

Should I shower after I fake tan?

Your fake tan needs time to develop before your next shower, and we recommend waiting for at least four hours but no more than one day. Remember to pat yourself dry and avoid hot water or harsh shower gels as they will strip your tan and dry out your skin. When showering, opt for a moisture heavy body wash like the Minerals of Eden Spa Collection Body Wash. Rich in sea minerals, its deeply cleansing formula will give your golden skin a refreshing pamper.

Can I moisturise after fake tan?

Like your prep, it’s important to keep your skin moisturised so your tan keeps glowing. You’ll want to start at least four hours after your tan has developed so it fully adheres to the skin and afterwards follow up with the Tan Truth Extending Moisturiser. This daily moisturiser features a superfood blend that prolongs your tan while leaving your skin silky smooth.

Can I exercise after my fake tan?

This depends on the type of fake tan you’ve used. For example, it’s best to avoid high impact activities such as running and swimming immediately after using a wash out tanner as sweat and chlorine can cause it to fade or strip entirely. If you’ve used a leave on tan, wear loose dark clothes and underwear on the first day to prevent staining, patchiness and discolouration.

Keep your tan glowing and streak-free with these must-have products

Top Tips

Now that we’ve explored the tanning process from start to finish, here are some extra tips to help you create your flawless tan at home:

• Choose a fake tan that works with your current skin tone, not against it – opt for one that’s a maximum two shades darker for the most natural results.
• If it’s your first time self-tanning, do a patch test in the crook of your elbow the day before.
• Don’t apply deodorant or perfume before or during your tanning – it might cause your skin to temporarily discolour

Shop all your favourite salon hair and beauty products at Sally Beautyand stay up to date with the latest trends on our Beauty By You blog.