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Top Tanning Tips with James Read

The safest way to tan this season is to fake it! If you are new to self-tanning or want to hone your skills, we spoke to celebrity tanner and faux tan guru James Read to find out his top tips on everything from fixing orange hands to achieving the perfect shade of bronze for your skin. 

How has self-tan changed over the years?

Today, fake tan formulations are much more advanced, focusing on not only providing a flawless tan but many other beneficial elements. It’s all about skincare meets self-tan, so you don’t just get a tan, you also have a product that cares for your skin. Self-tans are also more natural now, it’s about adding a glow rather than an overly dark tan. 

What’s the secret to a streak-free finish?

Always start at your neck and work downwards, mapping your body out in stages so you don’t miss bits. Leave the hands and feet until the end. Before you tan the face, rub an ice cube over your skin to seal your pores, then pat dry with a tissue. Always use a tanning mitt when applying colour to the body, as this will make sure your tan is flawless, and apply in thin, light layers. This helps to make sure you don’t miss any bits, your tan is deeper in colour and it will last longer.  

OK, what’s your step-by-step routine for prepping, applying and maintaining a good tan?

The prep: exfoliate and wax your skin 24 hours before tanning. If you’re having a facial or massage, make sure that it’s 48 hours before you tan. To remove any old tan on the skin, use a make-up wipe beforehand. Next, the application. Moisturise any dry areas first, such as the hands, feet, elbows, knees and any eczema patches. Start with your face first. Use a product that is designed for your face and packed with skin care ingredients, like my new James Read Sleep Mask Tan Retinol (launching May), and make sure your face is lighter than your body. Tan your body next. To tan your back, put a tan mitt onto a wooden spoon and wrap an elastic band around it, then you are ready to tan your back! After applying self-tan to your hands, fold a finger plaster with the sponge side outwards onto your index finger, apply a small amount of moisturiser onto the sponge then press into each knuckle. Repeat this process with your knees and elbows but use a larger plaster. To help your tan fade more evenly, exfoliate the skin around three or four days afterwards. 

If you are new to self-tan, which products are best for beginners?

I would certainly recommend one of our gradual tan products, as these provide a more natural glow. I would suggest our new James Read H20 Tan Drops Body (launching May), which provide a tailor-made approach to self-tanning, and can be added into your current skin care regime. For the face, I would recommend our James Read Sleep Mask Tan Face. This colourless formula can be used daily to build up a natural, sun-kissed glow. 

What are your hero self-tan products?

The James Read Sleep Mask Tan Face and Sleep Mask Tan Body are my heroes as they are extremely natural and produce a beautiful, natural tan that suits all skin types. The James Read H2O Tan Mist is great to top up your post-holiday glow, and is also extremely travel-friendly. The H20 Tan Mist includes healthy properties too, such as rose water which works to help reverse the signs of ageing while skin-loving vitamins and minerals provide a refreshing boost to the skin’s hydration system which may have been lost whilst being in the sun. 

Finally, do you have any quick fixes for a fake tan disaster? 

If you have over tanned or become too dark through excessive use, a quick fix is to use the steam room at your gym. The steam particles will take your tan down and balance it out, providing a more natural look. Also, the old trick of using lemon and lime juice is a great way to remove your tan. Just mix with some water, pour over a flannel, heat it up in the microwave for 30 seconds then rub over your skin evenly. If you are on the move, another trick of mine is using make-up wipes. These are perfect for removing excess tan on the skin.

Article from Skin Health Magazine

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