A beginner’s guide to your first fake tan

It got messy

beauty brookes fake tan features student

Being half Indonesian and half English, I get the Asian benefit of tanning easily.

I’m always tanned in the spring and summer months (thanks to a load of tanning oil and, you know, the sun) so fake tan is literally the last thing I need.

However, I decided to test it out (in the name of journalism) although I’m quite terrified of the resulting orange, Dorito-y ‘glow’ I’m expecting to get. I’m interested in whether it’s possible to make fake tan look less fake, and make it look like a radiant glow I picked up by sitting in the rare March sunshine for 45 minutes when I wore shorts that one day.

To begin this experiment, I did lots of research on which fake tanners worked the best. Thanks to recommendations from www.makeupalley.com and www.viviannadoesmakeup.com, I went with the Clarins Liquid Bronze Self Tanning for face and décolleté (£19 from Boots) and the Rimmel Sun Shimmer Instant Tan in Dark Matte (£6.99 from Boots).

I got separate tanners because if I’m going to put something that could look awful on my face, I’d rather not get spotty because of it too.

I also picked up the Soltan Beautiful Bronze Self-Tan Applicator Mitt (£2.99 from Boots) which would help in my application and prevent my hands from staining, which is the biggest tell tale sign of fake tan (and just generally looks pretty manky).

L to R: Clarins face tanner, Rimmel body tanner, tanning mitt that felt weird.

L to R: Clarins face tanner, Rimmel body tanner, tanning mitt that felt weird.

Despite it being literally the most obvious thing (it’s fucking impossible to go from white to tanned in a few hours), women still insist on making it look ‘natural’.

I read up tips on beauty blogs and magazines, and watched a couple of YouTube tutorials, so I felt pretty confident starting.

It was a brave (or idiotic) move, going head first for the darkest shade of fake tan, but I wanted to see an immediate difference.

I began by washing down my body with a loofah/scrubby thing, and then used a scrub which has crushed brown sugar and macadamia shell bits (can I eat it?). Exfoliation is apparently key when it comes to fake tan, as you want to remove as much of the dead skin as possible (lovely) so the tan will go on evenly and smoothly.

Things that smell like lime.

Things that smell like lime.

After rinsing and drying myself, I moisturized with Palmer’s Cocoa Butter. A lot of websites suggested using a water based lotion instead of an oil based lotion (which Palmer’s is), but I just used a tiny amount because this is all I have and I’m not going to buy another lotion for an experiment.

I then went ahead and squirted some of the fake tan on the mitt (it looked like liquid shit) and spread it all over my legs (it looked like I was spreading liquid shit on myself), taking care to really rub it in to avoid streaks.

Before my shower and then after the first application of fake tan.

Before my shower (L) and then after the first application of fake tan (R).

I only did my legs because I didn’t want to risk doing it everywhere and having it go wrong, so at least I could cover up any mistakes with jeans.

After the application, I sat around for a bit to let it dry, and then put on some loose pyjama bottoms so I wouldn’t stain my sheets. I also realised how much of an effort this was. I was starting to get impatient because I wanted to see some tanned legs.

How to avoid washing your sheets again.

How to avoid washing your sheets again.

Now, onto the face. I’ve already started using this facial tanner, and this is my fourth application of it.

I like it because it’s easy to apply (whack it on a cotton pad and swipe it on your face and neck after moisturizing, avoiding hair) and it smells/feels like a holiday (smells like sun cream, after sun and cocktails and your skin feels slightly taut like you’ve been sitting in the sun).

It’s also a very gradual complexion brightening product that adds colour to your face without looking insane. My face has finally matched up to my body, and even though the colour is subtle, I look more radiant and less like I have jaundice.

Literally the most unattractive selfies of all time. Also massively different lighting but you get the jist.

Literally the most unattractive selfies of all time. Also massively different lighting but you get the jist. Before anything (L) and after the 4th application (R).

Final verdict?

Upon checking my legs in the morning, they looked a little muddy around the knees, but definitely darker than my pale (for a half Asian) pins, and they’d look decent in a pair of shorts. I think I did an alright job for a tanning virgin.

The morning after. Things got messy.

The morning after. Things got messy and one leg is definitely darker than the other.

I prefer the Clarins product out of the two, and not because I spent almost £12 more on it. It smells nice, does what it says, and it saves me from having to stick my face in the sun when I want a bit of colour in my cheeks.

I’ll continue to use it, however in terms of tanning my body again, I think I may just stick to slapping on the tanning oil and cooking myself for a few hours to get that authentic glow.