How to Apply a Natural Looking Tan

Once you’ve prepped your skin for your tan, it’s time to apply- this is the fun part.  I must warn you, this is a bit of a longer post but I feel the details are important!

Let’s get right into it- below I have broken down the steps I take when I apply my tan and detailed the things which I think make all the difference to achieving a nice, even tan (suited to tanning mousse– I use MineTan in Caramel).

To apply your tan, you should set up somewhere that has good lighting and a big mirror. You want to be able to see where you have applied your tan and easily spot any missed areas.

Tanning Application Tips

1. Prepare everything you will need. When I go to do my tan, I make sure I have my applicator mitt, my tanning mousse, body moisturiser, loose clothing to change into, an old towel to rub off any excess tan (done by slightly dampening the towel and patting at the area where there’s too much tan).

2. Moisturise your ankles, heels, knees, elbows and hands. I add enough moisturiser (just more than a pea-sized amount) so that when I touch these areas of skin, they feel soft, moisturised and feel just as smooth as the surrounding skin. If they still feel dry, add another layer of moisturiser. I usually add two layers before applying tan.

3. Slip on your applicator mitt, and apply a few pumps to your mitt. I begin with the bottom half of my legs (although you can start anywhere you like). I apply the tan by smoothing the colour all over my legs, avoiding my feet and knees.

You may notice that initially the mitt will absorb a lot of the product so you may need to use more tan when you start out as the mitt will be completely dry, so don’t stress about thinking you’re using too much. It’s probably better to use more rather than less anyway as any excess tan will usually rinse off later whereas if you don’t apply enough, you can end up with a slightly blotchy tan.

You want to keep smoothing the product over the skin until you’ve well and truly ended up with a nice even layer of colour all over the skin- Don’t worry if there are areas that have more product than others, as long as you have applied a good layer all over the skin, the excess will wash away.

I then add a couple of pea-sized amounts of mousse to my mitt, close my hand in the mitt to disperse the product in the mitt and use this to smooth over my knees, and then I repeat the same steps for my feet. I make sure that I apply just enough to get an even colour over these areas, but stop once I’ve achieved this to avoid them overdeveloping.

I repeat these steps over my arms, leaving my elbows and hands to last so that I don’t have too much product on the mitt when I go to apply the elbows and hands. The easiest way to end up with overdeveloped hands is to have too much product on the mitt, which then gets soaked up by the dry, tough skin. Avoid this by leaving ’til last.

4. Apply to your hands. This can be the tricky part. I have seen videos of people using things like buffer brushes to apply the fake tan to their hands, and if this works well for you, by all means go for it. But I have found that I can achieve a nice even tan on my hands just using my mitt.

The way I do this is by adding a pea sized amount to the mitt, close my hand together in the mitt to disperse the product on the mitt, and start to apply the tan to the back of my hands in circular motions, and I work my way around the thumb, and around the wrist. Once these areas are done, I lightly start to rub the product down the sides of my fingers, across the tops and leaving the knuckles to last. Once I am up to the knuckles, I use whatever is left on the mitt to lightly smooth over the knuckles and the rest of the hands to blend it all together (I slightly bend my fingers at this stage so that the folds of the skin in the knuckles don’t get missed). Make sure you get in-between the crevices of the fingers as well to make sure your tan comes out evenly.

It took me some practise to consistently get a good tan on my hands- I think the key is making sure your hands are really well-moisturised and that you don’t go in too heavy-handed with the tan. And take your time. You can usually tell pretty quickly if you’ve added too much product as it will start to get very noticeably darker.  This is when you should use a dampened towel to dab the excess off the skin before it really develops and blend back in by patting the area with the mitt.

Extra Tips

  • If you notice streaks of excess tan during application, pat over the areas with your mitt to help make sure your tan is evenly blended.
  • Remember to rinse out your tanning mitt after you’ve applied your tan. You want to get out as much tan from the mitt as possible because if it dries into the mitt, the fibres will stick together and when you go to use it again, the tan won’t apply and blend as well as a fresh, clean mitt. Rinsing it will also help extend the life of your mitt.
  • Avoid getting your skin wet until you’re ready to rinse off your colour-guard (this is the initial layer of colour that helps you see where you have applied your tan, and what rinses away in your first shower).
  • Leave your tan on for longer before rinsing to develop a deeper colour. I like to leave my tan on for at least 4-5 hours. Different tans will have different developing times or guides for how long to leave them on. A general rule of thumb is that the longer you leave it on, the darker the tan will be.
  • Get an extra-dark colour by adding a second layer of tan about half an hour after finishing the first. I never do this because one layer is enough for me, but this is a way you can get even more colour from your fake tan.
  • Be aware that if you sleep in your tan (before rinsing off the colour guard) it will rub off on your sheets/clothes in bed. If you sleep in yours, make sure you wear some old PJs and maybe lay down an old sheet as well. Tan can be a little difficult to get out of sheets. You may also like to use something like the Tanzee. I like to use mine because it’s super soft and it’s a really easy way to protect your sheets while you sleep in your tan.
  • Try to let your tan dry on the skin before getting dressed (a few minutes should do). I usually wait until the skin doesn’t feel sticky.
  • When you’re ready to rinse off the colour guard, try to have a cooler shower, and keep it short. I like to rinse of my tan within a minute or so in the shower, just until the water runs clear.

So there you go, those are my main tips for applying a nice even, natural looking fake tan! Do you guys have any tips for getting a gorgeous tan?


Hayley x


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