Self-tan is becoming a staple in British bathrooms, with research by Mintel showing that 18% of women use self-tan and 19% use a gradual tanner.
Men are wising up to the benefits of a faux glow too, with growth in the self-tan segment mainly being driven by males aged 18-24. Charlotte Tilbury’s new Overnight Bronze and Glow Mask (RRP £38), a tanning face mask with blackcurrant seed oil and oat kernel extract, is promoted to men and women, with a male model appearing alongside it on the brand’s website.
Alyson Hogg, founder and CEO of Vita Liberata, puts self-tan’s enduring popularity down to “growing awareness around the risks of sun exposure, combined with increased confidence in the results from a good self-tan.” She adds: “The future of sunless tanning lies in colour that is bespoke to each person, created with ingredients that are organic while nourishing and supporting the skin. These together need to produce the ultimate tan result – something both enviable and 100% natural-looking.”
Innovative formulas are a draw for potential customers, so point out the latest and greatest breakthroughs:
Unusual formats: Elixirs, serums, dry oil sprays and even pressed powder, such as Vita Liberata Trystal Pressed Self Tanning Bronzing Minerals (RRP £25), can all deliver a hit of colour.
Made to measure: Customisable variants like Clarins Radiance Plus Golden Glow Booster for Body (RRP £27) provide a result that is tailored to customers’ individual preferences. Four to six drops added to body lotion will turn it into a gradual tanner.
Hybrid: Products that combine self-tan with skincare elements offer two benefits in one for time-poor customers. St. Tropez Gradual Tan Plus Sculpt and Glow Everyday Multi-Active Toning Lotion (RRP £18) has sea algae to tone and hyaluronic acid to hydrate.
While you wait: Products that can be applied to wet skin then rinsed off after a couple of minutes in the shower, such as Rimmel Sunshimmer In Shower Self Tan Lotion (RRP £9.99), also appeal to time-pressed tanners.
Nichola Joss is a beauty therapist to the A-list, including Kate Moss and Victoria Beckham, and an expert in skincare and self-tan. She advises cautioning customers to be prepared: “The biggest mistakes people make are not preparing the skin, not having all the tools ready and not having enough time allocated. This will lead to uneven tans, streaks and blotches and a less-than-perfect finish.”
Properly primed skin is vital, as Joss explains: “Hair removal and exfoliation are essential to do beforehand to achieve a smooth and even application. Ensure any hair removal is carried out 24 hours before tanning so that the skin has calmed and any residue has been removed. I recommend Nair Argan Oil Salon Divine Body Wax (RRP £11.99) or Nair Argan Oil Shower Power Cream (RRP £6.69). Exfoliate the night before tanning to remove any dead skin cells and ensure the skin’s surface is even, allowing for streak-free coverage. Special attention should be paid to the hands, elbows, knees and feet, as these dry areas tend to absorb more tan.”
If a customer is nervous about the tan looking too dark on the face or hands, Joss suggests using a gradual tanning moisturiser on hands, feet, face and neck and a regular self-tanner on the rest of the body.
If the result is less than perfect, customers shouldn’t panic. Joss advises: “To correct any mistakes such as streaks or patches, gently exfoliate the area and then massage a body oil into the skin. The exfoliating product and the oil massage will help lift and remove any streaks, blotches or patches of uneven tan. Then dry the skin and, using a mitt, gently apply a very light layer of self-tan, blending and buffing in.”
Specially designed tanning tools can improve both the application process and finished result. Joss says: “Using a mitt ensures an even, streak-free finish without tanning the palms of your hands. Starting at the feet and moving upwards, swipe the mitt over the whole body, gently buffing the product onto the skin. When tanning hands and feet, don’t add any product to the mitt; instead, use the residue from the body application – it’s enough for these areas.”
When putting product on a mitt, advise customers to close their hand and scrunch the mitt together so the product sinks in, then buff lightly into skin – no heavy massage needed! Special tools such as ModelCo Self Tan Back Applicator (RRP £9.49) will help reach those awkward areas.
All over self-tan can sometimes look a little flat, especially on the face, so advise customers to finish the perfect tan with a touch of gleam. The face can be highlighted using a product like Bare Minerals Invisible Glow Powder Highlighter (RRP £25), while limbs can be accentuated and elongated with Cocoa Brown Golden Goddess Shimmering Dry Body Oil (RRP £9.99).
Sunless tanning products can now address every customer’s needs, whether they’re looking for speedy application, flash-drying, moisture sealing or odour-free tans.
Lotion or cream: Emma Kotch, St. Tropez Tanning and Skin Finishing expert, says: “These are perfect for a week of golden skin. They require up to 12 hours to develop and you’ll have colour for five to seven days. Great pre-vacation or for a pre-planned event like a party.” St. Tropez Self Tan Untinted Classic Lotion (RRP £26) goes on clear and lasts up to ten days, while Clinique Body Tinted Lotion (RRP £20) is fragrance-free.
Top application tip: After applying, gently wipe wrists, knees, elbows and tops of feet with a tissue so no residue collects.
Gel: Quick-drying, non-greasy gel with guide colour has a double pay-off – it’s easy to see where the colour is going as it’s applied, and gives an instant hit of colour while the longer-lasting self-tan develops. Sukin Sunless Bronzing Gel (RRP £14.95) is paraben-free. He-Shi Face & Body Tanning Gel (RRP £18.50) gives lasting colour.
Top application tip: Wear disposable latex gloves to avoid palm-staining.
Oil: For customers with dry skin, recommend an oil like Skinny Tan Tan & Tone Oil (RRP £21.99). Advise customers to allow a little longer for oils to dry to avoid smearing.
Top application tip: Speed up drying by briefly blow-drying the skin with a hairdryer.
Wipes: Perfect for travel; there is no risk of spills or leaks with portable, swipe-on towelettes, such as Solait Wear-Off Tan Wipes (RRP £2.99). Top application tip: Cleanse with toner first to remove any alkaline residue that could interfere with the tanning process.
Top application tip: Cleanse with toner first to remove any alkaline residue that could interfere with the tanning process.
Mousse: Ideal for beginners or apprehensive tanners, lightweight mousse is easy to apply, quick to dry and suits all skin types. Moroccan Glow Mousse (RRP £14.99) comes in light, medium and dark variants to provide any desired result. Offering a more natural alternative to achieving an enviable sun-kissed tan, it is formulated with dihydroxyacetone (DHA), a plant-derived active that gives the tanning effect, combined with a proprietary blend of bioactive, natural and organic ingredients, including organic argan oil. When used in conjunction with Dr Organic’s specially developed Body Lotion Tan Extender and Body Polish Pre Tan Exfoliator, the Moroccan Glow Mousse will result in a gorgeous, natural tan.
Top application tip: Position two mirrors, changing room-style front and back for a better view while applying.
Spray: With wide-angle continuous sprays, accessing easy-to- miss spots like backs of legs or shoulders is simple, and it doesn’t need to be rubbed in. St. Tropez Self Tan Express Bronzing Mist (RRP £26) is adaptable – leave on for one, two or three hours for a light, medium or dark tan, respectively.
Top application tip: Apply a thin layer of Vaseline to brows and hairline to avoid colouring them.
Gradual tan: “Great for those with a busy routine or who are nervous about applying self-tan. They deliver a hint of colour with added moisture and you can build the colour each day to top up,” says Kotch. Use L’Oréal Paris Sublime Bronze Summer Glow Lotion (RRP £6.99) daily like a regular body lotion.
Top application tip: Avoid showering, swimming or shaving for half an hour after tanning, but do wash palms of hands and between the fingers.
The future of sunless tanning lies in colour that is bespoke to each person, created with ingredients that are organic while nourishing and supporting the skin