Welcome to the new bronze age

Self-tanning brands have developed way beyond the artificial colours and odours of the past to offer customers products that achieve truly natural looking results.


The words ‘fake tan’ can evoke hideous memories of mishaps past for many of us, but the new generation of sunless tanning products promise to make selfinflicted disasters virtually impossible.

Thankfully the world of tanning has evolved beyond pungent lotions too, and there are a variety of different formats for consumers to choose. From mousses and mists to lotions and oils, there are now more variants than ever before to suit everyone’s tanning preferences.

Although mousses have been the favourite method of self-tanning thanks to its userfriendliness, mists have become popular due to their 360 degree application, similar to the traditional spray tans available in beauty salons.

“Lotions can have a more moisturising appeal while dry oils offer a really quick, convenient tan without any stickiness or guide colour residue,” explains Fiona Lazenby, commercial director at St Moriz. “Wash-offs are a great fast fix and can cover any revealing skin when you just have to tan those exposed areas and go.”

Colour match

Ensuring that the colour of the product will suit an individual’s skin tone is important to keep the tan looking as natural as possible, so remind customers to resist the urge to go as dark as possible as this inevitably ends in tears. Experts say that you should aim for no more than two shades darker than the natural skin tone to avoid the ‘Oompa Loompa’ look.

“If a customer already has a natural base colour to their skin, why not advise a tan with a violet base?” suggests Gemma Spinks, tanning ambassador at Norvell Tanning. “This will help counteract any orange/brassy tones and work with their natural colouring to give them a Mediterranean glow. If they have a lighter skin tone then I advise they stick to a brown base tan.” 

Norvell’s Venetian range of sunless products features a combination of violet and brown tone bronzers which means consumers can achieve a deep, dark colour without any unnatural orange hues.

Although it’s commonly thought that tans develop in around 8 hours, in reality the active ingredients will only have achieved 60% of the final look by this time. To get a deeper tan, which will last longer, avoid showering for up to 24 hours, unless it’s a rapid-developing tan.

If using a certain product for the first time and unsure if the colour is right, customers should try a patch test when they get home before they take the plunge as results can vary from person to person. This will allow them to control the shade when developing their full body tan by reducing the length of time it’s left to develop.

Rapid tans

Most traditional tanning products take hours to develop, but for those in a hurry there is now a range of products with quicker developing times. The only downside to using products that offer faster results is that they may have a more drying effect on the skin, so it’s advisable to use a tan enhancer to ensure well-moisturised skin.

St Tropez has introduced its fastest ever tanning product that promises customers the ultimate sun-kissed glow in just one minute - Gradual Tan One Minute Pre-Shower Tanning Mousse (RRP £14.50). The easy everyday pre-shower mousse builds up a streakfree tan that is applied directly to the skin for just one minute before showering. 

Tan enhancers enable the vegan-friendly and 100% naturally derived DHA to penetrate the surface of the skin deeper and faster than regular products, resulting in a quick, natural-looking glow which will gradually develop over eight hours. Although there is no guide colour, a subtle sheen is left on the skin after application which helps to ensure no key areas are missed.

“As it is a gradual tan product, you’ll notice a subtle, natural, golden glow from day one,” says Jayne Cooper, St.Tropez Tanning Expert. “However, if customers add this unique preshower mousse to their daily tanning routine, they can achieve a deeper tan after three days. Regular application helps you control the depth of tan, but for a deeper glow, advise customers to leave the product on for 2-5 minutes before showering.”

Aftercare advice

  • Avoid coming into contact with water or any vigorous exercise that may result in perspiration
  • Opt for some loose dark clothing - recommended to avoid interfering with the developing process of the tan
  • Lightly buffing talcum powder into the skin after a tanning session will not upset the development stage or colour of the tan from transferring on to your bed sheets and clothing
  • Only wash with water (no soap or shower gel) on your first rinse. Pat dry with your towel and don't rub the skin
  • Moisturise, moisturise, moisturise after your shower to keep your skin supple. DHA (sugar - the main ingredient) is very drying so do look after your skin to avoid the dreaded crocodile texture.

Courtest of St Moriz and Norvell Tanning

Prep work

No one wants to look like they’ve been Tangoed so just what can tan seekers do to avoid looking like an extra from The Only Way is Essex? Well, according to the professionals, new formulas, correct preparation and aftercare are the key to success.

“My first ‘must’ is to keep hydrated – not only from the outside but from the inside too,” says Spinks. “Drink plenty of water to keep skin looking soft and firm. Most people rely on moisturisers; however, drinking lots of water plays an important factor in the appearance and duration of a tan.”

Smooth skin is essential for an even tan too so it’s recommended that people remove any unwanted body hair a minimum of 24 hours before tanning, or 48 hours if waxing. Exfoliating is a must as this will create the perfect base to ensure a flawless result.

A product like St Moriz Advanced Pro Formula Tan Remover (RRP £9.99) will banish any existing tan, and its exfoliating primer is ideal for creating a smooth blank canvas to apply self-tanners.

Keeping the skin moistursied after application will help to maintain the colour and increase the longevity of a tan, so applying a rich moisturiser morning and night is vital, paying particular attention to dry areas such as feet, ankles and elbows. However, it’s important not to use any moisturiser on the day of application as it can act as a barrier, resulting in a patchy mess.

Taking the plunge

When it comes to applying a self-tanning product most experts would recommend using a mitt to create an even tan and prevent staining of the hands (which is the biggest give away that the sun-kissed look isn’t natural). Given this, it’s prudent to spend some time ensuring hands look tanned rather than stained. An easy solution is to mix a little moisturiser with the product and apply evenly all over the backs of hands, in between fingers and around wrists. Advise customers not to rinse hands with water afterwards to clean the palms, but instead to use a baby wipe to remove any unwanted residue.

Tanning the face can be difficult as the skin is more sensitive than the rest of the body, which is why many people opt for products that combine skincare with colour. The Tan Boosting Facial Serum (RRP £9.99) from St Moriz can be added to any face cream to enhance the colour of the face without compromising a person’s normal skincare routine.

While it’s true that there is still an art to selftanning, it’s also true that today’s formulations mean it’s easier than ever before for you to help customers achieve their perfect glow. Welcome to the new bronze age!

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