The simple step that can seriously impact the look and lifespan of your fake tan

If your self-tanning routine is failing to deliver a smooth and lasting finish, you might be skipping this simple but crucial step...

A close up of a woman rubbing hand/body cream into her hands and arms/ in pink template
(Image credit: Getty Images/Catherine Falls Commercial)

Mastering the perfect self-tan routine is key to achieving an even and long-lasting finish but that said, if you're skipping this simple fake-tan step, it may not matter how methodical your prep or application technique is...

Despite many of the best self-tans offering instant results, to achieve a streak-free look one must first exert a fair amount of time and effort into readying the skin. This is also the case for the best gradual tanners which, while being more low-maintenance, still require a helping hand to achieve that coveted, flawless finish. This prep work includes exfoliating, hair removal and moisturising, the latter of which is often overlooked in the pursuit of sunkissed skin - especially post-self-tanning.

Indeed, according to the pros, while you might have followed the 'how to fake tan' steps to the letter, not continuing to hydrate and moisturise your skin can have a big impact on your tan longevity - making all your hard work for nought...

Why moisturiser is the one step you shouldn't skip pre and post fake-tan

As Melanie Brownlow, founder of St. Moriz explains: "Before tanning, moisturising any dry areas such as elbows, ankles, hands and knees beforehand will help avoid build-up in those places," before also adding that those with dry skin should try, "using a thin layer of moisturiser that is oil-free as again, this will prevent unwanted tan grabbing to those areas."

But this isn't the only time your moisturisers can benefit your tanning routine. “After tanning, keeping the skin hydrated can help extend the life of your tan," Brownlow shares, adding, "the fewer skin cells that are shed, the longer your tan will last so moisturising your full body after tanning will help prolong your glow. Creamy butters are great for this as they will provide deep moisturisation before your skin can become dry.”

Equally, if you're using the best fake tans for your face, you should follow up daily with your go-to best moisturisers, to prevent any build-up and dryness.

How often should you moisturise your body after applying fake tan?

So, with that in mind - how often should you moisturise after using one of the best fake tans for mature skin and the like?

Brownlow says that, "applying moisturiser two times a day is recommended, if possible," and advises that the, "best time to do this is after a shower so that you can lock in any extra moisture and enhance the look of your tan."

What are other ways to extend your tan?

As for other ways to extend the life span of your glowing fake tan, Brownlow recommends: "exfoliating and shaving at least 24 hours before you plan on applying your self-tan.

Then using a primer with natural grains will prepare your skin ready for tanning by removing dead skin cells and evening out the skin’s surface to help your tan last for longer.”

Our go-to fake tan picks

And in case you need a new self-tanner for the summer season, here is a range of popular formulations...

Naomi Jamieson
Digital Beauty Writer

Naomi is a Digital Beauty Writer from woman&home, where she covers everything from skincare to fragrance but specialises, particularly, in makeup and nail trends. Through her work, Naomi gets to share her trend expertise and share her own shopping recommendations and product reviews. Previously, she worked as a Lifestyle News Writer for My Imperfect Life magazine, where she used her savvy for TikTok to bring readers the latest beauty buzzwords, fashion movements and must-have products. 

Before that, Naomi split her time between both GoodTo and My Imperfect Life, whilst training for her Gold Standard diploma in Journalism with the NCTJ, for which she earned a Distinction. Interestingly though, Naomi actually has a background in design, having studied illustration at Plymouth University but leapt into the media world in 2020, after always having a passion for writing. Now, when she isn’t reporting on the best perfumes and latest beauty releases, you can find her drinking copious cups of coffee, drawing and probably online shopping...