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Beauty Blog: Bronzing Essentials

In these cold winter months there is something us girls work very hard on behind the scenes (take note boys!) and that is no other than managing the almost magical trick of maintaining a Bahamas worthy glow throughout the rain, snow and fog!

I am, of course, a real advocate of faking it! Let’s face it girls, there is nothing less attractive than leathery, aged skin and of course sunbeds (using sunbeds for the first time before the age of 35 increases the risk of developing melanoma skin cancer by 87% and sunbeds give off harmful UVA and UVB rays which can both cause DNA damage leading to skin cancer) are a huge no no!

Therefore I have compiled a list of my favourite bronzing items, which help me to keep that glow going, minus the Sun!

The trick to a good fake tanning is experience is good skin prep. I hear more complaints about a streaky tan than I care to mention here, but this is an easily avoidable fate if you know the right steps to take to prevent it and this begins with the skins very own condition.

Keeping the skin in good condition is a never ending battle (sorry ladies) but it is a worthwhile cause which can give your skin a natural glow and clarity even if you prefer to ditch the tan and go au naturale.

1.       Exfoliation

Unsurprisingly the care starts in the shower and there is one Holy Grail item that you cannot live without – exfoliating body wash. Most of us just about manage to whip on some shower gel and wash it off in our spare five minutes before a 9am lecture, so preferably take your time with this one! Now unlike the facial skin, you do not need to treat your body skin quite as gently (particularly when it comes to stubborn dry skin areas). Therefore a wide range of body scrubs including sugar, salt, nut and synthetic materials can be used and, unlike the face, the rougher the scrub…the better! That is why you will find a lot of body scrubs pack in a multitude of different scrubbing agents, to get that skin perfectly smooth.

What you do end up choosing usually just ends up being personal preference, normally based on price, smell and ease of use – but there is one thing to bear in mind. If you use a foaming scrub which also acts as a body wash, then there is no problem in using it right before you apply your tan. However if your scrub contains high levels of oil (as a lot of sugar & salt scrubs do), you will need to make sure you scrub the day prior to applying your tan, as the oil will form a barrier which prevents the DHA (tanning ingredient) from being in contact with all areas of the skin. These scrubs can be useful as they skip the next step I will be mentioning which is moisturising. You will also need to invest in some exfoliating (scrubby) gloves in order to help you remove old tan build up.

(Left: L’Oreal Exfotonic is a foaming exfoliator with synthetic beads available from most large beauty retailers for £7 (200ml), 
right: Soap & Glory  Scrub, Actually is an oil based sugar scrub available from Boots for £7 (200ml) )

2.       Moisturiser

Many of you will probably already moisturise your skin daily, but for those of you who don’t, this is an opportunity to not only enhance your tan, but also to enhance your skin’s overall condition. This step is important for two reasons: firstly, it makes the skin smooth, supple and more permeable to the tanning medium which you apply. Secondly, DHA is an extremely drying ingredient and can wreak havoc with even naturally good skin. Therefore Mother Nature may need a little helping hand!

The best time to apply your moisturiser is preferably on the same day, but with a good few hours in between to give time for the moisturiser to slightly absorb (as again, it can form a barrier between the skin and the tanning agent, meaning your tan can appear patchy in areas). However as moisturiser is less emollient than oil, it is not necessary to apply the day before. I like to choose quite a light and quick absorbing lotion rather than thick cream, as it does not linger on the skin. 

(Garnier Intensive 7 Days Body Lotion is available from larger beauty retailers for £2.99 (250ml) or £4.99 (400ml))

3.       The Tan

Now is the core part of the bronzing regime, the actual tanner itself! There are a plethora of available shades and formulations which can make choosing the right tanner extremely difficult, but here I will advise my favourite high end and cheaper scale product. Obviously we cannot always afford that cheeky expert spray tan and so, more often than not, an at home job is required. The two most common formulas which home tanning products come in is lotion and mousse and they both have pros and cons. Lotions are slightly slower to apply and the formula does not go quite as far as a mousse does. However, they tend to be moisturising which helps to counteract that drying effect of the DHA and increase the longevity of the tan from 3-5 days (for mousses) to around a week to a week and a half. This is due, in part, to the fact that as applied, the moisturiser contained within helps to make the DHA reach lower layers of dead skin cells which form our upper epidermis. Mousses however, dry much faster than lotions do, so if you need to get dressed quickly a mousse may be preferable.  My absolute best advice for applying the tan is to always use a mitt (not rubber gloves), start at the feet and work your way upwards. Although a mitt will retain some tanner, meaning a bit of wastage, the evenness of application and speed is vastly improved compared to using rubber gloves. Remember never use bare hands unless you want extremely dark palms! Use some of the moisturiser you have to apply to the neck creases, ankles, elbows and cuticles of the nails, to prevent extremely dark staining of the dry skin.

(Left: St. Moriz Mousse is available in Medium and Dark from most large online beauty retailers for £3 (200ml),
right: Xen – Tan Lotions in Medium (pictured; Medium Bronze Luxe) for £28.99 (236ml) or Dark (Dark Lotion Absolute Luxe) for £39.99 (236ml) from most large beauty retailers)

4.       Those little extras…

The problem with fake tanning is that there will invariably be some periods where the tan will be in the midst of coming off and so look less than perfect even if you scrub to high heaven with those exfoliating gloves. Therefore it is important to always have some little tricks in your fake tanning stash. In order to keep a tan looking as fresh as possible for as long as possible, nothing works better than a moisturiser with an added tan ingredient. These help to not only keep the skin moisturised, stopping the tan from flaking and peeling, but they also add extra DHA onto the skin, keeping the tan on areas where it may be coming off the skin.  For a quick fix to even out a slightly tired looking tan there is nothing better than instant tans. These are best applied with your mitt and will wash off at the end of the night. I sometimes use these on top of my standard tan anyway just to enhance it that much more. Finally, nothing makes bronzed skin look prettier than an added glow, for this shimmery bronzing powders can really accompany your tan well and bring out the beauty of your skin for eye catching radiance.

(Top left: Dove Summer Glow is a moisturiser with tanning ingredient, available in Fair/Normal and Medium/Dark  with or without shimmer from most large beauty retailers for  £5.69 (250ml), 
top right: Rimmel SunShimmer is a wash off instant tan available in light, medium and dark in matte or shimmer, waterproof or non-waterproof from most large beauty retailers for £5.99 (125ml) and £10.49 (225ml), 
bottom left: MAC Iridescent Loose Powder in Golden Bronze is available from most large authorised beauty retailers for £20 (12g), 
bottom right: Collection Mosaic is available from most large beauty retailers for £2.99 (10g))



Make up, skin care and beauty tool reviews/recommendations from a whole hearted make up junky! I've long been involved in the cosmetic industry as a free-lance make-up artist whilst furthering my academic studies as a Biology student at The University of Nottingham. I have worked for Estee Lauder, Lancome, Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Elizabeth Arden, Kiehls, Origins, Guerlain, Giorgio Armani, PUIG, KGA, P&G Prestige, Aramis, La Prairie and Aveda. I love nothing more than purchasing new and exciting items, and what better way to excuse myself of this naughty habit than to use it to help others make educated beauty choices! Much love and Enjoy - Amy x
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