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Expert Guide to Self Tanning

I created my brand 9 years ago, it's 70s inspired gold opulence meets self tan. Studio 54 was a big inspiration of mine too. I wanted to recreate 1976, the hottest summer in the UK, a year that everyone embraced a tan, with a self tan brand. The goal was to create products that work for everyone, are easy to use, combines skincare with self tan and was the most natural looking tan on the market. I put a lot of love into developing products, working with labs on ingredients, and testing over a 12-month period. I need to love the product before I launch it, as it's a part of me, it's part of my creative development. I did not want to be one of those brands where I just add my name to a product without any creative input, it needs to reflect my 19 years in the self tanning industry which is very important to me.

Male tanning over the last 10 years has grown massively, with more men opting towards self tan rather than the ageing effects of the sun. I use self tan because it gives me confidence, even if I am tired or stressed, I look alive. I find this gives me the added strength to go on with my daily routine, it’s a mood boaster. Men want to look good, use skincare and care for their skin. I have seen a high rise in Hollywood make-up artists and actors requesting my products for films. The likes of Ryan Reynolds and Richard Madden are loving the results.

Photo: Piaget
Photo: Piaget

The trick to the perfect 'Man Tan' is less is more, you want your tan to be understated like a background colour. You don’t want it to overpower your whole look, but work with it. It needs to work with your hair, your outfit and not be the first thing someone comments on. You want someone to say, 'You look well, have you been away?'. Men tend to use instant bronzing, clear mists or translucent formulation like James Read Sleep Mask Tan or my new James Read Click & Glow that allows them to personalise their tan by clicking drops into your skincare. Mists are great as they don’t cling to stubble or hair so this allows your tan to be perfect, it also allows you to build up your tan in fine layers. When it comes to applying your tan, prepping your skin before is really important. This will help your tan look more natural, last longer, and fade evenly. Be sure to exfoliate and shave 24 hours before applying your tan. If you are having a facial, do this 2 days before applying self tan.

On the day of tanning, apply a thin layer of moisturiser to the face. This will add extra hydration to your skin and help your tan last longer. If you have any dry areas on the face, add some moisturiser to a cotton bud, then dab over the areas of dry skin before you tan. This will stop the tan from clinging to these areas. After you have tanned the face it is really important to rub a small amount of moisturiser into the hairline, as this will help your tan look more natural. Before you tan your body make sure to moisturise the dry areas, the most important areas being the hands, feet, ankles, and elbows. These are where tanning mistakes can happen and will help to create a more natural looking tan. Always start with the face and work down your body in stages, leaving the hands and feet last. If you don’t have the confidence when it comes to using a bronzing mist on your body, mist onto a tanning mitt and apply this way. If you do use a bronzing mist or water tan, stand on a towel during the tanning application.

Photo: Skirmy
Photo: Skirmy

The biggest mistake people make when tanning is to wash their hands straight after, this will give you the white hands/brown arms look, so it's important to wait 4/5 hours. Just use a hand sanitizer on the palms after, as this shouldn't affect your tan. Moisturise daily to make your tan last longer, and make sure to use an oil free moisturiser because the oils can sometimes affect the tanning results. I sometimes use an after sun because they work the same with a self tan as they do with a real tan. Use an Hyaluronic Acid sheet mask on the face 2 days after you have applied your tan, this will add extra hydration and help your tan last longer. Exfoliate after 3/4 days to help your tan fade more evenly. Then you are ready to tan again. 


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