woman applying cream to her shoulder

How to Fake Tan Properly (Like You’ve Been on Vacation)

Fake it until you make it.

It’s time to take a trip to St. Tropez, Bali and Copacabana courtesy of a bottle of self-tan. Yes, friends, we’re going from quarantining to quaratanning.

If you want to look tall, dark, and tansome for your next Zoom call and feel like you’ve come back from the equator even though you just got back from the kitchen, you need to know how to fake tan properly. You can thank our Social Media and PR managers for these cheeky puns!

arty picture of a woman's bikini clasp close up
Use a self-tanner to give your skin a sun-kissed glow at home | © Kristaps Grundsteins/Unsplash

Once upon a time – unless you really knew what you were doing (and who does) – self-tanning lotions led to orange streaky disasters. These days, they’ve come a long way, allow you to build a tan gradually and – packed with nutrients – are a fool-proof way to make your skin glow naturally at home.

So, check out our guide on how to fake tan properly along with some of the best products out there. All of them appropriately named after the dreamiest vacation spots in the world.

Fake tan tips and tricks

Along with life-enriching experiences, that post-holiday glow on our faces has to be one of the best side effects of taking a trip to some far-flung corner of the world. Even if you’ve been diligently applying mud masks and sheet masks and popping vitamin D to keep your skin looking fly, a little bottled-tan to help make your skin glow naturally at home might give you a little boost.

Before you go to town on that bottle of St. Tropez, read these fake tan tips and tricks.

  • Go for a subtle glow: You want it to look natural as opposed to a deep dark tan, one to two applications will do the trick.
  • Focus on the face, neck, upper torso and arms: If you’re going to do one application for a subtle healthy glow, stick to the face, neck, chest and arms. This is much easier to maintain than doing the whole body.
  • Prep your skin: Remember to exfoliate before applying self-tan. Use an exfoliating mitt to prep your skin, and this will help it to go on more evenly and help your self-tan to stick around longer. It’s also a good idea to exfoliate post-self-tan as well. It might seem counter-intuitive but gently exfoliating a couple of times a week will help to maintain an even tan.
  • Moisturising: Keeping your skin hydrated with a moisturiser will also help your self-tan last longer and keep your skin looking glowy.
woman applying lotion to her legs
Keeping your skin moisturised will help to prep it for self-tanning | © Breakingpic/Pexels

Learn how to fake tan properly at home with these top-selling products

These are some of the best self-tanning products out there that will help you to get a lovely natural glow at home. Thanks to these top-notch formulations, you’ll end up looking like you just came back from vacation and not like a Cheeto. If you’re a beginner, opt for a self-tanning mousse as their lightweight formulas make them easier to apply, and this reduces the chance of streaking.

1. St. Tropez Gradual Tan One Minute Everyday Pre-Shower Tanning Mousse

This self-tanning game-changer guarantees a glow in one minute and couldn’t be easier to use. No more sitting around for hours and waiting for the tan to develop. Just apply the lightweight foam and watch as it magically transforms into a gel on your skin and then wash it off 60 seconds later and you’re good to go.

2. Australian Glow Everyday Gradual Tanning Lotion With Hemp

Australia is going to be one of the first countries to open up post-pandemic, so there’s a chance we might be getting our vacation-glow on there for real. Until we can, for beautifully moisturised skin along with a mid-summer hint of colour, the Australian Glow Everyday Gradual Tanning Lotion With Hemp is an eco-friendly option that you will fall in love with.

Made from natural and organic ingredients, this time-efficient and hassle-free gradual tanning lotion will give you just the right hint of bronze. Australian Glow’s packaging is also made with recycled ocean waste plastic. What’s not to love about a self-tanning product that’s good for the environment and you?

3. Isle of Paradise Glow Clear Self-Tanning Mousse

This self-tanner might just whisk you off to blissful island life in 4-6 hours. We imagine ourselves playing “Wicked Games” while applying it.

Vegan and cruelty-free, Isle of Paradise’s colour correcting actives work to give you the best at-home tan. Fair-to-medium skin tones can use the light shade for a warm and peachy look, while the medium option is perfect darker olive skin tones, and takes care of any redness with an understated green tint (science is pretty amazing). Their dark shade has a “HyperViolet Complex” that neutralises any orange or sallow undertones. 

The clear water to foam formula will hydrate your skin while adding a glow leaving no streaks, no smells or orange tones.

4. Bali Body Self-Tanning Mousse

If you really want to boost your mood while in lockdown look to Bali Body’s self-tanning range. We’re highlighting their easy to apply mousse for its hydrating-foamy formula which will give you a rich golden tan that looks healthy and natural. Our pro tip? Sip on some beachy cocktails while you wait for the tan to develop, and pull out all your vacation attire, because that’s all you’re going to want to wear with your new glow.

5. Sol de Janeiro’s Glowmotions Glow Oil in Copacabana Bronze

For a quick and easy moisturising glow that requires no prep, choose Sol de Janeiro’s Glowmotions Glow Oil. We’ve picked Copacabana bronze because it’s named after one of Rio de Janeiro’s liveliest neighbourhoods. If you don’t want to go down the self-tanning route, opt for this wash-off body shimmer which is loaded with cupuaçu butter, açai, and coconut oils.

Based in Toronto, Sahar is a full-time content editor for Days to Come and part-time travel junkie.

Outdoor furniture inside a gazebo with drapes and string lights
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