Confession: I am addicted to fake tan. As a naturally pale, easily burnt Brit, bottled bronze is the best way to achieve sunkissed skin - sans the sun. For me, slathering on a layer of Bondi Sands is an act of self-care, a moment of solace that other, normal people might find with meditation or a hot bath.
Unfortunately, fake tanning can also be a pain in the arse. Your whole life can begin to revolve around it very quickly - such as making sure your social calendar aligns with your tanning schedule, or dictating when it's acceptable to change your sheets (I'm single-handedly responsible for ruining both mine and my boyfriend's).
Tanning itself can also open a Pandora's box of disasters. From orange feet to stained palms to stripes to patches to scaliness, if you're a novice with all the gear and no idea, that "easy application" aero mousse will be an absolute minefield. And if you do screw up, don't expect it to be a quick fix. Unless you're a seasoned pro with an arsenal of exfoliating gloves and erasing chemicals at the ready, those pesky patches are stubborn to remove.
Plus, we haven't even touched on wear-and-tear - in a nutshell, if you're not taking care of your tan, you will look like tiger bread by the end of the week. Trust me.
With all that being said, with a little practice and the right tools, achieving a faux glow at home can be relatively quick to do and easy to maintain - meaning you can have sunkissed skin all year round. As we creep into autumn, now is a great time to get practising. Soon enough it will be sweater weather, allowing you to easily conceal any mishaps - and hopefully, you will have mastered the art by the time next summer rolls around.
To get the full lowdown, Newshub spoke to certified aficionado Blair James, the owner and co-founder of Australian fake tan brand, Bondi Sands. James has provided his top tips for achieving and maintaining the perfect faux glow, so mitts and mousse at the ready - let's get that golden, goddess glow of dreams.
There's so many types of tan - which one should I go for?
If you're just embarking on your self-tanning journey, it can be a little overwhelming to see all the different kinds of products that are available. From foams to mousses to lotions to dry oils, it can be confusing to say the least, and may have you wondering what bottled bronze is best for you.
James is here to help. He's provided a brief breakdown on the different formulas available and what is best for beginners.
"No two tanning products are the same, however there's a formulation to suit any and all application preferences," James said.
"Self-tanning foams are often considered best for beginners given their ease of application, however it's all about finding a formula you feel most comfortable with and of course, one that looks best on your unique skin type and tone."
Self-tanning foams tend to be the most traditional and popular option - they're easy to apply and produce a natural, golden glow overnight. Most brands will offer a few different shades to achieve varying depths of colour.
Alternatively, aerated self-tanning products consist of an ultra-lightweight, aerosol foam, which absorbs into the skin deeper and quicker than traditional foams for a fast-tracked yet comfortable experience.
On the other hand, self-tanning dry oils tend to set quicker than other products. The quick-drying formulas mean you can get dressed and go moments after application, with the tan developing over the course of the day. Most dry oils will last for up to a week. While some need to be washed off, Bondi Sands' Liquid Gold Dry Oil does not, making this a great option for those who are short on time and need a quick routine.
Tanning lotions or gradual tanners are applied like a typical moisturiser and typically are made with more hydrating formulas, simultaneously nourishing the skin. Gradual tanners can be applied daily to build a richer tan or until you achieve your desired depth of colour. They can also be used in isolation for subtly sunkissed skin, or to top-up a self-tan to prolong the life of your glow.
Finally, for an on-the-go glow, instant tans offer a zero commitment, wash-off formula. Wash-off products provide instant colour - perfect for a night out or event. They can be easily layered to achieve your desired level of bronze, or can be used to enhance an existing tan.
Prep, prep, prep
Hold it right there - don't even think of reaching for that mitt unless your skin is as smooth as a baby's butt. Prep is by far the most important step of any tanning routine. The active ingredient in tanning products, DHA, is drawn to dry skin, so the more dead cells you can remove prior to application, the better the canvas will be for a streak-free tan.
"Prep is the most important step! I've been saying this for years and for good reason - exfoliate thoroughly before tanning," James said. "Pre-application exfoliating is essential for avoiding patchiness, helping to create a smooth base.
"It's important that your skin is clean, dry and free of any moisturisers or oils, and remember to shave 24 hours prior."
You can use an exfoliating mitt, exfoliating gloves and/or an exfoliating scrub to buff away any dead skin, paying particular attention to the areas which are usually the driest - the knees, elbows and ankles.
How do I apply my fake tan?
Now you've picked your products and prepped, it's time to tan. James has provided his top technique for the ultimate, streak-free application.
"Once you've decided on your tan of choice, it's time to apply. For the most natural looking glow, you'll want to distribute the product evenly using a self-application mitt. Use long, sweeping motions so that the tan applies seamlessly without a streak or orange palm in sight," he said.
"Also, always remember to read the label. Lots of self-tan products continue to develop on the skin once they're washed off, so stick to the recommended development period.
"If you're wanting a darker shade of bronze, rather than applying multiple layers of product, try something that is designed to give you a deeper colour, like an ultra-dark foam."
And finally - moisturise, moisturise, moisturise.
"Once you've waited for the tan to develop and washed off the guide colour (if necessary), make sure you moisturise from top to toe. Opt for a pH-balanced formulation to hydrate the skin and to help prolong the life of your tan."
How long should I leave my tan on before showering?
A lot of fake tan aficionados will recommend applying your tan before you go to bed and sleeping in it overnight, but there's no steadfast rule for how long you should be leaving your tan to develop. Personally, I like to shower and tan before bed, sleep in it, and leave it on until my shower the next day to ensure I get the best colour payoff. However, if you're wanting a more natural faux glow, you may prefer to wash it off after a few hours.
"Refer to the label of your self tan of choice for the recommended development time, however it can vary from one to eight hours, depending on your desired depth of colour," James said.
If you are using Bondi Sands as your tan of choice, it's worth noting that the products continue to develop even after they've been washed off - so it's best to rinse after the recommended time period.
What are the key products any fake tanner should have in their kit?
"An application mitt, gradual moisturiser and self-tan eraser are absolute essentials for any routine tanner," James advised.
An eraser is the simplest way of removing stubborn stains from a self-tan slip-up - or for getting rid of an old tan in preparation for a fresh new layer.
How do I prolong the life of my tan?
"A hydrating gradual tanning product will simultaneously nourish the skin and maintain your glow," James suggested. "Simply apply like a regular moisturiser daily."
And once again for the people in the back - moisturise, moisturise, moisturise.
"Look for a pH-balanced moisturiser for top-to-toe hydration. Apply daily for nourished skin, resulting in a longer-lasting tan."
Now go out into the world as golden goddesses - just make sure you never forget to slip, slop, slap and wrap, because funnily enough, fake tan doesn't offer sun protection.