Why Clean and Considered Self-Tanners Are The New Norm

Supermodel Ashley Graham reveals her favourite picks!

Moving beyond the notion of ‘changing skin tones’ and Cheeto-orange hues, the fake tan industry is becoming as elevated, inclusive and considered as the rest of your beauty routine. The shifting narrative embraces the sun-safe tan-alternative’s ability to protect skin and boost confidence.

This is something US supermodel, body-positivity activist and St. Tropez global brand ambassador Ashley Graham knows well. Graham’s tanning ritual is “an integral part of making me feel red-carpet ready,” she says. “[My glam team and I] have done so many amazing looks over the years. They always help me get that beautiful tanned glow and make sure I’m covered evenly.”

Isle of Paradise founder Jules Von Hep (responsible for Margot Robbie’s Barbie glow) founded his brand on a similar feel-good principle. “It was about empowering women to feel confident naked when they looked in the mirror,” he explains. Thanks to great tech advances with an emphasis on healthy skin, getting a luminous glow has never been easier.

How To Prep Your Skin For Fake Tan

The key to a seamless, streak-free application lies in the prep work.

The day before: Exfoliate skin with a physical scrub or mitt. This will remove previous fake tan, product build up and dead skin. Von Hep follows a twoweeks-on, one-week-off tanning routine. In between tans, Von Hep recommends “a light scrub to exfoliate and remove any stubborn tan patches. Once you have removed the top layer, you can start again,” he says. Moisturise Graham attributes hydrated skin for a longer-lasting, more even glow. “Moisturiser is key on those dry areas [such as] knees and elbows,” she says. “It’ll make a huge difference and result in a flawless finish.”

The day of: Ensure skin is clean and dry. Avoid products such as perfume, deodorant and moisturiser. These create a sticky layer on the skin’s surface and prevent the tan from adhering.

Sontse Crystal Clear Face & Body Scrub, $34.95 at Sontse

St. Tropez Tan Remover Mitt, $12.95 at David Jones

Find Your Perfect Self Tanner

With the ability to yield results beyond the colour deposit – such as blurring skin imperfections – it’s important to choose a tanning formula that best suits your body care and lifestyle needs. Graham recommends making it work for you. She says, “You don’t have to compromise or completely change your routine. Start gradually … and then build up.”

Von Hep suggests enlisting a nifty online quiz, such as Isle of Paradise’s Shade-Finder, to assist in formula and shade matching. “I wanted to make it really easy, approachable and inclusive,” he says. “Everybody has a seat at the table.”

Try these high performers:

Express Colour: Isle of Paradise Express Self Tanning Mousse, $43 at Mecca

A golden glow in as little as an hour.

Gradual Tanning: Loving Tan Deluxe Gradual Tan, $30 at Sephora

Gradual self tanners and hydrating lotions are a great option for drier skin types!

Lightweight and quick-drying: St. Tropez Self Tan Luxe Whipped Creme Mousse, $59.99 at Oz Hair and Beauty

The airy-mousse texture dries in minutes and leaves skin looking radiant.

Sensitive Skin: Three Warriors Self Tan Mousse, $34.95 at David Jones

Reduce the risk of a reaction with natural, fragrance-free formulas.

Fake Tanners With Skincare

Thankfully, effective self-tanning formulas brimming with potent, skin-loving ingredients are now more commonplace. With nourished, glowy skin as the overarching goal, look to products enriched with botanicals and antioxidants to address skin concerns.

“My skin gets particularly dry in the winter months,” says Graham. “I get everything I need [with St. Tropez’s products] – from hydration to vitamin C and hyaluronic acid – to ensure my skin feels great and protected.” She explains that she uses the St. Tropez Luxe range daily as it’s “basically high-performing skincare serums and tonics with tan in it”.

As we see a movement towards naturally derived DHAs (more on this below), clean formulas that exclude nasties (such as parabens, artificial fragrance, alcohol and petrochemicals) are paramount.

St Tropez Luxe Body Serum, $59.99 at Priceline

Coco & Eve Sunny Honey Bali Bronzing Foam, $45 at Adore Beauty

Self Tanners Made With Naturally Derived DHA

The main active ingredient in self tanners that’s responsible for colour development is Dihydroxyacetone (also known as DHA).

Products will typically use either a synthetic or natural form of DHA. Synthetic DHAs result in faster-to-develop colour, but do so by weakening the skin’s surface so that the product can be absorbed quickly.

This is incredibly drying and increases your exposure to nasties and toxic ingredients. Instead, find formulas that include a natural DHA (often derived from plants such as wheat and rapeseed), which are less drying. Look to brands such as: St. Tropez, Isle of Paradise, Liberty Belle and Tanologist.

Can Fake Tanners Be Used On Your Face?

Contrary to popular belief, self tanners can and should be used on your face. “I never thought that tanning or self-tanner could also be hydrating and actually good for your skin,” says Graham. “Instead of working against my skincare routine it perfectly complements it.”

Von Hep recommends selecting products designed specifically for the face. “I wanted to create something that slotted into existing beauty regimens, rather than the routine being built around the tan,” he says. “I always recommend drops for the face. They can be mixed with a serum, moisturiser, sunscreen and even liquid foundation.”

Von Hep suggests avoiding active ingredients, such as retinol and chemical exfoliants (AHAs and BHAs) on the same day as your tan, and instead alternating these as required.

Goldee Bee Ultra Fine Face Tanning Mist, $39.99 at Goldee Bee

Tan-Luxe The Face Self Tanner, $61 at Sephora

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