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CHOOSE THE RIGHT TAN
Unfortunately, this is about trial and error. What looks good on your friend might not suit you.
Nicola Joss, tanning expert for tan brand St Tropez, suggests beginners try a gradual tan product to start with.
'They're a lot more forgiving of mistakes and allow you to build up a natural-looking tan over several days,' she says. If you're going for a traditional fake tan, try a tinted tanning mousse.
You can see where you're putting it and it dries quickly - virtually foolproof.
Exfoliating is important as Natalie Roche, managing director of Xen Tan, explains: 'A patchy tan is simply due to the skin flaking off at different intervals.
'Exfoliation gets rid of the dead skin cells and provides an even canvas for a tan to be applied to.'
Just avoid using oily products, as they can create a barrier that stops the tan clinging to your skin. It's best to exfoliate the day before you tan, rather than immediately before you apply it.
If you're waxing, do it the day before. not only will it take off the tan if you do it afterwards, but if you don't leave 24 hours in between you can get dark dots on the skin where tan collects in the follicles.
Shaving, on the other hand, is actually best done the day after a tan for the neatest result.
PICK YOUR SPOT
'People always put fake tan on in the bathroom,' says make-up artist Rachel Wood, 'and the light is not always great there.'
Ideally, you'll be in a bright room with a full-length mirror, where you have enough privacy to be able to wait until your tan dries.
TAKE YOUR TIME
When you're actually applying your tan, you want to work relatively quickly, but you don't want to feel rushed.
The key to perfect coverage is to give yourself enough time for the entire process - moisturising, application and, crucially, drying time. This might be as long as an hour.
'Dry areas of the body - such as the knees, elbows, wrists, ankles, feet and hands - soak up more tanning product, making them darker,' says Nicola Joss. 'So apply a moisturiser to make sure your tan is as even as possible.'
Use a fragrance-free moisturiser (those with fragrance or colour can alter the colour of your tan) on all the dry bits and anywhere else that might grab tan - such as scar tissue, or the area around your navel.
Apply far more moisturiser than you think you'll need.
Only a novice uses bare hands to apply a tan. I always wear latex or vinyl gloves to protect my hands and then put a mitt on top, as this ensures that you get a streak-free finish.
A long-handled lotion applicator will help you reach that annoying bit between your shoulders easily and without having to rely on external assistance.
To avoid smudging the bits that you've already done, work from your feet upwards and do your arms last of all.
'Make sure you really get between your toes and round the back of the ankles, across the ears and under the armpits, as that's where it really shows up as fake,' says Rachel Wood.
'I always make sure the tan goes into the hairline too, as that can be a real giveaway - just make sure you wipe blonde or grey hair to avoid staining.'
LET IT DRY
Your tanning product will tell you how long you should leave it to dry. Mousses will generally dry quicker than creams or lotions.
If your tan is still tacky, use a hairdryer on a cool setting to gently blast your body and help it dry.
Try not to get wet or sweat for at least six hours and avoid any tight-fitting clothing - and even things such as seatbelts - as they can give you very odd lines.
DON'T DO A CHERYL COLE!!!!
After you've tanned your entire body, remove the mitt and gloves and apply lots of moisturiser to your nails, across your knuckles and down your wrists.
Carefully dot some fake tan on the back of one hand.
Rub the backs of the hands together, working up past the back of the wrists.
With your hands still back to back, briefly interlink the fingers. lastly, rub the wrists together, as if you were applying perfume.
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