Unless you’re on a beach with your well-thought-out bikini wardrobe and your evening outfits pre-planned around your tan lines, you could well find yourself caught short when it comes to OSA (obvious sun action). Play dates in the park, rooftop bars, even the odd spot of outdoor exercise in the height of summer could leave you with racer-back outlines and shin markers that signal you’ve been making the most of those summer culottes.
What makes it trickier is when the good weather is on repeat. You want to get your half golden limbs out, but your white bits don’t quite match up. So you need a solution quick sharp. And that solution is brown, fast-acting and in a bottle. All hail the wash-off tan. But there’s a special trick to this sporadic blurring, which is why we got a pro tanner, James Harknett, to reveal how he conceals those telltale strap marks (even on the celebs) so we can do the same.
1. Choose a Wash-off
“With a regular self-tan, it can be hard to blend the colour between where your clothes have been and where they haven’t because your skin tone will be uneven,” explains James. “Wash-offs are tinted, so you’ll know where you need more and where you can get away with a little less.”
2. Prep like a trooper
Just because it’s wash-off doesn’t mean you can skip the exfoliating step. “If you’ve tanned naturally, you’ll be more prone to peeling and dehydration, so use a gentle scrub before you apply,” advises Harknett. “Salt scrubs will be too harsh; you don’t want to make the skin inflamed.”
3. Find your formula
Mists or liquids are the simplest option, according to Harknett, but instead of misting directly onto your tan lines, squirt some into a saucer or cup, and then use a stippling brush to work and buff it into the lines. “You can really build up the colour with these types of instant tans, plus they’re compatible with fair and olive skin tones.”
4. Quick, quick, slow
Build the colour up, but work quickly. Wash-off formulas set fast, which is great because you can get dressed straight away, but it means if you make a mistake, it’s annoying, as while you can just wash it off, it could mean full removal before starting again from scratch.
5. Use bronzer instead
If you’re not a confident self-tanner, only have a tiny white line to transform, or are caught short when you’re away and nowhere near an establishment that stocks self-tan, you could blend bronzing powder with body cream, says Harknett. “It’s a great trick for last-minute tan line emergencies. Again, mix the two in a dish, and work in with a makeup brush.”
Colour correction complete. Now discover how to avoid fake tan mistakes, too.