THE BRONZE AGE; Boost your skin confidence for summer. Lisa Haynes reveals how to obtain a convincing glow in your own bathroom.
WHY wait 'til the end of your holiday for a tan? Self-tans are now so convincing that you can fast-forward the process and sport an all-over glow before you've even packed your suitcase.
Professional tans are 2014's number one pre-holiday treatment, according to beauty booking site Wahanda, which reports an increase of 556 per cent in sunless tanning since February.
Professional booth or bathroom DIY, a self-tan can make you look instantly more contoured and toned for bikini season. And with the new express formulations on the market, you can be buff and bronzed in 60 minutes flat.
Feel like a sun-kissed goddess whatever the weather with our self tan guide.
WAY TO GLOW THE exact colour of your self tan is individual to you, because the ingredients react with the skin's amino acids. If you're overwhelmed by shades and formulations, let your skin tone dictate.
"Tanning brands come in one shade or more," explains James Harknett, tanning expert (jamesharknett.co.uk). "And the strength is determined by the percentage of DHA (tanning agent) in them.
"Garnier Ambre Solaire led the trend by having three strengths. If you're a nervous first-time tanner, it's a good idea to start with their light spray - naturally olive tones can brave the darker shades."
While a professional spray tan results in an even, streak-free finish, if you're tanning at home, Harknett recommends using a bronzing mousse for ease.
PREP AND PRIME THE key to a convincing glow is primed, well-moisturised skin, so nourish your skin in the days leading up to your tan to avoid patchiness.
If you're undergoing a holiday prep overhaul, wax or shave at least 24 hours before self tanning, to allow the pores time to close.
Harknett says: "My best prep advice is to ensure the skin is clear of all other products, including deodorant. Remove any old self tan - use wipes around the neck and on the chest. Exfoliate well with something that isn't too harsh on the skin."
Right before you apply your tan, avoid moisturising all over and apply sparingly on dry areas, like ankles, knees, elbows, hands and feet. If you're fair-haired, Harknett suggests using Vaseline on the brows and hairline to avoid discolouration.
TIME TO TAN POST-TAN orange hands shouldn't be a part of your glow plan if you apply like a professional...
"The best way to apply a tanning mousse is by using a foam mitt," Harknett says. "I use the James Read tanning mitt, which should do all the work for you and spread the mousse evenly across the skin for a streak-free finish.
"For a lotion, I recommend wearing a tight, latex glove, which helps avoid the tan 'wrinkling' on the skin.
"If you favour a spray, mist your product in the bathroom in front of the mirror and stand on a dark towel - but don't forget to use wipes on your soles once tanned."
Self tan tends to cling to dryer parts of the body, so take extra care with these areas. Try custom blending your tan by mixing with a plain moisturiser for a natural finish.
PROLONG YOUR BRONZE KEEP those 'have you been on holiday?' questions coming by maintaining your tan to the max. Moisturise, moisturise and moisturise.
"It's crucial to nourish your skin with moisturiser to lock in the colour and stop dehydration," Harknett says. "A patchy break-up on the skin may occur if the tan isn't regularly moisturised."
Give your tan a fighting chance by avoiding the tub and taking cooler showers, patting skin dry afterwards.
Harknett estimates that a professional spray tan or self tan at home should last for around a week, like a tan from holiday, although olive skins can often keep their tan for 10 days or more.
Left to right: Lancome Flash Bronzer Self-Tanning Face Gel, PS24 (lancome.co.uk); Xen-Tan Ins-Tan-Taneous, PS26.99 (House of Fraser); Garnier Ambre Solaire No Streaks Bronzer Natural Dry Body Mist in Light, PS11.69 (Boots); James Read Bronzing Mousse With Mitt, PS19 (www.qvcuk.com) and St. Moriz Instant Self-Tanning Lotion in Medium, PS4.99 (Boots)