Welcome to Mumsnet!

We’re delighted you’ve found us. Join in the conversation on the UK's busiest site for parents

Get started »

Fake tan guide


Of course there is such a thing as a good fake tan and what's more, according to the bronzed beauties of the MN Style & Beauty Talk board, it is perfectly possible to do it yourself. 

Share this on Facebook


There are, however, a couple of rules that apply whether you have decided on a DIY tan or you're being pampered by a bright-eyed young woman in a side-fastening jacket.

"Exfoliate first! What I do is dry brush before getting in the shower, then a mild body scrub." expatinscotland

"Moisturise the driest areas the night before and about half an hour before, this prevents the Tango look on the dry patches." Piffle



Once you have buffed and primed, it's time to get to work. Do use a hand mitt, they only cost a couple of quid but make a huge difference to the final result, and remember, as with cooking, you can add, but you cannot take away. Two nights of fake tanning is better than a fortnight of looking like an Oompa-Loompa.

Remove all children and spouses from the surrounding area, cover soft furnishings in old towels, pour wine and prepare to luxuriate. Do stand in front of a full-length mirror (oh go on, you are BEAUTIFUL), this makes it so much easier to keep track.

"Rub it in a circular motion, as opposed to 'up and down'; that's what causes streaking." Tiredemma

If the idea of going nut-brown overnight appalls you, consider using an 'every day' cream, which is part-moisturiser, part-tan. Stick to the rules, though: exfoliate, moisturise, rub in circles and Wash Your Hands Afterwards.

"I have been using St Tropez Everyday stuff for the past couple of weeks, it has taken the two weeks but I am a very lovely, natural-looking brown all over now." NatalieJane

"The Boots' own brand 'Holiday Skin' cream works for me. It feels and looks like a white moisturiser. Reasonable price. I put it on my legs in the morning before breakfast and evening. Nothing obvious but takes away that pasty winter look. But you have to let it dry before getting dressed." Curiouscat


Salon tan

Do not be afraid to exclaim "not as dark as you", if faced by an overly orange beautician - they know that not everyone's taste is the same. Other than that, Style and Beauty board poster nailpolish has pretty much got the experience covered...

"You can get two types of salon tan - spray and lotion. Costs vary, can be £30, lasts about seven days, only one application required. The beautican will just ask you what 'depth' you would like - pale, medium, dark - nothing too complicated. You can either wear an old pair of your own pants (they may get stained) or the salon will give you paper disposable ones. Also, if you can handle it, don't wear a bra 'cos when you put it back on it may get stained, or at least wear an old one. You may also get marks where the straps are if the tan hasn't dried properly. And don't be embarrassed, she's probably done it hundreds of times and seen it all. I would thoroughly recommend a spray tan, fabulous fabulous, fabulous!!! Have fun!" nailpolish

"I had a mobile tanning service - it was ace, could sit around in my dressing gown afterwards so I didn't have to worry about marks. She came with a pop-up tent for me to stand in. Worth looking for." Chopster

"I would have a St Tropez hand-applied. You get the same fab results and an all-over body exfoliation/massage to boot - and no embarrassing standing around in paper knickers and a hairnet choking on fake tan fog!" binkleandflip




When Good Tan Goes Bad (or how to get the blithering stuff off)

It's the morning of The Wedding and you have orange hands. Don't freak out, there are all sorts of suggestions, from the aforementioned meths (fail) to white toothpaste.

"I had very patchy-looking tan on my feet from a spray tan, I came across some self-tan correction wipes in Superdrug called Velvotan, this worked for me." Puppy

"Nail varnish remover works a treat." michellemcmanus


Is fake tan safe in pregnancy and during breastfeeding?

As with most subjects on Mumsnet opinion is divided, so let us, just this once, give the last word to NHS Direct, which says: "The active ingredient in fake tan is Dihydroxyacetone (DHA). It is a non-toxic substance that reacts with cells in the outermost layer of the skin and produces a brown pigment (colour) called melanoidin. The outer skin cells are already dead, and are shed as the skin constantly renews itself. This is why fake tan needs to be regularly reapplied to maintain the colour. The DHA doesn't go beyond the outer layer of skin and therefore isn't absorbed into the body."

For emergency tanning help or to extol the virtues of your favourite browning agents (not Bisto), visit the MN Style & Beauty board. (You need Recipes for the Bisto.)


Liked this? Then you'll probably love these:


Hair removal guide


DIY pedicure guide



Last updated: over 3 years ago