Get the pro glow: how to apply facial tanners seamlessly

Facial tan: the self-tanning tricks the beauty professionals use

With the winter months now behind us, it’s time to take your self-tanning products out of hibernation and start introducing a subtle facial tan. Here’s how to get glowing without anyone knowing.


Oh Claudia, how we adore your dark wispy fringe, smudgy eyeliner and even smudgier facial tan that gets ever darker until we question our TV picture settings! There’s no denying it’s a look, but many of us might prefer a more subtle approach to self-tanning.

Personally, we’re from the school of thinking that facial tanning should be just like tonging your hair; it’s taken a full hour and excruciating arm ache, just so it looks undetectably natural. No, tidelines belong on the beach and tango on the dancefloor. We need glowing skin that looks like it’s been lit up from within and for that, you need to get sneaky with your self-tanning. Here are five golden rules:


A universal rule in beauty is to do your prep work and do it well – no tan (real or fake) is going to look good on uneven skin so best get buffing. A sonic brush is by far the best way to get super-clean skin and stimulate circulation to get blood to the surface.


We’ll be the first to admit that facial tan can be high maintenance, but a pre-tan facial peel gently digests the dead skin cells at the surface, leaving skin brighter and clearer – the perfect canvas for smoothing on a liquid bronzer. Fruit enzymes or AHA formulas make for some great at-home exfoliation.


Any pro make-up artist will wax lyrical about the benefits of facial massage and even before the most rushed of photoshoots or events, they’ll spend at least three minutes working over the model’s skin with their fingertips and some facial oil. (Home-grown beauty Naomie Harris even Instagrammed her pre-Oscars facial). So spend a good few minutes giving your facial muscles a workout before applying any products.


Never apply facial tan neat, this isn’t the time to attempt to look like a Strictly contestant. A secret backstage pro tip is to squeeze just a couple of drops of your self-tanning formula into your palms and then mix in a glob of your daily moisturiser, then apply to your face. This gently-does-it approach allows you to control exactly how much tan you want on your face and build up a subtle colour over a few days for a natural look. Some new facial tans come in a dropper bottle so you can be super-precise.


We sound like our mums but don’t forget to wash your hands! The biggest giveaway that you’ve been up to some self-tanning is the tell-tale brown marks on and between your fingers. When you’ve worked so hard to get a gorgeous, ethereal glow it would be such a shame to be rumbled by some dodgy handiwork.