Lingering thoughts of a body-builder-level bronze or patchy elbows and knees that last for weeks are enough to put the fear of tanning into anyone.
But if, like us, you’ve felt the warmth of the recent weather and started pulling out shorts, sundresses and sandals, you might have been thinking about how a touch of summer colour on your skin might be nice.
Because we all know UV rays are terrible – and dangerous – for your skin, adding a touch of tan safely with a fake-tanning product is a great solution.
Thankfully these products have come on in leaps and bounds in recent years, with formulation and application techniques constantly improving.
Case in point? Bondi Sands, one of the world’s most popular brands of tan, is currently celebrating its 10th year in business, but is still tweaking and innovating its extensive lineup regularly. The brand has just released a new range of gradual tanning products to build on the category of popular gradual tanning foams, lotions, milks and oils it already offered.
In recent years we’ve also seen the advent of tan ‘eraser’ or remover products that help remove tanning remnants on skin quickly, so there’s far less risk in giving a faux glow a go!
What is gradual tan?
Offering the most low-effort approach and delivering the most natural results, using a gradual tanning product is perfect for beginners.
Gradual tanning lotions use the same sugar-derived active ingredient found in traditional tans, DHA (dihydroxyacetone) that reacts to the amino acids on the surface of the skin and creates a safe, browning effect.
The difference is, gradual tanning products use far less DHA than traditional tanning products and are usually included in a base like a moisturiser that can be easily rubbed in all over. The low-level tanning actives begin to develop but create a subtle effect, meaning spots you’ve missed aren’t immediately obvious and it wont look patchy or streaky.
You can keep applying the gradual tanning product each day until you build up to the colour you are after. Given they also contain moisturising ingredients they can also be used to help prolong a regular tanning product.
The results of gradual tanning products are lighter than traditional products, which means anyone of any skin tone can use them as they can be built up easily.
How to use gradual tanning products
1. Shave or wax at least 24 hours prior to tanning.
2. Exfoliate first. Skin needs to be smooth or colour can catch on very dry or flaky areas. A gentle exfoliation will result in an even, natural-looking colour. Pay extra attention to the ankles, knees and elbows as these areas tend to be drier than the rest of your body.
3. Apply product all over the area you want to tan, blending well using circular motions. Use leftover product on the mitt to do your feet, backs of your hands, wrists, elbows and knees.
4. Use a tanning mitt to apply. Though gradual tans are forgiving, you’ll still get a smoother, more uniform application by spreading the product with a dedicated microfibre mitt or glove.
5. After applying, wash your hands well and wait a couple of minutes for tan to dry before getting dressed. Avoid showering or getting wet for at least two hours afterwards.
6. Apply as above for 2-3 days in a row and assess your colour. Once you’ve achieved the golden tan you’re after, you can apply every 2 – 3 days to your liking or let the colour gradually fade.
7. If you want to remove the colour or any remnants, use an exfoliating product or a self tan remover product that uses urea to help remove the colour in just a few minutes. These products work best if tan has been on for at least a day or two.
The best gradual tanning products to try
L-R: Bondi Sands Gradual Tanning Face Lotion; Bondi Sands Gradual Tanning Lotion Tinted Skin Perfector; St Tropez Gradual Tan Watermelon Infusion Everyday Moisture Miracle Body Lotion; Isle Of Paradise Happy Tan Everyday Gradual Glow; Sugar Baby Gradual Tanning Face & Body Cream Daily Glow