Fake Tanning Routine – Tips & “What not to do”

why are you white

I have been fake tanning for a long long time (over 10 years) and have tried a lot of different fake tans. Starting with Le Tan in high school, I used both the spray and the mousse and used to not wear a glove *cringe* I used to just apply with my hands and wash them afterwards! I would never do that now but you learn these things throughout years of  fake tanning trial and error.  I do also feel the quality of fake tans available now have improved a hell of a lot so luckily it’s harder to end up looking like an “oompa loompa”.

I remember the first time I applied fake tan myself, I thought you only applied it to where the sun would hit you naturally.. kind of like bronzer. So I applied it leaving the underside of my arms bare and ended up with extremely obviously lines down both of my arms!

So to save anyone else out there from mistakes similar to the dreaded “rolled around in doritos” style tan or any other blunders, I thought I would share my routine and favourite products.

Current Favourite Fake Tans:

Bondi Sands Lotion

Bondi Sands Tanning Lotion in Dark ($19.99 at Priceline) – I love this for a few reasons; firstly, because it’s a lotion it hydrates your skin at the same time so you don’t get “scaly” as you often can from sprays and mousses if your skin gets dry. Secondly,  the colour. This is really dark – it scared me how dark it was the first time I applied it; but it is more of a green based tan so you don’t end up orange and the intense colour guard washes away and even when I swear it’s going to come out streaky it never does. It also fades nicely so you don’t have to spend forever trying to scrub and exfoliate to remove it. This tube lasts me much longer than the mousse ever does and is significantly cheaper (& often on sale at Priceline). This one is a little less comfortable to sleep or hang out in, so if the “sticky” feeling really bothers you maybe try the mousse over a lotion.

mine tan absolute 40

Mine Tan AbsoluteX40- . I find this one gives me the most beautiful, dark but natural colour & is the one I am currently using. X40  refers to Quad Bronzing Melanin Activating Intensifiers that have been combined with naturally derived tan actives to produce a faster tan while activating skin cells to boost colour. It is also important to me that it wears off nicely. It gradually fades rather than becoming patchy and scaly which have been my experience with many other tans. Antioxidants and hydrating oils have been added to produce maximum moisture in the skin which makes it easy to remove & then re-apply in the one night.

I personally tan once a week and have my routine pretty set. Fake tan in general will look its best not the day after application/rinse off but the following day after it continues to develop. This is why Thursday nights are universally known as tanning night!

Tan night meme


Fake tan will only look its best when skin is properly prepared, I promise it makes every bit of difference so here are my tips!


Shave your legs. Shaving after tanning will remove it and of course once we’ve tanned we are going to want to show our legs off a little more!

better rzor

Exfoliating glove – can find these anywhere from Coles to Priceline & are a total must.


Frank Coffee Scrub  – I used to use this scrub however coffee scrubs can be really messy and also I would need to use this a day or 2 before wanting to tan since it leaves an oily residue the tan doesn’t sink in to the skin or stick properly (making my routine a lot more complicated).


Epoch Polishing Bar – I have since switched to the polishing bar. It sloughs dead skin cells while keeping skin soft and hydrated. Containing glacial marine mud & ground bark it’s much easier, less messy and extremely effective! I use this along with the exfoliating mitt & always wait to the end of my shower as it buffs away so much more easily when skin is well hydrated.

polishing bar

*I also love the polishing bar for washing my makeup brushes and removing makeup in the shower!

Moisturise (LUSH Dream Cream) – elbows, knees, wrists & ankles to stop the tan clinging to dry spots in this area. Do this directly before tanning. LUSH is an incredible brand and this Dream Cream is an old favourite, it absorbs quickly and doesn’t leave a residue but hydrates & repairs amazingly well. My fiance uses it on his fresh tattoos rather than often recommended bepanthen.

dream cream

Epoch Baobab Body Butter – Has been my more recent discovery and I am loving how soft it makes my skin! It also smells totally delicious almost like vanilla frosting! Contains shea butter and the fruit of the African baobab tree, its extremely high in antioxidants and enhances the resiliency of skin over time (amazing for things like stretch marks). This is what I use directly after I rinse my tan off.

body butter


Application Glove (JBronze Luxe Application Mitt is my personal favourite, but any will work) – pump or squeeze product directly onto the mitt and then begin to apply in circular motions section by section (I always start with my legs just out of habit). Make sure each section is blended before moving on to the next one as it will dry and become hard to move.


Partner/Bestfriend/back applicator– to help tan your back and hard to reach spots.

My husband usually tans my back for me but failing that, maybe you have a bestie who you can have a tanning night with or  you could try one of these back applicators? I’m pretty sure I just used to wriggle around and tan my own back but it wasn’t easy!

tanning arm

Towel – just to stand on, I have made a mess more than a few times. Be careful especially using a spray. I remember being away on holidays with my family and deciding to fake tan. So I went and got a few towels and covered the ground in my room. I went to town spraying myself and thought I had more than covered myself with the towels on the ground, but when I picked up the towels there was a very clear rectangle starring back at me so beware!

pink towels

Loose black clothes – to either sleep in or hang out in for a few hours. You want black clothes so they wont be stained and loose so you don’t ruin the work you’ve done blending it in. Also it will just feel more comfortable if you’re in an over-sized shirt or something.


Tanning Sheets – get some dark sheets to use for tanning night so you don’t stain your nice white sheets! Although recently I’ve come across something called a Tanzee. I haven’t had a chance to get one yet but it looks like a special tanning sheet protector! I think I’ll have to try this.




Rinse off in the shower thoroughly but quickly either when you wake up in the morning or after directed wait/development time. Pat yourself dry with your towel, avoid rubbing your skin.

Moisturise, your tan will last longer if your skin is kept hydrated and will also be easier to exfoliate/remove when you decide to. You could even use a gradual tanning moisturiser if you need your tan to last a bit longer than usual.

Lastly, do not apply more fake tan on top of old scaley fake tan. It will not “even out” or “fix itself”, it will exaggerate the scales and just be harder to remove. I promise, I have tried this more than once.


I hope this has been helpful & you can skip some of the awkward tanning phases I went through! Thanks for reading.



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