How to avoid fake tan fails this summer

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Because nobody wants streaky skin or stained bed sheets, says Katie Wright.

When you've been starved of sun for months and a natural tan isn't an option, fake tan is an absolute godsend for giving your limbs that delightful just-spent-a-week-in-Santorini glow.

But when sunless tanning goes wrong, it really goes wrong. We're talking brown streaks, dark patches, a face that doesn't match your body... it's not a good look.

"Hands up if you're still a little bit scared of faking it... or had a bad experience (read 'orange') and want to dip your toe back into the glowy waters?" says Carly Hobbs, Sienna X brand ambassador and professional tanner.

"Fake tans don't have to be full-on. Luxe and light is very much on-trend right now, and easy to achieve."

"We recently conducted a survey and found that one in three women have been shamed for wearing tan, and this is usually because of bad application," says Michaella Bolder, St. Tropez skin finishing expert.

"We've all had tanning disasters, even me! Our new campaign You Set The Tone aims to put an end to tan shaming."

So, how can you ensure even application and a gorgeous glow? It's all about prep, prevention and a few quick fixes if something does go awry.

Here are eight self-tan fails and experts' advice on how to avoid them...

1. Your tan is too dark
"If your overall colour is too dark, the quickest way of lightening it up is to lift off a layer by sitting in a warm bath for 10 minutes," says Amanda Harrington, who is known as the 'Michelangelo of tanning' for her hand-brushed contouring technique, and just announced her first range of products to use at home.

"Then I would go in with a body scrub to wash the body. Finish this process by applying moisturiser to lock in that new-found colour.

"If the tan is super dark, repeat this process a few hours later, once you've let your skin calm down."

2. Your tan is too light
"If you want to go darker, don't be tempted to layer even more product on straight away, it won't take your shade of bronze deeper and may clog up the work you've already done," Hobbs says.

"The best thing to do, is allow your light layer of tan to develop, rinse it off completely, then go in again.

"If you love to layer as well, you can do your base tan, then add on with a gradual tanner every day, to build things up beautifully."

3. You've got some darker patches
"Before applying, make sure your skin is as smooth as possible, as self-tan is attracted to rough, drier areas," says Megan Potter, Superdrug head of haircare, skincare and suncare.

"The Solait Dual Action Exfoliating Mitt is great to use in the shower first."

"Drier skin areas which we all have hiding away will absorb tan ingredients deeper than any other areas," says Bolder.

"Apply an oil free moisturiser on your hands, wrists, elbows, knees, feet and ankles, before you load up your mitt with tan."

4. Your tan sweats off
"Common hot tan erasers are trainer socks, bikinis and bras - they rub where things get extra warm and buff the bronze away," explains Hobbs.

"To prevent this from happening, post-tanning, work a little translucent make-up setting powder over sweaty areas to keep your glow safe."

5. Your tan is streaky
"A streaky tan can be the result of not using a clean or fresh tanning mitt," says Bolder. "Using your hands can leave invisible lines in your tan that show as streaking once it has settled."

"Streaks can happen when you don't fully wash off your guide colour - always rinse until the water runs clear, then pat dry," Hobbs recommends.

"If your tan is ever streaky all over," she continues, "head to the gym - dive into the swimming pool to use the chlorine to start the removal process. Then spend some time in the steam room to further the effect." Though we're not sure your gym, or the other people in the pool, would think this was such a good idea...

There are now a variety of products you can use to tackle streaks, like Sienna X Tanning Eraser and Solait Tan Correcting Sponges.

"Or, if you want a DIY option, mix a bit of lemon with baking powder and dab a little bit on gently with a flannel or sponge," says Potter.

6. You get spots
"Post-tan, if you notice spots all over your legs, don't stress - this means you've applied your fake tan too soon after shaving," says Hobbs. "De-fuzz at least 12 hours pre-tanning, as it allows your skin to calm down."

7. Your tan fades too quickly
"Normally this starts with the face and hands, as you wash these more regularly," says Harrington.

"Avoid using retinol and enzyme-based skincare that lifts and rapidly exfoliates the skin, as this will cause the tan to fade quicker. Keep your tan topped up with a gradual tan."

8. Stained clothes or bed sheets
"Tan transfer on your clothes or sheets is from the guide colour that gives some tanning agents an immediate colour when you apply it," Bolder explains.

"However, you can now prevent this by using a colourless tanning product, such as the St. Tropez Purity Bronzing Water Gel or Mousse."

Woman's Way