I have to confess I’m a bit of a self tanning phobe. I understand when it’s applied well it looks fantastic, but when it’s not, it’s horrid. And I’m always afraid of creating the latter scenario. Although fake tans have come along in leaps and bounds when talking formulation, it can still go, oh so wrong. It’s much like foundation, you need to select a shade that shouts honey, not creosote so it complements your skin and hair tone. Equally, meticulous application is a must to ensure you side step the streaks, the blotches and the orange hands.
Now, if there’s one guy that knows how to fake it brilliantly, it’s James Harknett. Dubbed ‘spray tan man’ in beauty circles, what he doesn’t know about fake tan isn’t worth noting. James has been a power tanner for over 10 years and has worked with some of the best people in the industry. His appointment service is used to naturally bronze the likes of Katherine Jenkins and Patsy Kensit. He’s also been integral in launching key products from brands such as St Tropez and Xen-Tan.
We could all do with a little bit of a get-up-and-glow in winter so here James answers my questions on faking it good.
Dolly Mixture (DM) How should you tweak your shade in winter so you don’t look overly tanned?
James Harknett (JH) A lower based DHA tanning product is much more suitable in the winter months or a gradual tan. A gentle dusting of colour works perfectly. Around Valentines Day, a full body spray is popular and looks great when worn with limb flashing dresses.
DM: What are the tanning crimes most people commit?
JH: Using too much product and not blending. Tan clings to drier areas of the skin, especially the ankles and the wrists. I recommend tanning to just above the ankles and then blending down with an oil free moisturiser. A small amount of tan on these areas is crucial – that way no one will know you’re faking it.
DM: How can a skilfully applied tan boost your beauty factor?
JH: A tanned body is a slimmer body. It can give a sense of confidence and glamour as well as making eyes appear brighter and teeth whiter. You can be more sparing with make-up, especially foundation. And it's amazing how a tan brings your old wardrobe back to life.
DM: What brands do you like working with?
The new Sun-Believable range is by far the most advanced tanning range I have come across and used. It’s virtually odourless and dries on contact. The tan also fades like a natural tan and lasts for well over a week. Their TAN ME Self Tan Mousse and mitt costs £30 (http://www.sun-believable.com/). For a gradual tan I recommend Sisley Tanning Gel, £67. It builds up to your desired shade over a couple of days. For an instant olive glow I always use Lee Stafford’s Fake My Tan which can be applied over make-up for dramatic cheekbones and enviable Jennifer Aniston arms. Try Brown My Bits Tanning Spritz, £9.18 available from Boots.
DM: What are your tips for thoroughly modern faking?
- Wear a mitt or latex gloves for effortlessly smoothing.
- Squirt or pump a small amount into your palms, smooth onto skin and repeat until the area is covered.
- Start with the arms from the shoulders downwards. Move onto the chest and torso. Sweep your hands across your stomach using an arched motion. This gives a slimming effect. Next stop is your back. Use a circular motion to ensure the whole area is covered – you may need help with this! For legs start from the inner thigh, sweeping down towards the ankle. For hands and feet, mix product with a bit of moisturiser. This thins out the product making sure it doesn’t grab to hard and dry areas such as toes and knuckles. Wipe fingers and toes with a cleansing wipe.
- For your face, glide your hand over your forehead and then bring it down the sides of your face, blending onto the neck. Tan the nose and around the mouth and chin. Using a dry mitt or flannel, gently rub over your face.
- Moisturise your tan twice a day to lock in hydration and help your colour to fade naturally.
DM: Finally, if you could fake it with anyone who would it be?
JH: Keira Knightley has that classic porcelain complexion, but I would love to gently airbrush a subtle olive tone onto her skin to enhance her natural beauty. Madonna is well known for staying out of the sun and never using a fake tan. For her Ray of Light video in 1998 she used make-up to give the appearance of tanned skin which worked well. I would love to tan her skin.
James has new residency at Bob Soho Salon, London W1. For appointments call: 020 7734 2444.