Everything You Need To Know About Fake Tanning Before Your Wedding

From the fake tan corrector to have on hand on the big day, to the tips and tricks that will keep things even

fake tan wedding

by Annie Vischer |

Fake tan is a divisive talking point when it comes to weddings. For some brides it's an absolute no-no, while for others it's a non-negotiable. If you're a fake tan devotee in everyday life it's unlikely you're going to want to relinquish your go-to ahead of - what many hail as - the biggest day of your life. Once you decide you're going to go for it, though, there are an overwhelming number of decisions to make. Do you book in for a spray tan with a professional? Or do you stick with what you know and do it yourself at home? Do you try a luxe new brand for the occasion? Or stay loyal to your old faithful? And then there's the timing, when do you get it done? Here to answer all these questions and more is fake tanner to the stars James Harknett. 'Back in 2019 I applied over 750 bespoke spray tans to brides at my studio within the W Hotel in London, he says, 'the past 20 years has given me the expertise and experience required to understand how self tan works with thousands of skin tones.'

Should you avoid a fake tan with a guide colour ahead of your wedding day?

'There is a major misconception that the guide colour in a spray tan solution will rub onto your wedding dress,' says Harknett, 'I always recommend that brides tan 48 hours before the ceremony. In this time you will likely have three warm showers, which will wash away all of the guide colour and any residue. The tanning agent (DHA) colours and binds with proteins on the surface of your skin, so it's only extreme heat, sweating and friction that could potentially cause the tan itself to transfer onto your dress or garments.'

How should you care for your fake tan on the morning of your wedding?

'I recommend moisturising your tan on the wedding day before drying skin with your hairdryer on the cool setting,' says Harknett, 'this will set your tan beautifully. Then ask your make-up artist to use a kabuki brush to dust some talc around the areas of your skin where your dress will sit. This serves up slip, which stops any tan rubbing away onto the fabric.'

Should you book in for a trial spray tan before your wedding?

'Your hen party is a great opportunity to put a spray tan look to the test,' says Harknett, 'book it in for two days before the hen weekend or tie it in with your bridal make-up trial.'

How should you prep your skin before a spray tan or fake tanning at home?

'Always ensure that any hair removal is done well in advance,' advises Harknett, 'not ony does this allow your pores to close but it gives your skin time to renew. Tanning straight after waxing, for example, is a disaster, so wax a good two or three days before your tan appointment. You can shave 24 hours beforehand.'

'Another great tip,' says Harknett, 'is the exfoliate the parts of your body where bra straps and sports bras are likely to dig in. Do this a good few weeks leading up to your wedding tan. This is because skin gets compacted by the tightness of fabrics against your body. This can lead to your tan turning darker along bra strap lines, around your breasts leading up to the arm pit area.'

Where should you exfoliate before fake tanning?

'Do your exfoliation the night before,' says Harknett, 'concentrate on your elbow and heels, these are the areas of the body that don't produce natural moisture. Tan can grab onto these delicate areas of skin. Leaving a little time between your exfoliation and fake tanning time gives skin time to renew evenly. The biggest no-no, though, is moisturising your body before you fake tan. This, along with badly timed hair removal, is what causes streaking.'

What should you have on hand on your wedding day to ensure your fake tan looks its best?

'If you follow these tips to the letter it's rare that anything will go wrong, however if you do find a darker patch, or see a build up of tan around your wrists, for example, fear not. Bali Body's Self Tan Remover, £18.95, gently lifts the colour and fades away in minutes. The vegan friendly foam can be used to fade out tanning mistakes.'

How do you choose the best fake tan for you ahead of your wedding?

'If you are a keen self tanner and have your regime down to a fine art, then my advice is to go for a colour that compliments your skin tone, rather than something too dark,' says Harknett, 'if you are new to fake tanning and you're doing it yourself, start with a fake tan that contains a guide colour. A whipped mousse is always easy to use and tends to instil confidence.'

Shop: Bali Body's Self Tan Remover

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Bali Body Self Tan Remover - Grazia 2022

Bali Body Self Tan Remover
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'If you follow these tips to the letter it's rare that anything will go wrong, however if you do find a darker patch, or see a build up of tan around your wrists, for example, fear not. Bali Body's Self Tan Remover, £18.95, gently lifts the colour and fades away in minutes. The vegan friendly foam can be used to fade out tanning mistakes.'

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