As the temperatures drop and our skin gets fairer, what could be the more perfect time to speak with James Read of James Read Tan about getting our glow back.
James has recently revamped his products’ packaging with a gorgeous, graphic gold foil finish and is adding a number of new products to his bestselling range.
I met with him yesterday at the Shangri-La in Toronto to talk all things tan–from tips, to mistakes.
Tell me a bit about how you got started in the industry. Have you always worked on your own?
So, I’ve worked in the industry for 14 years, with brands around the world and got my name out as the leading tanning expert. I’ve worked with celebrities like Lady Gaga, Mariah Carey, Jessie J, Ellie Goulding, Lara Stone, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Clive Owen, so I’ve really worked with a diverse range, from music to high-end models to catwalk models, Victoria’s Secret. The thing is, I think, with the brand, I’ve worked with like 10 other different brands from around the world and that was great experience being a tanning expertand advising on trends and backstage at fashion week kind of stuff.
Then, I worked for 2 years to develop my range and came out with an edit of products. First it went to Harvey Nichols, then went into Harrods after 3 months, so it all went very quick. Then it was in Vogue 8 times in a year and a half. It was in American Vogue and it sold out in like 3 days in America.
What your top 3 products from your line?
What are some of the biggest mistakes you see in fake tan?
People who wash their hands as soon as they get a tan. And over applying tan. If you’re going to layer, do it on the same day, wait 1 hour or half an hour then apply your next layer and so on. Don’t ever layer on the next day. If it’s a Gradual Tan you can, but if it’s a proper salon self-tanner, if you do it you’re gonna cause buildup and it’s going to start to look patchy.
What’s your advice for keeping a glow throughout winter?
Gradual tans, or if you want to go lighter, just mix in with some moisturizer for a custom blend. The sleep mask is actually designed to work all year round, so it’s perfect for all year round because it gives you a natural warmth.
What is your advice for those afraid of fake tanning at home?
Prep the day before: wax, shave 24 hours before.
Moisturize on the day of the tan: hands feet, elbows, knees anywhere dry.
Then put on the tanning mitt and start from the hairline, work it down from the hairline to the neck, blending it in with the mitt, working the excess product from the arms on to the hands, leaving the hands and feet until last. The legs are the same, work the excess product down from the legs to the feet.
Leave the tan on for 8-12 hours, I recommend to sleep with it on for better results, then moisturize daily once you’ve rinsed it off for the tan to last longer. After 3-4 days exfoliate, then the tan will fade more evenly, that’s a great trick.
Don’t wash your hands after you’ve applied your tan straightaway, otherwise you’ll get white hands and brown arms.
Watch when you’re drinking or cleaning your teeth, you don’t want to get a white lip.
When you’re doing your back, put the mitt onto a spoon and then wrap an elastic band around it. A rolling pin works as well.
If your tan is over-tanned, go and have a steam or put lemon or lime juice onto a hand flannel, put in a bit of water then put it in the microwave for a minute and a half. The heat will react with the AHAs and help to remove the tan and lighten it. Heat helps tan to come off the skin.
Do you think women of any age can fake tan? What should they look out for?
Ya, I do think they can. If you’ve got older skin, don’t go too dark. I’d say a good trick to see if a tan suits you is take a picture with your camera with the flash on and it will tell you if you’re too dark. These are all skincare based, so it won’t cling to the wrinkles and folds. The older 50’s-60’s love the Overnight Tan–if they’re scared of tanning, this stops them from being scared.
What are the trends for tan this year? What look is everyone aiming for?
The trends for tan this year are that poolside chic–as if you’ve just stepped out of the pool, with that wet-looking skin, it’s very 90’s inspired, but also kind of 70’s, 80’s. It’s about sophisticated-looking skin and dewy skin. The rave tan, I did backstage at fashion week, that Sophia Webster skin with that wet look to it. Also freckles, freckled skin is very forward. It’s all freckly, dewy-looking skin.
With natural freckles, can you go too dark with your tan?
No, no, the good thing with this is you can’t go too dark, it really fits with your skintone which is what you want.
What was your favourite editorial work that you’ve done?
I’ve done so many–I loved doing the Tom Ford ads and the rolly ones with the naked models, obviously. I’ve done lots of Vogue covers, Burberry ads with Rosie, M&S ads with Rosie, lots of covers with Jessie J and Ellie Goulding, I love what I do anyways, so I couldn’t really say one particular thing. You’ve gotta love what you do or what’s the point?
What tips do you have for fair-skinned girls looking to try fake tan?
I would say the sleep mask is brilliant and the day tan just to start out. The sleep mask is our biggest seller, it’s sould out 8 times worldwide. It’s our iconic product, like the YSL Touche Eclat.
Do you have any advice for those who want to get into the beauty industry?
I would say keep at it, work hard and always be nice. And always be humble because you started somewhere, don’t forget that. Never give up. Always have that dream and make it happen.