Tag Archives: fake tan


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?

I love the Overnight, the Day Tan and…of can I have 4? 5? The Bronzing Spray, the new Express Mousse and the Mask.

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.

Little tips:

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.

James Read Tan

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.


I have a confession to make: I know I’m a beauty blogger, but I’ve never actually used any fake tanner before–the closest I’ve gotten is Jergens Gradual Tan moisturizer. I know. It’s not that I’m against it; it’s just that I’m super pale as it is, so I’ve always thought I would look totally unnatural if I ever tried it out.

So! When the opportunity came up to try out the infamous James Read Tan products and I got invited to a pool party, I thought, what better time than the present to give my ghostly legs a bit of a glow before revealing them to the world this year?

This is actually the most nervous I have been before trying out a product, not going to lie–I was so scared of getting super orange, streaky limbs and doing it all wrong and ending up with stained palms. I must have read the instructions manual about 5 times beforehand, and I even read an article on faux tanners in Cosmetics magazine for more info.

I exfoliated two nights in a row, making sure not to miss any rough patches anywhere–I recommend you do this step thoroughly to avoid and weird splotches. Then, I apply a light coat of moisturizer everywhere, and an extra layer on the tops of my hands, elbows, feet and ankles–these areas are often rougher and dryer and can cling onto the tan.

I even lined my bed with a towel, and then slept with an extra older sheet on top of me so I wouldn’t stain my new white bed linens. This was probably overkill as I didn’t see any stains anywhere, but better safe than sorry!

Overall, the products themselves are really easy to use, and were an excellent way to break my fake tan virginity. Taking my time, and having someone around to reach the middle of my back were the keys to success.

Onto the products themselves:

Tanning Mitt: This is a vital instrument to a succesfful non-streaky bod: buy this. However, do not wash it afterwards with hot water, the inside melts and sticks together (oops). The mitt really helps to evenly distribute the product.

Bronzing Mouse: Easy to blend, no smell whatsoever, very lightweight, non-sticky, and hydrating. Only cons: It did create quite a dark tan on me, more than I am comfortable with, but not orange, more of a dark golden shade. I think it would work better on people with more medium-toned skin (I am quite fair). Also, I found that at times the nozzle could be tempermental, spraying the somewhat runny mousse across my bathroom. Not a huge issue since it didn’t stain anything, but something I think that could be easily fixed.

BB Gradual Face Tan in Light: Comes with a handy brush attached, very soft and perfect for any touchups or adding any definition on the arms, abs, collarbones or cheekbones. This is gradual meaning that by the end of the day, your face will be tan, not meaning that this needs to be applied a few times before you see a tan. However, you could easily build this up over a few applications to be quite golden. The cream is really hydrating and light. Be sure to really exfoliate your face first, then seal up pores with an ice cube. This product comes in both Light and Medium Shades, which make it easier to adjust for fairer skin tones.


With the summer months rolling around comes higher hemlines, spagetti straps and a lot more skin showing. And I don’t know about you, but that stresses me out big time. As if I wasn’t pale enough to begin with, my legs seem to be looking extra pasty after a long winter hidden away under layers of thigh-high socks and stretch-denim. However, the urge to finally wear my long forgotten shorts and skirts has overcome me and I’ve had to scramble to kick my legs into gear. And here’s what I’ve used.

Saint Tropez One Night Only Instant Glow Body Lotion is literally heaven-sent. If the title didn’t spell it out for you, it’s an instant body tanner that washes off at the end of the day. It comes out a dark earthy-brown tone (a bit intimidating the first time), but once all massaged out, looks like a natural olive tint. It covers any pinkness or visible veins for all you pale girls out there. It doesn’t smell like that awful tanner smell and it washes off your hands in a pinch. It doesn’t transfer onto clothes once dry, and lasts all day. However, it does look a little funky at the gym if you happen to sweat…

Kiehl’s Crème de Corps Body Lotion is one of the most expensive body lotions I’ve ever used on myself. At first, I couldn’t justify using a $40 (for only 250 mL) (!!!) lotion, considering I only need a little moisture for my legs and arms after showering. Sure enough, I figured out why people go crazy for this stuff. The texture is truly luxurious. It soaks in immediately, and leaves your legs looking immediately healthier, shinier and softer. It also happens to photograph really nicely (even Garance Doré agrees). And to be fair, I’ve been working at the 500 mL bottle since Christmas, and I’m only halfway through. Well worth it, nonetheless.

–Anna Raponi


Anna and I had the privilege to attend an event last month launching the newest innovation from Clarins, the Golden Glow Booster. The liquid essentially creates a “made-to-measure” self tan, which means that whether you are super pale (like me), or already have some colour in your skin, you can make it look as if you just came back from St. Barth’s, and still look natural.

All you need to do is mix in 1-3 drops of the booster into any moisturizer/oil/gel/lotion once a day (which means you can keep all of the benefits of your current hydrator while getting your J.Lo glow on). It was recommended that for fairer complexions, that you start with 1 drop per day until you have a good base colour. Slowly increasing the amount drops creates a believable and buidable tan, and once you have achieved your desired colour, you can switch to every other day for maintenance.

While this little wonder does contain DHA, it doesn’t have that gross smell that many other self-tanners carry. Since this is a product that will make you tan gradually, pale girls don’t need to fear the sudden fake-tan orangeness that can result from most tanners.

Remember: for any kind of self-tanning, it is important to start with a smooth base (then you won’t get weird patches), so be sure to give your face a good exfoliation beforehand.


Even though the days are getting longer and hotter, some of us spend the majority of our time indoors at school, work, shopping, etc. Thus, when the time comes, nobody wants to hit the beach with a glowing white bod. So hit up that self-tanner, and fake your goddess glow! (Just make sure you get a good one–i.e. not orange)
  • Exfoliate before application with a grainy scrub. Also, shave those legs, because shaving with the product on can leave a spotty finish.
  • Apply moisturizer to drier areas (mostly around joints), like elbows and knees, as they will absorb more pigments and turn darker.
  • Use either a latex glove or a tanning mitt when applying the product.
  • Try not to bend over, or bend the elbows and knees during the application and drying time– this can lead to creasing and streaks.
  • Despite the promisingly quick drying times, we advise that you wait at least 5-10 minutes before you put any clothes on.
  • Try to minimize the time you spend in the shower, and just showers in general (within reason, obviously).
Happy tanning!
–Anna Raponi & Amanda Raponi


Clever title, huh? (at least I thought so)

After an extremely disappointing stint with a high-end self tanner (who’s name I will not mention), I really began to appreciate my #1, my Jergens. Let me tell you my little story about when I was foolish enough to try another—it was a Monday morning (typical, typical). I decided to don a sleeveless tank that I had never worn, except my arms looked just a tad, well, dull. They needed a healthy glow. My mom had given me a sample of a big-name self tanner the night before, and I thought, well of course, this will obviously work much better than the one I’ve been using for years. I mean, it’s practically four times the cost and I had been pleased with other products from the line. So I carefully applied, following the basic rules of self tanning. The smell, which stuck around all day, was very strong and made me feel dirty. Then, as the day progressed, I noticed the sparkles on my arms– how am I supposed to pretend that I got a nice tan on the weekend when my skin is shimmering? And, as I recall the rather unfortunate events of today, I’m staring at my now streaky, orange arms (and still, that damn smell). Let’s just put it this way; not a good start to the week.

The Jergens Natural Glow Firming Moistuizer has gotten rave reviews for years, which is what initially drew me to it. It promises gradual, natural-looking colour, and to reduce the appearance of cellulite, and oh, does it deliver. Not until this sad Monday night have I realized that this stuff really smells great, not that unpleasant typical tanner odor. As fair as I am (let’s just say I’m more often than not the first shade that most foundations offer), I use the medium to dark colour, and have never looked streaky or orange. For most pale women, the veins in our legs can be extra-obvious through our light skin, and can appear purple-y blue–not really the beach babe look. I mix this (50-50) with my everyday lotion, slather on my legs, and my legs are not only rid of this discolouration, but also have a subtle glow that doesn’t scream a fake tan. And, I mean, come on, it’s like, $9. For all of the $30+ fancy-shmancy self tanners out there, can you risk another perfectly fine Monday when you’ve got an all-star at your local drugstore? I think not. I should have never doubted you, my dear Jergens.

Now, time to hit the shower, this smell is making me sick.

–Anna Raponi