By Julia Stone
Nowhere has it been less acceptable to be pale in the winter than it is in the world of fashion. Shooting our seasons backwards means you’re expected to be tanned when the sun don’t shine and walk around head-to-toe zinc when it does. Self-tanner can help get you the job in sunny climates like Miami and Cape Town without any damaging long-term effects. Don’t we all still want to model when we’re 60?
Men and women alike should know their way around a bottle of self tanner before attempting to apply it themselves. Otherwise, those streaks can be a real pain to remove - manually and digitally.
Choosing a product
When it comes to coating your body with the stuff Victoria’s Secret catalogues are made of, you can choose between 2 kinds of tanners.
The first is an instant tan, which looks like a brown (potentially shimmery) gel, and the colour shows up immediately. But be warned, if your shoot requires any swimming or being ‘rained on,' the product will likely trickle down into a sad little puddle on those irreplaceable designer shoes. Often makeup artists will have it in their kit just incase you didn’t get the memo. I’m fond of the Guerlain Terracotta Spray ($60 - purchase below) because you can go super sheer or build it up and it works nicely on faces.
The other kind of self-tanner requires a brief science lesson to explain. The active ingredient in these lotions is a sugar we affectionately call dihydroxyacetone (DHA), which often comes from sugar beets or sugar cane. The DHA reacts with keratin amino acids in the very top layer of your skin and voilà, a bronzy ‘tan.’ It’s a misconception that certain formulas can be odorless, so that’s just something we’re going to have to deal with. It's worth investing in a nice formula though because the higher the quality of DHA, the nicer the pigmentation will be. I prefer Josie Maran’s Argan Self-Tanning Cream ($42 - purchase below), which is pretty damn natural in both appearance and ingredients. In order to effectively apply this type of tanner, it’s in your best interest to follow the steps below:
1) Exfoliation - Exfoliate in the shower/bath/whatever washing system your model apartment includes. This gets rid of dead skin which can clump in the lotion leaving your skin look blotchy and with patches.
2) Towel Dry - Completely dry off before applying your lotion. The oils in the self-tanner, if mixed with water, are a potential disaster for streaks.
3) Blend Slowly - Apply the lotion one body part at a time with flat palms, smoothing the product evenly. Use feathered motions to blend down into your hands, hairline, and unmentionables. Hopefully you can find an understanding friend who doesn’t mind doing your back.
4) The Waiting Game - Stand around naked for the required amount of drying time.
Whenever I put tanning cream on my face, I always mix it 1:1 with a facial moisturizer. This dilutes the tan but I’d much rather that than an unexpected splotch. You can do this to your whole body if you wish or use a pre-mixed product like Jergen’s Natural Glow ($7 - purchase below). Even fake tanning can be addictive (ahem Jersey Shore) so take it easy and remember, a natural-looking glow always looks better.
Julia Stone is The Business Model's Beauty Editor. After years of modelling in Canada, South Africa, and China, Julia Stone has parlayed her industry experience into a career as a make-up artist. She is represented as model and make-up artist by Plutino Group. Follow her on Instagram @juliamks.