'I'm a beauty writer. Here's my ultimate f**k up-free fake tan guide'.

Prior to today, I only ever fake-tanned myself once. Hard to believe, right? Apparently ‘Fake tan Thursday’ is fully a thing, though - a weekly ritual, where women the world over buff and bronze themselves in preparation for the festivities of the weekend!

Upon first hearing this I felt like someone had neglected to let me in on a little secret - how was I to know that this was what we did on Thursdays? I mean, it wasn’t mentioned in Mean Girls

Image: Mean Girls 

But then I realised that even if it had been - I’m spectacularly lazy, definitely wouldn’t have been arsed, and had no real need for it anyway - since I was young, yet to encounter the dreaded words ‘sun damage,’ and thought nothing of basting myself in Reef Oil and basking in the blazing sun like a stupid lizard on a stupid rock.

Plus, that one time I had fake-tanned? Disaster. Total, flipping disaster. I destroyed my bedsheets, smelt like crap, went WAY overboard with the face and looked like I’d garnished my wrists, ankles, elbows, knees and fingers with actual dirt. And how could I forget my armpits? A cute little reaction between my deodorant and tanner turned them bloody GREEN.


Watch: Bridal Makeup Artist Natalie Wright teaches us her techniques for a smokey eye with a twist... there's no black eyeshadow in sight. Post continues below.


Video via Mamamia.

But I do not spend an absolute fortune on skincare in my pursuit of everlasting youth just for the SUN to ruin all my hard work. Plus - skin cancer. That big yellow bitch in the sky is absolutely not to be trifled with, so from this day forth, I shall be fake tanned or pale. 

How do you do it, though? And avoid looking like a walking Dorito? 

Well, I took it upon myself to find out.

Probably stating the obvious here, but the number one rule, and first step: 

1. Exfoliate.

Scrub-a-dub-dub, babes! Those grubby patches I mentioned just before is your tan clinging to your literal SCALES. Slough it off, and do so repeatedly in the week leading up to your tan. 

Now, the hipster in me haaates ‘cult buys’ and anything that’s popular with influencers on the ‘gram - so it kinda kills me to say this, but the Frank Body shower scrubs are THE BEST. 

You can’t mess with the OG, the Original Coffee Scrub, $18.95, which makes my skin so soft, SO SMOOTH… and leaves me v. thirsty for espresso martinis - even at 8am.


There’s another thing I am loath to recommend since it’s gushed over by none other than old pal Gwynnie, because well, you saw what she did with her sunscreen… frankly, can’t be trusted! And, that’s DRY BODY BRUSHING

Aside from the fact that it’s one hell of a heavy lifter when it comes to de-lizarding your body - in particular those pesky trouble areas we highlighted just before - it feels amazing.

One of life’s greatest pleasures (right up there with clean bedsheets and a salon blow-dry) has got to be stepping into a hot shower after a good once over with the old body brush. It feels orgasmic. No lie.

I highly, highly recommend a long-handled one (there’s a good reason for this, and later you’ll find out why!)

2. Shave.

Or, don’t - I’m not the pube police! But if at-home hair removal is on your to-do list, make sure you shave at least 24 hours before tanning to give the hair follicles time to close up prior to application. 

Otherwise, you’ll get speckles!

3. Moisturise.

So, as a general rule, you want your body to be clean and free from any other products before you tan. This will give you the best, most even result and eliminate the chances that something on your bod will react negatively with your tanner. 

Green armpits, remember? 

But the exception to this is hands, wrists, elbows, knees, feet, etc. Basically, any dry / creasy places really benefit from a layer of moisture right before tan application, as it stops the colour grabbing as heavily there and just looks more natural and even.

4. Express yourself.

I cannot urge this enough - try an express tan! When I realised that I could have a deep, dark colour fully developed in a mere 60 minutes I was blown away. Not only does this save your bedsheets, it dramatically reduces the chances of mishaps. 


Think about all the crap that could go down in an eight-hour period - your clothes rub it, creases in bedsheets imprint on it, you could somehow get splashed… one hour is not an excessive amount of time to commit to chilling out butt-naked (or in a robe, whatevs) and letting it do its thing.

I don’t think you can go past Mine Tan here… all of their tanners develop in one hour; they don’t smell (!!) and are borderline skincare, containing ingredients like hyaluronic acid, vitamins A, B3, C & E and coconut, avocado, rosehip and jojoba oils.

My absolute favourite is their Moroccan Self Tan Foam, $29.99, which is a dark bronzing treatment enriched with argan oils.

5. Apply yourself.


There’s no getting around this - you need a mitt. Dish out one pump of tanner directly onto it toward the base of your palm, then fold the mitt in half to evenly distribute the product all over. 

Buff it on in a circular motion, but here’s the thing - avoid applying the freshly pumped product over hands and feet. 

Instead, use the residue on the mitt to lightly sweep over those areas, achieving a more natural coverage.

6. My neck, my back...

Okay, how the hell do you tan your own back!? 

The only other occupants of my house are two three-year-olds, and yes, I could train them, but honestly? It’s asking for trouble. Which is why I reached out to the Youbies to ask them how they do it! 

Apparently, there are loads of different methods to choose - ranging from professional-looking backlicators (yes, I just made that word up) to get this - A MITT STICKY TAPED OVER A BURGER FLIP!

This is why I recommended a long-handled body brush though, babes. We all love a multi-use product, so in addition to scrubbing you senseless, it can also moonlight as your very own DIY backlicator! 

Chuck your mitt over the brush end, secure with a hair tie and off you go!

7. Finally... the face!

There are heaps of sneaky lil ways to bronze your chops, from gradual tanning waters to the very same tan you used on your bod! 


I love Eco Tan Face Tan Water, $39.95, but I found it hard to know where to incorporate it into my skincare routine, which already featured about 649 steps.

So, instead I use either Boracay Skin Hyaluronic Glow Serum, $59.95, which is a HA, niacinamide and vitamin C formula that gives a gradual glow-up and can be used as part of your normal daily skincare regime. 

Or, I like to mix a small pump of my normal fake tan with a few drops of my favourite facial oil and apply to my face and neck using a big fluffy bronzing brush.

So, there you have it! Go forth, stay golden, and be f*ck-up free!

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Do you have any fake tan tips you'd like to add? Share with us in the comment section below.

Feature image: @carlysophia; @frankbody

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