Learn how to buff & blend your way to the most beautiful glow ever

Self-tan is our go-to for getting a sun-kissed glow all year round. Mastering how to do it at home? That can be a tricky one – especially if you’ve got pale skin. We spoke to tanning expert and Isle of Paradise founder, Jules Von Hep, who has bronzed everyone from Little Mix to Kate Moss, to find out how to master the tricks of the trade. From how to brush up on your technique to picking the right formula for different skin types, here are his golden rules for streak-free perfection.

First, what do I need to know about fake tan if I have super fair skin?

‘Self-tan is for everyone,’ says Jules. ‘Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s unsuitable for pale skin. I’ve worked with the palest skin tones, right through to the darkest. Great self-tan should mimic a vacation, with the tired grey undertones disappearing. Your skin should glow – no matter its depth.’

How do I pick the right shade of fake tan for pale skin?

‘If you’re nervous, select your tan like you select make-up,’ suggests Jules. ‘For paler skin tones, I recommend using lighter, hydrating formulas.’ And if you want to enhance the colour? ‘One coat of a medium tan will roughly equal two coats of a light tan, and one coat of a dark tan will roughly equal two coats of a medium tan.’

How do I pick the right fake tan formula?

‘Dry skin should avoid mousse and look toward self-tan waters or drops, as this will help aid hydration,’ explains Jules.

Tanning lotions, creams and gradual tans can be great for paler skin types, as they’re buildable, meaning you can tailor results to your skin tone. They are also ideal for daily use, as results tend to be more subtle. Is your skin more on the oily side? Not only is a mousse fab for a darker, more dramatic tan, but it can be a great option for those who are more shine-prone, as they can be slightly more drying.

How do I prep my skin before tanning?

Jules advises: ‘Remove any hair at least a day prior to application and exfoliate with a dry brush or body scrub for optimal application and fading. Always use a tan primer, too – you wouldn’t put make-up on without a primer, so why tan without one?’

Should I moisturise before tanning?

‘Yes,’ says Jules. ‘Apply an aloe vera-based moisturiser to your hands, elbows, knees and feet – including the heels. If you’re fair-haired, apply some to your hairline and eyebrows.’

How do I apply my tan?

‘A mitt protects the tan from absorbing into the hands, but also helps distribute the product evenly – it’s my go-to.’

How do I help my tan fade without patches?

‘Avoid harsh exfoliation, but using “the tickle technique” is helpful. Simply use an exfoliating body wash to “tickle” the tan off after it's been on your skin for four or five days. It will help the tan fade more evenly,’ explains Jules.

How can I remove fake tan?

‘If you want total, complete tan removal, I recommend using the Isle of Paradise Over It Magic Self-Tan Eraser (£17.95),’ says Jules. ‘Simply spray on to the skin, create a lather and leave for five minutes.’

How long does fake tan last?

Fake tan should last around five days. One of the best ways to prolong your tan? ‘Keep hydrated,’ says Jules. ‘Drink water and moisturise every day – it will help skin hold on to the colour for longer.’

Our pick of the best fake tan products for pale skin
The best tanning water for pale skin

Try: Isle of Paradise Self-Tanning Water Light (£18.95)

• Size: 200ml

• Vegan

• Cruelty-free

This dreamy self-tanning water contains colour-correcting tanning actives and a peach base for a natural, sun-kissed glow with no streaks, biscuity smell or orange tones. Light and hydrating, it leaves skin looking brighter and more even.

The best facial tan for pale skin

Try: Tan-Luxe The Face llluminating Self-Tanning Drops Light/Medium (£36)

• Size: 30ml

• Cruelty-free

A multi award-winner for a reason, these gorgeous self-tanning drops can be teamed with your favourite moisturiser for easy customisation. Just two drops is ideal for those with pale skin,  leaving behind a natural-looking, streak-free glow.

The best tanning milk for pale skin

Try: Bondi Sands Pure Gradual Tanning Milk (£12.99)

• Size: 200ml

• Vegan

• Cruelty-free

• Non-comedogenic

Whether you’re after a subtle sun-kissed bronze, or want to build to a more dramatic shade, this is a wonder product. Bursting with skin-loving ingredients like hyaluronic acid for moisturising and vitamin C for brightening, you’ll be left looking radiant.

The best subtle tan for pale skin

Try: Clarins Radiance-Plus Golden Glow Booster For Face (£21)

• Size: 15ml

• Non-comedogenic

Tanning newbie? We’ve got you covered. Introducing Clarins Glow Booster for your face, a simple way to create a flawless golden tan on even the lightest of complexions. Just add to any of your skincare products to give it a sun-kissed twist. The end results? Beautifully understated.

The best wash-off tan for pale skin

Try: Vita Liberata Body Blur Lighter Light (£30)

• Size: 100ml

Love the look of self-tan, but a little worried about the commitment? Enter the ultimate wash-off body make-up for glowing skin. A celebrity favourite, this product adds colour while perfecting the appearance of skin tone and texture. Our top pale skin tip? Blend with a make-up brush for the most undetectable finish.

The best tanning drops for pale skin

Try: Drunk Elephant D-Bronzi™ Anti-Pollution Sunshine Drops (£30)

• Size: 30ml

• Cruelty-free

Brimming with fatty acids, this formula is sunshine in a bottle – without the UV damage. Lighter skin tones should add a drop to their moisturiser or serum to gradually build a beautiful glow.

The best cult classic for pale skin

Try: St Tropez Luxe Whipped Crème Mousse (£33)

• Size: 200ml

Skin texture on the blotchy side? Look no further. This cult classic has had a revamp and is now brimming with supercharged ingredients, including echinacea. It’s a great boost in winter months.

The best skin-perfecting tan for pale skin

Try: This Works Perfect Legs Skin Miracle Serum (£38)

• Size: 120ml

• Cruelty-free

Suitable for even the palest of complexions, this lightweight tinted serum combines vitamin C and E with arnica, to soothe skin while it drapes limbs with an illuminating hint of caramel colour. It’s the perfect body care upgrade to step into summer.

The best budget tan for pale skin

Try: Garnier Summer Body Hydrating Gradual Tan Moisturiser Light (£6.49)

• Size: 250ml

• Vegan

This gradual tanner builds a natural-looking bronzed glow that’s the perfect match for lighter skin tones. Enriched with apricot oil, it keeps skin soft and hydrated and, at 250ml, it provides plenty of bang for your buck, too.

The best premium tan for pale skin

Try: Tan-Luxe, The Crème, Advanced Hydration Self-Tan Face Crème (£40)

• Size: 65ml

We’ve tried and tested this new launch from Tan-Luxe and we can confirm it’s amazing for pale complexions. Full of skin-nourishing ingredients, simply take a pea-sized amount and apply daily to keep skin glowing from the inside – and on the outside.

All prices correct at date of publication