The Future’s Bright The Future’s NOT Orange

Fake Tan.

It is the bane of my life.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind being “pale and interesting” the majority of the time, I am after all a blue-eyed natural blonde and that’s just the skin colouring I got given to compliment it.

What isn’t so simple though is how to tackle fairer than fair limbs on W-day if you are wearing a white or ivory gown. I certainly didn’t want my body to morph into the silk folds.

And really what are the options?

A bit of real sunshine?

A bit of fake sunshine?

Ah now then…… this is the bit where I have a few seconds preaching ( apologies in advance if I sound like your Mum/Gran/Teacher from school)

DO NOT what ever you do take a few trips to the electric beach.

Sunbeds are not big. They are not clever. And they are not safe.

I had a many a dalliance with MR UV tube between the ages of 17 and 19. I worked in a big fancy department store, the girls I worked with were all glossy and lithe and VERY VERY brown so naturally I wanted a bit of that seemingly calafornian glow for myself.

And do you know what my cuppupance for 2 years of beachy bronze was?

Being diagnosed with melanoma at the age of 25. I have a rather unattractive scar down my right calve to prove it.

I really don’t want anyone ever to go through the same thing I did. And that’s all I’m saying on the subject.

Right then off my soapbox and on to the point of this post – how to get a great tan in a short space of time without potential skin damage.

Products The RMW Team rate:


1) St Tropez Mousse – great for darker skins in particular, Rebecca’s ( and many an A-lister) favourite.
2) L’Oreal Sublime Bronze – great for medium skins, has a pretty shimmer and is very moisturising, Melissa’s favourite.
3) Piz Buin Summer Sensation – the fair/medium shade is great for pale princesses who need a bit of colour, my favourite.

Fake Tan as some of you will know works by the ingredient dihydroxyacetone (DHA) reacting with your skin. The more DHA added to the product the “darker” the tan will be. It is also DHA reacting with your skin that gives off that odd biscuity scent. If the hob-nob odour literally makes you want to gag we have found that the Piz Buin and L’Oreal versions above manage to mask the smell reasonably well with a pleasant floral fragrance.

So then – what to do with these bottles of bling……

1) Exfoliate exfoliate exfoliate.

Streakyness ( is that even a word?) is often caused by too much dead skin. I make sure I exfoliate every day for at least 3 days before I intend on application. I use the Body Shop Cocoa Butter exfoliator as it has really nice scrubby bits that feel as though they are actually doing something without making you red raw resembling a giant tomato.

2) Moisturise moisturise moisturise.

I do this every night after a shower anyway but in the run up to tan time I pay extra attention to knees, elbows and other potential flaky areas. I rate Vaseline intensive rescue moisture locking body lotion – unfragranced.

Have to make a point here though, I don’t apply moisturiser just before fake tan, some do I know but I don’t – I get a better result without.

3) Use gloves

I find the tan spreads easier and avoids that tangoed palm look. ( If you don’t use gloves please make sure you scrub your hands afterwards paying particular attention to the nail beds). After removal of gloves be sure to blend tan into the back of your hands using a cotton pad. White hands with brown arms is not a good look either.


…for it to sink in. I know there are these claims of “get dressed in just five minutes!” but I think that’s wishful thinking. I aim for a good twenty minutes of not putting any clothes on ( a good time to paint toenails, give yourself a face mask etc) then I aim to wear something loose and cool. I certainly always wait a good hour before going to bed/putting on my jeans.

(For reference 99% of the time I apply fake tan a few hours before taking myself off to the land of zzzzz. Just be prepared for your white sheets to be not so white if you use a tinted version….)

Of course now if you want a more gradual build up there are lots of products specifically for this purpose on the market. Apply for 4 days or so up to the Big Day and you should be the proud owner of a gorgeous subtle glow.

What we rate:


1) Dove Summer Glow
2) Johnson’s Holiday Skin
3) Piz Buin Summer Sensation gradual tan ( I’ve tried them all and NOTHING beats Piz Buin for me – and it’s not too pricey either)

Certainly practice before your wedding day, ESPECIALLY if you are considering having a “professional” treatment at a salon. I’m not sure any bride would want to resemble an Oompa Loompa.

We would LOVE to hear about your fake tan experiences, the products you rate and why and anything we should know about transforming into bronzed goddesses….

A lot of tanned ( not orange) Love

Charlotte xxx

Author: Charlotte O’Shea
Purveyor of short shorts. Make-up junkie. Hopes to grow old disgracefully.

15 thoughts on “The Future’s Bright The Future’s NOT Orange

  1. I have had no luck with tanning for real or fake tan, I stay in the shade caked in sun-block for fear of instant burning. ‘m far too lazy to fake tan often but I would like to wear short skirts in the summer and my legs look like two fluorescent tubes! I’ll be giving Charlottes choice a go. Thanks for the advice x

  2. I just wanted to say thank you sooo much for featuring something like this and discussing your story Charlotte. Only lastnight I was reading a post on another forum from a bride wanting to turn to sunbeds to make her more beautiful for her wedding day and found myself yelling at the computer!
    My best friend has had two malignant melanomas and is currently waiting for the results on a possible 3rd, and this is all at the age of 25! My mother and Grandmother have also gone through this, all 3 bare nasty physical and emotional scars as a reminder- but it could have been much worse. So ladies its really not worth it! Please take Charlottes advice and try faking it, it’s really not that bad when you get the hang of it- coming from another blue eyed, bright white skinned blonde! x x x

  3. I never get on well with fake tans and I have to admit I have used sunbeds……i know tut tut….but like Monica i’m also to lazy to use fake tan on a regular basis.

    I have had some successful professional spray tans Beubronz and unsuccesful Fake Bake (think it was bad because the lady did me in the darkest shade….it was horrific)

    Charlotte what did you do on your wedding day, as you looked fab very natural and healthy looking with no orange hands in site!?

  4. Hi Ladies

    Thanks so much for your comments, I’m never sure how popular these not necessarily wedding related posts are going to be – especially when you put a bit of yourself into them.

    Shelly I really hope your friend has a benign result, I get checked regularly because I was so young and it’s always a horrible time waiting for the result.

    Emma thanks Hun! I used Piz Buin fake tan 2 nights before then the gradual version the night before. I also used a spray on shimmer spray on my arms and collar bone for the day ( a pale gold shimmer not bronze, by Model co at Space NK)

    Monica let me know how you get on Pet!

    Charlotte xxx

  5. Good work Charlotte;

    This is one of the (many) co-incidences Charlotte and I have discovered between us.

    My Dad sadly died when I was 13 of Melanoma, leaving my sister too aged 8. Even if you don’t consider the damage you might be doing yourself by using sunbeds, think about those you would be leaving behind.

    Thanks for making such an important point.


  6. Charlotte these posts are brilliant – they’re thought provoking and everyone can relate to the issues brought up, so more more more we love these.

    On a serious not i’m horrified to hear of what happened to you and commend you for giving us all a right royal telling off for even thinking of using sunbeds – they should be banned. But then so should smoking… but that’s a whole other soapbox I will give a wide berth ( i could rant for hours)

    Rebecca also really sorry to hear of your Dad. big hug for you x

    It certainly pays to be pale and interesting and you both looked so blimmin sexy on your wedding days I could have spewed on my keyboard with jealousy when reading your wedding reports. Well that’s a bit extreme actually, I would hate to actually spew on my keyboard because i love my laptop so much, but I certainly was green with envy, i’m sure you get my point.

    I can recommend the St Tropez and the Piz Buin. Johnsons is alright but smells like curried play doh on my skin

    Also a heads up on Fake Bake – it goes off. I didn’t realise this until I applied some at bedtime and woke up green.

    Lots of love

    Jenny xx

  7. Wow, it seems that melanomas have affected many of us here! I myself have had a malignant melanoma diagnosed when I was just 15 years old, it was removed immediately from my elbow but luckily it hadn’t spread. I now live with being pale and interesting, except of course when the St tropez comes out for special occasions!

    I hope this article makes people think twice about sunbeds and sunbathing, its really not worth it, especially when there are so many great products out there now.

  8. I’ve just started using Sally Hansen and would highly recommend it. It’s an instant spray, nice colour and doesn’t leave you with brown hands!

  9. Charlotte,
    I’ve had a spot on my arm for a month or so which hasn’t gone. I’m going to go and get it checked on Monday

  10. Hi ladies!

    I just wanted to say that the “not necessarily wedding related posts” are probably my favourite ones! I love the beauty and fashion stuff – I know we should all be looking our very best on our wedding days, but I like the tips for looking nicer all the time too 🙂 It’s great to have info thats transferable to every day.

    Keep up the great work!

    Amy xx

    Ps: Where have the “What The Wife Liked This Week” posts gone – I loved them! x

  11. I would just like to to say so sorry for overlooking the trauma that you experienced Charlotte! I, like a true artist, went straight to the pictures and did not take in the words of wisdom that you kindly spoke before them. What a massive thing to go through and how lucky you and your family are that you got through it. Big love and hugs xx

  12. Hi Charlotte,

    Great post! I’m going to bookmark this. I have a fear of being pale and pasty on my wedding day having never used sunbeds or fake tan before!

  13. Hi girls,

    Thanks for the Fake tan post as I am so white I am almost pale blue, I used St.Tropez for around two years not being completely happy with it but thinking for the price it must be great. Every time I had a photo taken wearing St.Tropez my whiter than white skin just shone through making me look like I had no features other than eyes.
    Somebody told me to try one from ASDA, Strange I know but I tried it anyway as it was only £2 something… BARGAIN!
    Once the tan was applied and ready to go for my night out I did the trusty camera test, I was so pleased that I didn’t actually look poorly.RESULT!!!!!

  14. This post is so helpful, my wedding is in December and I have this great fear that I’m going to look blue in the pictures if I do not bronze a little before-hand.I’ve tried loads of DIY tans (some with disastrous results) One time in particular where I managed to accidentally spray the soles of my feet…… took weeks to get it off. Anyway, I digress, what about the tan rubbing off on my lovely white dress? Will I end up with a grubby tide mark around the edge of my dress and how can I avoid?

    Carlie x

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