Tanning Routine

With summer approaching, shorts, skirts and dresses are in abundance, but I’m still a pasty shade of pale from winter (just kidding, I’m this colour all year round). I try to stay out of the sun as much as possible, as I feel tanning naturally is just looking for trouble. People greatly underestimate the danger of the sun, which has led to skin cancer being the most common cancer type in the country. Whether you’re fair like me, or of a different skin tone, make sure you protect yourself from the sun as much as possible.

All that being said, I really do feel a lot more confident with a bit of a tan, I feel like my skin quality looks better and I can pull off darker lipsticks and makeup looks. So I end up fake-tanning fairly often. The trouble with being as pale as me, or with not tanning regularly, is that it’s very easy to overdo your tan, and end up looking orange (believe me, I’ve been there many a time). I’ve developed a fail-safe plan after much trial and error, so hopefully you guys don’t end up experiencing the same tanning nightmares as I have.

Step 1: Shave or wax

Start off with a clean slate. These types of hair removal can end up taking bits of skin off, leaving you with a patchy, uneven tan if you had already applied it. If you’re going to need to wax or shave a leg or an armpit here and there, try and time it so that you’re able to tan soon after, not before.

Step 2: Exfoliate using gloves

This really helps to ensure an even application. Certain areas on your body that get particularly dry, such as elbows, knees and knuckles, pick up the tanning mousse extra well, and leave you with nice, crispy looking dark bits, and not an even, all round glow. Using a pair of those exfoliation mitts from Clicks or Dischem, scrub away any dry skin cells to ensure a perfect application.

Step 3: Moisturise with a thin, fragrance free moisturiser

This is what improved the look of my tan the most. By applying a ‘watery’ moisturiser, like this one from Nivea,before applying the tanning mousse, I experienced no patchiness, and found that the tan spread better. Apply it to your whole body (face, hands and feet too) as you get out of the shower. Wait a few minutes for it to soak into your skin before going in with the mousse.

Step 4: Apply Caribbean Tan mousse with a Skinny Tan glove

When the moisturiser has dried down and feels as though it has been sufficiently absorbed, you’re ready to start with the mousse. It’s so important to use a glove like this one when applying your product. It halves the amount of time you’re going to need and leaves no room for error, as you can buff and spread the mousse evenly. I prefer the one from Skinny Tan for R129.00 to the one Caribbean Tan makes, as it lasts much better and doesn’t split at the seams.



This was the part that took me longest to get right: how much to pump out for each area of my body. So here’s my breakdown, in the order that I do it:

Lower leg (knee to toes): two pumps for the right leg, two pumps for the left. I pump it onto my glove then try to dot it over the area before I buff it in. Do the calf/shin area, then using what’s left on your glove, do your ankles and the tops of your feet, making sure you get in between your toes.

Upper leg (what’s left): another two pumps for each side. Ensure you have joined the two ‘sections’ of the leg, at the knee.

Hips and lower back: one pump for each side. Again, make sure you have buffed where each application meets.

Tummy and back (up to where a bra strap would start): one pump for my front half and one pump for my back.

Arms: two pumps for each side, one of which is for my lower arm (elbow to wrist), the other is for my upper arm (elbow to shoulder). I stop applying at my wrist, as I will blend onto my hands later. I also stop at the very beginnings of my shoulders, as I don’t try to do my back with such little product.



Décolletage, chest and underarms: one pump on each side of my neck. I try to blend a side at a time. If you’re unsure if you’ve missed a spot, or already done a particular area, don’t be afraid to go over it again as you blend it in. If you’ve worked quickly, there shouldn’t be any chance of dark spots where you have applied twice.

Neck and upper back: one pump on each shoulder. I get as far down my back as I can by reaching each hand over opposite shoulder (across my chest) and then as far up my back as I can by reaching my hand behind my back (like trying to touch your opposite shoulder blade from behind your back). At first you worry if you’ve managed to get your entire back, and then after sufficient twisting of your arms, you’re too tired to care.

Face and ears: taking what’s left on my glove (so no new product), I give my face one wipe. I try to join my ears to my cheeks, my jaw to my neck and so on, in order to not get any lines. It’s always better to wake up with a MUCH paler face than a MUCH too orange one… believe me.


Step 5: Stand awkwardly until dry


Now spend a few minutes standing around swinging your arms around until you’re ready to hop into a pair of dark pajamas and go to sleep. The next morning, voila! You’re a bronzed goddess.

Step 6: Maintain face tan with Dove’s gradual tanning moisturiser

As I spend more time and effort washing my face, and often use scrubs or masks, the tan on my face is the first to go. Instead of reapplying tan in the way mentioned above, I try to maintain it as I go, with a gradual tan, like this one from Dove. Because it’s gradual, the chance of making mistakes or streakiness is a lot less, and the thin consistency is perfect for not clogging my pores.

Step 7: Touch up mistakes or spots with Caribbean Tan spray tan

I really liked the idea of the convenience of a spray tan. No standing and waiting for it to dry, quick and easy application. But I find I have no control over it. Because there’s no indicator colour, I have no idea where I’ve sprayed and what I still need to do. That being said, I was particularly impressed with how little patchiness this left me with despite not really being sure what I’d sprayed or hadn’t sprayed. I now use this as more of a corrector than as a standalone product. If I slept funny and ended up rubbing all the tan off in one area, I can quite easily correct it using a spray of this here and there.

Hints and tips:

  • Don’t wash your hair during your shower before your application. Wet hair can wipe off tan from your shoulders and face. It’s also nice to wash your hair the next morning when you shower it off.
  • No need to worry too much about sleeping funny. I have never had any tan rub off onto my bed sheets or pajamas, and I’ve never been left with missing spots from where my face was on the pillow.
  • Like with every fake tan I have ever used, you will smell like a slightly burned biscuit the next morning. It’s not overwhelming or unbearable, and disappears with a shower.
  • Be careful of wearing white clothes the next day. I find that especially under my arms, or in areas where the outfit is constantly touching me, there can sometimes be an orange mark.

If you have any more tips you can share with me, or hilarious tanning disaster stories, I’d love to hear them! You can find me on Instagram, Twitter and even Pinterest! Can’t wait to hear from you.


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