Not Going on Vacation? Here’s How to Fake a Healthy Tan This Winter

Victoria Moorhouse
bronzer tips

Photo: ImaxTree

Fake it ’til you make it? Yeah, that goes for your tan, too. While we wouldn’t argue with a trip to Santorini (or really anywhere warm) this winter, we know it’s not the only way to get that sun-kissed glow. Thanks to seasonless self-tanning products and these expert tips, you can fake that glam vacation glow without stepping foot on a beach.

Try a Lighter, More Subtle Glow
Even if you did go on vacation for a week, we can bet you wouldn’t acquire the same tan you had back in July. If you’re slathering on SPF, you probably shouldn’t anyway. When you fake a glow in the winter, try to make it more subtle. St. Tropez skin finishing expert Sophie Evans says that to avoid looking unnatural, try a slightly lighter tan.

However, she does note there’s nothing to boost your confidence like an all-over glow—so don’t let the wintery weather dictate your decision. To get believable glow, she recommends using products like St Tropez Luxe Dry Oil ($50, and Luxe Facial Oil ($50, “These two products are super hydrating and conditioning to the skin and a touch lighter in color than a traditional self tanner,” Evans says. “So apply every 10 days, because these products are extremely hydrating, making the tan last longer.” For even more of a glow, she says you can add drops of the facial oil to your daily moisturizer.

Focus on Where the Sun Would Naturally Hit
If you’re in a pinch to fake that you were at the beach (when you were really catching up on Netflix), you can fib it a little by focusing on areas that the sun would hit naturally. Evans says that would be making the tops of the arms darker than the inner arms, as well as adding color to your cheeks and décolletage. “For this kind of look I would use the St. Tropez Dark Bronzing Spray ($44, and sweep over focal areas where the sun would naturally make you darker,” she says.

When it comes to quick bronzing sprays, you could also test out Kardashian Sun Kissed Instant Sunless Spray ($20, or LORAC TANtalizer Body Bronzing Spray ($33,

However, Evans notes that a professional self-tan is more about evening out the skin and hiding any blemishes, which she finds superior to a real tan. “I want someone to say “You look well,” rather than “You look tanned,” she says. “I’m making your skin look its ultimate best.”

So if a true, year-round glow is your motive, you might want to consider spending more time on tanning the entire body.

Try Wash-Off Formulas for a Quick Glow
Although we love gradual formulas like Jergens Natural Glow Moisturizer ($10,, you need a few days for these products to kick in. If you’re in a big hurry for a sun-kissed look, Evans says to stick to instant or wash-off cosmetic bronzers. Yep, even your makeup can really come in handy. Need some picks? We’ve long loved Laura Geller’s Bronze-n-Brighten ($33, and Dolce and Gabbana Glow Bronzing Powder ($54,

Test It Out First
The last thing you want to do is go nuts with self-tanner and realize that it’s not your shade. “Always patch test a new self-tanner and see if you like the color,  suggest Evans. “When you patch test a self-tan it’s normally better to do an area of about 3cm x 3cm or more—doing a very tiny patch can appear darker than it would normally appear.”

Don’t Overdo It
Layering on tons and tons of product is definitely not the answer, FYI. This is one of the things that Evans says will definitely make your tan unbelievable. “If you keep adding more and more layers of tan, the self-tan, no matter how good it is, will struggle to develop to a natural color,” she notes. “Two layers of self-tan application a week is enough for even the seriously sunkissed.”

You might think exfoliating is a bad idea when you’re wearing self-tanner, but it actually keeps your color looking way better. “This will prevent any tan or color build-up and ensure that your tan is always fading evenly,” explains Evans. “People would not imagine how important it is to exfoliate while the tan is on.”

She suggests exfoliating 2-3 days a week when you’re wearing the product with a gentle body polisher, which she says won’t rip or tear the skin. “A light exfoliation every few days will keep the color even and also prevent darker color build-up from regular self tanner applications,” she says.

Hey, we’ll do anything to steal that just-off-the-beach glow!

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