The following article was published in the Financial Times on 2nd June 2007:
The acceptability (if not necessity) for bare legs to be on show in summer city dressing has resulted in a spate of dedicated tanning products. The easiest formulas to use on legs are the tinted gels, lotions and mousses because they are easier to control during application and the bronze tint shows where the product has been applied, which helps ensure an even application.
Most leg-specific products tend to include a shimmer finish, which is deemed to be flattering on limbs. Top marks in this category go to Lancôme’s Self Tanning Leg Gel, (£19.50), which develops into a natural-looking tan, and California Tan Bronzing and Firming Sunless Moisturiser (£20) which gives a lighter final colour and is also ideal for prolonging a tan. “Market research shows that it’s a look people are happy to have on their legs, yet they don’t want the same look on their stomach or arms,” explains Lina Ghazal, Lancôme’s UK Product Manager for Suncare, though she says some women use the products on the rest of the body.
For an easy, all-over, fake tan Johnson & Johnson created a stir last year with its Holiday Skin, (£4.99), essentially a body lotion that includes a small amount of DHA, the tanning ingredient in fake tans. The idea is to apply it every day to slowly build up a light, golden tan. It doesn’t streak and is pretty much foolproof, but beauty therapist Nichola Joss, whose clients include Cate Blanchett and Scarlett Johansson, says there is one caveat with products like this. “The colour tends to be a little more yellow than the reddy-brown of fake tan,” she says. She advises that they’re most effective when used for a couple of weeks at a time. Still, fans of the Johnson & Johnson product swear by its quality. Also noteworthy in this category are the new St Tropez Everyday, (£13), Estée Lauder Golden Naturally Radiant Moisturiser, which includes shimmer pigments (£21), and Crabtree & Evelyn La Source Moisturising Body Glow, (£12), all of which provide a good base colour.
Spray tans, even those in an aerosol, are best left to the experienced to apply. The inclination is to spray too close to the skin and then rub it in – the opposite to how they should be used and why they often result in streaky, patchy colour. Those determined to go it alone could try Dior’s new Self Tanning Natural Glow Spray which gives a believable, dark tan which is better suited to darker skin tones. Bliss’s A Tan For All Seasons, (£26), is also worth the risk and gives a good golden glow.
For a deeper leg colour, consider full-strength self tan. Keep your skin tone in mind when choosing one as some give a darker result than others. To make choices easier brands including Piz Buin and Garnier have introduced a colour grading system which ranges from pale, to medium to dark. This means that varying concentrations of DHA have been included to give varying degrees of end colour, so a pale skin would be best suited to a lighter formula and so on. Palmer Cutler Self Tanning Milk in light-medium is a good all-rounder, (£15).
As for application, the basics are simple but important. Joss recommends exfoliating and moisturising legs for four or five days prior. “It will take more than a day to slough off the dead cells. Dry skin is porous, so will drink up anything applied to it; the fake tan will go straight to dry areas and cluster.” That means streaks.
Smooth a dollop of fake tan about the size of a 50p piece between your palms and rub over the top of the foot lightly, avoiding heel and ankles. Move up the leg “using large, circular, sweeping motions,” advises Joss. Avoid the knee and work up to the bikini line then across the bottom. Pat knees, ankles, toes and heels lightly with palms – the residue will give them enough colour. Latex gloves or a special mitt will protect hands and ease application; otherwise remember to wash hands thoroughly after the process.
If disaster strikes, there are corrector products such as St Tropez Self Tan Remover, but these need to be used within four hours of application.