BEAUTY CLINIC: Self-tan tips for dry skin

Jo and Sarah answer real questions from readers: to put your query, go to

Q We’re off on a beach holiday and I want to arrive with a bit of colour. Problem is, a self-tan never looks great when I do it. My skin tends to be dry – I’m mid 40s, pre-menopausal… and it looks a bit lizard-like, especially on neck and my upper chest (and the rest…). Help please!

A Our mantra for skin is moisturise, moisturise, moisturise and self-tan expert James Harknett says this is the key to success. ‘Many of my clients are women around my age (46) and in their 50s, 60s and 70s. They tell me all about the challenges they face including changes in skin texture, with especially dry, uneven skin tone on chest, arms and legs.’

His advice is ‘really up the skincare top to toe for a few days before you start applying self-tan. Then applying and maintaining your tan is much easier.’

James recommends investing in skincare for the neck and below. ‘Hyaluronic acid [HA] is a key ingredient in plumping up skin. Beauty Pie Superactive Capsules contain HA and peptides and are ideal for the décolletage as they are non-greasy and the delivery system means you get a fresh burst of ingredients with every use.’

For the rest of the body James rates Garnier Body Repair Body Lotion Dry Skin, £5.45 for a whopping 400ml. ‘It’s a cult moisture provider, which both replenishes skin and protects the barrier.’ Do also make sure that you use an intensive product, eg CeraVe Moisturising Cream for dry to very dry skin, on feet and any other really dry areas. £8.49 for 177ml.  

We always suggest exfoliating thoroughly with your favourite body scrub a couple of times before applying self-tan on your body. There are lots of great products including Sanctuary Spa Salt Scrub, £13 for 650g, which our Beauty Bible testers loved. 

Modern self-tanning ranges include products that are packed with skincare ingredients as well as giving body blurring effects (yay!). We once stood next to a fairly curvy swimwear model in the Ladies at a big show who cheerfully pointed out her cellulite but told us that a good coating of self-tan disguised it brilliantly. It also goes a long way towards camouflaging blemishes and bothersome veins.

James is brand ambassador for Fake Bake so, not surprisingly, he recommends their Coconut Tanning Serum for Face and Body, £29.95 for 148ml. We’re happy to go with that as it’s light-textured and contains HA as well as moisturising coconut oil and glycerin plus antioxidants so the serum helps to moisturise skin so it sits more evenly. 

For more tried & tested recommendations, see Beauty Bible Awards Suncare categories here. 

If you’re worried about going OTT on your face, just mix a little with your moisturiser and stroke it on in little circles as you would for skincare, James suggests. ‘It’s tinted so you won’t miss anywhere.’

When applying self-tan on your body do use a tanning mitt. It gives a much smoother and more even finish and you won’t get orange palms… (Ideally, do as Fake Bake suggest and wear plastic gloves.)

When it comes to hands, knees, ankles and feet, use minimal amounts of product mixed with your body lotion as the tan can look darker on these areas and tends to gather in any wrinkles.

If you like to be covered up and just show your ankles and feet, James suggests gradual tanner. ‘Sisley’s Self Tanning Hydrating Lotion is easy to apply, dries fast and gives just enough coverage to boost confidence.’

Finally, please remember that self-tans do NOT give UV protection so all the usual rules apply: see Cancer Research UK guidelines on ways to enjoy the sun safely. 

Beauty Bible loves… 

Pukka Turmeric Gold Tea, £5.98 for 40 sachets. 

Spice is nice but bright golden turmeric might just have the edge. We asked a 40-year old friend who’d had adult acne how come her complexion looked so clear and bright… Answer: a daily cup of turmeric tea.

Turmeric is the must-add spice for giving flavour and depth to dishes such as curries and stir-fries. Like many herbs and spices, turmeric is a true health-enhancer, brilliant as an anti-inflammatory for aches and pains and also shown to have activity against cancer cells (see here for more on that).

Like many herbs and spices, turmeric is a true health-enhancer, brilliant as an anti-inflammatory for aches and pains and also shown to have activity against cancer cells

But that’s not all, turmeric – known as the ‘Golden Goddess’ in India, with its own festival that’s just taken place – is a natural skin clearer and beautifier. Inflammation is a big factor in skin problems such as acne and eczema, causing the unsightly redness and swelling, as well as soreness.

As well as being anti-inflammatory, the main constituent of turmeric – curcumin – has strong antioxidant activity, which can discourage wrinkles and help keep your skin looking younger longer. The natural polyphenols (a type of antioxidant) help prevent moisture loss, encourage collagen production and also protect against free radical damage.

So turmeric helps defend your skin from environmental pollutants including UV, and it may also benefit people with skin conditions such as psoriasis and vitiligo, which can involve free radical damage.

Turmeric tea (we get ours from Victoria Health – here) is seen as one of the effective ways to consume this golden spice. But do remember to follow Pukka’s directions and add a bag to boiled water then leave for 15 minutes, otherwise it won’t be as well absorbed.