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Image / Beauty

I stopped obeying this tanning rule, and now it goes on like a dream


By Aisling Keenan
18th Dec 2019
I stopped obeying this tanning rule, and now it goes on like a dream

There’s one tanning rule I’ve always obeyed, and that is to avoid moisturising your skin before you apply tan, lest it interfere with the process. But recently I stopped obeying it…


I’m not sure when I heard it first, but that was the rule. Apply tan onto clean skin, that was exfoliated and shaved at least 24 hours prior. I obeyed blindly, I suppose, for my whole tanning… career? That’s about 14 years of tanning and trying to make it work for me.

Testing the rule

I tried a new tan recently that came with a ‘primer’. I was confused. Surely — surely — they were out of their mind selling a moisturiser for before tan? No one will buy that!

But I decided to give it a go, based only on my assumption that someone intelligent wouldn’t make that poor a business decision. I tried it, tanned and slept.

tanning rule

Amanda Harrington Pre-Colour Primer Body

€25 from amandaharrington.com

The day after

I woke up and, first things first, I checked my hands. Usually, with a tanning disaster, they’re the first to alert me to the fact that I messed up. I looked in natural light expecting to find (a) no tan — it didn’t penetrate the moisturiser or (b) patchy tan that penetrated unevenly.

What I saw? Tanned hands. Natural looking, even, not patchy, no gathered rough bits, no darker bits. It looked like my hands had been in the south of France for three months. I was overjoyed. But what about the rest of me?

tanning rule

Cerave SA Smoothing Cream

€20 from boots.ie

My new tanning rule

Honestly, I’ll never look back. The rest of my body was even, golden and also exceptionally smooth. What had I been doing all these years not hydrating my skin before tanning? I’m not sure. And I can see why an oil-based moisturiser might not be the best idea, of course. But the three pictured here have been trialled and proved excellent as bases for tan.

My skin is happier and my hands and feet — the typically tricky bits — aren’t identifiably fake tanned. The dream!

tanning rule

Vaseline Spray and Go Body Moisturiser in Cocoa Radiant

€7.79 from boots.ie


Read more: The tan that works in just nine minutes

Read more: 15 of the best self-tans to suit your skin type and lifestyle

Read more: 3 Things You Never Knew About Self Tanning

Photo from Unsplash