Best Blog Design

Every Brides Fake Tan Bible

Step away from a bottle of the orange stuff until you’ve read this…!

So, real tans are not good for us. They lead to fine lines and a face that feels more leathery than your Chloe Mini Marcie bag. But rotten fake tans are not good for a wedding either! I got super-tanner Marissa Carter whose products are loved by the likes of Kim K and Little Mix, to spill some secrets to pulling off a convincing St Barts bronzing in seconds…

PRO … or NO?
If there’s one day you want to be sun-kissed rather than satsuma, it’s on your wedding day, right? We’ve all walked behind someone with ankles that look like they’ve been wading through rusty puddles. For brilliant results, nothing beats a fake tan applied by a therapist. Being buffed and bronzed by a pro feels so indulgent – plus if they’re really good, they can contour your tan to make you look slimmer! But if you can’t face getting your bits out in front of a stranger, you still can do it yourself. The key to success is patience and prep.

Did you know that your wedding gown can determine which shade of tan will suit you best.  Marissa warns that, “ivory dresses can make your skin look duller whereas white dresses can wash you out, particularly if you’re naturally pale.” Having a tan trial in advance will help you work out which shade will be your most flattering. Generally a light to medium tan looks best and won’t have you cringing over the photos in years to come. 

For the tan to look its absolute best, Marissa recommends you apply it two days before the wedding. “That way you can see what it’s like after showering when it’s settled in to your skin and there’s no chance of any rubbing off on your dress.” Plus, if for any reason it’s gone pear-shaped you’ve time to fix it!

Any waxing or shaving is best done at least 24 hours before you tan so that the pores are closed. Exfoliate first, if only to slough away remnants of older fake along with other oil-based products. Cheap exfoliating mitts in the shower will do, though if you fancy spoiling yourself, Cowshed’s Slender Cow Detoxifying Body Scrub, £34 is dreamy. Although I’ve seen some tans say otherwise, I don’t apply body lotion next. That’s a fast track to streak city in my little tanned book. A couple of other rules I abide by: don’t drink and tan (did someone say Donatella?) and clean your teeth first so you don’t run the risk of vampire dribbles! Marissa recommends Vaseline along your hairline, eyebrows and on your fingernails too. 

I always use a make-up sponge to apply tan to my face rather than using it neat with my fingers. I start from the centre and work out, blending as if my life depended on it. I use my face tanner on my neck too. 

I’d strongly recommend that you build up the colour gradually. Whether you’ve opted for a mousse, a spray or a lotion, use a mitt. Okay, so I’m quoting Marissa Carter throughout this post but that’s because I really like her Cocoa Brown products and in particular her Tanning Mitt. For just £3.99 it’s velvety soft and makes streak-free application so much easier (plus saves your palms from a scary “with this ring – on this orange-palmed hand – I thee wed” scenario.) If you start at the top, you’ll crease your stomach as you bend over, so start at your ankles and work up each leg before skimming the mitt, with whatever’s left on it over your feet. With fresh doses, do your bum, tummy, back, arms and chest in that order. Last stop is your hands, again with whatever’s left on your mitt.  

YOU F?$£%!D IT UP?
Sometimes mistakes can happen and it doesn’t have to mean the end of the world. Toothpaste works a treat on pesky patches and stained palms. If you’re looking to start from scratch, rather than covering your entire bod in Colgate, try soaking in a bath laced in baby oil followed by a brisk rub with a rough towel or try something like Bondi Sands Self Tan Eraser, £14.99. 

Baths are banned – stick to showers armed with a hydrating shower gel and some exfoliating mitts – and moisturise like a mad woman. 

Marissa warns against using instant wash off formulas as they come with the risk of rubbing onto your dress. So here’s my pick of self-tanners that won’t streak: 

Fave for a natural glow: Fake Bake Fair Self-Tan Lotion, £24.95

Fave for building up colour: Cocoa Brown Gentle Bronze Gradual Tan, £6.99

Fave for face: Elemis Total Glow Bronzing Face Moisturiser, £31

Fave for sticking around: Vita Liberata pHenomenal 2-3 Week Self Tan Mousse, £37.50

Fave for absolute ease: St Tropez Gradual Tan In Shower Lotion, £14.50

Fave for last minute (fake) suntan: Cocoa Brown 1 Hour Tan Mousse, £7.99


Do you have any extra tips or tricks to getting sunlessly sun-kissed? And how gorgeous is this bridal bikini from Afina London?

Sarah x

Follow on Bloglovin


  • Thanks . Great post. Good tips and recommmendations. We’ve all made fake tan mistakes but a wedding day is the worst time for it to happen

    3 years ago : Dionne
  • I have devoured this post. It’s choc full of great tips and recommendations. Brilliant! Bettie xx

    4 years ago : Bettuebettuebettie
  • Yes! I lustedxafter this bikini on holiday and now I know where to buy it from! Fab tips too – I’m all about my year round tan

    4 years ago : Romilly
  • Gorgeous bikini …. that’s ordered and on its way 👙👙👙x

    4 years ago : Indy
  • 6 hours ago : thanks! And thanks for sharing your great posts every week!cialis online

    4 years ago : Cialisonline
  • Oh god I’ve not considered colour of tan vs colour if dress but when I think about it I do see how an ivory dress can make you look dirty!!!! Def something to mention to my tanner. Thanks. Ellie xxx

    4 years ago : Ellie
  • If it goes wrong, go swimming! Just swim quickly though so you don’t get the blame for the brown water!

    4 years ago : Lucinda
  • My tips: tan at night, don’t dress immediately, don’t apply facial products and remember to wipe between your fingers and toes. I don’t think you have to spend loads. I’m going to try the cocoa brown products you recommend but up til now I’ve never paid more than Rimmel sun shimmer prices. Why pay more when you really don’t need to? Julia x

    4 years ago : JRamsey
  • True story: I went to a wedding where the bride had fake tanned like an hour before the service. It must have been a wash off one because her happy tears streamed down her face, taking with them her fake tan. She actually got away with it on the day but looking back at the photos, she looks awful!

    4 years ago : Kellie
  • I use that Fake Bake one too, even though in other brands I might go for a medium. I really like the gentle sun kissed tone. I’d highly recommend it to brides. I’ve seen too many who go OTT on the fake tan. They look really odd against the groom – totally unnatural (esp if they’ve had their teeth whitened!)

    4 years ago : Mary
  • Great tips – I’d add checking the date on your can. I used the one I had last year (or maybe it was the year before…) anyway, it streaked and looking back wasn’t a cinch to blend. I should’ve forked out for a new one. So, brides, DON”T skimp on an old bottle of fake! Rhi xx

    4 years ago : Rhiane