Pro tips for using fake tan to cover those tan lines

Cover tan lines with fake tan

Bikini lines ruining a strapless dress look? No dramas

Beauty Crew Editor / June 02 2019

While we’d never condone a summer sunbaking session (you know, because of the sun damage that UV rays cause), sometimes tan lines are inevitable. Whether from the design of your bikini or one-piece, or from the straps of your singlet or sports bra, even the slightest hint of colour can leave your skin tone uneven with sun-tan lines paired with patches of pale skin. 

And if there’s one thing tan lines can ruin in an instant, it’s a good outfit – especially when it comes to special occasions. That gorgeous strapless dress you’re planning on wearing to a wedding? Tainted by wearing your triangle bikini top so often. Or that saucy low-back top that you picked out for New Year’s Eve? The strap tan line of your swimmers will now make it look like you’re wearing a bra anyway. 

Thankfully, we have just the beauty tips for these fun-in-the-sun side effects – and it obviously doesn’t involve spending extra time in said sun. Nope, St. Tropez’s Skin Finishing Expert Michael Brown has some choice tips on how to get rid of tan lines. Turns out, a little fake tan can go a long way to even out your skin tone to temporarily erase those bad tan lines. 

So here’s what you need to do the next time you’re in a tan line dilemma.


TOP TIP: If you can, Brown recommends getting a professional spray tan as this will work more effectively and precisely to darken those lighter areas.


Be tactical with your application

An all-over fake tan application is sadly not going to help those tan lines, shares Brown. 

“[Fake] tan works like foundation – it adds colour and evens out your skin tone. But, if the natural skin tone is uneven, whether that is [due to] pigmentation, or in this case tan lines, you may need extra coverage or even a deeper shade to be able to conceal and even out the [lighter] area.”

Your best bet is to focus your fake tanning efforts on the lighter areas that need darkening, and skip the rest of your body.




Choose the right fake tan colour

Think about the colour you are trying to match when fixing up your tan lines. If you’ve bronzed up from summer and are a few shades darker than your natural skin tone, then you need to treat it differently than if you’re just a shade or two darker. 

Brown’s advice? If your tan lines are very subtle, you can use your regular sunless tanner to spot-apply to the lighter area. But if you’ve got some serious tan lines to deal with, Brown says it’s best to “go one shade [darker] to have an even blend. So, if you use St. Tropez Classic, try the Dark formula on lighter areas for a perfect fade”.

ST Tropez tan


Pick the best fake tan finish

For the most natural tan result, you want your spot-fake tanned area to look just like your regular skin, so a self-tanner with a matte finish is going to be your best bet. Brown’s advice? Avoid anything with a glossy finish.

“For at-home use, I love [a] mousse formula as it’s easy to control and not as messy for these [precise] application methods as a lotion or mist. For instant coverage and to even tan lines, the St. Tropez Instant Tan is great. [It’s] like a wash-off bronzer – you can instantly tone down the appearance of uneven tan lines.”

If you haven't found a mousse formula you love, try Le Tan Instant Foaming Mousse or Bondi Sands Self Tanning Foam.

Mousse tans


Have the proper tools and technique

Once you’ve got the right fake tan ready to go, it helps to know how to tailor your fake tan application exclusively for tan line patch-ups. 

For larger areas, Brown recommends using a tanning mitt. “I use just the rounded edge of the mitt, and like foundation, you use a press and roll, or dabbing application, to build coverage on lighter areas for extra coverage.” If you’re trying to cover a smaller area – bikini strap lines for example – you’ll need to go a bit smaller with your application tool, says Brown. “A [small] makeup brush or a beautyblender-type sponge [works] for thinner areas and dabbing is best to build coverage,” he says.

If you're looking for some more targeted tanning tips, make sure to read up on how to fake tan your face.

Looking for the best body scrub for fake tan removal? These will scrub away your dead skin cells and remove tan (without leaving a mess in your shower).

Do you have any tried-and-tested tanning tricks? Please share with us in the comments section below.

Main image credit: Getty

Carli was BEAUTYcrew’s Editor from launch in 2016 until May 2020. You can find her words right here on BEAUTYcrew, and previously on beautyheaven.