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 / December 20 2017

While we’d never condone a summer sunbaking session, 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 tan lines. 

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 solution – and it obviously doesn’t involve spending extra time in the sun. Nope, St. Tropez’s Skin Finishing Expert Michael Brown has some choice tips on how a little fake tan can go a long way to evening out your skin tone to temporarily erase those annoying 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 fake tan 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 result, you want your spot-fake tanned area to look just like your regular skin, so a fake tan 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.

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

Image: Getty

Carli is BEAUTYcrew’s Editor and has been since the site launched in 2016. She is currently on a quest to find the perfect medium-coverage foundation for combination skin, is trying to narrow down her mascara collection to just three, and is embracing the power of AHAs. You can find her words right here on BEAUTYcrew, and previously on beautyheaven.