The correct way to tan your hands and feet


The tips you needed yesterday

Beauty Crew Beauty Writer / July 30 2021

There’s nothing worse than thinking you’ve absolutely nailed your fake tan, only to find out your hands and feet are a streaky, patchy, way-too-dark mess. (Sad face).

According to tanning master and founder of Isle of Paradise, Jules Von Hep, these areas are just waiting to catch you out. “Hands and feet are the biggest giveaway of the fact that you’ve got fake tan on, so these are the areas you need to pay the most attention to,” he says. “If you do it right, your tan will look real."

So, how does one do it right? Well, you can buy the best self-tanner out there, but if your technique isn’t right, you’re going to end up looking like a splotchy mess, period. To help you out, we’ve rounded up Von Hep’s best tips for self-tanning your hands and feet.


Moisturise fingers and heels beforehand

It’s all in the prep, you guys. The skin around your hands, feet, ankles, and elbows can be extra dry, so it’s important to give them a little love before applying fake tan. According to Von Hep, not moisturising these areas pre-tanning will set you up for disaster (read: your hands and feet will look like a patchy nightmare). “The biggest mistake people make is not moisturising their hands and not moisturising their feet beforehand. When you don’t do this, it’s a big giveaway.”


Don’t overdo it

We don’t know who needs to hear this, but you don’t need a whole heap of extra formula for your lil old hands and feet. “People will often put their hands in a claw [shape] and pump mousse onto the mitt and then tan their hands. The skin on your hands and feet is so absorbent, so you just need the tiniest amount of tan,” says Von Hep. “Just use the tan that you already have on the rest of your body and sweep it down onto your hands, and that’s more than enough product.”


Use sweeping (not circular) motions

This is a serious game-changer, and we wish we’d known this AGES ago: If you’re currently applying your fake tan in a circular motion (on your hands, feet OR body), stop. “When you’re tanning, imagine that you’re brushing a coat and you will get a much more even result,” says Von Hep. “If you’re doing it in a circular motion your tan is going to fade so unevenly because you’re not putting it on in a uniform way.”


Blend your wrists

Another surefire way to blow your DIY bronzing is via crazy dark wrists. Because who sunbaths their wrists all holiday long? Von Hep says, “Apply a tiny bit of tan on the insides of your wrists, put a towel on the back of your door and rub your wrists together [on the towel]. You need to blend your tan in this area and doing this will ensure the colour is soft and natural-looking.”


Wipe fingernails

The last thing you want to do after applying fake tan is to get your hands wet. But you also don’t want to ruin your manicure. The solution? Crack open a packet of wet wipes and clean your nails and fingertips one by one to remove any excess colour. You can also place a wet wipe in between your palms and gently rub your hands together to remove any leftover tanner.


Apply moisturiser immediately after

After applying your tan, Von Hep suggests re-moisturising your hands and feet (you can use hand cream or body cream for this), before your tan starts developing. “This smooths everything out and makes your tan more even by softening the amount of product on your hands and feet,” says Von Hep.

If you’ve still not got it quite right (it’s okay, it takes practice!), always have a fake tan eraser on hand, like Isle of Paradise Over It Magic Self Tan Eraser ($36 at Mecca) or Bondi Sands Self-Tan Eraser ($13.99 at Chemist Warehouse). You can thank us later. 

If you’re looking for self-tan then boy have we got a treat for you. These are our go-to self-tanning products for a bronze glow every day of the year.

Main image credit: @elyseknowles

Erin Docherty is a Beauty Writer for BEAUTYcrew, Beauty Editor for Women's Health magazine and a Grooming Writer for Men's Health magazine. She has a keen interest in cosmeceutical skin care and is currently working on minimising her 9-step skin care routine – because ain’t nobody got time for that. When she’s not writing about the latest beauty news, or applying copious amounts of serum, you can find her spending all her money in Sephora.