Faux Tan Or No Tan? A Team InStyle Verdict…

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As a red-haired person (with all the classic accoutrements — freckles, pale skin, see-through eyebrows), my fake tan radar is on POINT.

Though she’s a natural blonde, Emma Stone usually reps the ‘pale and interesting’ look. But, not at the 2016 Met Gala – the actress reverted back to herself circa 2006 with brown hair and deep brun tan.

It’s likely for her new role of Billie Jean King in Battle Of The Sexes, which she’s currently filming in LA, but it made us think: fake tan or not? Short answer: no.

After years of fake tanning, last September I (accidentally) gave up an 11-year obsession that started in school — a journey which included everything from Rimmel’s splashable-offable gel and that Sally Hansen leg foundation, to the absolute best of the best of the self tanning world.

In revolt against my ginger complexion, I went all out with dyed dark brown hair with layer upon layer of thick foundation — finished off with a thick coat of Revlon’s Colour Stay to cover the last of any freckles that DARED to peek through. Through no fault of the foundation but my own excessive application, I ended up a solid shade of greeny grey. That was from the neck up — neck down I was hearty shade of terracotta.

It was a serious armour — I remember going to Kavos (for which I recommend actual armour, not just a few layers of that apricot-scented Garnier spray). Even by the plane ride I had those ‘tell-tale’ white patches at my elbows and I remember thinking — it’s the lesser of two evils… That vs my au natch pallor.

And it took me about about 10 years to realise; actually, that’s totally insane. My tanning saw me through festivals (and a fake tan gel exploding over everything in a tent), uni (and having my weekly soaks and exfoliates, to the eyebrow raises of house mates for how much time I was spending in the bathroom and the effect on the water bill), my uniform from my Whistles sales assistant days smelling of ‘biscuits’ from the first day or wear… After 11 years I was a PRO. Think, like, Jules Von Heptonstall glow goals.

Then, just when I was wondering when I would stop (my freckle-hating foundation and obsessive GHD hair straightening had already laxed up), I just stopped. I was wondering honestly how I’d manage to fake tan a pregnancy bump or if I’d really spend 1/5 days for my whole life sleeping in a baby grow, and then in a couple of weeks it was o-v-e-r.

Not on purpose, I was moving house and we had plumbing issues (read: the drains got blocked and my weekly soak got stuck in the bath) in the old place and the new one didn’t have hot water — serious issues for rinsing off that pre-developed layer. And, as if on an accidental two week detox, the habit was kicked.

Against the advice of celebrity facialist and aesthetician Arezoo Kaviani, who told me strictly to fake tan before holiday to protect my skin for the first few days, I went on holiday this year sans fake tan for the first time in over a decade (I had the flu so sleeping took precedence over tanning). And it was pretty liberating — I didn’t smell like fake tan for the whole of the day’s travelling, I could fake tan and swim and move without having to worry about transferring it off my skin or on to anything else. And I actually tanned! Safely, of course — consistently spritzing SPF about every 6 minutes.

So naah, when it comes to fake tanning, let’s ditch it and save another generation of gingers from feeling like they need to go with the glow. (Unless a Met Gala invitation comes my way, in which case, get me a babygrow!)


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