Best fake tans for a summer glow

A tan can make you feel slim and sexy, particularly with the summer fast approaching. But there's no getting away from it, soaking up the sun or hitting the sunbed is a quick way to damage your skin or, worst case scenario, developing skin cancer. However, that doesn't mean you have to swap sun-kissed for pale and interesting - here is a quick guide to tanning safely.

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What are the options?

Most beauty experts recommend a professional salon to get the best and most natural looking tan. If you have time to spare a fake tan cream treatment at a beauty salon not only gives you that healthy glow but a little bit of pampering too.

Those in a rush, however, may prefer to sprint through a professional spray tan - the paper knickers are optional and, initial blushes aside, you'll be pleased with the results. DIY spray tan booths are available in some salons but you'll need to follow the instructions carefully or you could end up with a two-tone effect.

A professional tan is the ideal and can make self-tans easier to top up but if a trip to the salon is beyond financial reach, the good news is there are plenty of self-tanning products on the market and they have come on in leaps and bounds in recent years.

Nervous first-timers should opt for a wash-off self-tan - these offer a natural sun-kissed look and come in a range of prices. Some even promise to firm your skin as an added bonus and, should the worst happen and you end up streaky or orange, it's as simple as taking a shower.

For a longer-lasting tan though, creams, lotions and mousses are abundant on pharmacy shelves. Many big name brands now make moisturisers that gradually build your tan until you are happy with the colour but if you haven't got time to gently boost your glow, your best bet is to opt for the pricier end of the self-tanning market.

Self-tan tips
We've all heard stories of streaky legs and orange palms so here are a few tips to ensure your fake tan isn't a disaster. Getting the right shade is the first hurdle - if you have fair skin, don't be tempted to buy a very dark shade. You can always reapply if you're not happy with the first attempt.

If you need to shave or wax, do so the day before you apply the tanning lotion and exfoliate well to ensure a smooth application. Do not, however, use moisturiser before you tan as it can affect the coverage - perfumes and deodorants are also to be avoided.

When it's time to tan, don't rush through it. By taking it slowly and carefully, you'll have the best chance of avoiding unsightly streaks. Be sure to rub the lotion well into all areas and work methodically down the body so you don't miss a bit. Areas such as knees, elbows and ankles can go darker - either dilute a little with water for these areas or apply a little moisturiser beforehand.

With the tan applied, head straight to the basin to wash your hands and nails thoroughly. Avoid taking a bath or shower for 12 hours and don't get hot and sweaty in the gym for 24 hours after application and, if you are a beauty treatment addict, be prepared to stay away from the salon for a week afterwards as treatments can irritate the skin or cause the tan to fade prematurely.

With these top tips you should be sun-kissed, streak-free and feeling sexy in no time.