The Perfect Tan

When summer becomes but a memory, your healthy golden glow may be fast disappearing along with your holiday high. Those hours invested in slapping on the SPF and basking in the rays may have given you an enviable colour, but like your holiday, it doesn't last forever.

"The length of time a tan will last is generally dependant on age and how you look after your skin," says Caroline Young, director of training at St Tropez.

"On normal skin a natural tan will last for around a month but on older or severely-dehydrated skin it lasts for around six weeks."

Upping your tan maintenance routine will help your glow stick around for longer and improve the appearance of your skin. So lose the holiday blues, but keep that bronzed glow. Here's how.

After-sun care is just as important as applying your SPF. Not only do they nourish your skin after being exposed to sunlight, after-sun creams which contain low levels of self-tanner also immediately top up a tan.

"Gradual tanners can also be used as after-suns," says Dove beauty expert John Gustafson.

"Not only will you get vital moisture back into the skin but also the self-tan will boost the colour you got from the day's exposure."

But if you have barrels of moisturiser hanging around your bathroom, it's possible to create your own tan-transforming after-sun by mixing half moisturiser and half self tanner.

TRY: St Tropez Tan Intensifier, $39.95; Napoleon Perdis Whipped Dream Tan Enhancer, $40; Nivea After Sun Spray, $7.93; California Tan Tan Extender, $28.99.

You might think exfoliation would be the last thing you do when you've got a golden glow. But buffing your body regularly with a scrub will revitalise even the most barely-there glow.

"Exfoliate 2-3 times a week as part of your regular body care routine," Young says.

Exfoliating removes dead cells which have been burnt by exposure to the sun. Because gentle exfoliation provides the skin with oxygen and encourages a rise in melanin it makes your existing tan look 'shinier' and healthier.

TRY: Manicare 100% Natural Loofah Pad, $8.75; Elemis Devils Mint Body Scrub, $54; Crabtree & Evelyn Aromatherapy Distillations Revitalising Cleansing Body polisher, $29.95.

If you want to keep a tan, real or fake, moisturising needs to go top of your beauty-must list. Doing this religiously twice a day will help prolong a fast-fading suntan. The more you moisturise your skin, the more your cells will be drenched in water so your skin will stay bronzed for longer.

What you eat and drink can also affect the longevity and look of your tan, according to Young: "The best advice is to keep the skin well-fed and hydrated inside and out, so drink plenty of water and eat well," she says.

TRY: Ambre Solaire After Sun Hydrating Tan Extender, $13.55; Aviva Labs Skin Glow, $30.00; St Tropez Tan OPtimiser Body Polisher, $33.95.

If it's all too late and your holiday glow has long gone, then there’s no shame in faking it. Gradual tanners are a great way to get a subtle sun-kissed look that will appear super-natural if applied the right way. Gustafson has these top tips for application:

Certain areas need special attention as they are exposed all four seasons. Your neck and throat area, upper chest, and hands are often the most likely spots to be missed when applying self-tan.

If you have any dry patchy areas, try to sort the problem out before you begin regular self-tanning. Dry patches will absorb product much more quickly and cause colour to develop unevenly.
Apply in long sweeping movements and wash hands after use.

TRY: St Tropez Gradual Every Day Body, $33.95; Clinique Body Tinted Lotion, $39.00 ; Dove Summer Glow Beauty Body Lotion (200mL), $6.99.

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