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Celebrity tanning expert James Harknett reveals secrets for achieving the perfect spring glow

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Now that spring is very much upon us and we're beginning to consider less-covered-up outfit combinations, it's time to ensure that our limbs are looking suitably bronzed and in tip-top condition. Achieving a glorious, natural-looking glow is no mean feat, and with this in mind we sat down with the man behind many a celebrity tan, James Harknett, to ask him how to attain a beautiful, sun-kissed colour without too much effort. He's bestowed a honey-hued tan upon stars such as Lottie Moss and Michelle Keegan - here are his tips to fool-proof DIY tanning...

What is your one top tanning rule?

Never over-tan the face. A dark, matte brown face gives a very obvious fake tanned look and can also be dehydrating. It's important to stay looking like you. Begin with a delicate and subtle glow. Fake Bake’s new Coconut Tanning Serum allows you to take a more cosmetic approach to self-tanning.

Which tanning products are your absolute favourites?

I love Fake Bake’s professional range - it has a finish to suit all skin tones and occasions. My personal favourites out there for the consumer are the Fake Bake Airbrush products. I also swear by Crème de la Mer’s Soleil de la Mer Face and Body Gradual Tan - it’s a colour that you can build up over time for the desired shade.

What are the best ways to prepare skin for tanning?

Avoid any oils or heavy body lotion in days leading up to tanning as these can leave a barrier on the skin and exfoliate the day before so that the skin has time to renew. If it's a warm evening, take a cool shower before application as hot, sticky skin will make for a mottled, uneven tan!


Emma Willis © Photo: Rex

James Harknett is the man behind Emma Willis' gorgeous, ultra-natural glow

Which stars have you most enjoyed working with?

Emma Willis and David Gandy are two of the nicest people you could ever meet and I tan them both regularly. It's hard to believe that I've been tanning for 17 years now! I’ve tanned Zayn Malik and Harry Styles and they were both lovely to work with.

What would you say is a total no-no when it comes to self-tanning?

My biggest no-no is moisturising the whole body before applying your self-tan. Body lotions thin out the tan and so it’s a bit like mixing paint with water. Just dab a little light moisturiser on the bits that are prone to dryness, such as your elbows, ankles and knees.

What tips would you give to a first-time tanner?

Always research your products! This could be seeking a recommendation from a friend with a similar colouring to you or perhaps looking online. It's also a good idea to use a formula with a tinted guide as this will ensure you are streak free.

James Harknett's tanning dream is to tan Jennifer Aniston© Photo: Getty Images

Award-winning actress Jennifer Aniston would be James Harknett's dream client

What's the quickest way to fix a tanning mishap?

The most common mishap in tanning is always over-tanned hands and stained palms. If fake tan stains your palms, use a make-up removal wipe will to fade the colour. A little lemon or lime juice also helps.

Could you explain how to achieve the perfect natural-looking spring glow?

If you have the time I strongly recommend a professional all over body spray tan. Fake Bake Gold leaves a warm, gentle glow that perfects the skin and evens out the skin tone. For at-home tanners, start with a light colour and work the product onto your skin in sections, in front of the bathroom mirror.

Which A-list star would you love to tan?

My ultimate tanning dream is to spray tan Jennifer Aniston. She is such a beautiful woman and looks incredible with her Californian glow.

James Harknett is located at W Hotel London. For a bespoke spray tan call 020 7750 1071


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