Fake Bake Global Creative Consultant and celebrity tanner James Harknett shares his fake tanning tips to prep for, apply and maintain the perfect fake tan...

Mollie King and Emma Willis showing off golden tans by James Harknett. Mollie King and Emma Willis showing off golden tans by James Harknett.


We’ve teamed up with Fake Bake to give you a free (yes, free!) Fake Bake Airbrush Self-Tan worth £24.95 when you spend £100 or more*, and to help you perfect that golden glow at home, we caught up with tan expert James Harknett.


Fake Bake’s Global Creative Consultant and tanner of celebrities including Emma Willis, Mollie King, Christine Lampard and David Gandy, James self-tan skills have earned him the moniker “The Tom Ford of Tanning”. We asked him for his fool-proof fake tanning tips…


Fake Bake Global Creative Consultant James Harknett with the Airbrush Self-Tan. Fake Bake Global Creative Consultant James Harknett with the Airbrush Self-Tan.


Talk us through the ultimate fake tan prep James…


Prep is the crucial ingredient to super slick self-tanning. Hair removal is still the biggest concern – shaving just before self-tanning will definitely lead to streaks as it removes the dead skin that tan clings to produce the colour. Shave 24 hours before, or, if it’s a wax you prefer, play it safe and do it 48 hours before.


The night or morning before tanning use an exfoliating polish to smooth the skin and remove any remnants of wax residue and body lotion. Fake Bake’s Body Polish leaves a flawless smooth base. A cool rinse before the application is ideal, as it will wash away deodorant, fragrance and oils that could barrier the tan.


Face tan V body tan – what’s the difference and do we need to use separate products?


More and more brands are following the trend for facial tanners. Fake Bake were one of the first to include anti-ageing ingredient Matrixyl-3000 with Fake Bake The Face. Created to fight the signs of premature lines and wrinkles whilst leaving a warm glow on the skin. Last year Fake Bake introduced the award-winning Coconut Tanning Serum – the lightweight formula is perfect for face and body tanning. This natural anti-ageing ingredient is a highly effective source of moisture which nourishes, firms and improves skin tone and is so easy to apply.


What’s the tan trend this summer?


This summer’s trend is all about the glow rather than the full-out dark tan. I have over 200 ladies and gents coming to me a month for a spray tan and the first questions I always ask is what is the tan for and what is the look you desire. “Just a glow ” is what I hear from most of my clients unless it’s a hot holiday. The trend for a Tan-Toured look is growing rapidly too. This is normally requested on the legs, tummy, collar and cheek bones. My art of fine layering makes this look a must have.



Shop Now



Any tips and tricks to stop skin drying out after fake tan application?


With self-tanning products often comes dehydrated skin. Fake Bake’s range does contain many hydrating ingredients but it’s also crucial to keep the skin supple and nourished every day. This will also allow the tan to last longer and fade evenly like a real sun tan.


What about tanning no-no’s?


The biggest tanning no-no is over moisturising the skin before application. This will barrier the skin leading to an uneven finish and can cause streaking where the colour grabs darker in certain areas.  The face is the only area that needs a gentle layer of moisture all over.  Always use a tanning mitt or latex gloves too as the tanning agent can stain the plans very fast. Also, don’t over apply to the feet and ankles. Blend with a little moisturiser as the tan can over absorb on more dainty areas of the body.


How can we fix a tan faux-pas?


The most common faux pas is stained hands. There are a lot of tips out there such as bicarbonate of soda and lemon juice. These can help fade down, but I find a salt scrub on a hot flannel to best way. If your tan has streaked, especially on the legs, then reach for Fake Bake’s Perfection wash-off formula. Like a body make-up it can even up the colour and leave a dry golden finish in minutes.


James tanned Christine Lampard for her wedding day. James tanned Christine Lampard for her wedding day.



And how about for preserving a tan?


The best results for preserving your tan is keeping the showers quick and cooler. Moisturise with a light oil-free moisturiser and reach for the talc if you are exercising. This will help soak up the perspiration and help cause a slip so that your sports gear won’t tear into the colour.


Model David Gandy looking bronzed courtesy of James. Model David Gandy looking bronzed courtesy of James.


Is there a failsafe technique to avoid streaks? 


The best way to avoid streaks is to use a tan with a tinted guide colour. This will allow you to cover the skin evenly. Ensure you tan onto clean even skin that has no residue of other products too.


Which celebs do you love to tan?


Throughout the years I’ve been so lucky to tan A-list celebs from One Direction to Geri Halliwell. I’m very proud to call Emma Willis and David Gandy my clients.


And who would be your dream A-list client?


My dream client would be Jennifer Anniston as she wears a Californian Glow so well. It sets of her sense of fashion beautifully.