Health and beauty: Preparing skin for the summer

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Prepare to bare this summer. Because the time has come to pack up those woollies and get set to expose some skin.

And whilst pale is interesting and beautiful, for those of you looking to give skin some colour, without stepping into the sunshine, then look no further than tanning products.

But before you even open that tanning product, it’s important to prep skin first. Dead and dry skin cells can have an impact on the end result, making it look uneven and patchy. Exfoliate and moisturise skin in the days before, concentrating on elbows, knees, and around the wrists and ankles. Or indeed anywhere where skin feels particularly dry.

You’re aiming for soft and moisturised skin before applying the tanning product. Ideally exfoliate at least a day before you apply the tanning product. And don’t wax or shave then apply tan; wait at least 24 hours between.

When it comes to applying, ensure your body is free from any products which could have an impact on the overall tanning effect like deodorant and perfumes. Apply from toe to head rather than the other way around. This can help avoid rubbing or smudging the product. And for even, full-on colour I would also recommend using gloves and a tanning mitt.

Apply quickly, in sweeping motions, and to small sections so you don’t miss bits. Wash your hands afterwards, whether you wear gloves or not. And don’t forget to tan the backs of your hands: put a small amount on a cotton pad and rub over the top of closed fingers.

In the days following your tanning, fight the fade by moisturising. And try a light exfoliation a few days after application all over your body. This will help it fade more evenly and avoid it becoming patchy.

When it comes to choosing your tanning product, keep in mind two points: first of all, consider your natural skin colour - are you already fairly tanned, or pale?

And secondly what is the final look you’re after. For some, the look is more sun scorched than sun kissed and if that’s what you like then there are plenty of dark products to create that particular look. Yet there are plenty of subtle options too.

Instant tanning products give your skin colour straight away so are great for those in a rush or needing quick results. There are plenty of these on the market but those by beauty brand Rimmel deserve a special mention. Another is Michelle Mone’s UTan Instant Glamour Shimmer Tan which gives skin a great glow.

Gradual tanning products are another option, usually more subtle than the traditional tanning products. These work like body moisturisers and build up colour over a few days. Gradual tanning products are perfect for tanning newbies as the results aren’t as full-on. Budget-friendly options include the popular Dove Summer Glow which comes in two different shade options. At the other end of the market, luxury label Crème de la Mer has just launched The Face And Body Gradual Tan, pictured below.

Then there are those tanning products which take several hours to develop. Usually these are the ones you apply, sleep then shower off to reveal results.

When I’m looking to emulate a holiday suntan, over the years I’ve found St Tropez’s Self Tan Bronzing Mousse to be ideal. Aside from the golden glow it gives my skin, I’ve also found it to be a reliable non-streaking product.

St Moriz is another great brand which is really wallet-friendly and has a huge fan base on account of the streak-free, natural results it produces.

And if you do have a streaking incident, head to your kitchen cupboard. Choose from white vinegar, lemon juice or baking soda - any of these will do.

Try rubbing a small amount to the area and wash off.

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Get the sun-kissed look for less

Dipping a toe in tanning needn’t be expensive. There are plenty of great product deals currently on offer and now is the time to look out for promotions in shops. For instance Dove’s Summer Glow gradual tanning product, usually £4.99, is now half price in some stockists such as Boots and Superdrug. And it’s a great product to try out tanning or to subtly warm up skin shade for summer.

Alternatively you may prefer to leave tanning to the professionals and one-off tanning treatments are perfect for special occasions. And why not pair up with another treatment to get the best results? For instance Edinburgh’s West End salon, Imarni, the Full Body Tan costs £25.50, or GBP35.50 for this plus a professional exfoliation.

Alternatively, why not stay bronzed and beautiful throughout the summer and bulk book? Zen Lifestyle is currently offering three for the price of two on tanning treatments. It applies to spray tans bought in the month of May but these can be used at any time this year. So you can stay sun-kissed and golden for just £70 - definitely cheaper than the price of a holiday. It’s available at the Zen’s Hanover Street and Teviot Place salons.