How to Apply Self Tan

I get asked about this so often I thought I'd do a little post on it.  Lots of people have their own preferred methods, but this is my tried & tested technique that has produced streak free, non-tango style results after many trials over the years!

Preparation - this will determine how well your self tanner works... so please don't just open a bottle and slap it on!  This may all sound a bit complicated, but it's really not - it's a great routine to get into and your skin will thank you for it - plus you'll love having beautifully soft - and hopefully golden - smooth skin!
Sweet Lemon Body Scrub
Exfoliate - I like to start preparing my skin for self tanning a few days before application, initially by exfoliating several times during the week.  I like to use an exfoliator or body scrub with fine grains, as I find these the most gentle and effective on my skin. I'm currently using the Body Shop Sweet Lemon Sugar Scrub, which smells as divine as it feels. The sugar grains dissolve as you rub them into the skin, to leave a gentle citrus fragrance and moisturising, almost oily coating (in a good way!).

Defuzz - I prefer to shave as I'm a wuss when it comes to more painful hair removal methods. I like to do this the day before, to give the skin a chance to settle as mine can be quite sensitive after shaving and applying self tan immediately can make it sting.

Moisturise - Many self tanning formulas now advise against moisturising immediately prior to application, as the ingredients may cause a reaction with the self tanner and dilute its effectiveness. Others suggest moisturising only the very dry areas where self tan tends to 'catch', such as elbows, ankles and knees. I prefer to moisturise thoroughly every day in advance of tanning, following exfoliation. I will also moisturise on the same day, but preferably an hour or so beforehand using a gentle, preferably unfragranced product, to give it time to sink in avoid the issues mentioned earlier.

Almost ready - Preparation complete - beautifully smooth, moisturised legs all ready for application!  I suggest not applying self tan immediately after showering or bathing. Your pores will still be open from the warm water and unless you like the speckled hen effect, it's best to wait until your skin has cooled, preferably at least half an hour after.

Application 'tools' - Before you start, make sure you have everything you need at hand:

  • Moisturiser or Vaseline
  • Latex gloves or a tanning mitt for application
  • Cotton wool pads or an old face cloth/ flannel
  • Exfoliator
  • An old towel to stand on
  • Dark, loose clothing
I sometimes apply a small amount of moisturiser to any patches which are still a bit dry, such as elbows, knees and ankles. I also apply lots to my palms and wrists as I can't bear to see orange bits there and find this helps prevent absorption. Vaseline (or any petroleum jelly) can be applied to brows and edge of hairline if you are feeling extra cautious.

Hands - I prefer to use my bare hands for application but find that many self tans, especially tinted ones, are incredibly difficult to wash off. That's where the exfoliator comes in - I use it to scrub my hands with at the end if I'm not wearing gloves.  I find it hard to achieve precise application with a mitt, plus I feel I'm losing half the product in them, so normally opt to use latex gloves. 

Let's Go! - Standing on an old towel incase of any drips, I always work from the legs up - no idea why it's just what works for me.  I start by putting the product in my hand first, rub it quickly between my palms then use both hands to apply to each leg, smoothing it in until the area is coated evenly. I'll use the remainder in my hands to swipe over knees and feet, taking care to apply evenly around the ankle bones and skimming gently over toes. 

Upper body - Same goes for each arm and torso, taking particular care around the wrists, elbows and backs of arms. Again I'll just use any excess to skim over elbows, but don't miss them out completely or they'll look really odd! I don't tend to use regular self tan on my face, so will gradually stop the application at my jaw line, not forgetting the back of the neck and ears.  I have weirdly long arms and can manage to do my own back using the back of my hand, but you can ask someone else if you're a normal-armed person!  

Face, hands and feet - I like to use a separate facial self tanner as it's generally a little lighter in colour and non-comedogenic (won't clog pores), so is also perfect for a more subtle effect on hands and feet where self tan can often be the most obvious. We've all seen people heading out for the night with orange streaks on their feet - not a good look!  For the hands, I do each one while wearing a glove on the other hand, or apply with a small blob on a slightly dampened cotton wool pad. 

Buffing - Last but not least is the all important step of buffing. By this I mean taking a soft old flannel or cotton wool pad and gently swiping it on any areas where the tan tends to 'catch' - eg wrists, between fingers, sides of hands, hairline, collar bone, elbows, knees, ankles and toes. 
Hang loose - For obvious reasons, a tight white dress isn't the best thing to wear straight after self tanning. A dark, loose style maxi dress, sweatpants or PJs all work well - depending on whether you're going out afterwards!  It's also best to avoid bra straps incase they cause the tan to smudge, so go strapless if you can't go without! Also avoid tight fitting socks or strappy shoes which could leave strange marks on your skin. 

And relax - You deserve a rest after all that, so put your feet up, pour yourself a glass of something nice and wait to turn into a bronzed goddess! 

I find most self tans take around 4 hours to take effect - and most don't show the full results until next day. I prefer to apply around tea time then shower off before bed, to minimise sheet tanning, especially with tinted versions.  I almost always apply a second layer the second day... self tan is a bit like nailpolish - it usually looks best with two coats! This can be repeated until you achieve the depth of colour you're happiest with. Most tans will last around 5-7 days, when all of the above should be repeated.

If you're too scared to DIY or have had disasters in the past, either choose to stay pale, cover up or have a professional spray tan.  I see so many beautiful girls out for the evening with a gorgeous dress on, looking ridiculous due to big streaky patches of self tan on their arms and legs. Not a good look! Much better to stay pale and interesting or go see a pro! 

I hope you've enjoyed this tanning tutorial... I promise the process isn't as complicated as it sounds. If you do give it a go, please let me know how you get on and leave a comment or email me if you have any further queries

I have a few other ideas in mind for this kind of Tried & Tested tutorial and would love to know if you'd be interested in reading them. 

A Lighter Shade of Bronze

Following my review of the new St Moriz Dark bronzing mousse, I discovered St Moriz bronzer, part of a new range for Summer 2011, which includes self tanning mist and Glitz body souffle.

Light: a golden bronze shimmer

The Shade'n'Shimmer bronzing powders come in two colours: light and dark. I opted for light as I don't have much colour yet, though I think the dark could work well in the height of summer, or for those who already have some colour.

The packaging style reminds me a little of my elderly aunt's powder that I loved to 
play with as a little girl - transparent plastic on top with a metallic bronze base. 

The compact is medium sized, perfect for popping in your make up bag or handbag
Ingredients list

I used the ELF powder brush and as you can see here - there is good product pick up, with just a light dusting of the brush lifting enough for the whole face (which hopefully means it will go a long way!). 

The colour is lighter and more shimmery than I expected - a sheer golden bronze. I would normally go for a matt or very fine shimmer bronze, so will save this for evening use and probably wear it more as a highlighter than full-face bronzer.  It would be perfect for highlighting cheekbones, browbone, collar bone and tops of shoulders - not that I'd personally do all of these at once.

A light dusting in natural light can definitely look more subtle
The above two pics illustrate the contrast with and without a full application in sunlight. You can see a deeper colour and more even skintone on the left, as well as the gold shimmer.

This will definitely be my favourite way to use this bronzer! It applies really smoothly when wet and gives a brilliant deep, opaque pigment on the skin. I swiped the bronzer very lightly with a slightly wet ELF small smudge brush... it picked up loads of product effortlessly and can then be painted in a fine line. I think this would look stunning either as a dramatic eyeliner or all over the lid, which would look pretty either in sunshine or for evening use. It lasts well too - I left it on my hand for around an hour and it stayed put until I washed it off.

St Moriz bronzing powder can be purchased online at Amazon or on the High Street at Semichem, Savers, Co-op, Gordon’s Chemist (Ireland) and Independent Pharmacies and is reasonably priced at an average of £4.99.

So what do you think? Would you like to try this or what bronzer will you be using this Summer? I'm definitely covered for shimmer, so am now on the lookout for a matt one! Please leave me a comment and let me know your thoughts.

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FOTD - Just Peachy!

I was really chuffed to be complimented on my make up today, so I thought I'd give you guys a peek... I don't normally wear this much make up during the day but was having a bit of a play, as you do! 

Here's what I used (click on pics to enlarge) ...
Clarins Foundation, Laura Mercier concealer & powder, By Terry highlighter, Lipstick Queen Blush 

Clarins Skin Illusion foundation in 'honey' - applied with fingers (reviewed below - 'Something Old, Something New')
Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage - applied with ELF concealer brush
By Terry La Veloute under eye highlighter, which I also swept around the entire eye area as I was looking a bit knackered! This stuff is amazing - best I've ever tried.
Lipstick Queen solid lipgloss on cheeks applied with ELF Blush Brush
Laura Mercier Starlight Mineral Illuminating Powder - a loose powder with a pale gold 'glow', best for evening use in my opinion for a lovely 'soft focus' radiant finish.

Laura Mercier Eyeshadow, Mac Eyeliner, No7 Mascara

Mac Technakohl liner in Earthline - a waterproof dark greyish brown liner which goes on soft and sets quickly
All eyeshadows are Laura Mercier from the Colour Wardrobe palette (reviewed below in 'Something Old, Something New') and were applied with MAC 227 brush:
Tiger's Eye - a matt taupe over eyelid
Chocolate - a dark brown verging on aubergine in crease and outer corner
Twinkling Star - a peachy nude with slight shimmer all over eye
Stellar - a cream shimmery highlight on browbone

I then applied the Chocolate on top of the liner to soften the line a little with ELF Small Smudge Brush
Mascara - No7 Exceptional Definition in Brown/Black 02

Mac Lipglass & Prestige Lipliner 

Lightly lined with Prestige lipliner in Silk
Mac Surf Baby lipgloss in Strange Potion (also reviewed below)

Please try to ignore the hair which has been scraped back out of sight! *blush*

I hope you like... if you have any questions or comments please leave a note below - I promise to respond! X

New Hair & FOTD

A few of you wanted to see my new do, so I'm being brave! ...
I hadn't had a haircut for 8 months. Shocking I know. One advantage of long wavy (ie messy) hair is that you can get away with irregular cuts, though I don't usually leave it just quite so long! 

I'd lost my hairdresser. She moved premises, rang to give me the new number, which I wrote on a tiny scrap of paper; children shrieking in the background, dinner on the boil... you get the picture. Number never seen again. So I was delighted to track her down after stumbling past the new premises. Her name is Sandra - talented, gorgeous, funny, based at Bill Harris Hairdressing & has cut my hair for 15years. 
Bill Harris Hairdressing, Hill St, Belfast
The salon is spacious, airy and stylish - a converted warehouse in a cobbled lane in Belfast's gorgeous Cathedral Quarter. A huge pile of glossies awaited me while I lounged on a huge leather sofa before my consultation. I almost fell asleep in the chair as a really sweet girl washed my hair and gave me a head massage... A-mazing! (her cappuccino skills weren't far behind).

I'd thought about getting a blunt fringe cut back in, but Sandra persuaded me to leave it a little longer. One cut, blowdry & gossip later, I left the salon a happy girl. The heavens opened immediately and I had to race back to the car through howling winds. Happens every time. (Please bear this in mind when you look at my pics, which of course I should have taken in the salon!)

New haircut, post rain & gales!
Swept over to the side a bit

Back view after I skimmed it with my daughter's Tangle Teezer brush!
My make up isn't terribly clear in these pics but I'll share it anyway:
Clarins Skin Illusion foundation - Honey (see review below)
Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage
Bobbi Brown blush - Powder Pink
Urban Decay eyeshadow used as liner - Gunmetal
Maybelline One by One mascara - Black
Chanel Rouge Coco lipstick - Magnolia

My haircut cost £45 and prices may vary according to stylist.


Coral Crush - Nailed.

I spotted Rimmel's Coral Crush in my local chemist, tried it on one nail while queuing and thought nah. Got home, loved it, went back next day to purchase (story of my life!).

It's quite difficult to capture the gorgeous colour of this shade in a photograph as it changes so much in different lights. It's a bright shimmery coral with a very subtle hot pink undertone. I may try again in better lighting, but promised to tell you about it today and knew you'd all be waiting with baited breath! ;-)

(Apologies in advance as this is probably the worst manicure I've ever done on myself. Ah well I thought... I'll fix it up after with my fabulous Ruby & Millie nail fix pen. Nope - it's mysteriously disappeared. Just don't look too closely!)

Rimmel 60 Seconds Coral Crush

Sometimes the colour looks really quite sharp and almost tangerine - and others, it looks super soft and pretty - especially in natural light. I prefer the latter, but think it will look particularly good both ways with a tan.

Rimmel Coral Crush (409)

It's supposed to be a one coat polish, but one was still way too transparent for my liking, so I've done two. It looks really pretty with a top coat - I used Seche Vite last time - but it totally changes the finish from shimmery to glossy and I wanted to let you see it in its natural state.  There are 8ml in the bottle, so it's quite dinky as you can see.

So what do you think?  Will you be wearing coral on your nails this Summer and if so, which one?  I'm also planning to purchase Revlon's Tropical Temptation and have been advised to check out Lancome's Duos.

Do leave a comment and tell me your thoughts.  If it's your first visit, please subscribe for updates by clicking the 'Follow' button; submit your email address (both top right) or follow through Bloglovin' (top left).

Thanks for stopping by! x

MAC Strange Potion

Every summer I search for the perfect coral lipstick/gloss and nailpolish. I don't suit sharp, citrusy corals (which I think look amazing on darker skintones), but love a soft pink-toned coral. This year, I got lucky!

I spotted a pretty gloss on a MAC girl this morning, tried it on and purchased straightaway (normally I have to try every option available). Rather bizarrely named, 'Strange Potion', it's a Limited Edition lipglass from MAC's Surf Baby Colour range and costs £13.50 (though I got it for slightly less as Debenhams currently has 10% off most beauty products).

MAC Lipglass, 'Strange Potion' (please excuse 'special' effects in pic!)

pic from

Described by MAC as: "Summer’s highest, most power-charged shine…shaded for the season", it comes in a cute, brightly coloured tube with a doe wand. 

Just applied, with flash
A really pretty, subtle but definite coral with a lovely sheen that catches the light, I can see this being my go-to gloss for the summer. Because summer is coming, right?

Half an hour later, no flash

It doesn't have amazing lasting power, though what gloss does?! I don't really expect a gloss to last more than an hour or so and am happy to reapply regularly. What's your perfect coral? I'm always open to new ideas.

MAC lipgloss is available here


Skin Deep

I've been in a longterm relationship with quality skincare since my late teens... it turns me on just as much as make up, if not more.  Make up is the icing on the cake, but will not be shown at its best unless you treat what lies beneath with tlc.

For the past few years I remained faithful to Nuxe products, which I found brilliant and definitely improved the look and feel of my skin. I used Nuxe Creme Merveillance moisturiser for dry skin, which smooths and plumps the skin and Nuxe Eau Demaquillante Micellaire aux 3 Roses - Micellar Cleansing Water  (similar to Bioderma H20) for quick and easy cleansing with a gorgeous rose scent. I loved that this also removed eye make up, so no need for two separate products. I bought them from Escentual, though I've noticed they are now readily available from many chemists.

Lovely as these  products are - and I still recommend them - I fancied a change!  This little collection currently lives on my bathroom shelf...

My current skincare products from Elemis, Bioderma, Embryolisse & Oilatum
I'll talk you through them in the order we met...

Elemis Pro Radiance Cream Cleanser

Elemis Pro Radiance Cream Cleanser  £27
The blurb (love a good blurb)

I'll be perfectly honest with you - I bought this as I had an ASOS voucher burning a hole in my pocket!  My skin had become a little congested and I felt it needed a deeper clean than my Nuxe 3 Roses was providing.  This was the latest Elemis cleanser and got great reviews (I've been a review addict long before my recent discovery of beauty blogs!) and is a Beauty Bible 2011 anti ageing award winner. 

When it first arrived I ripped it out of the box and cleansed my face immediately (I can never wait to try new things!). It felt so completely and utterly amazing I repeated the whole process 5 mins later! The cream is massaged into the face dry, left for around 1minute, then removed with a warm, damp cotton mitt (provided). Packed with anti oxidants it has a divine fragrance (that'll be the essential oils) and truly left my face feeling  cleaner than ever before!

I love the tiny lid for the nozzle to ensure no congealed cloggy bits!
Of course one cleanser is never enough! What about the nights when we're too tired for the whole regime and just want to cleanse pronto and jump into bed?

Bioderma Crealine H20

Bioderma Crealine H20 £14.50
 This fragrance free cleansing water is also available in other versions for specific skin types, eg one for sensitive skins, though this one is super gentle in my opinion. I just soak a cotton pad, swipe it over face and eyes: clean face. It's not drying and for some reason you're supposed to splash your face with water after, but I never do! It's becoming a bit of a cult product and one which most make up artists seem to have in their kit at all times. In all honesty I don't think it cleanses as deeply as I'd like for everyday use, so I do switch it with the Elemis, but still love this product and don't intend to ever be without a bottle!

Oilatum Natural Repair face cream

Oilatum Natural Repair face cream £7.65
 I'm sure I wasn't the only beauty blogger to race out and purchase this after Nic at Pixiwoo sang its praises!  I'd used Oilatum products on my little boy for his eczema so was familiar with the brand and confident about trying it. This cream didn't blow me away, but it does make my skin feel very comfortable and is soothing on any sensitive patches. It is suitable for dry and senstive skins and contains no perfume or nasties.

 Embryolisse 24 Hour Miracle Cream Lait-Creme Concentre

Another Pixiwoo rec (I'm such a sucker!) I just had to have this after watching Sam's YouTube video of her favourite skincare products. This is a beautiful texture and feels really soft and velvety on application... I'm just not sure if it's a little rich for me. I'd say I have normal to dry skin, so if yours is extra thirsty, then this is worth a go. Many, many people rave about it and the price is reasonable compared to some big name brands. Just goes to show one product does not fit all! 

Elemis Pro-Collagen Eye Renewal
Elemis Pro-Collagen Eye Renewal £51.30 (ouch!)
Anti ageing is a significant priority for me when it comes to skincare, but this is a price I'd seriously struggle to stretch to and was very lucky to get mine for around half that (just incase my husband is reading - seriously unlikely as that may be!). After being so impressed with the Elemis cleanser I decided it was time to seriously invest in my skin with  I hadn't used an eye cream in a while as I couldn't afford to buy one and believed the hype about this one.

From Elemis website:
"In just 28 days, reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles around the delicate eye area by up to 60%*. Containing the revolutionary Padina Pavonica, Chlorella and Buckwheat, this dynamic cream gel helps increase moisturisation and firmness of the skin." *Independent Clinical Trials 2005                   

How could a girl resist?!

This eye cream has a slightly waxy gel-like texture and comes in a convenient pump bottle. It feels very nice. It keeps my eye area moisturised. It may be helping prevent further damage, but I can not see that it has made any significant improvement to the skin around my eyes. I'd say this product is suitable for 'ladies of a certain age' *cough cough* and may be too rich for 20 or early 30-somethings. 

I hope you've enjoyed these reviews - please leave a comment below if you have any questions (I promise to respond to all) and I'd love to hear your experiences if you've tried any of the above! Thanks for reading. x

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St Moriz Dark

My friends call me the self tanning Queen... I like to fake it!  As a strawberry blonde I don't go super dark in the sun, so prefer to stick to my natural skintones when faking. I like a light golden colour at this time of year and a slightly deeper shade in high Summer.  I've tried lots of high end and various low end self tanners in the past. 

My favourites to date would probably be: 
  • High End - Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess
  • Middle - L'Oreal Sublime Pro Spray
  • Low - Dove Medium-Dark
          St Moriz Dark
Must admit that I was not hugely impressed when I first tried St Moriz last Summer.  It made very little difference to my skin colour at all, so would perhaps work well for someone super pale with self.tan.fear!

My face lit up when I spotted St Moriz Dark in my local chemist last week and for £3.99 I couldn't resist giving it a go...

I prepped my skin by exfoliating the night before and moisturising dry areas and anywhere I didn't want the colour to 'take' too much eg feet, knees, ankles, elbows, wrists...

I applied using latex gloves as this stuff stains the hands big time! It's either gloves or wash 10 times during application & exfoliate palms after. Gloves are easier, believe me - I've tried both!

                   St Moriz Dark Mousse
Not the prettiest, eh? LOL

Be warned - this mousse is quite temperamental and can sometimes zoom out  in liquid form. Don't use it near anything you'd mind getting stained!

            Before                                      Just applied - showing tint

Next day - after colour developed, with tint rinsed off
Verdict: While I definitely prefer this to the original St Moriz, I feel the colour is a bit too obviously fake for me - not sure if it shows in the pics but I feel it's a little orangey in real life.  I also found that it clung to any slightly dry patches. At this price, I'd happily use it on my legs for everyday, but for special occasions I really think it's hard to beat the high end formulas. Any self tanning recs you may have will be happily received! :)

If you've tried this product or the original St Moriz, what did you think?  If not, which self tanner (if any) are you using and what do you think of it?

Something Old, Something New...

I'd like to share something old and something new - two of my current favourite products. First up was a present from a very dear friend and the make up item I've loved and used the most - ever!  

Something Old...

This Limited Edition Laura Mercier Colour Wardrobe has been around for quite a while, so you may be familiar with it already - 

The double palette contains eyeshadows, blushers and lipcolours in incredibly usable shades. I've probably used this almost every day over the past year and have only just 'hit pan' this week with my favourite blush shade.

This is how it looked when I first got it - all perfect and pristine! Sorry it's such a small pic but you can see the row of eyeshadows along the top, with 3 blushers below and a double ended eyeshadow brush. In the lower palette there are 6 lipcolours and 2 glosses, with a double ended lipbrush. Both layers have a mirror.
No doubt it's terribly poor blogger etiquette to show you pics of my much loved and used palette, but hey... 

The outside looks quite glamorous, like patent mock croc

Top layer - 6 eyeshadows: Chocolate, Sable, Twinkling Star, Stellar, Tiger's Eye and Baroque
& 3 blush: Spice, Apricot Blossom and Lotus

Lower layer - 6 lip stains: Mulberry, Hibiscus, Shy Pink, English Rose, Brick Red and Mocha 
& 2 lip glazes: Plum and Naked
Lip swatches (in same order they appear)

Eyeshadow swatches (in order)

Blush swatches

I hope you like this as much as I do - it's amazing for both everyday and evening looks and is available at House of Fraser for £50, which is pretty good value considering most of these items would start from at least £16 individually. 

Something New

My latest beauty purchase is the new Clarins Skin Illusion foundation, as recommended by the lovely Stine at Chic Beauty Blog

I'm a big fan of Laura Mercier foundations and had been using Creme Smooth all winter, but fancied something lighter for Spring/Summer. I haven't used Clarins foundations for years, but was really drawn to this one for its ease of application, pump bottle and natural coverage. It's also spf 10.

It has a very fine, light consistency which spreads really quickly and easily. At first it looks super light but seems to set to a lovely level of light to medium coverage, without looking at all heavy. It has a gorgeous light fragrance, which reminds me of a cross between roses and parma violets!

The coverage is also extremely buildable and lasts all day even without powder - something of a miracle in my experience!

I lovely the heavy weight glass bottle and how the product 
appears suspended in the glass at a slightly wonky angle! 

I'm a huge fan of pump bottles - so much more hygienic and best of all - quick!
One pump delivers the perfect amount for my whole face.

This is the product on my hand (not a full pump) - I have the shade Honey

Rubbed in a little

Fully blended - you can see how it covers some of the freckles on my hand 
(which I wasn't really aware of til I started photographing swatches!)

Skin Illusion is now available at Escentual for the reduced price of £19! Have you tried either of these products?  Which foundation (if any) will you be wearing this Summer?

Please leave me a comment - and if you would be so kind as to follow me it would totally make my day! Thanks for reading. x
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