Women of color love fake tan now, so we tried it

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When one of my closest friends told me she started using a fake tan a few months ago, I laughed at the idea of ​​a black girl covering her body in biscuit lotion. But as the phrase says: “first they laugh, then they imitate.”

Last Sunday, I found myself applying two layers of fake tan all over my entire body. And the ruling? It’s safe to say I’m hooked.

A fake tan is not something you usually associate with women of color.

Growing up in Essex, my white colleagues would compare fake tans or, later, hit the sunbeds for the golden-bronze look. But it wasn’t something I thought about. Fast forward to 2022, and your “page” on TikTok was suddenly filled with many black women sharing the benefits of tanning.

At first, I was surprised to see how many black women tan themselves at home. But earlier and later results showed a significant difference in their skin tone.

Hyperpigmentation is common in black women, and a fake tan is a great way to get rid of things if it’s all about you. This is something Alicia Larte, an esthetician who calls herself “great self-tanner,” tells me.

“Fake tanning allows you to replicate the glow you would get if you visited your home country or even mask hyperpigmentation or some form of scarring,” she says. “Tanning without exposure to the sun is the only way to tan safely without causing any harm to your skin.”

She adds that exposure to sunlight can make pigmentation darker in some cases. Sunbathing also puts people — regardless of skin tone — at risk of skin cancer, so it’s really best to get a tan from the bottle.

Similar to Anna, Lartee spent her formative years in Essex and has been tanning for years, as a shared beauty ritual with the people around her.

“Fake tanning during the summer is a weekly thing for me, the same way I wash my hair daily, I have a fake tan day,” she says. “I’ll charge a credit during the week if I feel like I need it.”

Black women aren’t the only ones who look tan. On TikTok, a lot of South Asian women also enjoy the products.

Inspired by rave reviews, my colleague Faima and I put the fake tan to the test.


“I don’t think it made much of a difference.” – Faima Bakkar

Before and after pictures of my legs while the fake tanned.
Before and after pictures of my legs while the fake tanned.

“I would never think of tanning myself because I’m already a very nice brown color that I like, but I love tan on holiday. So when I saw women of color tan on TikTok, I thought it might be a good idea, especially since the sun always plays a game of hide and seek in the UK.”

“I have used Bondi Sands tanning products [a combo of Bondi Sands dark self tanning foam and the Liquid Gold self-tanning foam] And I really enjoyed the feel and smell of both. The glove allowed for easy application, and it felt smooth on my legs.

“I actually tried the lighter shade first, then the darker shade on my legs, because after a few hours, it didn’t look any darker. I don’t think it made much of a difference but there is more of a tanned glow which I like. I would be more inclined to try it in the winter, when I’m on the lower Tan naturally, I think.”

Fond of the results. – Katcha’s girlfriend (me!)

My legs are sweetheart before and after using a fake tan.
My legs are sweetheart before and after using a fake tan.

“I started with Bondi Sands self-tanning foam in the dark, and after applying two coats, I saw little difference. But then I went in with Liquid Gold tanning foam and this made my skin automatically glow.

“I left it on for a few hours and then showered and was loving the results. My body is the same color now and my skin looks more bronze and golden, I will definitely use this again in the summer.”

How to fake a tan, okay

Although the application process was fairly simple for both of us, there are some basic rules to follow before tanning.

“You have to prepare your skin, you can’t have a successful tan without properly exfoliating and moisturizing your skin,” says Larte.

“Avoid applying a false tan on inflamed or broken skin areas. Do not use a false tan that is too dark on your natural skin.”

If you intend to shave or wax, she also recommends completing your hair removal at least 24 hours before your tan.

“Enjoy the experience, that’s the extra time you spend with your body—it’s for your enjoyment,” she says.

As more women of color are using fake tan, Larte believes tanning brands should reflect on us in their marketing.

“Tanning brands have made it a secret to tan anyone who isn’t a skinny white woman,” she says. “This is because of the lack of diversity in their marketing and their teams and their social media. If you can see that there is a new market emerging, you have to reflect that.”

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