The Man Tan Commandments: 5 tips for a better glow

Simon Blish

Having worked with A-listers including David Gandy and Harry Styles, the ‘Tom Ford of Tanning’ James Harknett reveals his top tips for the perfect man tan.

Newly appointed Global Creative Consultant for tan brand Fake Bake, James tans around 50 men per month at The Away Spa in London’s W Hotel (and the number is growing by 10% every year).

‘More and more men are asking to be defined and contoured,’ he said. ‘No matter what the body shape darker and shaded skin boosts body confidence.’

Mandatory Credit: Ref: infusmi-13
Harry Styles shows off his tanned and toned body. Credit: Ref: infusmi-13

After studying 1,200 men, tanning brand Fake Bake found that 53% of men admit to tanning in ‘secret’. In the 25-44 age group, 69% of men aged 25-44 admit to using their partner’s beauty products, including fake tan (although we reckon the number of LGBT partners sharing products might be even higher).

Most men (33% of those surveyed) felt that sunbeds were no longer acceptable, but still wanted to have that sun-kissed gleam. Men are following stars such as Bradley Cooper, Ryan Reynolds and Zac Efron in seeking a healthy-looking glow that won’t, like too much exposure to harmful UV rays, cost them their health. As overseas travel is a costly way to top up your tan, it comes as little surprise that 58% of men who tan said they felt more confident and less self-conscious with a tan.


The Man Tan Commandments

by James Harknett

1) Start subtle! Build up the colour gradually. Most guys are conscious that work colleagues and friends will notice a fake tan and this has lead to them avoiding self tanners in the past. Adding just a pea size amount of Fake Bake Flawless Coconut Tanning Serum to a daily moisturiser is the perfect start. Work in all over the face blending gently into the hair line. This will create a look of well being and the first thing people will say is “you look so well”.

2) For gents with a beard or stubble then an aerosol can is easiest and the least messy and accurate. Fake Bakes’ Airbrush does just that. It mists a slight warm colour onto the skin without getting clogged in facial and body hair. Also is doesn’t colour the hair. Use a beard brush to remove any excess on the facial hair.


3) Men these days who choose a spray tan or self tan at home often find the tan can wear away prematurely if they are exercising. Sweating from cardio and the constant friction of skin on skin during weight lifting etc can cause the colour to crumble away in patches. To prolong the tan as well as keeping the skin nourished with moisturiser, I recommend talcum powder sprinkled under the arms and over the chest. Also a little on the joins of the body like the inner arms and back of the knees. The talc protects the tan and avoids tan break off.

4) The man tan at the salon is fast becoming part of a gents grooming regime. If new to this here’s a few facts to give you the heads up. It’s advisable to use any waxing and body grooming 48 hours before, giving the pores time to seal over. Exfoliate the body the night before to even out the skin tone.

Avoid moisturiser on the skin the day of your spray tan treatment. Ensure your tanning therapist has a full consultation with you and discusses the look you want to achieve. For first timers it’s a good plan to have a gentle coat of Fake Bake Original Tanning Solution. Also ensure they mist gently on the face. Wear some loose joggers for after the application.

5) Contour! The recent burst of tantouring is not just for the ladies. Fine layers in strategic areas of the body benefit the gent’s body shape. A day after tanning, a man’s body can be defined and muscle groups emphasised by using the Fake Bake 3D Tanning Kit. Misting Fake Bake Airbrush over the biceps and then short bursts of mist on the abs shades the skin to highlight the natural contours of the body. It also lifts the pecs.


More information on the man tan

Key facts

  • 34% used a fake tan to define muscle tone and look more buff;
  • 28% used a facial tanner to look younger;
  • 12% said they use a fake tan to camouflage scars and stretch marks from lifting weights.

Top 10 regions for male tanning

1.       Wales
2.       North West
3.       East
4.       South East
5.       London


About Simon Blish

Writing, drawing, editing - Simon loves it all.