Tanning Tips for the Scarily Pale


I am painfully pale. I'm that girl for whom NC15 in MAC is on the dark side and generally I don't bother about a tan. The amount of melanin in my skin isn't something I feel I should link to my own self worth and i would rather use SPF and protect against aging and damage than risk the old leather look or worse skin cancer when I'm older. However I enjoy trying out new things and for me getting a nice natural tan without exposing my skin to damage has been something of self-set challenge this summer. I think, think, I've found a way to achieve a nice natural non-orange glow on my skin and I think this is something that would be useful to share!

01. Prep.
We all know that exfoliating before tanning is essential. That goes doubly for paler skin tones. For the most effective tanning you want the solution to reach brand new baby fresh skin cells that will take react well and last on your skin. Older cells don't always tan evenly and worse, when they die and fall off the colour falls off with it leaving patches. Lovely right? I like to shower just before and use a standard exfoliating scrub like Ritual's Rice Scrub all over and then break out the buffing brush to tackle rougher areas like elbows and knees.
I would suggest using a nice moisturising body wash and shaving any necessary areas that you want to tan. This means your skin is soft and smooth and helps to stop the solution clinging to dry patches. After showering and drying yourself rub a body lotion onto dryer areas such as elbows, knees, wrists and ankles but not anywhere else. It acts as a barrier to, again, stop the solution clinging to these areas. Applying it anywhere else can mean that the tanner will slide around and result in an uneven finish.

02. Start Slow
If you are pale and/or inexperienced with tanning I would suggest purchasing a gradual self tanning body lotion first and using that for a few weeks, just to get an idea of depth of tan you want and also to find out if there are any areas of your body that are more resistant to tanning that others. for example the fronts of my legs (no idea why) have real trouble getting any sort of colour, so for an even finish I have to apply more to that area. With these gradual tanners don't be afraid to go for a medium colour rather than fair unless you really are the colour of a sheet of A4. You will see results quicker and with this type of tanner it's hard to go overboard.

03. Getting Serious
Having used gradual tanners if you decide you want to get a bit braver and try an actual fake tan I would recommend a mist. Garnier Ambre Solaire is my favourite so far, I bought the medium one but I think fair would be adequate for most pale girls, I'm just impatient. It's easy to use and, provided you prep properly and use it carefully, gives a really nice even tan. Because I know from my gradual tanning that the front of my legs is harder to colour I do my whole body with one coat and then go back in and do a another light layer on the front of my legs. The extra solution means my skin is less resistant to the reaction that creates the tan and with a little practice I can get it the same as the rest of my body.

Below is a picture of my forearm before any tanning occured and the results after using it three times, once every other day. You can see there is a difference, but I don't look like anyone off of TOWIE, always a good thing! I've used it for a little longer now and am a little deeper than that now, but I find that's just enough for me. I still like pale and don't see why people get so worked up over having a tan but it's nice to know that if I want this sort of look I can achieve it!

Thankyou for reading, I really hope this was helpful, feel free to leave your own tanning tips below!


  1. I love the Dove gradual tan cream! :) great post


  2. I'm pale too so I loved reading this post! Great tips :) and I agree, it's much better to be pale and healthy than to bake yourself in the sun and get skin problems (or worse) later on in life xx

  3. This is a great guide to tanning. I think it is a bit of an art! xx

    Essie | The Li'l Sparrow

  4. thanks for the lovely review!

  5. Thanks for these tips! I'm also super pale so I always like seeing tips from others like me. I only wish the Ambre Solaire was available in the US :(

    xo Rowan


    1. Glad to be of service ;) I'm sure there's a great alternative! x


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