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James Harknett’s Tanning Strategy For Brides



A faux glow is often a highly prioritised beauty treatment for brides-to-be. Alongside a chip-free mani and groomed brows, a fake tan requires excellent execution that calls for a professional’s experience, unless you’ve honed your DIY skills to a T.

James Harknett, coined ‘the Tom Ford of tanning’ given the luxe-looking tans he sprays (with style), says a tan can prove as powerful as make-up for a bride.

“Woman have applied make-up for thousands of years to complement their appearance; an all-over tan can work in the same way by defining bone structure, accentuating the natural contours of the body and for many camouflaging pigmentation, age spots and unevenness on the skin” he says. “One of the most common areas that tanned skin takes attention away from are the little red spots on the backs of the arms,” (good to know when choosing a sleeveless wedding dresses). Plus, he adds that self-tan is “also proven to sit well on cases of eczema and can take attention away from raised redness on the skin”.

“Getting the right shade is a must for a wedding,” Harknett says. “Always research a reputable tanning therapist that can distinguish what dyes in the spray formulas penetrate best on particular skins,” – something you can’t know at home without tireless trial and error.

“For brides, I recommend a warm glow that highlights and complements the skin tone without looking like they’ve actually had a tanning treatment.” You want to go for undetectable, whatever your natural colourings. “It’s important for all brides that the self-tan doesn’t overpower the features,” Harknett adds, so specify you want a light touch especially when it comes to the face.

“For example, for Meghan Markle’s wedding colour it would need to be a peach and gold-based formula that just allows her to gleam, rather than look ‘tanned’. To get this look with a spray tan, he says to “try Fake Bake’s Flawless Glow for a subtle colour that will never transfer onto the wedding dress” – another element to factor in.

While Harknett recommends an instant tanning product for certain special occasions, your wedding day isn’t one. “Think of wash-off tans like a full body make-up,” he says. “They do dry super-fast and the colour is instant, however, they could rub off onto the wedding dress, especially in heat.”

Therefore, “for a bride it’s best to tan with a wear-off DHA-based formula,” he instructs. “I recommend tanning 48 hours before the wedding, allowing for three warm showers beforehand to fully rinse away the guide colour.”

If you – or Markle – decide against an all-over tan, another way to glow is with illuminating make-up on the face and body in areas that wouldn’t rub against your dress (think décolletage, shoulders, upper arms...).

“Megan’s complexion would benefit beautifully from the Soleil Tan De Chanel [a bronzing make-up base]. Its cream formula glides over the skin for dewy finish,” he says. For the body? “Nars’ Monoï Body Glow in Dark [a beauty oil] would be the perfect choice. Known for settling fast, this would bring optimum body glowing results, ensuring her skin was HD ready for the world’s eyes.”