There are only 16 days left of what we laughingly call British summertime, which means approximately 384 hours before I turn green. Not a vivid forest green like the Wicked Witch of the West, but a watery shade of asparagus that makes me look tired and unwell. It’s the price I pay for being olive skinned. Bronze in summer; a stuffed-cabbage coloured in winter.
To quote Kermit the frog: “It’s not easy being green” and to be honest, I’ve never understood why my Ashkenazi heritage hasn’t provided me with a ruddy outdoor complexion that smacks of good health in the cold months. But it hasn’t and so I have a maintenance regime that includes dog-walking, the occasional Sun Angel sun bed (the safest kind) and lots of Hawaiian Tropic After Sun, which is a great year-round moisturiser with a scent that takes me back to the beach.
I have also invested in a MiniSun (£29.99, www.valuelights.co.uk). I’m not officially a SAD (seasonal affected disorder) sufferer, but I read that the lamp triggers the hormone serotonin which regulates moods, prevents insomnia and should ultimately stop me from stomping about in a rage. Small enough to fit in a handbag and generating light equivalent to standing outside on a clear day, but it doesn’t give me a tan.
Now I know that beauty gurus and fashion-types have a penchant for porcelain, but even the fair-skinned among you can see the benefits of a little facial colour in a February frost. It’s essential if you want to pull off the 2012 purple trend with conviction, look lithe in that little black dress or simply be seen beneath layers of knitwear and tweed.
Inspired by the start of BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing and the honey-tinged skin of the frothy skirted contestants, I went in search of tanning solutions to help you and me stay radiant all winter long.
After 12 years of perfecting her tanning products — Beau Bronz and Abi O — Abi Oleck knows how easy it is to over-do the DHA in winter and her experience as a celebrity spray tanner at Aveda and Bliss salons has taught her less is more.
“The aim is to glow naturally all year,” says Abi, a fellow Ashkenazi who also has her own spray tan studios in Putney and at Browns Hotel in Mayfair.
“I would never use more than 10 per cent DHA [the sugar cane derivative that produces the brown colour] and we customise the colour for our clients. We have also have a four per cent spray tan for winter which has a hint of gold that takes the bluey-greyness out of the skin. It’s perfect for the party season as you glimmer rather than glitter.”
A favourite with stars strutting the red carpet — “no one knows they’ve been sprayed”— Abi is also Dancing on Ice’s official colour enhancer and will be bronzing Jayne Torville and the team from January, taking care to “always go lighter on the inside of the arm than the outside”.
It’s stuff like that which makes self-application tricky, but one of the big advantages to trying out new tanning products in winter is that you can hide any mistakes under a big jumper until the spring. For now it’s all about a healthy face and matching hands and there are lots of products to suit all skin-types that are easy to apply
Before adding any colour take note of any seasonal changes to your skin. Falling humidity levels and dropping temperatures take their toll and make it feel parched. I like SkinCeuticals Retexturing Activator, which is a resurfacing and replenishing serum that helps get rid of dead skin cells in preparation for
that new tan.
Having tried numerous bronzing products over the years to avoid being green for my January birthday, I’ve become a bit of an expert, so I knew Perricone MD No Sun Tanner was good right away. Created by American dermatologist Dr Nicholas Perricone, it’s a pro-vitamin D cream with a slightly medical, but pleasant smell that achieves a tan level equivalent to an autumn mini-break in Marbella. Lovely.
Ultimo Miami Beach (if only) comes from the lingerie stable of bra specialist Michelle Mone and is odour free with the added plus of sculpting and toning the skin, which I really liked, and there is also a face-specific cream.
As some of my fairer skinned girlfriends are also averse to winter white I got them trying other tan creams and had positive reports about Trilogy Instant Bronzing Gel, which contains light-reflecting minerals, and Karin Herzog’s Tone & Tan, an enticing mix of green tea, concentrated vitamin B12 and oxygen. It also acts as a body shaper and comes with a royal recommendation from the Duchess of Cambridge.
It’s no surprise that St Tropez Self Tan Tan Intensifier continues to hold its own or that Fake Bake, which cornered the funkier side of the self-application market some years ago, has evolved and now does a non-messy spray mist called Flawless. The mist that gives an instant tan that gets darker over time, but stops short of turning you into an extra from The Only Way is Essex.
The friend who tested it is the right side of golden and keeps being told how well she looks. I’ve been getting that reaction to Alicia Douvall’s Argan Bronzing oil, which is now my favourite as it is 100 per cent natural, feels silky on the face and the colour is instant.
It’s a cliche, but sun-kissed sums up my colour and definitely beats being green
For a 25 per cent JC reader discount on Beau Bronz call 020 8799 7770 and quote the code Love Abi