Buff & Bronze: Contour Tanning

As much as I long for golden, sun-kissed skin, I have definitely inherited a pale complexion. The English Rose appearance may be fine for winter, but as soon as summer approaches I find myself desperate to get that glow. Fortunately in this day and age, it really is better to ‘fake it’ than ‘bake it’. From spray tanning to tinted moisturisers, there is currently a wide range of treatments available for those that wish to keep their pale complexion top secret.

The latest technique on the market is ‘Contour Tanning’. Created by former makeup artist Amanda Harrington, Contour Tanning involves buffing the body with bronzing brushes, whilst contouring and shading certain parts to make the most of your silhouette. 

There are many different treatments available, from a full body tan to half body, or just a tan for those parts on show. Despite being a tanning novice (my experience goes only as far as using tinted moisturizers) I opted for a full body tan. Whilst the customer is lying down, Amanda applies the tan with a variety of brushes, buffing and blending into the skin to allow for streak-free application.

‘It’s like semi-permanent bronzer,’ she says. After applying an all-over base coat, Amanda then applies a darker shade to certain areas of the skin, creating a sculpted, toned effect on the body.

You can certainly see that Amanda has expertise. After she trained as a makeup artist, Harrington worked on films such as Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, before creating Contour Tanning. She has a large clientele including many celebrity customers, both for every day and red carpet events, most recently Cannes Film Festival.

What makes Contour Tanning different from the average spray treatment is the effect of buffing the tanner into the skin, creating an effect that is almost like makeup. The tan dries practically instantly, leaving you to dress immediately after, and you don’t have to worry about waking up with the dreaded orange sheets the following morning.

A favourite with celebrities like models Rosie Huntington Whiteley and Poppy Delevingne, you can definitely see why contour tanning is generating so much publicity.

After I leave the salon, my skin appears buffed and glowing, and the results continue to darken over the course of one to two days, leaving me with the golden skin I so desired for the summer months.

As with all tans however, the colour should fade within ten days. Eager to keep my skin looking bronzed for as long as possible, I ask Amanda how to maintain such a glow. Her top tips? Avoid showering for the first day you get your tan, steer clear of exfoliators, and top up any arising paleness with a tanning moisturiser like Dove Summer Glow.

Contour Tanning with Amanda Harrington ranges from £65- £110, and is available at Urban Retreat, Harrods.

Urban Retreat
Fifth floor


Image courtesy of Urban Retreat, Harrods

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