Can a Fake Tan Make You Look Thinner?


Charlotte Tilbury performs a demo on how to look skinnier by applying self tanner.

Nina Westervelt for The New York Times

Rather than roast in the sun, and in all likelihood bring on sun damage, sun spots and other hot weather woes, self-tanner has become a reliable solution for faking a bronzed glow. The formulas have been improved so much — less streaky! less orange! — that, with some practice, you can use them to contour.

The makeup artist Charlotte Tilbury has plenty of personal experience with the product.

“Being one of the whitest girls in the world, and with my red hair, I was obsessed with how to get the best self-tan,” she said. Sometimes she starts with a self-tan base and then enhances her color during the day with a light dusting of bronzer or layer on a sheer tint to add depth.

All in all, the goal is to “cheat,” she said, adding, “It’s to look leaner and longer and also more youthful and glowing.”

Here, Ms. Tilbury walks us through the self-tanner application process, adding a few tips and tricks for carving out cheekbones and elongating limbs.

Streamline Your Limbs

STEP 1 To ensure an even application, you should prep the skin with a body exfoliator to remove dead skin. This way, the self-tan won’t grab onto any dead skin cells, said Ms. Tilbury, who prefers Tatcha Indigo Smoothing Black Sugar Body Gommage ($74). She rubs the scrub up and down and then in circular motions for a thorough finish.

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