It’s that time of year again! The tights are off, the jumpers have been shoved to the back of the wardrobe (then fished out again once you remember it’s April and the weather is not your mate), our skin is emerging from its winter hibernation to feel the breeze once more.
And if you’re on Team Milk Limbs, you’ll be suddenly struck with the urgent need to varnish yourself golden like Ronseal on a garden fence. Here’s how that’s definitely going to go.
1. You believe that this time, it’ll look convincing
Like you just stumbled across a tiny tropical microcosm in the Wolverhampton suburbs, sure.
2. You congratulate yourself for making healthy choices
No pre-cancerous moles for you, no siree! You’re the model of sun safety. When you’re 92 you’ll probably look so young and wrinkle-free that you still get ID’d buying your cherry brandy chocolates.
3. You think ‘must remember to put lotion on my knees and elbows to avoid weird orange patches!’
Hey, you know the drill. You’ve read a magazine. This isn’t your first rodeo.
4. You will then immediately forget to put lotion on your knees and elbows
Could we just call it… contouring?
5. You believe the bottle when it tells you it has a ‘light, fresh, subtle fragrance’
Not that telltale sweet, wheaty smell this time, oh no! You won’t honk of Hobnobs. Nobody’s going to be calling YOU ‘biscuit pits’ on the coach trip to Weymouth again. Nope. Things have clearly moved on since the last time you used fake tan – they must have developed special chemicals that do the tanning without the smell. Science is wonderful.
6. It will not have a light, fresh, subtle fragrance.
Science is stupid. All that time and effort putting men on the moon FIFTY YEARS AGO and yet they still haven’t found a way to give us sunkissed limbs without whiffing like a barrel of garibaldis. Ridiculous.
7. You will adopt the fake tan power stance
Legs apart. Hips turned out. Arms frozen in mid-air and curved like you’re carrying two imaginary sheep. If there is a parent in the vicinity they will definitely say something about John Wayne. Doing fake tan without standing in this pose would be like applying mascara without your mouth gaping open, ie. against the laws of biology.
8. Boredom will set in.
Surely it’s been 10 minutes now? Must have.
9. Boredom will continue.
Two. It has been two minutes. Why does time pass so slowly while waiting for fake tan to dry but so quickly when you’re trying not to get burnt in the actual sun? Why.
10. You will try to multitask
While you’re stuck like this you may as well get something else done! Check Instagram? Have a snack? All you need to do is shuffle elegantly across the landing to your phone and then downstairs to the fridge and then back again without accidentally brushing against any soft furnishings. Easy.
11. Your multitasking will be a terrible mistake
Before you know it you’re googling ‘how to get orange smears out of white bedding’ with one hand and scraping the hummus out of your hair with the other while trying to pick up a slice of wafer thin ham from the bathroom floor with your toes. STOP DON’T BEND OVER, YOU’LL STREAK.
12. You will look like Morph
If you’re using the proper hardcore tanner, you will need to leave it on for eight hours – during which you will look like Morph, the orange claymation character from the 70s. Also David Dickinson, former presenter of Bargain Hunt. You may not know who either of these people are but pointing that out won’t stop the laughter.
13. Or Donald Drumpf
You do know who that is, and it’s NOT HELPING MUM.
14. There will always, always, always be a rogue streak…
No matter how carefully you exfoliated and lotioned, no matter how smoothly and evenly you applied the stuff and how calmly you listened to California Girls (Katy Perry or The Beach Boys) as you did it, no matter how posh the tanner was and how sincerely the bottle promised to be 100% anti-streak, there will always be at least one weird patchy bit that looks like you spilled a bit of gravy down your arm.
15. …which you will not discover until it’s too late
Inevitably five hours later when you’re all vamped up and glowing at the party, and someone asks if you know you’ve spilt gravy down your arm.
16. Your hands will be a tangerine horror show
Oh we haven’t even got onto your hands yet. Orange on the top and bottom, milky white between your fingers – like a Solero.
17. You’ll try everything to make them look normal
When you realise within a minute and a half that your genius plan of just sitting on them in social situations isn’t going to work, you scour the internet for remedies. You try scrubbing them with lemons (ow), with baking powder (oww), with sea salt (OW) and with whitening toothpaste (mm, minty). In the end you realise the only purpose all the uber-exfoliating serves is making your hands so red raw that it conceals the orange. Suddenly your Fanta fingers don’t seem so bad.
18. You’ll vow never to do it again.
Not worth the hassle. Or the mockery. From now on you’ll embrace your natural pastiness and look to ghostly role models, like Emma Stone and Zooey Deschanel and… Nigella Lawson. Pale and interesting, that’s your new motto.
19. As soon as it starts to fade you will 100% do it again.