The Perfect Bodybuilding Competition Tan

By Darran Clemmit, MuscleTalk Contributing Writer and UKBFF MuscleTalk Championships Classic Champion 2011

Having competed at the 2012 UKBFF MuscleTalk Championships, I was surprised to see quite a few competitors who are still struggling to get their stage tan anywhere near right. All those years of hard work and months of dieting to be let down by a few minutes preparation seems crazy.

Bodybuilding Tan

There are a few ways to apply a good tan but the following method has never let me down, nor has it let down anyone who I have helped prepare for shows.

Choice of Tan

There are lots on the market, but you should choose one that only requires just a few coats, is stable, fast drying and doesn’t rub off easily. Liquid Sun Rayz, Jan Tana Ultra One and LA ProTan are a few brands. The old style creams and traditional tans needing as many as four to seven coats built up over days are outdated and don’t give the best results.

How to Prepare and Apply Competition Tan

  • Tanning prep should start a week out by conditioning the skin. Every day scrub the whole body with a sisal pad or exfoliating glove. After showering, moisturise all over. At this stage there is no need to be shaving or waxing, just keep hair trimmed with clippers as appropriate. Use a good moisturiser like Liquid Sun Rayz Citrus Body Butter everyday for week before the show)
  • The day before the show, first thing in the morning, is time for hair removal. Hair remover creams with moisturiser built in are the best method for most people. Waxing and shaving will irritate the skin, and potentially cause spots. After hair removal, apply moisturiser.
  • The night before the show, have another shower and use a good body scrub, like Liquid Sun Rayz Citrus Body Scrub; most tanning brands make a suitable one, indeed, you can exfoliate the skin each day, for the week prior to the competition. However, it is imperative that after this shower you do not moisturise. Dry the skin with a towel properly and then apply the first coat of tan, making sure it’s nice and even. I like to use a spray bottle and mini foam roller to even it out. Give this time to dry, then put on a loose t-shirt and jogging bottoms and go to bed as normal.
  • Show morning: The tan from the night before may have gone a little patchy over night or have rubbed in several places, but this isn’t a problem. Have a very quick shower, 10-15 seconds under running water, no soap and no rubbing. This will wash off any tan that is sat on the skin and will even out the colour. Pat the skin dry and relax for half an hour until you’re completely dry. Apply another coat of tan, again making sure it’s nice and even. With the better tans on the market, this should be more than dark enough for most people. Give the tan time to dry, before putting on your posing trunks or bikini, and then loose fitting clothes. Some competitors may need another light coat, bur with a good quality product, this may not be necessary.

Following the above method of competition tan application will provide a good even, resilient tan that should maintain its colour all day, and won’t run as soon as you start sweating on stage.

Tan Tips

  • Don’t mix tan brands
  • Base coats days before the event aren’t needed with the better tans, and will make it more likely to go patchy
  • Your face doesn’t need to be as dark as your body; one light coat is often enough!
  • Don’t forget your hands and feet!
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