5 Minutes with James Read: The man behind the Tan
James Read is the enigmatic driving force and creator of James Read Tan. As the world’s leading tanning expert and industry trendsetter, he is the go-to tanner for celebrities including Rosie Huntington-Whitely and Cara Delevingne.
The brand team sat down with James for a five-minute chat to find about more about him, what drives his passion for self-tan and skincare, plus, his top tanning tips.
What sparked your love for self-tan?
I started using tanning wipes when I was 16-years-old and really liked the results that it gave me. I went to drama school, catering college and trained to be a counsellor. I then worked in retail for years before getting a job with St Tropez. I’ve worked for loads of brands over the years, like, L’Oréal and Guerlain, I did Sally Hansen, Fake Bake, Garnier… I was the first ever ‘tanning expert.’
What has your experience working in the tanning industry taught you?
It has made me a real perfectionist, especially with product development. If there’s one thing that I feel isn’t right, I won’t put the product out. You just have to be so sure. At the end of the day, you want someone to like and adore your product. It doesn’t make sense to put something out for the sake of it.”
What advice would you give to someone just starting their self-tanning journey?
Start with a gradual tan to see how a self-tan will look on your skin. Once you’re confident, you can move on to a darker self-tan. Also, less is more, especially with the face. Keep it natural as it’s the first thing that people see. Your tan shouldn’t overpower your look, you don't want it to be the first thing that someone comments on.
Any tips for making your tan last longer?
My trick is to use an aftersun, you can even add my H20 Tan Drops in. It’s designed to make a real tan last longer and also works the same with a self-tan!
The man tan struggle is real. Are any of your products particularly popular with men?
I do a Hydra Tan Mist especially for men. It’s perfect for post-shave tanning as it has a cooling agent, there’s no tell-tale fake tan smell, and, it won’t ruin your white shirts. More men are prioritising looking good and care about what they put on their skin. The number of guys getting spray tans goes up each year, I get a lot of male clients.
What’s the best and worst part of your job?
I love it all – good or bad it's all part and parcel of the job I signed up for and I’m so grateful for what I have. I especially like meeting new people, getting to travel the world and coming up with new and interesting products. I always like to stay positive and it's about never giving up.
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