Strictly fake tan legend shares genius tip for dealing with ‘tan addicted’ contestants

A trip into the spray tan booth is a rite of passage for any Strictly Come Dancing contestant – but what happens when celebrities get a little TOO fond of the bronzed look?

It’s an issue that A-list tanning guru Jules von Hep knows only too well from his time on the show, and it required more than a little fancy footwork of his own.

A-list fave Jules arrived on Strictly back in 2012 with one job: to ensure that “tango” was just a dance and not a skin shade option.

“I got poached by Strictly right at the time when it was known for having this streaky orange fake tan,” says Jules, whose red carpet client list includes Little Mix, Stacey Dooley and Sienna Miller.

“I remember I met with the show’s chief makeup artist, Lisa Armstrong, and she said, ‘I really need this show to not be about the tan.’ So we changed it, and it became about the dancing again.”

The secret, he tells us, is to use fake tan in a way that looks completely real. “I learned very quickly that when you’re working in TV, the tan has to look flawless. I always want to mimic the effect of the sun.”

However, Jules’ flawless bronzing results were so popular with contestants that some simply couldn’t get enough.

“Sometimes I did have to tell people they’d had enough fake tan,” he says. “You get the occasional person on Strictly who says, ‘I am addicted, I need another coat.’ I would always play the show back to them and say ‘No you don't!’”

And if they didn’t agree, the “tan” became – quite literally – fake. “We used to do things like pretend we were tanning them but nothing was actually coming out of the spray tan gun,” he confesses. Genius!

Jules worked as Strictly’s head tanner for three years, during which time he started a parallel career as a body positivity guru on his Instagram and diversity champion.

“I saw there was this huge part of the beauty industry that needed to be changed, because it was so unfair to people. Tanning was always about that one size, one shape, one skin tone,” he says.

It inspired the launch of his own tanning brand, Isle of Paradise, which not only nailed the perfect glow but used inclusive, un-airbrushed model images to promote the products. Jules is particularly proud to be the first tanning brand to use disabled models in an advertising campaign, showing that beauty is for everyone.

“I couldn't bring out a brand that just used one type of body,” he says. “When you’re shopping for a product and there's not a model who looks anything like you, that sparks insecurity. That is not what beauty should be about. I’m so proud when people tell me Isle of Paradise has made them feel empowered.”

You can shop the whole Isle of Paradise range here, including its new “continual mist” bottle which has already gone viral on social media. Check out our review here – no spoilers but it’s a ten from us!

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