18/02/2011 12:51 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Fake It 'Til You Make It

Louis Walsh with a bright orange fake tan A fellow judge fails to heed these tips... Image courtesy of Tango

Forgive me for sitting here in sun-drenched Melbourne writing about bare shoulders and sun kissed skin while you're over there trussed up in Ugg boots and more layers than a Delia Smith lemon curd cake, but there's no denying that in addition to the aesthetic benefits, rocking a tan has the power to give a girl an inner glow.

Of course these days sun baking and sun bedding comes – quite rightly – with dire warnings which is why, unless you want to end up with a face that looks like your fave designer handbag (or much worse) you should join the legions of us who are faking the bake.

I hear your protests ladies and I agree, no one wants to look like a failed extra from a Tango commercial, especially not in damp, chilly, January when self esteem can be at a low ebb. But fake tanning has come a long way from brown palms and streaky legs, and here's how I know.

When I was a teenager one of my best friends and I used to put fake tan on but hate it because it smelled disgusting and went orange. We were always asking each other why someone couldn't just make a fake tan that didn't stink and went brown like a real tan. It seems those conversations stayed with my mate because she went away and invented Tan Towel which I now use all the time.

It sounds obvious but if you're new to faking it, rule number one is to follow the directions on the product. The instructions for applying Tan Towel are different from applying Tan In A Can (which goes a realistic holiday tan colour too) and all the other products out there today.

My second tip is to make sure your skin is in tip-top condition before you put it on. Most products advise you to exfoliate immediately before applying but I say it's never too early to start loofahing. Silky smooth skin means the tan goes on more evenly and lasts longer, plus loofahing and skin brushing are great for lymphatic drainage, helping you to feel fabulous from the inside.

I've got pretty good at putting fake tan on over the years but I'm not pretending I don't still have the odd ca-tan-cylsm. There was one week during the X Factor where my horrified make up artist Christian had to patch me up with makeup because I had streaks all down my arms. The moral of that story –never, ever, take your eye off the towel (or can or tube) while you are applying. I'm all for Neon Nights but neon orange skin has never been, nor will it ever be, a fashion hit. You heard it here first...

My favourite fakes: TanTowel, £12.89 (pack of 10) and VANI-T Bronzing Custard, £25.99, both; MODELco Tan Airbrush In A Can, £24,