MECCA MUSE

How to glow from the inside, out (even if you’re not feeling it) with Jules Von Hep

If there’s anyone that can draw us out of an iso-induced funk—it’s the warm, vivacious (and dare we say, hilarious), ray of sunshine behind Isle of Paradise, the glorious Jules Von Hep. Hailed as one of the best spray tanners in the world, and having bronzed the likes of Kate Moss, Sienna Miller, Poppy Delevingne and Little Mix over the course of his ten-plus years in the industry, Von Hep has an undeniable knack for making people—all kinds of people—glow from the inside, just as much (and in our opinion, even more so) as he famously does on the outside.

In a visit to MECCA HQ in February, we sat down with the co-founder, author, podcast host and body-positivity champion to learn some red-hot tanning tips, and to discover where he gets his unwavering and contagious sense of positivity from (not knowing how much we’d need it now).

WHATEVER YOU DO, READ GET BODY POSI, AND LISTEN TO WOBBLE.

It’s free, comprehensive and unlike anything you’ve ever read—Get Body Posi is the book we all wish we had growing up. Written by Von Hep, it’s the “ultimate guide to body positivity and inner happiness,” and takes you on a journey of the tanner’s experience with mental health and body positivity, and then, your very own. “I wrote it to help so many people learn to love their body more,” explained Von Hep. “Body confidence, body positivity, is very much lacking in this world, and although, yes, we see it bubbling through in the beauty industry, when you’re at home alone naked in front of the mirror, it not always the case.”

“I’ve not had the easiest run in life,” he continued. “Especially in terms of how I viewed my body. I know how to feels to be literally rock bottom and just feel like you hate every part of you and how you look. I wanted to show people that you can go from the bottom. And you can go completely to the other side and start loving yourself—life is way too short to waste all that time hating how you look.” We’re spending more time with ourselves than ever, and Get Body Posi is the reminder we all need to be just as kind to ourselves as we are to others.

Wobble, on the other hand, is the podcast Von Hep co-hosts alongside friend and fellow ‘self-celebrator’, Sarah Powell, and focuses on topics surrounding happiness and body confidence. The guests are diverse, the topics are so honest and relatable, and we can guarantee it’ll bring so much joy into your home, workout, commute or afternoon baking session (their other podcast, aptly named Jules and Sarah, is a surefire listen if you’re down for some belly laughs).

WHY YOU SHOULD SELF TAN, EVEN IF YOU’RE NOT LEAVING THE HOUSE

For some, tanning is a weekly ritual that’s been maintained at home, and for others, it’s for special occasions—but regardless of whether you plan on leaving the house anytime soon, you should consider getting your tan on. Why? “I call it the cloak of confidence,” says Von Hep. “I love the confidence that tanning gives me—it makes me feel like me when I look in the mirror. I look in the mirror and go ‘(sighs) here I am.’ That’s why I called the brand Isle of Paradise. Because it’s a mental space that you take yourself to when you look in the mirror and feel great.”

“There’s something really liberating about when you tan. You are naked. You can’t tan in a jumpsuit, you can’t tan in a shirt and pants. You have to get your boobs out, bum out, no frills. And it’s such a cathartic moment,” says Von Hep, who believes in the powers of self-tanning not just for its final result, but for its honest ritual. “When you’re tanning in front of the mirror you’re physically touching your entire body, so there’s this whole connection between appreciating your body and practicing body positivity through tan.”

“The noughties made tanning such a faff,” he said. “They made it SUCH A RIGMAROLE, and people would be like ‘ugh Thursday night I’ve got to tan,’ now it’s like ‘Brenda, if you wanna tan on a Tuesday morning, you go for it.’”

As for his tips, well, they’re the tips of a true master;

- If you hate the stains tanning products leave on your sheets and clothes, use Isle of Paradise Glow Clear Self-Tanning Mousse or Self-Tanning Water, which are formulated clean and without a guide colour. If you’re nervous you’ll miss a spot, Von Hep suggests to “take a liquid highlighter and put that on the mitt first, then put the mousse on, and the liquid highlighter will just help you as a guide.

- Exfoliate 24 hours before tanning with a chemical exfoliant like the Isle of Paradise Over It Magic Self Tan Eraser (hello glycolic!) to “create a beautiful skin surface before the tan is applied.”

- To avoid self-tanning giveaways and faux pas, “pop some lip balm on your nails, brows and hairline to stop the tan from absorbing in those areas.

- “A sport sock, turned inside out, is the most incredible buffing tool for after you’ve applied your tan.”

- “It’s not always about changing the hue of your skin—for lighter skin tones, its often about colour correction and brightening the skin.”

- And the biggest gamechanger; “use a little bit of translucent powder to set your tan. In between the elbows, underneath the boobs, wherever you get a little sweaty and the tan breaks down. If you set your tan with powder before its developed, it will stop that from happening.”

BE AUTHENTIC AND PRACTICE SELF-LOVE

“You can’t fake authenticity,” says the co-founder, when asked what sets his brand—both personal and that of Isle of Paradise—apart. “I’m very open—sometimes I wake up and my mental health just is not great. The old me would have just pushed and pushed and made myself do more and keep delivering. Whereas now, I listen.”

“I write self-love lists; whenever I write a to-do list for the week, I write on the other side of the page five things that I’m going to do for me for that week,” Von Hep shared (and we’ve since adopted). “It might be booking in a spin class, or it might be something really simple like dry cleaning a shirt. It’s something for me and my headspace, and nothing to do with anything else.”

We’re the ambitious, go-getting type here at MECCA, but the co-founder’s lesson in realistic goal setting really stuck with us; “people think resolutions and goals have to be huge, and they don’t. You can have a goal of ‘I want to do a climbing wall this year, just once.’ You’re not saying ‘I have to take up regular climbing and I’m gonna change the way that I live.’ And once you change that, you’re able to grow and really feel a sense of accomplishment.”

To lift his mood and bring on the ‘body posi’ vibes, Von Hep will scroll through the feeds of Jameela Jamil, Sam Smith, Chessie King, Sarah Landry and our very own Flex Mami, described by Von Hep as “a breath of fresh air in a very foggy space.” He’ll make a pot of celeriac soup with sage butter by one of his favourite chefs, Anna Jones, will book himself into a spin class, and will blast a playlist of Elton John, Marvin Gaye, Joni Mitchell and, of course, the Spice Girls.

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