Isle of Paradise is changing everything you know about self-tanning


What stops you from self-tanning? It might be the memory of a streaky disaster, the unpleasant scent associated with some tanning products, or perhaps the unfortunate orange shade you’ve been left with before. New arrival Isle of Paradise is intent on reinventing the entire tricky process. Created by London-based celebrity tanner Jules Von Hep, the brand offers easy-to-use colour-correcting formulas that deliver an unbelievable bronze glow. The fact it uses vegan, cruelty free and organic ingredients makes it even more appealing.

“Not everybody tans the same way,” says Von Hep over FaceTime on a recent morning. “I believe in a wardrobe of tan choices. Isle of Paradise is for people who haven’t been comfortable tanning before.” The range launched with three different shades: peach (for a sun-kissed glow), green (to counter redness and crate a medium tan) and violet (to instil deep colour and nix any orange tones), all available in three different formulas: a water, drops and a foam. Naturally, we had a few more questions for the effusive founder on his revolutionary brand.

You’ve spent the last decade tanning bodies, including celebrity ones. How did you get into the industry?

“I tried different roles in the beauty industry and nothing clicked. Then I met Nichola Joss (celebrity facialist whose clients include Kate Moss, Scarlett Johansson and Gwyneth Paltrow) who encouraged me to try tanning. It wasn’t the tan that got me hooked, but I fell in love with people’s vulnerability. Clients came to me to feel better, and it was my job to make people feel good naked and give them this cloak of confidence. I loved knowing I’d made someone feel good in their skin. I built a good reputation and the makeup artist for The X-Factor asked me if I’d like to do the tans for the show, to which I said ‘Hell yes!’ When we wrapped, I started touring with Little Mix, and got poached by Dancing With the Stars. In the UK that show was known for bad, orange tans. I’d become known for natural-looking tans, so I changed that whole show. Then, I was going around the world doing Versace campaigns, Michael Kors fashion shows, more TV productions—I did the tans for the first season of The Crown—and I spent more time educating people on how to tan.”

Was your idea for the brand something that grew over time or a total aha moment?

“It was definitely an aha moment. Through my career I’d heard clients saying the same thing over and over—they wanted to look ‘glowy’, ‘brighter’, ‘less tired’ or ‘bronzed’ and always the best version of themselves, rather than just ‘tanned’. From the products I was using, it was difficult to really do that. I’m a Virgo and a total perfectionist. I’d see my clients the next day and it wouldn’t be the result that I wanted, so I started mixing my tan with colour-correcting makeup. After doing it for a while, my kit was huge, two suitcases. I just thought, there has to be a better way. I never wanted my own brand, but I felt like it was my duty. If I didn’t do it women would be left tanning with the same products that left dull, lifeless results. I had to help them.”

Isle of Paradise is strongly tied to a message of body positivity and inclusivity. Can you speak to that?

“Body confidence has been a massive pillar for me. Every single body is different, but when I was tanning, every single person was apologising for taking their clothes off. Victoria’s Secret model or otherwise, the moment that robe came off it was, ‘Oh, I’m so sorry about my cellulite/thighs/arms/back/this old tattoo/oh I haven’t waxed’. I’d say, ‘Honestly babe, I don’t care, and neither should you!’ Tanning others helped me with my own body confidence. I’m more confident because I’ve been around so many naked bodies, and I’m so qualified to say this: everybody has their body hang-ups. When it came to what the brand stood for, I knew what triggered my insecurities and that if I wanted people to embrace a brand for their bodies, I had to make sure it was a brand that embraced their bodies. I wanted the bodies in the Isle of Paradise campaigns to represent the bodies we see every day: all sizes, shapes, skin tones and textures. People say it’s amazing that we were the first tanning brand to use a curvy model, and it is great, but I also think it’s sad that it hadn’t been done before.”

We love that there’s a tanning primer in your range. How does it work?

Prep It lowers the pH level of your skin, meaning your tan does not smell as much and it gives you up to three days more out of your tan. Which is a gamechanger. I came up with that concept when I was doing body makeup. Makeup primer is obvious, it makes the foundation sit better and last longer … and then I thought, why don’t we have one of these for tanning? It makes such a noticeable difference using it.”

You once said there’s an art to tanning pale skin. Please elaborate for all those pale skin tones who equate tanning with turning orange.

“Many people forget that when you tan, it doesn’t have to be this whole colour change. I personally love being really darkly bronzed, but I know that’s not for everyone. I have clients who are pale with reddish hair and they have silky skin with red-pinky undertones. When you give them the lightest possible coat of tan, it removes that uneveness in the tone and texture of their skin. The tan smoothes everything out. But it’s not like painting a white wall brown, it’s about giving it the lightest kiss of colour. If you’re pale and use the peach range, it has a high level of oxy-glow complex, which boosts oxygen in the skin, so you’ll glow more as opposed to be tanned."

Tanning water is still quite a new concept. What are your top tips for using it?

Tanning water is one of the most hydrating ways you can tan. It can seem a bit scary because it doesn’t have a guide colour, but actually, the fact that you will have no colour transfer onto clothes or sheets is a gamechanger. It’s also great for new tanners because it’s a similar process to an SPF at the beach: spray it on, rub it in, wash it off your hands. The same prep applies. I exfoliate with the Isle Of Paradise Over It because it’s a glycolic exfoliator, so you get the evenest surface possible. Then, moisturise hands, elbows, knees and feet—lif you’re fair, moisturise eyebrows and hairline too. Prime your skin with Prep It, then holding the tanning water 15cm from your skin, lightly mist until skin is visibly wet, then rub it in using your palm or a tanning mitt. Wash your palms and remoisturise your hands and it will just blend that whole area. Your tan will develop in four to six hours, but because there’s no colour transfer you can put on all white and go to work, or go to bed in it and wake up with no transfer on your sheets.”

Jules’ pro tips for IOP Tanning Water

  • Use your tanning water to set your makeup and it will tan you through your makeup, and when you take your makeup off, you’ll be tanned underneath.
  • If you’re in a rush, you can dry the water with your hairdryer on cool and then set it using a translucent powder.
  • If you’re nervous about streaks, check your tan two hours after you’ve applied and you’ll be able to see the tan developing, so if you’ve missed anything you can correct it.

Which product do you use the most?

“I swap and change all the time, but the green water. I spray that on my face every other day because it hides redness and makes me look not exhausted.”

How do you recommend using the tanning drops?

“I love the drops, and I always say, don’t be shy with them. You can add six to 12 drops into a dollop of moisturiser, so you’re really in control of what shade you go. To use on your body, put your moisturiser in the palm of your hand, make a little well with your thumb, add the drops and then rub your palms together and moisturise as normal. Your moisturiser is now a tanner. The drops contain avocado oil, coconut oil and chia seed oil, which are all extra hydrating. On the face, I say two to four drops, and if you are a girl on the go, just put them in your foundation. A lot of girls keep them in their makeup case. They are great to take to the gym, you can take them on holiday and fly with them in your carry-on. I love putting them in my after-sun lotion.”

Interview by Alexandra Whiting
January 2019


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