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The Interview: Hayley Hall, Head of Brand & Comms, Skinny Tan

Chloe Burney
21 February 2023

Hayley Hall has worked at Brand Architekts, the challenger-brand business operating in the beauty sector, since 2021. She now holds the title of Head of Brand and Communications for one of its star businesses, Skinny Tan

Many may know the brand ‘Skinny Tan’ from its record-breaking pitch on Dragon’s Den, which saw Australia-based Co-founders Kate Cotton and Louise Ferguson receive offers from all five dragons. Fast forward a decade after appearing on the popular TV programme, the brand has done what it set out to do – conquered the UK market. It is now stocked in Boots, Superdrug, Tesco and several more household names.

The self-tanning idea was conceived in 2012 after the duo spent years disappointed by pungent, orange-toned fake tans. They embarked on a project to create a streak-free, natural-looking product. In June 2015, the brand was sold to InnovaDerma for an undisclosed sum.

The ‘Skinny’ in Skinny Tan, despite seeming controversial at first glance, refers to its naturally derived ingredients, with some Skinny Tan products being made from as much as 99% naturally-derived ingredients. spoke to Hayley Hall about navigating the British self-tanning market, Skinny Tan's unique formulas, and its latest product launches.

What makes Skinny Tan different to other tanning brands on the market?

We’re celebrating 10 years since Skinny Tan first appeared on Dragon’s Den, and our brand DNA hasn’t changed since then - we were created by women for women, with skincare always at the heart of our innovative formulas.

Many tanning products can dry the skin, causing the tan to fade faster and for unsightly ‘tiger bread’ to appear. Our formulations are always enriched with skin-loving ingredients that help to care for and improve the quality of skin over time. Every product is like a full body treatment, not just an incredibly natural tan!

Our approach to tanning has always been problem-solution too. We look to address common pain points by creating the best textures, most beautiful scents, easy-to-use formulas, giving the most natural tan ever.

Can you tell us about the skin-friendly ingredients used in your tanning products?

Every single one of our products is enriched with beneficial ingredients that will help to improve the quality or appearance of skin over time.

We’ve included amazing ingredients such as Hyaluronic Acid, Q10, Vitamin E, Coconut Water, Retinol, Vitamin C, Guarana Extract, Blackberry Juice, Vegan Collagen and Poppyseed – and we’re always looking for ways to boost existing formulas and create ground-breaking new ones.

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What are Skinny Tan's best-selling items and why do they appeal to your customers?

Our hero product is undoubtedly our Tan & Tone Wonder Serum. It was the first tanning serum on the market, and it acts as a full body anti-ageing treatment that actually blurs imperfections and redness upon application too. It’s become an icon because it’s perfectly suited for more mature and dry skin, but it’s also such a pleasure to apply and delivers a beautiful result that’s imperceptible from a real tan.

Tan & Tone Tanning Oil has also always been hugely popular, as it delivers the most natural buildable result and applies in seconds; it’s also recently been relaunched with supercharged ingredients to help tone the skin and reduce the appearance of imperfections.

Coconut Water Tanning Mist is also a big seller, as the transparent formula smells like paradise and doesn’t transfer onto bedsheets or clothing. It’s so easy to use and a great tan for building up over a number of days, or simply layering over existing tans.

The brand was founded in Australia, how does the UK market compare?

The UK and Australia have completely different approaches to suncare and tanning in general, largely due to the differing climates. The UK is way behind in terms of adopting sun safety, but we’re much more open to a touch of fake tan – maybe it’s because we rarely get a sunny day in the UK!

Tanning is much more part of our regular regimes and part and parcel of going 'out out', but tanning usage really differs regionally; the stereotypes really do run true - women in Liverpool, Glasgow and Manchester embrace the tan much more than their more southern counterparts.

Skinny Tan recently launched the world-first whipped formula, can you tell us more about this?

We launched our very first Pink Self-Tanning Whip as a limited edition product back in 2020 and it was received with overwhelming delight! We followed up with our Peach Self-Tanning Whip in 2022 because the thirst for beautiful scents and surprising textures was growing.

Building upon the past products, we’ve now launched our Self Tanning Whips, which offer the same easy-to-use and fun whipped texture but with a built-in colour guide. These are now within our ‘core’ tanning collection, meaning they’re here to stay.

The whipped texture squirts out like whipped cream and melts into the skin with a cooling sensation, making it easy to use and is perfect for beginners or tanning experts alike. We’re really excited to see how they’re received over the next few months!

skinny tan

Last year, the EU and UK announced that DHA, the colourant that darkens tan, would be restricted to a maximum of 10% per bottle. Did this affect your business?

We’ve spent a lot of time reformulating to reduce the level of DHA within our products, without impacting the overall result or tanning experience. It’s been a challenge! We’ve discovered some great DHA alternatives that help the tan penetrate deeper and develop quicker, which are really making our formulas the most innovative they can be.

We also used it as an opportunity to supercharge our formulas at the same time, adding in even more skin-loving ingredients and refining the results for our best formulas ever.

Skinny Tan is already dominating the British high street, with stockists including Boots, Superdrug, and Tesco. What are your plans to grow the business in the future?

We’ve just launched into a few new retailers, including Sainsbury’s and Waitrose, which is really exciting. We’re also in talks with many other established names on the high street to bring the Skinny Tan portfolio to new audiences.

The big news is that we’re in the process of launching further internationally, especially in locations where there’s a huge thirst for tanning products.

Are there any upcoming product launches you can tell us about?

We’re just about to launch our 1 Day Instant Tanner and Body Buffing Brush, which are the perfect pair for an instant natural-looking and long-lasting glow. The formula is not only splashproof and long-lasting but also helps to blur imperfections and boost radiance; it’s been hailed as the ‘best instant tanner I’ve ever used’ by our anonymous customer testing panel.

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