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The ‘Beach Ken’ tan success story

Ryan Gosling’s humorous performance as the hapless Ken in the ‘Barbie’ movie has delighted audiences across the world, with his character’s impressive tan gaining lots of attention.

Said tan was achieved via the clever techniques of spray tan as wielded by finishing specialist, Kimberley Nkosi.

Founder of creative spray tanning and nail artistry brand Nkosi Beauty, the tanning expert secured a slot on set of what is arguably the biggest movie launch of the year, tasked with tanning several the film’s stars, including Emma Mackey and Hari Nef, as well as Gosling.

Speaking on how she ended up working on the film, Nkosi shares how, in the entertainment industry, it really is about who you know.

“Having been in the industry for some time you start to build connections from all walks of the session world, and my details were passed to one of the lead MUAs (makeup artists) on the job,” Nkosi told Professional Beauty. “They were looking for someone who had tanning and skin finishing skills.”

The brief was simple: “To create a flawless doll like-finish, free from blemishes, scars, and anything else you wouldn’t find on a Ken or Barbie doll.”

Despite the abs looking too good to be true on the multiple actors who play the different versions of Ken in the movie, Nkosi admits that that was due to the hard work of the actors and not her skills as a tan artist, explaining that “I didn’t use any tan-touring techniques (for the Kens’ bodies).

“The Kens in particular had a vigorous training regime, and tan-touring them wouldn’t have achieved that matte, polished doll-like look.”

During the film’s press tour, Gosling revealed on a panel how, “I woke up one day and was like, ‘Why is there fake tanner in my sheets? What just happened?'” – a feeling many tanning fanatics will be familiar with.

As with all tanning, prep work was key to achieving the final look, with Nkosi also implementing her colour theory knowledge and years of experience to customise the tans for each character, using Isle of Paradise products to achieve the perfect tone.

“Most of the planning came from the head MUA – I was given the brief and incorporated my professional opinion based on this, and what the actor’s skin and natural undertone looked like to achieve the truest most natural looking tan.

“We needed to create a tan that didn’t project any yellow or orange hues and that didn’t give off any red tones under the lights of the set.

“I used Isle of Paradise, as the tans have a colour-correcting active in them. In technical terms, this means opposite hues cancel each other out, and the tan evens out any discolouration.”