The hottest name in tanning is James Read. If you haven’t heard of him, you may have actually seen his work. James is responsible for natural sun kissed looks on Ellie Goulding, Cara Delevigne, Rita Ora, Mariah Carey and Lady Gaga, just to name a few of his A-list celebrity clients. Perfecting the best natural tan has been a mission for James and the range epitomises everything you could want to satisfy your tanning needs.

The range hit Mecca stores earlier this month and James spent some time here in Melbourne to launch the brand and range. I spent some time with James chatting about the James Read range and his inspiration as well as a multitude of other things which I can’t mention or print! Suffice to say, it was a fun afternoon with James who is not only successful, but is a warm, funny and down-to-earth guy who is passionate about what he does.


Welcome to Australia James and congratulations on the range being sold in Australia! Tell us a bit about the James Read brand and your inspiration.

Thank you! It’s great being here in Melbourne and Australia. I love Australia and it’s great that we’re able to bring the range out to Australia. I’ve always wanted to launch in Australia which is very cool and it’s been great to work with Mecca. They’re brand is luxurious and stylish which is the perfect fit for us and I love how their stores can provide that personalised help to talk about products and help customer select what they need.

James Read has been out for about two and a half years but I’ve been in the industry for about 15 years. This is the first tanning brand on the market by a person which I’m very proud of. The concept of the brand is skincare and tanning, meaning that the products are designed and formulated to not only give you a natural tan but also aim to improve the skin condition too.

The inspiration behind the brand is the 70s and the packaging reflects the Californian golden tans of the 70s. I wanted to create a range of products that would give that sun kissed natural healthy golden glow, working with the skin’s natural colour tones. The range has been formulated with skin-conditioning ingredients to ensure that skin feels good as well as looking good.

Looking real and natural is really my mantra. It’s about people saying “you look healthy and well” and you feel healthy and good too. People don’t have to worry about being overtanned with my products. It looks real and I’m really happy that so many people love the range and what it does for them.

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Tell us a bit about the products and what are some of the best sellers in the range?

There are four categories in the brand – Enhance, Self Tan, Gradual and Sleep/Overnight featuring a range of different products to suit every customer. The products are suitable for all skin types and are easy to use and streak free.

The best seller of the brand is the Sleep Mask which is an overnight mask for the face and neck. It’s great because it doesn’t transfer onto clothes or limit and it doesn’t smell. It provides and element of tanning but also features ingredients to improve skin at the same time, an all-in-one product. The Sleep Mask contains Hyaluronic acid, red algae extract, Vitamin E, Aloe Vera and really looks at taking care of skin with these natural ingredients. It’s paraben free, contains organic DHA, and is fragrance free as well.

USA Vogue featured the Sleep Mask last year and it sold out in the US within three days. Cara Delevigne is also a fan, purchasing the Sleep Mask recently on board a British Airways flight to use in-flight. It’s amazing to see the response to the product.

Another great seller is the BB Tan Pen which helps give a nice glow to the face. It contains the perfecting BB ingredients and is basically a foundation, tan and moisturiser in one. You paint it on the face and it builds a beautiful hint of colour to the face and suits all skin tones.

The Gradual tan range help to create a tan that develops during the day. The products contain SPF, meaning you can pop some on in the morning and the tan will gradually develop during the day and you’re also protected from the sun with the SPF.

The Express range is great for those looking for a quick tan as you only need to leave it for between 1-3 hours  (depending on how dark you want to go) before washing off. It produces a really nice natural colour and continues developing. It generally lasts a week and one of the great things is that it fades like a real tan does – evenly and gradually. Like the other products it’s developed with an element of skincare meaning your skin will be moisturised and hydrated as well.


You’re a favourite amongst A-List celebrities! Who have you worked with and what are some of their favourite products?

I’ve been very lucky to work with a great number of celebrities over the years, building up the brand and reputation for providing a great natural tan. I’ve worked celebrities including Lady Gaga, Mariah Carey, Ellie Goulding, Jessie J, Rita Ora, Rosie Huntington Whitely, Lara Stone and Cara Delevigne.

Ellie Goulding loves the Express Mask, Jessie J is a fan of the BB Tan and Lara Stone and Cara Delevigne love the Sleep Mask.

Whilst I do work with a lot of celebrities the great thing about the range is that it’s great for everyone! I have clients in their 60s and 70s who use the products and they’re also really good for people with dark skin to even out skin tone and highlight legs. The key is that everyone looks good with a tan and you can feel healthy and confident no matter who you are.


How do you think Aussies are different when it comes to tanning?

Australia is such a great place and it’s all about safe tanning. Australia is so much more knowledgeable about tanning and it’s about not exposing yourself to the sun. One time I was in Thailand there was a couple by the pool with their kids. The kids were reminding their parents to make sure that they were wearing SPF protection! It’s not about sitting in the sun anymore as people would rather use fake tan and use a high SPF to protect the skin.

I don’t sit out in the sun at all but I remember growing up, it was such a British thing to sit outside and get burnt because people used to say that you’d eventually turn brown after being burnt! But I had some bad experiences being burnt and I think that’s one of the reasons I got into tanning.  One of the great things about the range is that there are high levels of SPF in the products so you can walk around with a tan without having to sit in the sun!



What’s next for James Read?

I’m really excited about what’s next for the brand. I’m always trying to be innovative and change the tanning market. I like to be one step ahead and stepping outside the beauty box to deliver something unique. I will keep evolving and doing things to hit the trends or create trends.

One of the big things we have coming is the launch of Tantour, a new product that we’re announcing during London Fashion Week for release in 2016.  It’s an exciting product, a world first, that combines illuminator and mineral bronzer infused with a hint of self tan. The contour depends after 4 hours enhancing the contours on the face or body, depending on where you use it. We’ll be highlighting areas backstage at LFW.

We also have loads of new products coming out next year so watch this space!


You have beautiful skin, what beauty products do you use?

I’ve always loved beauty and love skincare. I use the Enzyme Peel Mask as it is great for hydrating, exfoliating and firming the skin. I used it today and it leaves my skin soft and smooth.

I am also a huge fan of facials and making sure I have one regularly to just clean and maintain the health of my skin. I also love using eve mom’s rescue mask to help calm my skin, and I love it for when I’m travelling.

Today I’m wearing the Day Tan Face with SPF15 to keep my health glow going.


James Read Tan is now available at Mecca, in store or online at

Images courtesy of James Read and Mecca.

About The Author

Katherine Ng

Katherine is not your typical Beauty Editor. Finance consultant by day and beauty and fashion addict at all other times, Katherine spends her hard-earned money helping the Australian and international economy with her never ending pursuit of everything pretty. A keen traveller, Katherine still holds dear her Melbourne roots with an overflowing wardrobe filled with black clothes, shoes and handbags. Katherine also has a deep love of food and wine, and you can find those adventures on instagram at @thegreedykat Email: Twitter: @kath_couturing Instagram: @kath_ng

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