Monday, August 20News That Matters

Confessions of a celebrity spray-tan artist


Jules Von Hep has seen a lot of stars naked, including Blake Lively, Kate Moss and Sienna Miller.

The global spray-tan artist caters to celebrities who want to look their most bronzed, no matter what the season. “I am on call constantly. I never leave home without my passport, clean underwear and a bottle of tanning mousse and a mitt,” the London-based Hep, 31, told Page Six. “I wake up without any clients, and then by the end of the day I’m on a plane somewhere.”

Hep’s work takes him from Europe to the United States to the Mediterranean at a moment’s notice. So just how much does it cost to have an expert spray-tan artist hop on a plane at your beck and call? Hep wouldn’t divulge — but his prices include the cost of travel in addition to the service itself.

“Sundays are incredibly busy for me in the celebrity world,” Hep said. “Friday nights are also busy, because celebrities have weekend events. I’m working around their schedule, which is not a normal schedule. I’ve done spray tans at 3 a.m., 5 a.m., in the only five minutes a celebrity has that day. Sometimes we don’t even talk! They just close their eyes, and I spray.”

Jules Von Hep
Jules Von HepIsle of Paradise

Though celebrities will often tap Hep and his team for press tours, music festivals or other long-term projects, he also pops in on photoshoots or before special red carpets, which can present certain challenges.

“Imagine working with a celebrity who’s like, ‘I’m doing a photoshoot in the water tomorrow,’ and I have to formulate the right tan and the right timing,” he said. “There’s a high pressure when you leave the client. Celebrities get distracted quite often, so I tell them ‘I need you to not get wet. You can’t mess this up, because you’re the face of a whole fashion campaign.’ I’m very strict.”

Hep has been spray-tanning for 10 years, and learned the tricks of the trade — including the importance of discretion — from Nichola Joss, a celebrity facialist beloved by Meghan Markle, Margot Robbie, Cate Blanchett and more.

“Sometimes you see or hear things that a newspaper would absolutely fall over themselves for, like there’s a fight going on or the house is messy,” he said. “There’s a relationship and they’re becoming your friend, but you’re there to do the job, so you have to keep it professional. Trust is a huge thing. You’re booked on your discretion.”

When your job is to make naked celebrities feel good, you also have to bring the right personality. “I have a rule when hiring someone for my team: Anyone in the world can do a spray tan with the right training, but I cannot train someone in the general energy that they’ll cast in the room. I turn up to someone’s house and I set the tone,” Hep said.

Still, things are bound to get awkward when you’re alone with a naked A-lister. “I’ve been on shoots before [where] someone asked me to contour their butt to make it look bigger. They ask for a six-pack and I’m like, ‘This is a spray tan, not a magic wand.’ But I can contour anything and make it look amazing in a photoshoot,” Hep said.

Jennifer Lopez
Jennifer LopezGC Images

Clients most often show him pictures of Blake Lively or Jennifer Lopez as examples of the type of glow they’re seeking, and Hep’s known for his “secret tans,” which are so natural, you might mistake them for genuine sun exposure. Hep told us that he often ends up curling hair, styling outfits and exfoliating a client’s back, all for the sake of helping a glam squad make someone look their best.

But the bronzing pro’s job isn’t always as fun as it might seem. “Sometimes when you meet with someone while their career is skyrocketing, they’re lovely, and then you meet them again and they change,” Hep explained, counting actresses as his favorite to work with (“The banter that you can have with an actress is unlike any other, because they become a character, and I’m ridiculous myself”). He added that musicians are “often very lonely,” while TV presenters are the best at giving business advice.

Hep has had some bad experiences, though. “I once left a shoot in Mykonos and I got on my flight and never spoke to the celebrity again, because she was so vile on the shoot. That’s hard, because you have a relationship and you have to cut it off.”

For the non-famous among us, Hep’s even created his own brand of at-home tanning products, called Isle of Paradise. After all, he said, fame doesn’t change how folks feel about their own physiques.

Celebrity or no celebrity, every single person apologizes for something on their body. Everyone says ‘I’m sorry, I forgot to have a wax,’ or ‘My bum is a bit jiggly,’” Hep said. “It’s a bit sad.”

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