TOWIE fans “well jel” of the show’s perma-tanned stars have helped send sales of fake tan soaring - as traditional suncare products are left languishing in the shade.

Sales of artificial tanning products have risen 6% in volume and 10% in value to £22.5m over the past year, while traditional sun protection products have fallen 4.9% in volume and 7% in value to £160.5m [Kantar Worldpanel 52 w/e 25 December 2011].

Retailers and beauty salons are attributing the sudden uplift not just to concerns over sunbeds and a dip in Brits holidaying abroad, but also to ‘the TOWIE effect’ - the impact of reality TV programme The Only Way is Essex.

“Increased awareness of the risks of sunbeds may have contributed to the rise in sales, but never underestimate the TOWIE effect,” said Lou Ellerton, senior consultant at branding agency The Value Engineers. “The Essex crowd are championing the idea that ‘white ain’t right, fake is jake’ and mob-handedly driving up sales of fake tan.”

Since TOWIE first aired in 2010, volume sales of artificial tan products have risen from 3.5 million packs to 3.7 million in 2011 and 3.8 million this year [Kantar 52 w/e 18 March 2012].

The TOWIE girls have been getting a slice of the action themselves, with Amy Childs following in the footsteps of co-star Lauren Goodger - who launched her own fake tan last year - and rolling out the Up Tan Gal range of products in Tesco last month.