We Tried It: Spray Tanning

Summer is coming to a close, which means that winter is not far off (daunting. I know.) Lately, I’ve been on an ‘endless summer’ kick which means, weekend trips to the beach, sundresses, and curly hair or beachy waves (thanks, extensions!) For warm days when I don’t want to weight my skin down with a full face of makeup, I like to perk-up my cheek bones to and the high planes of my face with a little highlighter to add to my summer glow. So when I received an invitation to a spray tanning event, by tan extraordinaire, St. Tropez, my first thought was “the last thing I need is a spray tan!” But, it’s my job to be knowledgeable on all things beauty so, I RSVP’d and prepared to go a shade darker.

How I Prepped

  • Get rid of all that hair. Salons recommend that you shave/wax the night before to increase the longevity of the tan and ensure that it adheres skin. Sorry ladies, that whole “no shave no shade” thing just doesn’t work here. I actually forgot about this step and took a disposable razor with me and did a quick shave in the bathroom (shhh..don’t tell anyone.)
  • Exfoliate. I have a strange obsession with scrub gloves, so I shower with them religiously to ensure that every day I wear my best skin. However, most tanning salons will recommend that you exfoliate the night before, so I showered at night with my gloves and in the morning I used a wash cloth. Tanning specialists recommend that you don’t exfoliate morning of because if gives the skin a little something to adhere to.
  • Arrive with clean skin. Obviously you’ll be clean, but you also want to make sure that your skin is tanned product-free—no perfumes, lotions, body oil, etc. Again, this is to ensure the longevity of the tan.

What To Expect

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  • Bare it all. You’ll take off all your jewelry and strip down to you skivvies and slip on a thin strip of material that’s barely a thong. Let this be a lesson in self love. If you’re stepping into a tanning booth, you’ll be less self-conscious, but if someone is applying the tan for you, be prepared to stand topless in front of a stranger. Admitedly I was a little worried about being judged for my body—I’m less than well endowed in the breast department and my abs could use a little work. To lessen my body anxiety, I kept eye contact with the woman applying my tan and maintained casual conversation. Luckily, my tan specialist was easy going and made me feel very comfortable, and before I knew it I’d practically forgotten I was only partially covered.
  • A bit drafty. As you are misted with tannin spray, you feel a bit of a chill. It’s nothing too drastic, but it may take a second or two to get used to.
  • A little sticky. You won’t be too uncomfortable, but your body will probably feel sticky like it does in the height of a humid summer day. Because of this, it’s recommended that you wear loose fitting clothing for 8 hours post-tan.
  • Shower the next AM. Unless, you get an early-morning tan, it’s best to wait until the following morning to shower since you won’t be able to get wet for 8 hours post-application.
  • Sleep on a towel. The night of the appointment, I slept on a towel to avoid getting any residual tanning solution on my sheets. The stains won’t be permanent, but if you have white sheets, you’ll defintiely want to follow this step. A few hours after the tan your skin stains in the same way that indigo from your jeans may bleed on to a surface.

The Results

Depending on the tan that you choose, it’s likely that you’ll only become one shade deeper than your natural hue. More than anything, you’ll notice that your skin looks a bit rosier and your body—your legs in particular—will appear to have more definition thanks to a great technique called “contour tanning.” I went with a basic tan since this was my first experience. I’d do it again, but I going forward, I would opt for an at-home application instead of going to a salon so that I could choose the amount of coverage. However, if you are considering getting a spray tan for the first time, I definitely recommend going to a salon so you can pick up the tricks of the trade from the pros and institute them at home.

Tell us about yourself! Have you ever had a spray tan? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!