Tuesday, February 24, 2009

To Tan or Not to Tan, that is the question

this is me, with a tan. A fake tan, about 2 years ago. I'm paler with darker hair now. And yes, that is my real eye color. Told you I look scary!

Women enjoy being tan. I know I do. I am not the type of person who looks good pale. I'm not a goth kid, and I don't have that porcelain, alabaster skin that looks so pretty on very few girls. I had a friend growing up who could rock being pale without looking ghostly-she had pretty auburn brown hair, was about 6'1, with green eyes and long lashes. She never tanned, had flawless skin, and always managed to look beautiful and luminous, where as when I was pale, I tended to look like I was glowing or like I was from the village of the damned. I have very pale, bright blue eyes, so, mix that with pasty white skin and you get a very odd look. I can't rock pale. So, I would tan. I was never the tanning bed devotee, I would tan naturally in the summer and get very very dark (thanks Mom for being half Cherokee) but then, after the summer, I would go back to white (Thanks again, Mom, for also being half Scottish). I never really burned, I was like toast. I'd go from White to Brown pretty seamlessly, and have only ever had about 3 sunburns in my whole life-mostly from lack of spf and spending a week at an intense field hockey camp in the glaring beach sun.

In my early 20's, when vanity really set in, I started going to the tanning beds a few times a week to maintain that healthy-looking glow. After about 2 years of tanning, a close friend of mine, who had been a lifelong, die hard tanning bad junkie, developed skin cancer from tanning beds...down there. Yup. No tan lines can come with a pretty hefty price. She's an amazing person, and after having the cancerous skin removed (again, down there) and months of follow up, she was cancer free. She was also tan free.. She was like me, and like most girls out there-she preferred a tan, and looked better with a tan, so the exploration for the perfect faux tan began.

After the cancer, all of our friends stopped tanning and decided to try something safer. With Cancer, wrinkles, permanent skin damage and running the risk of looking like a worn out catchers mit by the age of 40, I decided to explore my tanning options. Self tanners-tedious, inaccurate, time-consuming and often, messy with orange or brown hands, nails and "creases" It was around this time that the commercial introduction of spray tan came about. Ah yes, Mystic Tan....for years, you could go to a salon, get naked and have a person airbrush a tan on you. It was custom and accurate, but it was also humiliating. No one should see my pale, naked ass standing like a starfish holding my breath while sporting a hairnet, toes curled in, fingers in a claw...not pretty.
Heidi's tan looks nice. Not too dark, but looks nice and healthy. She's also been retouched, if you couldn't tell.

With spray tanning, I could go get a healthy glow in about 5 minutes. And within 4 hours, I was tan. I would spray tan 1-3 times a week to keep a nice, medium tan tone and I have to say, I loved it and to this day, spray tan when I'm feeling a little bit too pasty. You go into a private booth, lock the door, get undressed, prep, tan, towel off, dress and go. It's easy and quick. It actually takes longer to prep in the room than it does to tan. You get sprayed for 10-20 seconds, I'd gather, and I've tried every variety of spray tan. I spray tanned for years, and haven't had a real tan in close to 8 years. That's right. I get my fair share of vitamin D, but I wear spf and don't actively seek a tan like I did as a teenager. And most people thought my tan was real. Most of us have seen the orange celebrities, and that can put you off of spray tanning. The key is to know what you are doing. It sounds absurd-I just described it and you don't have to have to be a rocket scientist to figure out how to get naked and let a spray nozzle hit you. BUT you can abuse spray tanning, and that's when you go from tan to orange, or worse.

Anyone with an event-guy or girl, can take advantage of spray tanning. Here is what you need to know.
1. Spray tanning is more expensive than regular tanning. It is, but it's worth it for all the right reasons. But please, don't abuse it.
2. Exfoliate before you go, but don't shave the day of. Shave or wax or whatever you do to remove hair in advnace. If you shave, you'll get irritation, and the spray tan will cause the follicle to look dark-like a freckle or blackhead.
3. Don't shower or get wet-in any way-for at least 4 hours. Longer if you want a darker tan. If you get a shower or go swimming, you'll wash off the spray tanning liquid. If you are in the rain-it can cause the tan to "bleed" and it's hard to blend. You can get streaks-like a zebra if you get wet-since the spray tan will run with the water. I've had this happen, and the only recourse is to scrub and get rid of the spray tan.
4. Use the barrier cream they give you, or buy some. This stuff is great-GLOP it on your nails, and absorb it into your palms, blending it into your fingers-or you'll have a weird line and your hands will just look dirty. Don't forget the feet and toes too-heels especially!
5. There is residue from Spray tanning. After the spray tan, you have a towel to pat down. Use the towel. Don't swipe the spray off, but pat it, as if you are buffing it into your skin. The spray tan can be tinted or clear-I like clear b/c the tinted tends to stain clothing. It's not really permanent, but, it's a pain in the arse, and if you are wearing white, it can suck. This is minimal, really, and in over 7 years of spray tanning, i never ruined clothing, I just got annoyed. The easiest way to stain clothing with spray tan is right after the spray tan. Not patting down, sweating, getting wet-you are rewetting the spray tan, the thing that makes you tan, and if it rubs on your clothing, it'll tan them.
6. Be prepared to smell weird.
I can't stress this enough. Spray tan smells funny. Like a chemical potato, orange zest and dirt. Everyone describes it differently-my husband HATED it. He would get near me and then turn away repulsed. I didn't think it was that bad, but it does smell. This is why I suggest going at night, before bed, so you don't have to deal with going to work smelling like some funky vegetable. Plus, in the morning, before you shower, you can inspect your tan and see where you may need to exfoliate or blend.
7. The smell goes away after you shower. Don't worry, you only smell funny for as long as you don't shower immediately after the spray tan. It doesn't stay with you forever, it's just a side effect from the spray. Just make sure you actually shower-but I shouldn't have to tell you how to soap up!
8. Spray tanning lasts longer if you don't scrub. If you exfoliate your face everyday, you'll get about 3, maybe 4 days outo of your spray tan. Exfoliate ever 3-4 days, and you can get over a week out of one spray tan. If you want to get rid of a spray tan, scrub, and in about 2-3 days, you'll be back to white.

9. Ooompah Loompah Alert. The more you go, the darker, or oranger you get. One spray tan tint won't make you look like you spent a week in the Caribbean, but it will give you a noticeable sun kissed glow. You get about 3-5 shades darker, depending upon your skin tone. I found that 2x week was enough to look tan, and not look fake or gross.
10. If you are tanning for an event, like your wedding, start 2 months prior, at least, and stop a 2-4 days before your wedding. You'll be tan enough, I promise, and after a day or 2 is when your ideal tan appears. You aren't super dark, you've had a chance to not smell like potato, and it's just when the tan looks the most natural. Don't tan the day before or the day of your wedding, it's not worth the hassle!

Good luck, God Speed and Happy-SAFE-tanning!


Teresa said...

Great post! I can totally relate. I spend my four years of college laying in a tanning bed 3 to 4 days a week. I was obsessed with being tan all the time. These days, I am a devoted spray tanner. I actually do it myself (L'oreal Sublime glow spray) and have never had it done professionally. I am trying to decide what to do for my August wedding. Perhaps it's time to try the professional spray!

supergirl said...

My mother is Mexican and Norwegian and my dad is Polish and Czech--so I've got the odd combination of having an olive undertone with the capacity to be very, very white. I get tanned easily but my family has a history of skin cancer so I'm the girl who carries around spf 50 on a day to day basis. I've never tried professional tanning because I dislike the orange look and I have flash backs of a "Friends" episode when Ross gets sprayed three times on the same side. Thanks for sharing advice for virgin tanners. It makes me a little less of a chicken to try it sometime. My fiancee would be thrilled.

Kristen Nichols said...

That ross episode is hysterical-it's almost impossible to do tho-so no fears there! Just remember to carry a nice body spray for afterwards to mask some of the dirty potato tan smell i mentioned-and you do feel a bit sticky afterwards, but it's well worth it-that's why I suggest going at night before bed, so you wake up tan and can blend the tan after the shower!

Michelle said...

hmmm, I tanned for my wedding, but I felt terrible about it the whole time, and i started 2 months before the event...I am wondering about doing it again, or doing the spray tan, professional...but my sister did it once and she looked a little orange.

Dallas Shaw said...

I think you look gorgeous, but you probably also look great now as well.

Alisha said...

I also have had fears about this because of that friends episode. I've wanted to do it forever because i'm native american/irish, and it is the strangest mix. I'm officially going to do it in April. Officially. Thanks for the info!