The Co’s Amanda Bacon shares a down-to-earth perspective on the latest trends in beauty and wellness.
Let’s cut to the chase. We are in the heart of Coachella season, and you need to step up your tanning game, like yesterday. You’re stressed about using tanning beds because, “Hello? Wrinkles?”, ain’t nobody got time for those daily creams that promise to build a gradual tan, and I know what you’re thinking, “Spray tans? Yikes?! I don’t want to look too orange, too streaky, or too fake!”
But have I got news for you. This is 2016 ladies! Spray tans have come a loooong way over the years and it’s time we kick that bad rep out the door and welcome sunless tanning in with open arms. If you’re still having second thoughts, I thought you might… So I’ve decided to tackle a few FAQs – let’s dive in a little deeper and take a closer look. One ridiculously bronzed bod coming right up!
W h a t i s a S p r a y T a n ?
A spray tan is a fine mist solution with the key ingredient Dihydroxyacetone (DHA) in it. This is what causes a development reaction with your skin providing a tanned appearance that lasts for about 3-7 days.
Keep in mind that this is just an ~illusion~. Your skin is not actually tanned as it would be from a tanning booth or the sun. You can only get that kind of a tan from UVA/UVB rays, so please be careful dancing away in the desert heat in your cute festival outfits (jealous) – you will still need your SPF, because a spray tan does not protect you from the sun either.
H o w d o I g e t m y B r o n z e O n ?
There are two main application processes for Spray tanning.
The first is a spray tan booth. The booth application is typically a solo adventure. Generally speaking, you step into the booth and follow the guided instructions spoken from an automated message. The booths have little nozzles that spray out the tanning solution, often on a mechanical system that moves around in the booth to offer you a seamless, even glow! Once this is complete, you dry off, and go! Easy peasy.
The second is a spray tan air gun – similar to an airbrush gun you see at the nail salon. This is not for the modest individual. You will be naked (and pale), and you will have someone spraying you, but this beautiful creature is going to make you a damn golden goddess – and probably talk to you about the latest Netflix series she just crushed (which fine, I’m kinda into that).
W h i c h d o I C h o o s e ?
I like the air gun method better because I find you’re getting a more personalized tanning service. If you find a great specialist you can get her to really customize your tan. For example, I like my legs to be super dark and the tops of my shoulders/collar bone, so my girly always does a couple extra “coats” on these areas to compound the solution and saturate the skin in DHA. Whereas the booth is just going to give you a standard coating of the mist, and no Netflix recommendations 🙁
The air gun method is also a little bit easier just because you have someone in the room directing you the whole time. The booth isn’t difficult by any means, but can be somewhat confusing your first time.
Great things about the booth? Since you’re not working with a specialist, you typically don’t need to make an appointment. Also, the session time is much shorter due to the automated system and typically the booth spray tans are less expensive – which I’ll get into in a little bit.
B u t . . . H o w d o e s i t W o r k ?
D O N ’ T F R E A K O U T
Some places have a spray tanning solution where the mist is clear, and some have a bronzed tint to them. It’s the DHA in the solution that is developing with your skin for that golden hue, so whether it is bronzed or clear doesn’t make a whole lot of difference to the tan itself.
In my experience, I’ve noticed that the tanning booths use a clear solution, which means when you come out of the booth you’re going to look in the mirror and be like, “WTF? I’m not even tanned?” but relax, it’s coming. The solution takes around 3 hours to start to show results and continues to develop the longer you leave it on. “They” recommend you leave it on (don’t shower) for a minimum of 4-6 hours but I will usually do somewhere around 12 hours. I’ll go after work and then shower the next morning before work or whatever I have going on the next day, and I find that’s what gives me the best results. I have heard rumours that if you don’t shower at all for a couple days the tanning solution will keep developing on your skin and can eventually turn a strange hue, so please – let’s just shower, okay?
Oh yes! The bronze solution – I believe this is used more so with the air gun method. I was told it has a bronze tint so that the specialist can see what she’s doing, it’s a guide for her to ensure she’s applying it evenly, and they make it bronze in colour because… well it would just be weird if it were any other colour, right? Right. The upside to this is that you’re immediately tanned when you leave the salon. Like… DARK. But it’s the “clear” DHA mixed in that is changing your skin colour, not the topical bronzer – do not be fooled. So if you smudge a little with your seat belt on the car ride home, stay ~cool~, the DHA is likely not harmed – it’s just that guide bronzer.
I s i t H a r m f u l ?
In short, no, it’s not harmful. It’s not the best to breathe in the solution, just like it’s not great to breathe in nail polish remover, or hair spray, but the application processes have revolutionary air ventilation systems which make this nearly a non-issue – and we all know how to hold our breath for the 2 seconds it takes to spray the face. Overall it’s much safer than the harmful rays from the sun / artificial lamps so if sun safety is your thing, spray tans should be too.
Still not convinced? There are several salons that offer organic spray tan solutions. These have very similar effects and are generally in the same price range, so if you are seeking a natural formula, there is an option for you too (yay!)
M o n e y m o n e y m o n e y m o n e y . . . M O N E Y
This is one of the only downsides of spray tans. They ain’t cheap. But man, are they worth it. I’d say a single session can run anywhere between $30-$50 Canadian dollars, which for something that’s going to last you about a week, can get super pricey if you plan on making this a regular thing.
If you’re more the type of person to just get a tan before an event like Coachella, or a wedding, then you’re probably fine with just buying one tan at a time. But if you’re merely a shade deeper than Edward Cullen, like me :’) then you can buy a package of like 10 spray tans for a bundle price, which usually makes each tan close to 50% off when you do the math.
Generally speaking, the booths run around the lower end of $30, and the beauty salon airgun method will probably hit you up to around $50 a session.
D O s & D O N T s : P r e p & M a i n t e n a n c e
DO shave/wax your legs and exfoliate your body 24 hours prior to your spray.
DON’T moisturize your skin before your session. This is a common error. If you replenish your skin with a moisturizer before your session, your skin will not be soaking in the maximum benefits of the mist.
DO wear your hair up, loose fitting clothes, and flip flops to your session. Keep the clothing loose for as long as possible before showering off …and if it gets on your clothes don’t worry – it washes out.
DON’T get changed right away. Again, we are letting that sweet bronzing nectar soak in, hang out for a couple minutes til you’re relatively dry to the touch.
T i p s & T r i c k s
Wait Time: Like I mentioned before, you want to keep yourself nice and dry for at least 4-6 hours after your session. I recommend getting a spray in the evening, going home and doing something low key that doesn’t involve a lot of moving around (maybe there’s a Friends marathon on idk?) taking the night to sleep with the solution on to get maximum absorption of DHAs in the skin. You’ll definitely want to plan your workout accordingly.
Showering off: In the morning, hop in the shower and don’t stand directly under the nozzle. Lightly rinse away the excess bronzer with a light cleanser.
Maintenance: You’ve just paid good money for this tan and you wanna be looking fly for as long as possible, so keeping the skin moisturized and dry is the trick, but can be tricky. You want the skin to be healthy and moisturized, but do not want to be using a moisturizer that is too oily because you don’t want to break down the DHAs that have tinted the skin. A light sweep of moisturizer once a day will be more than enough to keep your glow going. If you wear make-up, you will notice that your face will become lighter quicker than your body because you are washing your make-up off each night, but that’s totally manageable. There are so many great make-up compacts infused with SPF these days that you can take with you in your fringed festival purse to keep yourself bronzed and protected all day long!
Longevity: It may be hard to avoid getting wet, but this is another thing that is going break down those beloved DHAs we cherish so deeply. I’ve been to Coachella and Vegas a couple times last year, and between pool parties and the killer desert heat, staying dry, fly, and sun protected seemed like it was going to be a trying task. But truthfully, it wasn’t an issue at all. I used my SPF 30 sunscreen as lotion for my body in the morning, and when I came back from a day out at the pool in the heat I used a tint bar, or at home spray to touch up any areas I thought seems to fade away from dancing my butt off. They’re super easy to use and provide great results in a pinch!
So there you have it. I’m hoping you feel confident in knowing the do’s and don’ts, what products to use, steps to take, and have the tricks to prepping & maintaining that perfectly bronzed bod. Keep in mind, sunless tanning not only protects you from the sun, but it makes you look damn good while doing it. So I welcome you to come and join me on the dark side – of sunless tanning that is 😉