- Michelle Walters
Spray Tans Do Get Better With time
I’ll always remember my first spray tan.
It was in the bathroom of my girlfriend, Heather's house. There was a black pop up tent and a cute gal named Ryan that had blue gloves on and an paint brush gun in her hand. She told me to take everything off, put my lunch lady hat on and then step into her office. She instructed NEVER to step off that black towel either.
So next I remember was turning around one side at a time, hold my fingers out like I was playing the piano, holding my breath but don't squinch up my eyes....and WOW in less then 10 minutes I lost 10 pounds and felt like a bronzed goddess. And if that wasn't exciting....the next 48 hours was truly an amazing transformation. I was addicted. Now much to my surprise I did NOT turn orange - I think this chic new exactly what she was doing!! But...if you keep reading that wasn't the case when I tried to keep up with weekly spray tans and went somewhere else -- cuz what did I know? I thought all spray tans were alike wherever you went. NOT!
Tanning year round had recently become a must. Salons are popping up everywhere and white girls all over the Richmond area are frying themselves to a crisp in an effort to get the orangey-brown glow that graces many Hollywood stars, pageant girls, and etc.
As someone who doesn’t tan anymore (I had skin cancer about 5 years ago), I figure the only way I could replicate the skin tone of the moment was to get a spray tan and keep up with it every single week. So I took my two besties and we signed up for $20 spray tans. One by one, we stepped into a metallic cubicle, butt naked, and got hosed down with stinky sunless tanner by a machine. We were instructed beforehand to first stand facing the machine, then stand facing away from it, and then stand with each side facing it. As we assumed all four positions, we were supposed to do robotic dance moves with our arms to ensure that they were evenly covered. Yep, we were hooked on the spray tan booths!
As you might expect from a mechanically applied beauty treatment, we looked a hot mess afterward. We were all varying shades of orangey brown — Crayola might have deemed us “burnt sienna” — and covered in streaks from day one.
Because of the shoddy spray tan tactics of the 2000s, most people shy away from getting a spray tan today. At the very least, they shy away from admitting they’ve had one. But spray tan technology has changed a lot since 2006, and the resultant glow you get from a spray looks a lot more natural.
One thing that hasn’t changed since 2006? My inability to get a good tan in the sun without an entire summer’s worth of effort. So that’s why I still spray tan every single week.
This week, I got an airbrush tan (some weeks I jump in a VersaSpa Booth and sometimes I use my self tanning mousse in my bathroom) because I am going to back to Auburn to see the BEST football on the planet, visit lifelong friends and take lots of selfie. So I wanted to be a gorgeous dark and not orange. So I learned this awesome way to get that perfect tan — you spray on a thin layer of a light shade, then if you want more, you add more. But if not, you just leave it. I also gave myself a full-body exfoliation treatment 48hours prior to tanning, which I highly recommend.
The lightness and build-able nature of the tan sets it apart from the tanning methods of the ’00s. Back then, it was one size fits all. You want to be darker? You dye your skin darker. End of story. But now, the best spray tans are all about building color. My airbrush artist told me that she’d spray me once, and then if I wanted more color, we’d add it by spraying in 48 hours. The technique is called the "Double Dip". But to start, we went really subtle.
Another change: you’re not supposed to say spray tan anymore because of the orangey connotations. The treatment I got was called Airbrush. It also smelled way better than the spray tans of old.
Many formulas now also have bronzers built in so that the technician can see where she’s applied it, and this helps prevent streaking.
The result was a super natural-looking glow that wasn’t orange at all — no Dorito comparisons or nasty comments from frenemies for me.
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