Ahh... tanning beds, what was very much a part of our routine in those key "pre-summer" months in an effort to get a kick start on glowing skin before hitting the beach. It's ok, no skin shaming here, and let's be honest, a lot of us did it. By now we all know the dangers in the quest for a contrasting heart-shaped swatch strategically placed over our hip, and we're onto better, healthier ways to achieve the glow without damaging our skin and compromising our health.
So what else is out there? I'd never really given too much thought to self tanning lotions or spray tans until recently, with two big spring-time trips, where bikinis (or one-pieces) were required. While out to brunch with friends, they recommended I try a spray tan and swore by the results. What do you think my first questions were? Will I look orange? Will it be even? Will my hands look like they were dipped in oompa loompa lotion? I wanted greek goddess status, not Lindsey Lohan circa 2013. But in unison, their heads rebutdtaled with reassurance. So just like that, I bought a Groupon for 2 spray tans and this is my advice...
1. Find the right place
Not all spray tans are created equal, so it's important to find a place with great reviews and products you feel confident about having sprayed on your body. If their site doesn't include customer reviews, check Yelp!
2. Prep for your tan
There are a lot of things you can do to prepare for an even, natural looking spray tan, so be sure to do the following:
EXFOLIATE: Be sure to exfoliate your skin from head to toe during your shower the day of your spray tan. Exfoliating helps sluff off any dead skin and creates a smooth, even surface for your spray tan. Not sure what to use? Try Frank Body's Original Coffee Scrub or if you're budget savvy like me, grab the grounds from this morning's coffee and scrub-a-dub-dub.
Tip: Don't forget to shave, as this is also a form of exfoliation.
LOTION FREE: This is probably the only time you'll catch me recommending lotion free skin, but it's for a good reason. The oils in your lotion will be a recipe for an uneven tan waiting to happen and also blocks the spray tan formula from properly absorbing. So just this once, no lotions.
3. Tan Time
WEAR LOOSE, DARK CLOTHING: Because some bronzer is initially present during the time of your spray, be sure you're wearing dark, loose-fitting clothing. If you can go braless, great! If not, avoid sports bras and opt for a cotton bra you can put on the loosest hook. Don't forget to keep your panties in the darker shades as well!
Tip: During your session, you will likely be left with a paper thong and hair net with the option to wear more incase you don't feel comfortable exposing most of your bits. Just keep in min the tan lines for any places you chose to cover, and if they'll be visible in your swim suit.
Immediately after your tan, you will notice that you will continue to look progressively darker over the next couple of hours. Don't be alarmed, this is just the bronzer and it will rinse away during your first shower (details below).
AVOID WATER: Unless you're drinking it... Depending on the type of spray tan you receive, the typical develop time is 8-12 hours, so it's important to avoid too much contact with water in this time. This includes NO showering and taking care of your manicure/pedicure, dishes, baby baths, and swimming BEFORE your tan is applied.
Tip: I try to schedule my application in the evening so that the bulk of my developing time is done overnight while I sleep.
After your development time is complete (8-12 hours later) it's time to take your shower! Leaving it on for additional time will not increase the darkness of your tan. During your shower you will see some color running off and may think that your tan is washing off, it isn't. This is just the bronzer and what's left is your beautiful, natural looking tan. It's important NOT to exfoliate or shave during this shower. Wash with a mild/gentle cleanser (ideally also moisturizing) that is paraben and scent free, as these can be drying and strip away some of your tan.
Tip: DO NOT use dove bar soap
4. Keep it Glowing
-Moisturize often (about 1-2 times per day). If you plan on being in the sun, mix your lotion and tanning lotion together when applying. Make sure you're using paraben and scent free lotions.
-Try to avoid too much time in salt water, as salt will dry out your skin.
-When showering, adjust the water to a medium temperature rather than hot (hot water also dries the skin out)
Your tan, on average, will last about a week. During my first spray tan, I was a lot more careful about how I cared for it, and therefore it lasted a lot longer than my second tan when I hardly moisturized and used whatever hotel soap I could find.
Don't keep your tan tips to yourself, comment below and share this with friends!