Thursday, April 11, 2013

That Orange Glow: A Self-Tanning Retrospective, Part 3

Previously, we've discussed early self tanners and spray tan booths. And now we can finally get to the real point of these articles.

Why do I want to be tan, anyway? Is it because everyone else is tan? That was the reason in middle school, yes. It's really hard to be different growing up, isn't it? But adversity makes you stronger, and so even though I am writing a series of blog posts about how to self-tan, I'm at peace with pale. I've gone years without getting a spray tan. Last year, I only applied self tanner a few times. Could that also be because I'm too lazy to go get a spray tan? Yes. Or maybe because I'm too rushed to apply self-tanner getting ready every morning? Yes. But it's also because I'm pale--and that's fine.

However, I am feeling a bit more...outdoorsy this year. Tropical, even. Like, I bought a new bathing suit. And I know that if/when I rock that thing, I'll probably want to be tan. So, as a pale chick with 16 years self-tanning experience, I would now like to share my findings. It's nothing revolutionary. It's not going to blow your mind. But this is what I've found to be the best out there for me. Enjoy.

Spray Tans

Really, the best thing to do is go get sprayed, especially if it's for an event or a beach trip. It's all-over coverage, it's one and done, it lasts a while, it's easy peasy. Yes, they can be expensive, but checking to see when your local tanning provider has specials can at least get you one free when you buy two. You go in, you walk out tan--most have a little instant tan thing going on, while the faux real tan develops later. So does the DHA smell, but if you get it done towards the end of the day, only those at home have to put up with your stink. And as for the stickiness, it goes away relatively quickly, and to put your mind at ease, no matter how sticky you feel, I've never had blotches with my tan because of clothes or the car seats sticking to my exposed skin.

Also, you have to essentially be a Mogwai for about four hours. You know, not get wet. You can eat after midnight though, that's fine.
I've only been in MysticTan booths before, but a lot of tanning places around here have VersaSpa now. I haven't tried that yet, but I think they're owned by the same company anyway.

Check out these great instructions on getting and keeping a spray tan here or here.

Self Tanning Lotion

Maybe I don't always have the cash to keep a spray tan year round. Or maybe I wake up one morning and decide to wear a dress/skirt but wow are my legs/arms pasty. Self-tanning lotions are perfect for a quick glow.

I use self-tanning lotions only on areas that will be exposed--for example, I do not have the patience or the time to try to full body self-tan at home. That's what spray booths are for. Arms, shoulders, chest and legs are all that I worry with. I've tried more than my share of tanners, and these are my favorites right now.

Lancome Flash Brozner

This stuff is my jam. It's tinted, so you get that instant hit of color. It's got a little sparkle to it when the sunlight hits you, which to me is pretty. It goes on really well, is largely mistake proof because it's tinted, and isn't horribly sticky or smelly--although I do have to wait a few minutes for it to dry, and I will notice the DHA smell during the day, but it's not too bad. The color is great and very natural looking, although I will always have trouble with the tops of my feet looking blotchy. It says that it is for legs, but I use it where ever. I probably discovered this from one of my beauty magazines a few years ago, and they were right, it's amazing.*

Too Faced Tanning Bed in a Tube

I used this a few years ago and I remember that I used the heck out of it, but can't really remember details about the color. The only thing I remember vividly is that this smelled amazing--like for real tanning lotion, all tropical and coconuts and sea breeze. I don't remember being upset by the DHA smell at all--I don't know if that's because this is a vegan friendly product or the awesome scent totally managed to camouflage the smelliness. It's available on Too Faced's website, but it doesn't seem to be online at Ulta or Sephora. I don't know if that means its getting phased out or what. I just know I moved on to the Estee Lauder mentioned above and never looked back.

Gradual Tanner

In theory, gradual tanners are a great idea. Why not add a low level of self-tanner to a regular old moisturizer? That way, when you do your daily moisturizing, you can get a little color boost. Great, right?

Well, I don't moisturize daily. I kind of hate putting lotion on, unless it's for an instant tan.  I know I should, but I just never really enjoyed lotion that much. I do it on occasion when it needs doing, but definitely not daily, so gradual self-tanners are not really my bag. Also, the ones I've used don't really have an instant glow, and I'm super impatient so I kind of want results immediately. However, these guys are really mistake proof--the level of DHA is so low, there is hardly any chance for streaking. And because of that low level DHA it smells a bazillion times better than regular self-tanners.

Nivea Sun-Kissed Radiant Skin

I've purchased this a couple of months ago, but only used it enough to see that it smelled great, not long enough to tell you about the color results. I told you I hate lotion.

Leg Makeup

Now let's say it's winter or fall, and you don't really need a total body tan, or anything longlasting, really. You just need your legs to look nice, just for today.

Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs

I just tried Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs this year, and I was really surprised. First of all, it seems like it would be a fine mist you spray over your legs, but it's not--you literally spray this cold, wet makeup into your hands and blend. It was weird at first, but I got used to it. Blending was a little difficult as well, as this stuff is not a lotion, it's makeup, but if you blend your little heart out, the results are wonderful. Great color (I use the lightest version available, light glow), dries quickly with absolutely no stickiness and I swear to you will not come off unless you scrub it with soap and bath poof. It stays, by golly, although obviously I wash it off daily. 

FYI, it looks terrible on your arms. This product is seriously for legs only.

I hope this helps some fellow pasty legs out there. It's nice to have a glow, especially during those warm, bathing suit months. But at the end of the day, it's ok to be exactly who you are, even if that is pale. Pale is pretty, too!

*For anyone who caught the post when it went up last night, you are not imagining things. I totally had the wrong brand--Estee Lauder instead of Lancome. Because I'm an idiot. And because we have both beauty counters at our mall, and both the bottles look the same. But mostly because I'm an idiot. I've never even tried the Estee Lauder one. 


  1. I've tried spray tanning once, and remember being pleased with it. You've inspired me to give it another go before I head to the beach in May.

    1. Do it! To be honest, I've kind of inspired *myself* to go get one. Now I just have to arrange for some sort of vacation...