Don’t worry, you already glow and shine, just by wearing your Daily Jocks. But what if you want to deepen and darken that pasty skin of yours, especially when the sun is not at its strongest? Would a spray tan make everything cool, or will it make you look as phony as a three-dollar bill?
It’s not as erotic as it sounds, but spray tanning is a gentle mist that you -- or a professional -- spray on your skin with an airbrush-type gun. The spray contains an ingredient called Dihydroxyacetone(DHA) that interacts with the chemistry in your skin to turn it tan. It’s considered safe, but it won’t protect you from the sun’s harmful rays.
The advantages of spray tanning: it’s quick, easy, painless and dries quickly. You really don’t want to bake in the real sun or a tanning bed, do you?
Disadvantages: everybody’s skin chemistry is different, so spray tan results can vary. You may have to experiment a bit with how to get your tan the way you want it. Also, it’s more expensive than most tanning products (as opposed to lying in the sun, which is free). Plus, you have to schlep to the salon every time you are due for a tan (average: every two weeks).
If you decide to go for it, burn these pointers into your mind:
Wear sunscreen. Note that we put this rule first. Getting a spray tan does not excuse you from protecting your skin from the sun’s rays.
Don’t bother with a base tan. Lying in the sun beforehand is not going to help or contribute to your spray tan. A spray tan doesn’t care about your body’s melanin.
Exfoliate beforehand. Get rid of those dead skin cells that will stand in the way of your glorious spray tan.
Choose a health-minded salon. Check for ventilation fans and signs of good sanitation and hygiene. Make sure you’ll be working with a low-volume, low-pressure machine (LVLP) so that you are not inhaling more spray than your bod can handle.
Apply the spray to dry skin. If you spray the tan on wet skin, it will roll right off of you. Always spray dry.
Shave the day before the spray. Freshly shaved skin will not take well to a spray tan. It will sting, and could become irritated and red. Let your skin heal from the shave before you apply the spray.
Wear gear. Spraying can be overwhelming to your nose, eyes, and lungs. Wear a nose guard and an eye guard.
Avoid excessive moisturizing. You would think that moisturizing and body lotions would be just the thing post-spray. But hardly. Moisture eats away at your work of art, causing the tan to fade. If you are going to moisturize, use a very small amount. In this case, more butter is not better.
Avoid chlorine. This is the cruelest rule of all, but don’t blame us, blame nature. Chlorine is basically bleach, and you know what bleach does to colors. Apply that same rule to your spray tan. However, a quick dip and and then patting dry will more than likely save your spray tan.
How long will it last? It actually depends on your DNA and your age. As your cells regenerate, the tan will fade. Usually, the cells of younger people regenerate faster. Your first spray tan, using all the advice above, should give you an idea of how long you can show it off. The average spray tan lifespan is about two weeks. And there is no maintaining a spray tan with more spray. It’s a one-time job, not welcome to touch ups or spraying fading spots. Start fresh for your next spray tan.
How to exit the spray tan: warm water, most likely in a 30-minute bath, and then a gentle exfoliation with a loofah.