The New Tan

I am naturally very pale.  My people say that it is like a porcelain doll, but I fear that it is in a Corpse Bride sort of way.  Of course, I never use a tanning bed (wrinkles!?!) and I do not lay out.  So my only option for color in the summer is a spray tan.

Before my trip out of town last weekend, I decided to get a spray tan.  This was not my first foray into the spray tan world, but it WAS my first whirl at the new and improved tanning system.  In case any of my readers do care about how to tan like a pro, or how the new tanning system will totally boggle your mind, please read on.  If you’d like to laugh while vividly imagining someone doing these steps, also, please read on.

1.  Defy being a Gila Monster.  You’re not supposed to shower for eight hours after you get sprayed.  I know, gross?  As an avid multi-shower a day lady, I have to really have to make this one count. And I learned the hard way that if you don’t exfoliate, the tan sticks to you and you look like a Gila monster.  If you don’t moisturize, you risk being a splotchy Gila Monster.

2.  Go bare.  Ok. not really…just be sure to wear something that you don’t mind getting tan lines from.  I usually opt for my minimalist sandals, bikini top under a very loose shirt and baggy skirt/dress.

3. The formerly easy part.  You used to just go to the salon, select the color and go to step 4.  This is no longer the case.  There are now three shades to choose from as a base, then two boosters that make you some shade between the three. Then you pick a scent to add.  Then you pick whether or not to sticky feet (prayers answered!) Then you pick whether or not to quick set the tan.  In case you wondered, as a fair person here is what I selected:

  • Color 1
  • Booster X 3
  • Lime Coconut scent
  • Sticky Feet
  • Quick Set

4. Lunch Lady meets Scrub Nurse. The salon will give you the following for your prep:

  • Lunchroom lady cap to protect your hair
  • Lotion to keep the tan from setting on to certain areas of your skin
  • (if you opted) sticky feet…which just stick on your foot like a flip flop.  This keeps the tan off the bottom of the foot!
  • Scrub nurse booties- the alternate to sticky feet.
  • Paper towels

5. Sticky feet are sexier.  If given the option, GET the sticky feet. If you don’t opt for sticky feet, you must do what I used to do: place multiple lunch lady caps  strategically on the floor, then goop the bottom of my feet with the lotion VERY heavily.  This caused me to slip on more than one occasion….which I was well aware of and yet risked to not have to wear the medical booties and get weird tan lines; or ruin my flip flops.

6. Lunch lady up.  Put on the bonnet. I know it isn’t sexy…. Pull it behind your ears and I even expose the outer part of my hairline…. if you pull it down, you will have a white frame around your face, which is even less sexy than a lunch lady cap.

7. She puts the lotion on her skin. Lotion will keep the tan from sticking to your unwanted parts….like in-between your fingers and toes.  I put globs in those places as well as on and under my nails.  I apply some to the top of my hand, a lot to the palm of my hand.  I also apply a layer to the tops of my feet, my knees and elbows.  Do note that this will make it very hard to open the door of your spray tan booth.  Just work with it.

8.  Prepare to contort.   If you have the old spray tan, here is what you do.

  • Do not face the spray nozzles on the first go.  You will always inhale, you will always sneeze, and it will always be gross.
  • Before you push the button and turn around, you must know, love and instinctively morph into “The Pose”- you will have 5 seconds to do so. What is the pose?  Bend your knees a little, but still stand up straight. While NOT facing the sprayers, bend your arms around so it looks like you are holding a fat belly.  Your wrists and palms should be in front of your pelvis area.
  • After you push the button, spin around and do The Pose, let the sprayer do its thing.  DO NOT turn around.  It will beep to let you know it’s time to turn around.  If you turn before the beep, you will be flipping back and forth trying to even everything out….and then you’ll fall….or be way more tan on one side.
  • After the beep, turn around and assume The Pose 2. Take a deep breath and hold it as you get sprayed.  What is The Pose 2?  Like The Pose, you will bend your knees a little, but still stand up straight. Now that you are facing the sprayers, you will put your arms to your side, but leave a wide gap between you and the arms.  You will keep the arms bent a little…almost like you are T-Rex.  Spread your fingers out a-la Jazz Hands from Fosse.  Now, curl your fingers down like you have monster hands.  Next, bend your wrists back as far as you can….seriously.
  • After the beep, if you got a 2 or a 3 level, turn around and repeat this process. And once more if you got a 3…. are you exhausted yet? Then you did it right.

If you have a new system spray tan, things go all Twister on you.  There are numbers 1,2,3 and 4 on the floor.  Ya’ll…this machine talks. It tells you what to do, where to go and how to be. I freaked out – but turns out I still do know how to count to four, even if I still have problems with left and right.  Thank God.  In the new system, you still have to pose, so be ready.

9.  Still Standing. Stay still.  This is very important.  In the new system you get air vents.  In the old system you just open the door to fumigate your spray tan coffin and hold until you feel semi-dry.  Do not break a sweat.  Do not sneeze.  Just stay still until you are mostly dry. This is much harder than you might expect….

10.  The Dismount. If you opted to go without the sticky feet, CAREFULLY get out of the chamber of tan.  Use the paper towels to take the goop off your hands and feet. Do NOT rub too harshly.  If you do, the appendages will not tan.  You will have a tan body and white hands and feet.  It looks God awful.  Take off your lunch lady hat.  Pat yourself dry if you must (again, I stress air dry if possible) and then get dressed.  You are ready to go….finally.

Important notes:

  • Do not be alarmed.  You won’t look tan right away.
  • The tan that appears before 24 hours is not the color you will end up with after you shower.  You will end up being less Snooki, more Dancing with the Stars after 24 hours and a shower.
  • Chlorine sucks the tan away.
  • Sweat wipes the tan away even faster.
  • Be sure to apply self tan lotion every other day to maintain your tan as long as you can…usually 7 days.
  • If you have drama….. use pure acetone to remove the color – or salt scrub and a loofah.  You will likely lose a layer of skin, but at least you won’t be an oompa-loompa.

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