The secret's out: I love spray tanning.
Getting sprayed has become an integral part of my personal maintenance routine before any big (or even remotely big) event. I'm a rather pale person, so a nice spray tan helps me look less like an albino and more like a normal human.
What is my spray tan locale of choice? None other than the infamous Hollywood Tans (there, I admitted it). No, it's not fancy, and yes, they have a lame, albeit catchy, slogan ("You don't have to go to Hollywood..."). Honestly though, HT is the best spray tan I've ever gotten. I've tried numerous spray tans and even spent way too much money on having sunless tanner hand applied before my wedding. The Mystic Tan at HT delivers the most even and realistic looking color.
Before you get freaked out about someone spraying your semi-naked body, note that the Mystic Tan at HT is a tanning booth. You step in and rotate, just like Ross in that old Friends episode. Note: not all Hollywood Tans locations have the Mystic Tan, so make sure to call ahead to check.
For the newbies or those who have had bad experiences with spray tanning in the past, a few tips on getting sprayed:
- Clean up. It's recommended that you shower and exfoliate before you step into the booth. I used to do that when I first began getting sprayed, but my schedule doesn't always allow it. In the very least, I always wash off all of my makeup.
- Get waxed. Sounds like a no-brainer, right? Make sure you take care of any waxing prior to your spray session. I suggest waxing the day before you get tanned to ensure that your skin doesn't have some crazy reaction.
- Stick to the basics. If you choose to go to HT for your spray tan, start off with the clear Mystic original. There's a bronze formula, but I'm not exactly an ideal candidate for that. You can pay a few extra dollars for the "premium" version which HT claims lasts a few days longer (and which I'm pretty sure is BS). I think it all lasts about 5 days regardless so save your money and just get the original.
- Cover your 'do. The HT employee will leave you a shower cap in the booth. Use it. No one wants her color to get jacked up by a fake tan (even brunettes). Position the shower cap behind your hair line so you don't have a line across your forehead.
- Moisturize. A bottle of moisturizer should be included with your shower cap, too. Quickly rub some moisturizer on your knees, ankles, elbows and any other area that you may feel is a little dry. Now jump in!
- Don't forget to breathe. Being in the spray tan booth isn't exactly a pleasant experience. You rotate four times, with very short breaks in between. I hold my breath once the spraying starts, and I open the door and gasp for air in between each spray. If you're subhuman and can hold your breath longer, kudos to you.
- Keep your arms out. Hold your arms about 6 inches away from your body while in the booth. This prevents you from having a line down the back of and underneath your arm advertising the fact that you got sprayed.
- Scrub it off. As soon as you exit the booth, take a wet towel or wipes (the HT employee should've left some in the booth for you), and wipe off your hands and feet/ankles VERY WELL. Make sure you get your knuckles, in between your fingers, your wrists and the bottoms of your feet. Do it several times. I use the dry towel provided to lightly pat dry.
- Don't wear your good stuff. Yes, sunless tanner will get on your clothes. Definitely wear loose fitting dark colored clothes you don't necessarily care about. I generally wear dark sweats and a v-neck/tank + hoodie.
- Stay dry. Don't shower/workout for about 10-12 hours after you tan - seriously. I make it a point to go last thing at night.
- Expect big results. If your feet resemble the color of an oompa loompa the next day, don't be scared - it happens to the best of us. When you take a shower, scrub your feet as hard as possible. Or, if you're like my sister and get a pedicure the next day, accept the offer of the women at the nail place to pour rubbing alcohol all over your feet (It didn't help. And, in the interest of full disclosure, she didn't go to HT - she got hand sprayed).
- Ask for help. If it's your first time getting sprayed at HT (or anywhere), definitely tell the employee checking you in and have him or her explain how to use the machine. There's nothing more frustrating that standing in a metal spray tan booth waving your hand in front of what you think is a sensor with a shower cap on yelling for help.
- Practice makes perfect. If you've never gotten a spray tan before, do a test run before your scheduled event. It's pretty hard to get the stuff off, so you want to make sure you know how your skin responds to it before taking the plunge and looking scary in photos.
- Buy in bulk. Find that you're getting sprayed with increased regularity? Consider purchasing a package. HT sells a package of 5 Mystic tans for $88 ($17.60 a tan). Also, an HT gift certificate makes a great Christmas gift (well, it does if you're my sister and you know I really wanted it but was too embarrassed to ask anyone for it. Christmas 2008 was awesome!).
- Feel free to supplement. When I'm really into being tan, I'll use the Kiehl's Sun-Free Self-Tanning Formula for Face and Body in between sprays. It's great for sensitive skin and helps the spray tan last longer. I usually reserve my use of the Kiehl's product for 1) summer months; and 2) after vacation. People start to notice if you look too tan in the winter.
Mystic Spray Tan, $22 at Hollywood Tans