My Spray Tanning Experience
Okay, so I'm pretty sure you're thinking, "Dania, you have a 'natural' tan, why on Earth would you need one sprayed on?!" LOL. In the beginning I never even gave spray tanning a thought since I was already pleasantly brown but a few months ago I decided to give it a try. For those of you that don't already know, I have eczema--the genetic kind so it's not like it's just going to go away, unfortunately--and I have always had to deal with large areas of discoloration. For the past few years the hyperpigmentation has made itself right at home on my stomach/midsection area. It's been a nuisance to say the least and my one dream has been to have a uniform skin tone from head to toe...see where I'm going with this?
Anyways, a few months ago I had a casting call down in Los Angeles and was told I would need to wear my swimsuit underneath my clothes because they would be taking snapshots. So I figured why not look into getting a spray tan that would simply even out my skin tone? After some research online I found a local place that was reputable and had a lot of good reviews. I followed the instructions to a tee: I showered, shaved and exfoliated, did not apply any kind of lotion or moisturizer, tied my hair back with a head scarf and wore loose, black shorts and a black tanktop. I was ready to go!
I opted to go nude so that I could try and see if the stretch marks on my butt could be covered up as well as to decrease the chances of tan lines. The type of tanning I got done didn't involve stepping into a booth but having a spray tan technician apply it manually instead. After 10 minutes I was done! I could already start to see the color building up and I got more instructions from the tech about how to care for my tan afterwards. It was pretty tedious and a bit of a hassle to me:
- Avoid showering, sweating or any kind of water for at least 8 hours
- No exfoliating of any kind
- No using body wash, loofahs, wash cloths or scented bar soap like Dove
- No baths or long, hot showers
- Only being able to use body butter instead of regular lotions, which can cause streaking
It may not seem like much but when you do these things on a daily basis without realizing it, it can be difficult to mentally kick yourself into breaking those habits. Unfortunately, the spray tan did nothing for my stretch marks but it worked wonders on my stomach. For the first time in eons I was one color! I couldn't believe how much more self confidence I had and the funny thing is none of my friends noticed, which was good because that obviously meant it looked natural and I was glad I didn't come out looking like an Oompa Loompa. And wouldn't you know it: after all that, I didn't even have to strip to my swimsuit for the casting in Los Angeles because the casting director forgot to charge her camera battery so it died before the casting even started! But it was okay, at least I was able to enjoy being one color for a while.
I kept my spray tan around for almost two weeks but what I didn't realize was that the spray tan would drive my skin crazy! Having eczema means that I have to exfoliate in order to slough off the layers of dead skin that sometimes causes my dry patches. Not being able to do that for a period of time caused my skin to become super itchy and very uncomfortable--no matter how much I moisturized. At times it felt like my skin was literally crawling. Finally I couldn't stand it anymore and made an appointment to get a full body scrub at a local day spa--I didn't want to scrub off the tan myself because I figured that it would come out uneven and splotchy. While the scrub itself only added to the itchiness at first, after she wiped it off and put me in a hot shower OH BOY DID I FEEL GREEEEAAATTT!!! LOL. I stepped out of that shower soft and smooth as a baby's butt! Once my skin could breathe again I knew all was right with the world.
So what's the bottom line on spray tanning? It's a great alternative and while I totally enjoyed the freedom of not appearing like a discolored weirdo, for me it just was not worth the havoc it wreaked on my skin. I now pleasantly turn to moisturizers with gradual self tanners added. My product of choice for the past few years is the Victoria's Secret Daily Glow Moisturizer in the Medium to Dark Shade. It's $16 but well worth it because it has vitamins A & E as well as aloe. Instead of using an orange-ish, predetermined shade it works with your skin's existing pigmentation so the tan that develops looks completely natural. As long as you keep using it the color will get darker and once you get the shade you like just stop using it and it will last from 2 weeks to one month--if you're really good about taking care of it. It's worked well on my legs and stomach, although it will never match the complete results that spray tanning got. But hey, I'll just do what I've continued to do my whole life: work with what I have instead of wishing for what I don't.