Saturday, May 22, 2010

Recent Addiction: Spray Tanning! Wanna know how to do it right?

Below pic on Lft: Immediately after spray tan.
Top Rt Pic: 1 day after spray tan.

I have lived in Virginia Beach my whole life, so it should come as no surprise that I love to stay tan. With the exception of my mom & dear friend, Lindsey, very few of us are fortunate enough to be blessed with porcelain skin that only seems to grow prettier the fairer it gets. I, on the other hand, look sickly once my tan has long come & gone. I’m ok with being less tan or not-so-tan, but deathly pale I just can not handle. Bronzing lotions, powders, & foundations are ok… but then my neck doesn’t match the color of my face… Everyone knows there’s no substitute to The Real Thing, but spray tanning is as close as it gets! (And it’s a lot healthier too.)
My first time spray tanning was back in college, at ECU, around 2004 or so. Back then the color of the spray tan contained carrot & that’s what caused the dreaded orange look. Another problem was streaking. After you got out of the spray tan booth you had to wipe yourself dry & that could cause streaking.
Thankfully times have changed & the spray tan has improved. I go to Blue Box on North Great Neck Rd in Va Bch. They have the Versa Spa spray tan. All Blue Box locations are not created equal. Call 1st to make sure your location specifically has the Versa Spa spray tan. OK here’s what you need to know to have a successful spray tan experience:

1) It’s a spray tan- it’s not a real tan; it’s never going to be 100% perfect.
2) I try to exfoliate weekly, a day or 2 before I get a spray tan.
3) Dry skin soaks up more color, so don’t slather on lotion before you go. I usually put on a very light layer of lotion earlier in the day & I don’t reapply before my spray tan. The only is exception is my hands. For some reason my hands soak up a lot more color than the rest of my body, so I do apply lotion to my hands before my spray than.
4) You can’t get wet (or sweat) for 6-8 hrs afterwards, so go at night. I go around 9 PM so that I come home & relax for a bit, then go to bed. When you wake up in the morning you can shower & you’re good to go.
5) Bring a hair tie or head band with you b/c you’re hairline will need to be exposed so that you don’t have a ring of color that stops right at the top of your forehead. (They give you a shower cap to put over your hair, but you’re supposed to pull it back a bit to expose a 1/2 inch or so of your hairline.)
6) I always wear loose fitting clothing when I go. You’ll be a bit sticky when you leave, so tight clothing will not feel good.
7) Choose the regular tan for you 1st time (as opposed to the bronzing/darker tan). They also ask if you’d like just the color, or primer & a protective lotion as well. I go for the whole deal. The ladies at the front desk tell me that the primer & the lotion are worth the extra $8 or so. They say you’ll be ok w/o it, but it helps to make the color more even. Get it all for at least your 1st spray tan. I get it all every time.
8) Once you’re back in the spray tan room, you’ll undress, put the cap over your hair, & apply lotion (provided by Blue Box) to your hands. Rub it into your cuticles really well. Slather on the lotion- it’s impossible to apply too much. My only “issue” with spray tanning has been my hands. If I don’t put on a ton of lotion they get too dark.
9) They’ll go over all this w/ you, but once in the spray tan booth (which isn’t completely closed, so you won’t feel claustrophobic), you’ll press the green button to start the process. It’ll tell you exactly what to do- which way to face. The primer will be sprayed on you (front & back), then it’ll spray air to dry you off (front & back). Then the color will be sprayed to 4 sides (front, rt, lft, back) & it’ll dry you off (front & back). Lastly, it’ll spray the lotion on you (front & back) & it’ll dry you off (front & back). Somewhere in the middle you’ll think you’re done (after the lotion has been sprayed & it dries you off), but you’ll need to press the green light again to proceed to the next step (color & primer). You’ll know you’re done w/ the entire process when the green light turns off. It’s not going to allow you to start another round of color & get sprayed w/ tanning solution twice.
10) When you get out, make sure to wipe off the palms of your
hands w/ the wet wipes they provide. Color on the palms of your hands would obviously look ugly. Due to the issue I have w/ my hands getting too dark, I also lightly wipe off the tops of my hands w/ the wet wipes, using circular motions around my fingers and the entire topside of my hands, applying even lighter pressure as I get close to my wrists; it’s as if you’re trying to blend in the color of your hands w/ the color of your wrists/arms.

Totally normal…

-You’re going to look a bit spotty until your 1st shower. This is totally normal.
-Some color may rub off onto your sheets at night, but it’ll wash out.
-The tan will fade with every shower, but mine typically lasts about a week. The color is the darkest the first 3 days, & then begins to fade with my legs & arms still having a trace of color left on the 7th day. My face fades the quickest, unfortunately, b/c it gets washed more frequently.
-The air & color/lotion/primer will be chilly. It’s not as big of an issue on a hot day, but I can only imagine how could it would be during the Winter…
-I’ve NEVER had any streaking, orange appearance, or adverse reaction to the spray tan. With that being said, everyone is different, so you won’t know until you try it. The only issue I’ve had, like I mentioned before, is with my hands. You’ll become a pro the more times you do it. And you may not have that same issue at all… Friends always tell me how surprisingly natural & un-orange my tan is.

I know this sounds like a lot of work for a tan, but it REALLY isn’t. From the counter where you pay to walking out the front door, the entire process takes no more than 10 minutes. Oh and knowing that spray tans don’t cause cancer & wrinkles is the best part of all. Happy tanning!!

Link to Blue Box for more info on the VersaSpa spray tan:


  1. I am very excited that you are a blogger. You are the only person that could make something like "tanning" seem like an experience that I shouldn't be missing. Love you little "e" !

  2. Yes I agree with Ellenmarie. I don't even need to tan but yet I'm excited to. I might just go for then notarity. Lots of love from this already brown girl:)