fake bake 101

When I was very young (high school, I think), I had an irregular mole removed. The cells were atypical, and the doctor recommended I have my skin checked at least twice per year. Since then, I have had so many removed that I have lost count. Because I am at a high risk for melanoma, I don’t mess around. I wear sunscreen (at least SPF 30) on my face and neck everyday, and wear it all over if I am going to be outside. Beach? SPF 50+. Although this leaves me super pale, it hopefully will keep me from looking like a leather handbag when I am fifty. Even though my mother insists that “pale skin is in,” I can’t bare my so white they’re transparent legs in public. Tanning beds are out of the question as they are more damaging to the skin than being in the actual sun. So what is a ghost white girl to do? Sunless tanner and spray tans are really the only option. And both are tricky. Here are my tips for not looking like a Dorito when you are done…

#1 Exfoliate
It is super important to exfoliate before using a self tanner or having a spray tan. Not only does the product go on more evenly, the “tan” will last much longer. I typically use a dry brush on my skin. You can read about the technique here. It supposedly removes toxins and increases circulation… not sure about that, but I do know it will take off the first few layers of your skin (in a good way, of course). If you prefer to use a scrub in the shower, St. Ives Apricot Scrub is a great option. A month or so ago I got a tube of ExfoliKate by Kate Somerville for $10 at UAL in Hattiesburg. I loved it… it warms up when you are using it and works really well. I later priced it at Sephora, and it is $65 (yes, SIXTY FIVE DOLLARS). Too bad I didn’t know all this that day in UAL. I would have knocked people over trying to get to the checkout with every bottle they had. If you are ever in UAL and see it, call my cell.

#2 Shower
It is important to take a warm shower before you use sunless tanner or have a spray tan. Something about the steam helps prepare your skin for the chemicals you are about to slather all over. After you shower, do not use bath oil or lotion.

#3 Spray or Slather
If you choose to have a spray tan, go immediately after you shower. Mystic Tan and VersaSpa are both good options. Be sure to follow the step by step instructions paying special attention to your hands and feet. Orange palms are a dead giveaway… wash your hands before you leave the salon. I actually prefer to use sunless tanner as it isn’t as drastic (Pale on Monday, Hello, Cabo! on Tuesday). A good daily moisturizer/tanner is Jergen’s Natural Glow. You use it every day and the tan is very gradual. I do not have the patience for this (and I don’t like lotion), but I know that it works and doesn’t make you orange. I have tried a TON of self tanners and my favorite by far is St. Tropez Self Tan Bronzing Mousse. It is tinted, so you know that you have everything covered. Literally. It doesn’t smell fantastic, but none of them do. The trick to applying it is to wear rubber (doctor, not dishwashing) gloves. I know this all sounds crazy town, but it is this or transparent legs, people. Do not shower for 6 hours or you will wash away your efforts.

#4 Face
The process is basically the same, but it is important to use a tanner specifically for the face. I exfoliate (using a Clarsonic or facial scrub) and then apply Clarins Liquid Bronze Self Tanning . It is fantastic. You can apply it with a cotton ball or your fingers, and it can be used under your daily moisturizer/makeup or at night. (Be sure to avoid your eyes and eyebrows)

Whew. I don’t know about you, but I am exhausted. Tanned… but exhausted.

If you have any faux tanning tips or tricks, please share…

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  1. neutrogena makes an instant bronzer that is great for a quick fix like a party. it’s a mousse that is tinted, so you can see where you put it. it’s basically like a spray tan in a bottle. washes off when you bathe, so effects are temporary. i actually do use dishwashing gloves (designated just for this purpose!); i like the texture on the fingertips. it helps me rub in it without streaks.

  2. Yep, I am exhausted just reading all that, and fairly certain that with my skills I will look like a certain citrus fruit once I’m done! But, I must make the effort, because the days of me lying in the sun are long gone, and I don’t want these pale legs to frighten the good people in Florida! 😉