The Mistake I Made That Ruined My Spray Tan
I know plenty of people who are addicted to spray tans, but I am admittedly not one of them. No judgment to those guys, I just never felt an insatiable urge to transform my ultra-fair skin to a more golden shade by standing near-naked in a booth for heaven knows how long. Tanning booths were never on my radar, either, because I’m against exposing my skin to harmful rays that can prematurely age it, in addition to a host of other problems I want nothing to do with. Moral of the story: Artificial “tans” aren’t really my cup of tea. To each their own, right?
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve toyed with the idea of a temporarily deeper complexion. Perhaps it would look attractive with my dark features, I thought briefly. That thought was echoed by a few close friends and family members around me, who plant the idea of a spray tan in my head every so often. “It’ll give you a really nice glow,” they’d say. “Try it.” This fall, I eventually gave in and booked my first spray tan appointment, eager to see what the hype is all about. Spoiler alert: I left with a spray tan that was botched, patchy, and all sorts of horrible. And it was nobody’s fault but my own. Keep reading to discover the rookie mistake I made that turned my skin into an art project gone wrong.
If you thought prepping your skin before a spray tan is only beneficial for prolonging its lifespan, think again. Prepping your skin—read: exfoliating—prior to a spray tan appointment is also crucial for ensuring that color is evenly distributed throughout. I foolishly skipped this step ahead of my appointment and the result wasn’t pretty. Since I failed to exfoliate and remove rough dead skin cells from my skin’s surface before my spritz, some areas of my skin were studded in dark patches that resembled dried-up dirt. Needless to say, the color was not even at all on my torso, arms, and legs. Luckily, with the weather being a little cooler, I was able to hide my tan gone wrong with my clothes while I came up with an action plan. I could either leave my skin the way it was and cover up for a few weeks OR I could try and salvage my tan and reverse my mistake. I chose the latter option. Here’s what I did:
HOW I FIXED MY BOTCHED SPRAY TAN
STEP ONE: EXFOLIATE LIGHTLY
You’re supposed to avoid exfoliation—and a shower, for that matter—after a faux tan because doing so can actually remove your bronzed look altogether. However, in my unique circumstance, I needed to tone down some of the dark, rough patches of color ASAP. I used Kiehl's Gently Exfoliating Body Scrub in Lavender over the dry, discolored areas in gentle circular motions.
STEP TWO: APPLY SELF-TANNER
Once the patchy mess was buffed out, I applied L’Oréal’s Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Gelee onto dry skin. The formula—with vitamin E and gentle AHAs—moisturizes skin (uber-important after exfoliation!) while adding a soft, natural-looking bronze. Already, I noticed a HUGE improvement. My skin was less blotchy, and with just a few more daily applications of self-tanner I was finally rocking a uniform shade.
If you take away anything from my experience, let it be this: Never (ever!) underestimate the important of prepping skin ahead of a faux tan, be it a spray tan or a self-tanning formula. It can be the difference between a tan that looks natural and one that looks like a nightmare. I surely learned my lesson.