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  • Writer's pictureAmber

Adventures of a Spray Tan Newbie

Yeah that's right - I got a spray tan. Me, Mrs Freckle Collection. Mrs blind you with my light-reflecting legs (shout out to my mama on that one).

I feel duty bound to assert at the outset that this was not a pale skin crisis, lest I be accused of not practicing what I preach on loving the skin you're in. I just figured, I'm nearly 29 - what do I fancy trying that I've never tried before? Turns out, I fancy trying being tanned. And trust me, it wasn't going to happen by nature!

My first point of concern was, what if I look like I went to bed in a bag of Doritos? Am I going to be mistaken for an Oompa Loompa by my husband and sent to work in a death trap candy factory? Presumably I'd get free candy, but I'd have to wear those strange jodhpur-y dungarees and that is NOT my aesthetic. Don't get me started on the striped hose. Malvolio has nothing on these guys.

My lovely beautician friend Chloe assured me that she had a shade which would render me more sunkissed than properly tanned. Nevertheless, I booked the tan in secret (i.e. I didn't tell Stan) so that if it went horribly I could come up with a rescue plan. I never got as far as generating said plan so in all likelihood it would have been Wonkaville for me. As it is, here I am to tell the tale. It's illustrated (SFW, of course). Enjoy...

Tan - 1 Day

Good grief the prep. Chloe had told me to exfoliate and moisturise the night before, and come to the appointment wearing no make up or deodorant. I still Googled though, just in case there was anything else I should know.

Rule one: trust the expert. Don't Google. You don't need advance notice of paper underwear, especially if you then imagine said underwear to be made of your standard office A4. Expectations of papercuts were high.

I shaved my legs, moisturised my whole body, then panicked because I realised I had forgotten to exfoliate my arms and it was already 11.30pm. I also didn't exfoliate my face, but that's because my rosacea means facial exfoliation causes a 48 hour flareup, and I wasn't about to be a tanned tomato if I could help it. In the event, I totally was a tanned tomato and I applaud Stan for having sufficient restraint not to photograph me when I got home. Perhaps he didn't want any lasting memories of the event.

Tan - 4 hours

Going to work without makeup on is less of a problem to me than I would have found it in the past, but that being said, the air con and heating tend to play havoc with my skin. I looked normal when I turned up at 9am; by lunchtime, my face was hot and prickly and starting to redden. Usually when I wear makeup this is a) less noticeable and b) less likely to happen - I've no idea if the makeup forms some kind of barrier. Fortunately, the usual culprits for making comments weren't in the office on this day so if anyone did notice, nobody said anything.

Tan: Zero Hour

I was still red-faced when I arrived at Chloe's. She has a lovely treatment room which, having unbundled my post-tan clothes (loose, dark, nothing that stains), I was left in to get changed, after an explanation of the process. There are two things to note at this point.

1. Said explanation included the paper pants, which are actually a thong. They're not the kind of paper I was imagining (duh). They're sort of like the thin papery fabric you get wrapped around some mail order shoes. They come in a tiny packet, like the eye mask on an aeroplane, only they're not for your face. This is not for the fainthearted.

2. By 'get changed' I obviously mean 'take off all your clothes and put on the ridiculous paper pants.' So yeah. Make sure your beautician/tanning salon has heating (thankfully mine did).

Chloe is unfazed, of course - beauticians are like nurses, they have seen it all. I get into the tent (yes it's a tent), and she helps me place my feet on these sticky pads that stop the tan from getting on your soles. She then picks up a contraption that looks like a Dustbuster with a hose, and gets to work.

After the initial shock - it's cold! - it feels entirely natural to be stood mostly naked in a tent, chatting about your recent holiday while being directed into various semaphore poses. There's a moment when I am tempted to breathe during the spraying of my face and I briefly wonder what part of my brain sent me that idea. I manage to resist, and in a couple of minutes it's all over.

It's only when I look down and see myself a strange bronze-spritzed creature and remember that I am wearing a hairnet that I feel ridiculous. Like doing the naked running man had been normal.

Tan + 1 hour

This is the part where Stan gets home and I have to confess what I have done (as if he wouldn't have been able to guess upon seeing me). He's remarkably restrained in his comments, but I think that's largely down to shock. He currently has a creosoted wife. I am vacillating between finding it hilarious and genuine concern that I'll be on the next ship for Loompaland.

'Don't worry,' I tell him, 'it develops overnight and then when I shower in the morning it will look lighter.' I'm not really saying this for him - I'm saying it for me. I go to bed looking like this:

Tan + 1 day

*gets up*

*goes to mirror*


*has a shower*

Ah, that's alright then.

As promised, the shower is the magic cure. I emerge looking brown, glowing, no longer a painted fence of a woman. I won't lie, it's still a bit darker than I expected. But it's only going to last a week max, so I don't mind.

I immediately don a cute, short summer dress so I can prance about like a golden goddess. This lasts all of ten minutes until I realise that 14 degrees C is not golden goddess weather and I have to get changed.


1. my face is so brown that my makeup is now the wrong colour. I hadn't considered this. I dabble with some gold eyeshadow and bright lippy and leave it at that. This is great - no foundation needed! *yes, I know, it is never needed*

2. I am so brown. I am so conscious of it I'm half-surprised when I go into town that I'm not accosted by strangers saying, 'hey, you're really brown.' Or more accurately, coughing 'ahem-FAKE!' as they walk past. That doesn't happen.

Tan + 2 days

I could get used to this. An extra day's fading and plenty of moisturiser has rendered me the exact colour I hoped to be. This has been a resounding success, I think (ignoring the biscuit smell which has only just faded). Stan has stopped making satsuma jokes. All is well. I wear orange and feel like the embodiment of the sun or some such nonsense.

Tan + 3 days

I go to work. No one notices I am tanned.

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