Contrary to what this bipolar weather is telling us, warmer temps ARE allegedly on the way. That means that it’s time to give those pasty white limbs of yours a nice little bronze glow if you don’t want to blind everyone at the first day party of the season. So, if you’re opting for a spray tan to revive your post-hibernation skin (or you’re just feeling really inspired by Jersey Shore’s recent reunion), it’s important to know how to prep for a spray tan to get the most out of your bronzing session.
To avoid looking splotchy and all of the other not-so-well-known airbrush faux-pas, we consulted with the ultimate bronze betch: Heather Shaw, spray tan connoisseur, tanner to the stars, and owner of Heather Airbrush Tanning. Heather has two salons: one on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood, and a brand new NYC spot at 12 West 27th street in NoMad (open Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9am to 8pm). That means she’s the betch behind some of the best looking tans from coast to coast.
She told us everything you need to know about how to prep for a spray tan.
Before The Spray Tan
Betches: How long before the spray tan appointment should you shower/exfoliate/shave?
Heather Shaw: You should shower/exfoliate/shave with 24 hours of your appointment. If you have sensitive pores that are easily irritated by this preparation, do this prep earlier. Otherwise, right before the appointment or the morning of works.
I also suggest completing all other beauty services prior to your tanning appointment (if you can): nails, wax, eyelashes, hair, massages, facials, etc. It’s not mandatory, but don’t get a tan and go straight to a pedicure appointment and put your feet in the water. It’s a more common mistake than you’d think. If you’re getting your nails done after your tanning appointment, wait until the color has had time to develop (3-6 hours), shower first, and opt out of the extra sea salt massage scrub.
Any products that you should stay away from pre-appointment? (lotions, perfumes, etc.?)
Yes. Come fresh. No lotions, oils, makeup, deodorants or perfumes. Oils act as a repellant to the tanning solution because it is water-based. If you’re coming straight from work and you didn’t have a chance to shower off your morning moisturizers, you can wipe off any remnants of beauty products with a baby wipe. If you want to tan your face but keep your makeup on, the product may not develop completely or evenly. Try to wash makeup off prior to tanning application for maximum results.
What should you wear to the appointment?
It’s best to have dark, comfortable, loose-fitted clothing to change into after the appointment. Flip flops are best, but for those that have to wear shoes and socks, try to remove them when you get home.
Sunless tanners develop by science of oxidation, so they need oxygen to breathe and develop evenly. Ideally, no tight jeans or yoga pants with tight inseams immediately after application. Also, no bra for at least an hour. The tight elastic bands can suffocate the product, resulting in an uneven development.
However, disclaimer: I’ve had clients break all the above rules and still get away with a great, natural looking tan.
During The Apointment
What should you wear during the appointment? Can you go completely nude?
Most girls tan nude because they want to get rid of tan lines (and look skinnier). For those that prefer a tan line, I suggest a solid string thong. If you wear hanky panky lace bottoms, be sure to fold the material in half so the tanning solution doesn’t penetrate through the lace and give you a lacey tan line that looks like a skin disease. (Yes, it has happened.) It ruins any illusion of the airbrush tan looking natural.
Industry standard is that men wear something minimal for the tanning process. Boxers, briefs, speedos—or a professional tanning garment for the “no tan line” effect—basically, a sock with a drawstring.
How should you stand/position your arms/legs?
When facing the back, if you’re like most girls, you get a little bikini “smiley face” at the top of your thighs if you don’t relax your knees or lift your hips (aka your bum). Be sure to do one or the other so the technician can tan this natural crease (Basically, slightly squat).
Keep your hands out of the way when your legs are being tanned so they don’t catch overspray and discolor your palms (prayer position works great to keep your shoulders relaxed and your hands safe).
Thoughts on wearing hair nets? Disposable underwear? etc.
Hairnets = yes. Disposable underwear = no. Unless you want bronzer in your hair, wear a shower cap (especially for clients with lighter hair tones). But if you don’t wear a shower cap, it’s not the end of the world.
I’m blonde and do a million tans a day without wearing a shower cap. However, when I get a blowout, tanning solution certainly washes out of my hair. So, with that being said, I might also suggest that the technician wear a shower cap if they’re taking clients back-to-back in an enclosed space.
I’m not a fan of disposable underwear. They’re so thin and flimsy, and the tampon string size bikini line they create looks cheesy and un-natural to me. I’d suggest going nude over wearing them.
After The Appointment
How long should you wait to use any products? Shower?
I would wait a minimum of 2-3 hours to shower, but the most common suggested time for a client that wants more developed color would be about 6-8 hours. That is, unless you’ve been tanned with an “express” product where you can technically shower within 1-2 hours. Personally, I’m not a fan of the express products. They are so oversaturated with bronzer that you leave the appointment looking like you’ve just been dipped in chocolate (you should not be seen in public).
I prefer a more natural application with delicate bronzer so you can get dressed and go about your day instead of having to hibernate before your first shower.
If you use a darker product with a higher percentage of DHA (aka dihydroxyacetone, the active ingredient that interacts with amino acids in dead skin cells to produce a brown color change), you can shower sooner because it will develop faster. , I wouldn’t wait longer than 24 hours to shower. Editor’s Note: Ya nasty.
If you get your tan in the evening and wish to sleep in it, don’t sleep nude. Sweat and movement will leave bronzer remnants in your bed. Although it washes out, I would suggest wearing comfortable loose-fitted clothing to bed, then rinse the product off when you wake up.
As for beauty products and makeup, you can wear powders and eye makeup right away, but I don’t suggest using any face lotions, creams or sunblock until the product has had a little time to develop. You chance kaleidoscoping the tan before it’s had time to develop. The face usually develops quickly, so for some clients, they wash their face after 1-2 hours, then apply a full face of makeup for going out.
Any products you should stay away from to make sure the spray tan lasts longer?
YES: glycolic or salicylic acid, acetone, and most acne or bleaching cleansers/exfoliators. Tanning solution only develops on the top layer of skin, so it’s only going to last as long as the top layer of skin lasts on average 7-10 days. Any activity that exfoliates or removes the top layer of skin will result in a potentially splotchy looking fade. Use all-natural products in the shower and avoid cheap cleansers.
Any products you should use to make sure the spray tan lasts?
Use all-natural, water-based moisturizers and drink lots of water. Dehydrated skin is the #1 cause of an uneven fade.
Can you workout the morning after a spray tan?
Yes! But shower FIRST. Don’t go to SoulCycle wearing bronzer sweating from head to toe (not a good look).
Can you still get tanned by the sun with a spray tan?
Yes! Tanning products don’t protect from UV exposure, so maintain sunscreen applications. Using a natural, oil-free SPF is best.
Any other tips/tricks to know?
Take quicker showers, and avoid steam rooms, saunas, and long visits in the hot tub . Most clients get away with swimming in pools and the ocean on vacation, but chlorine is a strong chemical that can make the tan fade sooner than expected if you have prolonged exposure.
If you like to work out, don’t wear the tightest sports bras that pull and tug and take the tan off with it. Wear bralettes or more breathable activewear.
Lastly, airbrush tanning is an art. Do your research and hire a good artist. Someone who understands the subtle details involved in a natural application so you don’t end up with overly tanned hands, feet, wrists, ankles, and armpits. At the end of your appointment, detail the inside of your palms, wrists, and cuticles with a baby wipe to remove any potential overspray.
Images: Giphy (3), Unsplash (1)
August is upon us, which means we’re about to enter that traumatizing stage of summer where it’s too hot to even hit the “continue watching” button on Netflix let alone actually leave your house to go outside and live your life tan. Nope, not gonna happen. That said, I can’t let my laziness this weather deter me from looking like the bronzed goddess I was never genetically supposed to be. My only options now are self-tanner, which puts far too much pressure on me not to fuck up the process, or spray tans, aka the reason I looked like a blond Snooki at my senior year semi-formal. It’s a real Sophie’s choice. But at the end of the day using self-tanner requires the bare minimum amount of work so you know I’m out. Spray tans it is then. And nothing is worse than having to scour through Yelp to see which salon is the least hated by Internet trolls. So lucky for you I’ve braved my friend’s reviews the trolls and picked the best places in NYC to get spray tans without looking like Snooki.
1. Beach Bum Tanning
Average Price: $25
We’re into this place mostly because the price is ridiculous. Like, the last time I found any sort of service for less than $25 in New York City it looked sketchier than a Lifetime movie about online dating. So ya know, I’m glad there’s places like Beach Bum Tanning out there to restore trust issues. Plus the spray tanners at this venue mist on a hydrating toner to help prolong the life of your tan before airbrushing you. Blessings.The staff are also huge fans of contouring while they airbrush. So basically they can spray you ten pounds lighter even though you’ve spent the last 2-3 months being a hedonistic asshole. And they say money can’t buy happiness.
2. Gotham Glow
Average Price: $75
The best part about Gotham Glow is that they offer both in-studio services and also house calls. So if you’re lazy AF but, like, still want to look tan (hi) then you have the option of booking the appointment at your home and having the technician come directly to your home to spray tan you. What a world we live in. The in-studio spray tan costs around $75 while the house call service is more like $160 and up, but Gotham Glow is usually worth it. Especially because they can spray you in broader strokes, getting the job done in half the time thus letting you do other important shit with your day like Google whether Cole Sprouse is actually dating his costar on Riverdale because important.
3. Urban Tanz
Average Price: $60
Urban Tanz claims to be the “best tanning in Brooklyn” but, like, it’s Brooklyn and the average person in that area has the complexion of an extra on the set of Twilight so is that really saying much? That said, this place has hella good deals and discounts for large group packages just in case you and your friends want to GTL on a Saturday before hitting the bars. Definitely hit up Urban Tanz before any bridal/bachelorette events to ensure that no one looks like Casper in the group photo.
4. Faux Glow
Location: Midtown East
Average Price: $90
This place is a little more high-end, but if you can afford to waste your money treat yourself then Faux Glow is definitely worth it. The spray tanners are literal artists and spray you with surgical precision. They’re known for their long-lasting glow, most of which last longer than my online dating relationships (think 10 days) and the glow looks authentic AF.
5. The Spa @ Equinox
Location: Upper East Side
Average Price: $70
If you’re already a member of Equinox then congratuFUCKINGlations you get to be skinny, rich, and tan. Boo, you whore. But if you’re a peasant more like me then you’ll get some sort of sick satisfaction out of going to Equinox knowing that over your dead body would you spend $70 on a gym class but you wouldn’t hesitate to give them all your money for the perfect beach glow. Equinox is brand new to the airbrushing business and, like, they’re v eager to please. They even offer coffee and scones before the session because nothing makes me feel more comfortable shedding all my clothes in front of a stranger than carb loading right before. The session takes about 15 minutes and it’s 100 percent the best 15 minutes you’ll ever spend at the gym because instead of leaving sweaty and feeling like you want to die inside (just me?) you’ll leave looking glowy AF.
READ: 8 Tanning Myths You Should Have Stopped Believing Like, Yesterday
I’m a girl with no name if I’m not at least two shades darker than my original skin tone. Stepping off a Caribbean island is not only what I need pronto, but what I need to look like at all times. If my friends don’t greet me with, “ohmygod, you got sooo tan,” then honestly, what’s my purpose in life? Everyone knows being tan makes you an all around happier person. I’d say nicer, too, but then I’d be lying. I prefer to lay out on the beach instead of frying under cancer-causing rays in a machine that was used as a prop in a Final Destination movie. Um, yeah, no thanks. The sun works just fine.
However, laying out can be hella annoying when you want to get some color without tan lines. This isn’t Europe, there aren’t any nude beaches (not that I’d go, tbh), and I’m not about to flash the creepy guy next door. Thanks to retro bathing suit trends, I now have random geometric shapes printed all over my body and it’s not okay. Like, how awk is it if you have a D appointment and your hard-earned tan body just looks diseased?! Since we won’t boycott our fave swimsuit brands and nothing good ever comes easy, here’s how to cover up your tan lines because they are not sexy.
This is not, and I repeat, not the same as the self-tanner you probs use at home. If you ignore this or try to argue, you’ll look like an idiot so just know I’m usually always right. Using the Sephora Perfection Mist Airbrush Foundation is absolutely a lifesaver for evening out awk tan lines. For less than $30, which is saying a lot for something that saves your sex life, you’ll have to find a shade closest to your new tan skin. While holding the can a decent distance away, spray directly onto the targeted areas. With a brush, beauty blender, or even your finger IDGAF, blend the shade into your tan lines for an oil-free seamless tan.
You’ll need to get your card ready and buy a new liquid, waterproof concealer like Clinique Beyond Perfecting Super Concealer that works best based on your fresh tan shade. You didn’t really need an excuse to buy from Sephora anyway, though. This concealer keeps your look down pat for a full 24 hours and stays sweat- and humidity-proof. Fucking gamechanger, I know. By using your fingers, fill in any uneven areas and blend onto your tanned skin to make sure the stripes on your waist are long gone. Trust me, it can’t even pass as a temporary henna tat. Use your everyday foundation to blend with for a flawless finish.
Customized Matte Bronzer
I mean, since it’s already July, chances are you were going to probably buy a new bronzer based on your new glow already. For covering up missed areas, whether that be on your chest or stomach, the Stila Stay All Day Bronzer For Face and Body does wonders. The fade-proof bronzing powder should be applied on areas your strappy bathing suit kept hidden from sunlight. By using a matte instead of shimmer bronzer, you’re going for a natural, smooth look so it doesn’t look like you showered half of your body in glitter. With the appropriate brush, blend all over the area for complete coverage. If your skin tone has pink or lighter tones, be sure to sample and find the right bronzer with rose gold or pearlescent hues. Just do what Kylie did and make swatches on someone else’s arm for you.
The 2000’s were a dark time. The iPhone wasn’t around until much later in the decade. The economy collapsed. Holy shit, 9/11 happened. I almost forgot about that one. Aaliyah died. (RIP Aaliyah.) Flip flops were really popular. Things were especially bleak, however, in the beauty department. The goal in the ’00s was to make yourself look as innocent and as slutty as possible. The aesthetic was “Baby Prostitute” meets “Bratz” meets “Emma, fourth season of Degrassi wherein she contracts throat gonorrhea.”
What I’m saying is, everyone had a tough time with their overall style during this decade. Maybe we were all too busy getting used to the internet and the early stages of social media (AIM), maybe we couldn’t be bothered to do anything but memorize the lyrics to “Ignition Remix,” maybe we were spending too much time at Blockbuster. Tough to pin it down.
Anyway, here are some of the most embarrassing beauty trends that ruled the ’00s.