|Stalking the Perfect Tan |
a Doonesbury classic by G.B. Trudeau
I considered my options. I briefly contemplated sunbathing, but I’ve been a sun block devotee ever since my mother (the sun worshipper) started sprouting little precancerous horns called solar keratosis. A tanning bed is definitely not the route for me. I tried them back in my younger years and hated it. Laying down in a smelly, bright coffin that was the repository of hundreds of other persons’ sweat beads always creeped me out. And I’ve never really liked tan in a can, because it’s smelly, sticky and doesn’t last. So I decided to try a spray tan.
There’s a place near me that has the VersaSpa sunless tanning system. It’s a booth with two nozzles that move up and down on a track, covering you in a fine mist. The three-step process included sprays of a pH balancing conditioner, a sunless, skin-bronzing formula, and an anti-aging, skin firming moisturizer. I spent about 15 minutes waiting for my turn alternating between chatting with the manager, who spends most of her day cleaning up other peoples sweat beads, and worrying about the expired inspection tag on the fire extinguisher next to my chair. When it was my turn, the manager demonstrated the process and explained how to use the various tools (hairnet, barrier cream, alcohol wipe). The automated system repeats the instructions as you go through each step, so it’s pretty idiot-proof.
I considered using the booth au naturel, but decided I wanted tan lines so I could see the contrast (not to mention that I’d recently seen this cartoon which hit a little too close to home). The Spa was a little slippery from the last wipedown, so extra caution was needed as I stepped inside. I rotated through the various front, back and side poses on command, looking like an extra in the Bangles’ “Walk Like An Egyptian” video. It only takes a few minutes for the whole process, and about 12 hours for the color to develop. I’d chosen a medium tint, but in hindsight I’d go darker. While I was happy with the overall color, I was still a long way from the George Hamilton Cocoa Butter Open.
The sunless tanning system was pretty cool, and it did what I wanted. I was able to sit by the pool (covered in sunblock) without resembling a fish belly. But overall I discovered is that spray tanning is smelly, sticky and doesn’t last. So it’s probably better to save twenty bucks and go back to the can.