My five-year-old daughter could do that and she’s not the brightest bulb in the tanning bed.
Bren MacGuff aka Allison Janney, Juno 2007
Hey Y’all! Welcome to summer! Well, actually I don’t think summer starts until June 20, but when the temperature gets anywhere above 80 degrees I consider it summer. I joke quite often about hiding in my “cave” and being happy on cloudy, overcast days. I prefer gray days over sunny ones, not because I’m dark and brooding, if you know me you know I’m anything but dark, but because my lily white (thats code for ghostly pale) skin cannot bare the sun! I have only one envy in this world. It’s not people with money, success, beauty or fame. I envy people with pigment!
There is something so sexy about beautiful sun kissed skin. That healthy glow that comes with summer sunning has always been a phenomenon that eluded me and not for lack of trying to obtain it. I spent hours when I was younger lying out in the backyard trying to soak up the sun into my translucent skin cells, desperately trying to look like all my blonde and brunette friends. All I ever achieved, however, was sun poisoning and multitudes of new freckles. Everyone always used to tell me so cleverly, “If you connected all your freckles you would have a great tan” for which I always sweetly responded “Bite Me!”
Then in my late teenage years I was introduced to the tanning bed. So instead of baking myself from the outside in, I could now bake myself from the inside out! I was so excited about this prospect that I joined one of those fabulous tanning salons where everything smells like coconut, feels like Hawaiian Tropic suntan oil and all the girls looked the color of muddy lake water. Oh yeah, this was the place for me! I knew just by being in there that I was made for tanning. Two 30 minute sessions later, what I looked like was a speckled lobster. No one bothered to tell me that you had to start out slow and build the amount of time you spend in the tanning bed. Finally as I sat on the curb with my head between my legs trying not to pass out (a reaccuring theme for me when I overdue things) the nice woman that owned the salon decided to tell me this information. She then offered to refund my yearly membership which I had paid in advance. For insurance reasons you see. She was afraid I might explode like a vampire that had been exposed to the sun! After that I just accepted my alabaster fate and either stayed completely covered up or slathered on sunscreen every 15 minutes while in the sun. These things I could accept. It wasn’t the sun exposure I wanted, I just wanted to look like I had actually been in the sun at some point in my life.
My early and mid-twenties brought the introduction of the sunless tanning lotions! Now this was something I could really wrap my colorless fingers around! Unfortunately the science behind how to smear this orange colored cream on to every part of your body evenly wasn’t quite the easiest feat. You smeared on the lotion, which was colorless to start, in what you thought were even strokes all over your body. The smell was something I can’t even describe. It had a smell I would liken to peroxide, hair dye and Campho-Phenique all mixed together. You could spend hours rubbing it on, sitting butt naked in the bathroom while it dried, only to see that you hadn’t put quite enough on your knee caps but had gone way over board on your Achilles tendon and your elbows. Then you had to reapply to even it out, wait again for the stain to kick in, only to find that now your elbows were good but your toes were the same color as a 1970s burnt orange shag rug! Speaking of burnt orange, your hands and especially your palms, stayed a constant ruddy color from using them to apply all these coats of sunless stain. It was all too much time for me. So when I’d finally loofah’d off my last layer of stained skin, it was back to pasty and proud for me.
A few years ago after absolutely giving up on ever having any color to my skin outside of the “angel kisses from God” that speckled my body, I had one last glimmer of tanning hope. I was watching the red carpet walk for the Oscars on t.v. Charlize Theron walked by in all her stunning, glowing, bronzed beauty and one of the commentators happened to mention that spray tanning was all the rage that year. The spray tan was the newest thing in sunless tanning and because there was no hands on application it was almost a sure bet to get an even tan! I went straight to Google! I was in luck, there was a spray tanning salon right around the corner from my house. How could I have not heard of or seen this place before? I called the very next morning and made an appointment. You see, I had a dinner to attend the next night and because this was a sure thing I felt safe about going in the morning and getting a beautiful spray tan before I went. Yeah, if you read my blogs with any regularity you know how my beauty experiments go before an event. I don’t seem to have the capacity to learn from my mistakes in this area.
I showed up at the spray tanning salon full of hope and wonder. I quickly had flashbacks to the tanning bed salon from my days gone by. Everything again smelled like coconut and Hawaiian Tropic. What is that? Do they pump that smell in the air just for effect? How about a little lavender or chamomile in there instead. Why all the coconut? Anyway, I digress. The place was hopping with business. Even though I had an appointment I still had to wait for fifteen minutes or so. That was just long enough for me to watch a dozen people go in and come out looking bronzed. My anticipation grew with each golden beauty that exited the place. I knew for sure this was finally the tanning Mecca I had been seeking.
It was finally my turn. Keep in mind I had never done this before, I didn’t even know such a thing existed until a few days before, so I had no idea how this process worked. The girl that escorted me back was on the phone with her boyfriend however and decided the best way to show me how to use the machine was with hand gestures and a few grunts. I followed along as best as I could. All clothes off, close the door, hit the button, hold your breath. O.k, I got that. Here are a few things she didn’t tell me.
There is a lotion that you rub all over that helps the spray stick evenly to your body.
Didn’t apply that.
When you get in the booth you stand all the way to rear of the door and turn in intervals.
What I did was get myself as close to the sprayer as possible and rub that stuff on like I was taking a shower! The closer the better!
What happened when I got out is probably still a folklore at that salon! When the timer buzzed that the session was done, I did as instructed and patted myself dry so as not to disturb the wonderful even coat I was sure I now possessed. When I was finished and turned around to check myself out I was so horrified I thought I might end up on the floor with my head between my legs again!
I looked like I had been in a mudslide! I was streaked from head to toe! Apparently when you stand right under the sprayers it disrupts the fine mist that evenly coats your body and instead shoots out streams of brown ink like stain! I called for the girl without coming out of the booth to tell her I thought the machine was broken. When she saw me she went as pale as I was before I walked in the place! She knew immediately that I was a newbie and apologized for not instructing me better. The whole store came to a halt as the entire staff tried to rub off the spray to no avail. It was there to stay! Once again, I was offered my money back.
I went straight home and got the man of the house to give me an alcohol bath and he helped me take off the top layer of my skin with the loofah. I might add, all the while he kept having to leave the room and laugh out loud in an area where I couldn’t hear him. I had to be at a dinner in less than two hours and I looked like a Native American in ceremonial war paint!
So, come what may, I accepted my sexy had to come colorless, covered in SPF 100 (which Neutrogena makes btw) and under a wide brimmed hat! Enjoy all your fun in the sun this summer my sexy friends. If you need me I’ll be under the giant rotating umbrella applying yet another coat of sunscreen!
Stay tuned as I try the spray tan experience once again, but with great success this time! We visit Authentic Beauty in Atlanta for an organic spray tan. I also interview the owner Aly Hoag and we talk about her salon and her mission for every woman to feel beautiful from the inside out!