Photo Credit: ibizatansalon.com
After a cruel winter, certainly in New York, my mind has turned to faux tans. Let me talk you through a Grimm tale of—paid for—tanning at Beach Bum Tanning in Chelsea, New York. I went with my friend Kathleen and after waiting half an hour, I was up first. In the room, I asked for some wipes to take off my deodorant and makeup. The tanning lady looked at me like I was speaking in a dialect from Lapland. There were no wipes. Apparently no-one ever comes with makeup or deodorant, something I can safely dispute with Kathleen sitting outside with makeup and, as she—thankfully—confirmed later, deodorant.
I knew the tan wouldn’t go on properly on top of makeup. In fact, the tanner agreed. But after a ten-minute negotiation, I persuaded her to go off and find me some method of makeup removal. She emerged with some toner on a smelly towel. It was not a good start. However the tan was competent, it lasted about four days.
Meanwhile, with no warning, Kathleen found herself being tanned by a man. Oddly enough she found she wasn’t comfortable bending her torso over in front of some random dude for him to reach the spray under her buttocks, paper knickers or no. A quick look on Yelp found that this location tanked in other people’s opinions too.
So I decided to find out who does the best fake tan, firmly believing it sometimes takes a dose of bad medicine to make one look a bit further. All of the prices mentioned are for a full body spray.
Some good things were found. In New York, I went to have what turned out to be one of the best tans ever from Brazil Bronze Glow Bar, ($60) down in Soho. Showered, exfoliated, shaved, and moisturized the night before—as instructed—there was no nonsense about a lack of wipes. My tanner talked me through the different options, from light to dark brown, told me about their proprietary formula, and explained that she was going to tan my face a bit less than my body. Covering up my nails with emollient, my hair got a cap, and with disposable knickers on, I was all set. Now, during these sessions, you make breakdancing moves in slow motion so the tanner can reach all parts, including those not previously exposed. Mark my words—no photographs should ever be taken of what goes on between a woman and her tanner. Not a part was missed by my technician, who then left me for five minutes to fan off. It lasted a good six days and the soft touch on the face was immensely flattering and slimmed down the rest of my body. Optical illusion? I’ll take it.
Over in London, my sister Rose experienced the famed St Tropez (price according to salon) Lucky her, she had Jules Heptonstall who tans the contestants for Strictly Come Dancing—the UK version of Dancing with the Stars. Rose is a teacher and did not want to appear to her class looking like Snooki on Jersey Shore. Far from it—it was so subtle that no one noticed apart from another tanning aficionado in the staff room, and best of all it lasted a week. Rose gave it a good five stars.
Xen-Tan appeared on the tanning scene in the UK seven years ago and captured the imaginations of beauty editors because of the tan’s underlying olive tone and the no-smell formulation. I went to Beauty Essence (£35) in London and remembered why I loved it. There was very little aroma and I have to say the tanner was quite an understated expert. And wow this one lasted; I still had a bit of color ten days later.
Far, far away in Seattle, another guinea pig went to Solar Tan Seattle ($43). She reported back that it was friendly, they did the job very well, even more crucial given the dreary Seattle weather; it gave her just the boost she needed for five days. In West Hollywood, CA, I had once discovered Ibiza Tan, to which I have returned several times. The color was amazing and totally suited the no-effort/big-effort way of appearances in LA. What I loved about this was that you can get the whole body tanned for $45 but also come back for top ups or just start with say the legs ($25 for both, not each) and face ($10). Genius.