We all know a fake tan is the way to go these days. Bronzed skin makes us look better. It hides cellulite and other imperfections, while also making the body appear slimmer. However, getting a streak-free faux glow can be intimidating. Here we break down the rules for getting the most gorgeous natural looking tan whether it’s at a salon, spa, or in the comfort of your own home.
All self-tanners are made up of the ingredient DHA (dihydroxyacetone), which interacts with dead cells on the epidermis to turn a brown color. Some DHA is natural, derived from beet or cane sugar, while some is manufactured synthetically. While DHA is FDA-approved for topical use, recent warnings recommend that it should not be inhaled and to avoid areas such as the eyes and the nose.
At a salon, spray tans are the method of choice for deep glowing skin in very little time. Some salons offer individualized spray tan booths, which are quick and spray the entire body, albeit, can miss some spots. Other salons and spas offer airbrush tanning applied by a skilled technician. If you opt for the latter, the technician can even sculpt body parts for a chiseled, toned look. Booth tans can be found across the country and cost around $25 per session. A tanning session with a technician ranges from $45 to $75, and can be costly if you want to maintain bronzed skin for months on end.
There are a slew of self-tanners on the market today in a variety of formulations and shades: sprays, mousses, gels, creams, lotions and towelettes. Some build color gradual, while others turn skin a deeper hue in just a few hours. With some of the newer formulas, color can last anywhere from seven to 10 days.
Prepping skin is key when doing any self-tan. Exfoliating skin with a good body or facial scrub to remove dry patches helps build a more even tan. “You want to apply your self tanner to fresh skin cells so that the tan looks its best and lasts longer,” says St. Tropez Finishing Expert Sophie Evans. It’s important to pay extra attention to the knees, ankles, and elbows as they can be drier. “These areas will go a good few shades deeper than the rest of the body and look un-natural if not prepped properly,” adds Evans.
Confused on how to choose the right shade? “A good self-tan product should adapt and work off your own individual body chemistry and skin tone,” explains Evans. “Gradual tans will normally turn you one to two shades darker and a self-tan will turn a good four to six shades darker so start light if desired, but most people end up loving the depth of a self-tan application.”
Not all self-tanners are right for everyone so it’s important to do a patch test. Evans recommends testing a block of color in a two-inch square—too much product in a concentrated area will develop too dark while a tiny dot of color will be too light. Following are some of the best self-tanners on the market.
Below are some products that are sure to give you beautiful sun-kissed skin without a trip to the salon or spa.
Start with an oil-free exfoliator like H20 Plus Sea Moss Black Sand Body Scrub ($20) containing fine black sand from lava, sea salt, Irish moss and aloe vera to give your body the perfect smooth canvas.
Friends will think you spent a weekend in the Caribbean with St. Tropez Self Tan Dark Bronzing Spray ($40), which features DHA containing allo-melanin to mimic the skin’s natural melanin, in a fast-drying spray for fool-proof application.
Recently reformulated to contain no stinky odor, Jergens Natural Glow Face Daily Moisturizer ($8.99) is great for beginners who want to gradually develop a natural bronzed color.
TanTowel Face and Body Towelettes ($24) deliver golden skin in just a few hours, plus are great for travel.
Josie Maran Argan Self Tanning Cream ($32) contains a natural streak-free nourishing formula rich in organic argan oil and caffeine to firm trouble spots.
Not only does Caudalie Divine Legs ($38 ) smells great and contains moisturizing grape oil, but it imparts a golden color with subtle shimmer that makes ghostly-looking legs appear sleek and toned, and then easily washes off in the shower.
For noticeable missed spots, apply Tanee ($5.99), a portable pen containing bronzer and self-tanner that blends in easily and fixes mistakes in a flash.
Evans swears by the St. Tropez Applicator Mitt ($6.50) to help distribute color evenly, and guarantee no messy residue left on hands.
Forget about bar or Santa crawls, a beauty bar crawl is the best new option for a girls’ night out since your mother told you to simmer down at a pajama party. Gal pal Beatrice Aidin and I hit New York City streets near Union Square for some hair, brow, and facial pampering, and, of course, female bonding.
First stop was DryBar at 4 West 16th Street. All blowouts here cost only $40, and the location is part of the “No cuts No Color Just blowouts for only $40” phenomenon that has blown eastward from California, where the concept originated in 2008. The salons have a delightful formula—each location looks like a girlish lounge with whimsical mirrors, cute lights, and a glass of champagne at the ready. Styles are chosen from a menu that brings home the bar lounge theme: Straight Up, Manhattan, The Cosmo, The Mai Tai, Cosmo-Tai, Southern Comfort, Hot Toddy, and Up-Tini.
My stylist Stephanie gave me a combo of the Straight Up and Manhattan—straight, slightly turned under, with volume at the top. Working with stylist Matt, Beatrice went for Southern Comfort, volume with curls, which looked great on her normally straight do.
With hair in place, we headed over to Clear Clinic at 21 19th Street for a microdermabrasion treatment. This center, the brainchild of dermatologist Eric Schweiger, MD, is a one-stop shop for acne and acne scar treatment. It really tries to reduce the trauma of acne by encouraging walk-ins, offering late appointments, and teaming patients with a Personal Acne Coach, a physician assistant who guides them through the process of finding the right solution for their condition. The place is a veritable play yard of lasers and light-based devices, which aim to target acne at its core source. From deep cleansing, blue and red light seassions, lasers that kill acne causing bacteria, to a whole swath of devices that minimize scars, the Clear Clinic menu is a no nonsense approach to acne treatment.
Luckily, my blemish days are behind me, so I opted for the microdermabrasion treatment, a professional mechanical exfoliation process that stimulates collagen production and left my skin smooth and glowing. Many thanks to Jillian Cirillo, the licensed aesthetician who explained every step, and much to my surprise, said I had good skin. For chronic acne sufferers, the clinic recommends its Clear Club™, amembership program that bundles services for more cost effective treatment.
For the finishing touch, Beatrice and I ended our evening’s prep at Boom Boom Brow Bar, 35 7th Avenue in Greenwich Village. Even at 8PM, the place was hopping with regulars getting their brows and lashes tinted, and brows waxed. As every makeup artist advises, brows really frame and open up the face, and I’m a firm believer of this. What I didn’t know was the benefit of brow tinting—it actually makes your brow hairs look thicker and remarkably fills in the sparse areas, requiring much less powder to get a full brow look. My technician Danielle sized up my color and applied the dye, which sits for only 10 minutes. After a wipe down, she gave me the wax over and a trim, shaping my brows in a natural looking way—more full than thin, but tamed. And to my surprise, she showed me the correct way to apply brow powder (never pencil, mon dieu). Sweep a thin line of powder at the bottom ledge of the brow then brush it upward and follow with gel.
Boom Boom is a small slip of a shop—girly, dainty, and definitely fun. Book an appointment online for a full range of tweezing and waxing for the body and face. If you go during a weekday, you might even meet Boom Boom, aka Malynda Vigliotti, the shop’s founder. And don’t forget to check out her specially created products, including the new Brow Job ($49), which contains peptides, vitamins, and amino acids to beef up scrawny brows in just one month.
Blownout, scrubbed, and waxed, Bea and I were off on an art opening adventure. But that’s another story.
Have you ever dreamed about winning the lottery and fantasized about how you would spend the money? Would you buy a mansion, diamonds, yacht, or an island? Whatever your pleasure, it’s sure to include a luxury item.
But is luxury just for the very rich? Definitely not, according to the speakers at the Beauty’s Luxury Lift-Off panel, sponsored by The Fashion Group International in New York City.
Even though nearly 94% of the 18 to 34 age group is in debt, according to Laura McEwen, vice president and publisher of Self magazine, a sponsor of the event, these children of baby boomers crave the luxury experience. “They want Dior mascara, hair done by Fekkai, and are generally eager for luxury products and treatments. They’re paying attention to their appearance constantly,” she said.
“Coco Chanel believed that luxury is a necessity that starts where necessity ends,” said panelist Ava Huang, senior vice president, fragrance and skincare marketing, Chanel. “Some people think that poverty is the opposite of luxury. It’s actually vulgarity.” That said, maybe it’s time to rethink your appointment to have diamonds imbedded in your nail tips.
“Whatever the culture, throughout history, women have gone to extraordinary heights for their beauty,” said McEwen. Just think about the Victorian passion for corsets, Japanese Geisha’s use of lead-based foundation, or Cleopatra’s milk baths.
So if luxury today is not over the top indulgence, what is it? “We refer to luxury as having the Three Cs: craft, creativity, and culture,” said Veronique Gabai-Pinsky, global brand president, Aramis &Designer Fragrances, Beauty Bank and IdeaBank, The Estee Lauder Companies. For example, the Cashmere Mist fragrance from Donna Karan gained huge popularity without much marketing support, because women responded to its quality and subtle beauty.
Sometimes luxury involves an experience, not just a product. When panelist Frederic Fekkai, founder of Fekkai hair care and salons, opened his first salon, he included a café, not necessarily a moneymaker, but a warm and authentic touch.
For marketers, “luxury must come from the heart, followed by communication and collaboration,” said moderator Greg Furman, president of the Luxury Marketing Council. The brand’s goal is to include you, the shopper, as a partner in defining luxury.
Partnering with a prestige company sounds inclusive and respectful, but we’re still being marketed something. At least it will be something we love and relate to.
For many, luxury has nothing to do with acquiring objects, such as the luxury of time, perhaps the most valuable commodity in our “gotta have it yesterday” lives. It’s interesting that going to the gym to work out is a necessity, but sleep has become a luxury.
Not merely relative, luxury is a very personal concept. But if you treat yourself to something that is not a necessity, well made, and perhaps a little scarce, you are on the right path.