For a weekend of fun, I drove from Las Vegas to Los Angeles, and when I noticed the Sunset Tan on Sunset Blvd (at Alta Loma), I thought it would be interesting to stop in for a spray tan! I’ve only done one spray tan before – a Mystic Tan – but it’s been a few years, so I couldn’t remember all the details about it. So the next day, I showered and exfoliated and moisturized a bit and then headed to Sunset Tan. As you know, I’m totally against tanning, but I have no problems with fake tans! When I went into Sunset Tan, I was surprised at how small it was! It looks much bigger on the tv show! Nick, the store manager, was there and he was busy telling a customer that tanning beds cannot short-circuit, catch on fire, and kill you, like the horrible scene in Final Destination 3. That was pretty funny. I didn’t catch her name, but it was a girl that actually helped me explain the different spray tanning options. They do Mystic Tans there, and also California Tans, which is what I opted for, since I hadn’t tried one before. The spray tan cost $35, which seemed like a lot to me, but I was already there and didn’t want to walk out! I know you can buy packages of cheaper spray tans, so I was pretty surprised the girl didn’t suggest the different pricing options, especially since a huge part of the Sunset Tan tv show focuses on sales.
For the actual California Tan, I’m taken to a room which has the tanning machine in it. I remember Mystic Tans are done in a little booth, while the California Tan is a large machine in the room. I’m given Barrier Creme (a lotion), and am instructed to put it on areas that might pick up more color than wanted – hands, fingernails, tops and sides of feet. I put on the Barrier Creme, and also put on a hairnet (haha) to protect my hair. The girl punches in “level 2” on the machine and then leaves the room. You can customize the “darkness” of the tan to best fit your skintone. I get undressed and step on the spot where I’m supposed to stand, and then press the “go” button. The machine talks and tells me to close my eyes and hold my breath, and after a quick countdown, it sprays for about 3 seconds. I sort of hold my arms out to the sides and move around a bit to try to get even coverage. The spray was pretty cold, so I wasn’t expecting that! Then the machine tells me to turn around, and it sprays my back. Next the machine actually starts drying me and within a minute I’m done! I don’t think the Mystic Tan dries you, and I remember sort of dripping and having to rub in tanning solution quite a bit. With the California Tan, I see just a few uneven spots that I quickly rub, and then I get dressed and I’m done! You’re not supposed to take a shower for 6 hours after the tan.
When I look in the mirror, I am noticeably much darker, and the color appears really even. I apply some sunscreen, since a spray tan doesn’t give you any added sun protection, and I’m out the door! That’s me in the photo, right after the tan. A few hours later, I notice my feet and legs are a bit spreckled, and my feet are pretty orange! I obviously didn’t use enough Barrier Creme on them, so that’s a lesson for next time! And I should have put the creme on the bottoms of my feet! When I take a shower that night, I’m sort of alarmed when the tub turns orange for a minute! I knew there must have been a bronzer used to make me instantly dark, but I wasn’t expecting it to wash away like that (but it turns out that’s normal). After the shower, I am still dark (the spreckles went away, luckily), but definitely not as dark without the bronzer. Overall, I think the tan looks really even (no blotches) and pretty realistic. However, I definitely feel like I am more orange than I would look with a real tan. I honestly don’t know if people think I look orange, and my friends say I look fine. The spray tan dries your skin out a bit, so make sure to moisturize!
After this experience, I think spray tans are the way to go if you have a lot of money and can afford to get them done weekly (they last about 5-7 days), or they are great for special occasions, or for models that have photoshoots, etc. I personally won’t be doing one anytime soon since I don’t have a lot of money, and I’m not that concerned about whether or not I look tan. I definitely have not mastered self-tanning at home, and the spray tan gave me much more even coverage, but for now I’ll just stick with a self-tanning moisturizer, which is fast and easy, and hard to mess up! As a final note, there are reports that spray tans may not be safe, since they spray your eyes, nose, and mouth, which can lead you to injest dihydroxyacetone (DHA), the active ingredient that causes the skin to darken. I need to read more about this subject, and want to find out whether or not even using self-tanning lotions is safe.