01/12/2012 09:52 EST | Updated 03/13/2012 05:12 EDT

Spray Tans: Conserve or Splurge?


The cold weather is upon us and everyone is asking me about spray tanning. Do I spray tan? How does it look? What do I think, can it be done at home and is it harmful? While there are pros and cons to spray tanning, it can be great before a vacation or a special occasion if done properly. However, do not spray tan a second time until the old spray tan has come off completely. If you do, you will have an uneven mess.

If you are considering a spray tan for you or your teen, be sure to read the chemical content of the product to make sure you are comfortable with it. If you decide to go ahead with it, you can splurge on a salon tan or buy a spray in the drug store. For both types of tans, you will need to exfoliate the dead skin all over your body to get an even look.


The salon charged $60 to exfoliate my entire body for me with a scrub. It felt like a nice massage. For my tan at home, I exfoliated in the shower using a homemade brown sugar scrub made of brown sugar, olive oil and honey. A store-bought scrub or loofah would work too if you do not feel like making your own.

The $90 Salon Tan:

I wore loose fitting clothes, no bra and brought a purse I could hold in my hand so I did not crease my shoulder after the tan. I also went to the salon around noon because you can't shower for eight hours. In the salon, I stripped down and was sprayed with a fine mist from head to toe twice. Then, I had to stand there in front of a fan for about 10 minutes to dry. Next, the technician used a sponge around my elbows and knees to make sure I was not streaky. Once I was dry, I got dressed and went home with a beautiful tan. While I went to one of the top salons in New York City, I still found some patches on my lower legs that were not even. But, for the most part, the tan looked great and in a bathing suit it made all the difference.

The $10 Spray Tan From the Drugstore

In my shower, I sprayed myself with the spray tan. My daughter did my back and the back of my arms. I did this twice and used a sponge for the elbows, knees,and ankles. I had to stand around to dry for about 20 minutes. After a few hours, the colour appeared and was beautiful. However, I had streakiness on one arm and my chest looked patchy. The colour was not as even or as dark as the salon tan and did not last as long. However, I liked the colour and it was definitely something I would do again.

Conserve or Splurge?

In the end, I got a similar result in the privacy of my own home, but it was not as nice as the salon tan. If I were to do this regularly, I would opt for the at-home tan. However, for a vacation or special occasion, I would definitely splurge for the salon. Both tans started to peel off after about five days, especially around the lines of my bathing suit. Fortunately, I had a body scrub with me on vacation to exfoliate the dead skin. In the end, if you are just looking for a little colour, the drugstore product is the way to go. For something more important, you have to pay up.

Also, I should note, spray tans have a pungent smell to them no matter how much you pay. It's not terrible, but you will definitely notice it. The colour also comes off on your clothes and sheets the first day you use it so, plan your spray the day before you want to be tan.

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