Sunless Sun Worship

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I’ve actually been wanting to do this post forever, as it’s one of my best kept summer beauty secrets. I guess I held back because it walks a fine line between a legit secret weapon us girls could all be relying on, and being a little over the top for a summer beauty routine. But you know what? This is something I’ve been doing and loving for years, so it’s about time I share it. And what better time than now, as the hot sunny days are about to come back with a bang, and those favorite ripped boyfriend shorts are returning to their rightful staple status.

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I’m talking about spray tans, people. You know I’ve always been a girl who can get down with some crazy beauty maintenance (acrylic nails a few years ago, hair extensions nonstop since 2011, etc). So I’m no stranger to trying some of these more “faux” type things (next up on the list of things to try – eyelash extensions). A few years ago, I did some spray tan research around LA, trying to find the best option. I tried them all – $60 organic spray tans, $100 Beverly Hills spray tans, middle-of-the-road spray tans, mom and pop shop spray tans. Each came with their share of issues… only lasted a day, too expensive, etc. But then I decided to try my local chain tan place – Palm Beach Tan, and this was when spray tans became a sustainable summer treat. Whether it was for a poolside party or vacation, a special event, or even just for everyday summer bronzedness, this fair skinned girl was hooked.

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Here’s what I like. The technology in spray tanning has come so far in recent years, and now using a booth for your tan instead of a human is a legitimate option for regular spray tan purposes. I mean, if it’s your own wedding, maybe have a professional do it. But for a beach weekend this really is sufficient if you take the proper steps. The Mystic booth is the one I use. It’s a spacious booth in which you rotate four different ways, standing like you’re doing the robot dance. It sprays a very fine mist and gives you an even tan. It’s cheap. Monthly memberships start at $20 and go up to around $60 for unlimited, depending on where you’re located. It’s chill – you can just walk in whenever without an appointment. The tan lasts longer than other ones I’ve tried, especially if you care for it well (see below for all my tips on that). You can customize the color to the level of dark you want to be and even your specific skin tone shade (olive vs red, etc), which the kind associates will help you with. I lean more towards dark and while it makes me look a little crazy that first day before I shower off the bronzer, the actual tan is a nice not-too-dark shade (as you can see in these photos – it’s subtle one day after the tan) that lasts for a good week.

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Now, how to do this properly. Here are the steps you can take for an even, long lasting tan. While it may sound like a lot, it will become second nature (if you get hooked and do this several times like I have). Feel free to pull this post up on your phone to use as a reference as you go through the steps, because it would be a lot to remember. ;)

AT HOME, PRE-TAN

1 / Exfoliate your skin using an oil free scrub. I have always used this one by St. Ives and not only is it cheap, it works wonders. Doesn’t dry out your skin either. Don’t use a bar soap as they can leave residue on your skin that will absorb the tan weirdly.

2 / Shave your legs and DON’T moisturize anything.

3 / Pack up your necessities for the tanning salon: a dark, loose fitting outfit for after (I do a dark cotton jersey dress with no bra, or loose shorts and a loose tee), a hair tie, flip flops or loose slip-on sandals. Leave your jewelry at home.

AT THE SALON

1 / Have the associate at check-in help you customize the tan you want and show you how to use the booth. Ask for the Mystic 4-way booth.

2 / Ask for a few wet terrycloth towels (some locations have them, some don’t). If they don’t have them, any terry cloth towel will do and you can dampen it. You’ll need a dry towel as well.

3 / Get naked (AFTER you go into the private room with the booth, I don’t recommend you do this in the lobby).

4 / The barrier cream they provide is your best friend. It’s going to help you keep certain areas from absorbing too much of the tan (rough patches, feet, hands). Put a light layer of this on any rough patches like elbows if you want (I usually forget those parts), and then put a THICK layer on your feet, especially around the heels, toes, and bottoms of the feet. A light layer on the tops of your feet, making sure to blend well so you don’t get any weird lines around the ankles. The mist will fall from the air onto the tops of your feet and the skin there is more absorbent so this part is crucial. Use the little medical looking booties they provide, if you want to really avoid scary toes and heels. After applying the cream to my feet, I put the booties on, trying to leave the tops of my feet somewhat exposed but the important parts covered. Trust me, you don’t need tan toes and heels. The glow from your legs will still make your feet look tan.

5 / Use the nose plug sponge and ear plugs they provide to keep from breathing the mist in (and keep your mouth closed during the tan), and the hair net, tucked behind your ears and make sure it’s not covering any part of your forehead. They provide lip balm as well, which I recommend you apply.

6 / Last step is to apply the barrier cream to your hands. A decent layer on your whole hand, then a THICK layer on the palms, and THICK layer on your nails and cuticles. Blend out any edges.

7 / Now you’ll feel a little creamed up and ridiculous, but you’re ready to go in the booth. The robot will tell you what to do. Keep your mouth and eyes shut while it’s spraying.

NOTE FOR BREASTFEEDING MOMS: You will want to cover your boobs for this. Either with a cheap strapless bra or a ton of the barrier cream and then wipe them clean right after.

AFTER THE TAN

1 / You will immediately feel like a skinny bronzed goddess but the best is yet to come later in the day. ;) Take the damp towel and completely wipe the palms of your hands and nails/cuticles. The more you can be blendy around the edges, the better because you do want some tan to stay on the tops of your hands and feet, but not have any lines. It really is an art.

2 / Remove the booties and wipe the bottoms of your feet, heels, and nails. You may want to gently wipe off some of the tan on the tops of your feet, and use a little barrier cream to blend out the line from the booties.

3 / Make sure you feel pretty dry before carefully putting on your “spray tan outfit” and leaving.

4 / IMPORTANT: Don’t shower or work out for at least 4 hours after the tan – I usually wait til the next day and just wear PJ’s that cover me well that night. But I do recommend washing your hands as soon as you start to notice them darkening, maybe 1 or 2 hours in. They absorb a ton of the tan so if you wash them earlier than the rest of your body, it’ll actually be even and not overdone.

FOR THE NEXT WEEK

1 / Use a sulfate free body wash to keep from stripping your tan, and you can use a mild exfoliant after a day or two. You don’t want to slough off your tan but you also don’t want dry skin to build up and end up with a flaky tan.

2 / Use a good body lotion, like my favorite one here, to keep the tan moisturized and looking glowy. I wouldn’t recommend using a straight oil though as that could actually make your tan come off sooner.

3 / Get a sample of your foundation in the next shade or two darker (or heck, it can’t hurt to own a full sized darker foundation for summer as you’ll naturally be a bit more bronzed in the summer anyway). As your tan fades, you can mix it with your usual color in different levels until you’re back to your normal color.

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Phew, that’s it! Now you know you really want to try it, don’t you? Who knows, you may just end up loving it. While I’m happy to embrace my natural fair skin, I also can’t help but love a good tan with my cutoffs in the summer. Who doesn’t? SO, I’ve teamed up with Palm Beach Tan for a giveaway to help you guys get summer ready! Here’s what’s up for grabs:

GIVEAWAY

1 winner will get : $150 gift card to Nordstrom for a cute summer outfit to show off your tan (Rag & Bone BF shorts, I’m looking at you!) and a 3-month Diamond Premier membership so you can spray tan til your hearts content! So fun. I want this.

5 winners will get : a free spray tan certificate from your local Palm Beach Tan salon, so you can give it a try and become obsessed.

TO ENTER: Just leave a comment on this post and tell me about the summer plans you have that you would like to be a bronzed goddess for! Excited to hear what you guys have planned. Perfect inspiration to get me through this hump day.

What I’m Wearing : Top / Shorts / Kaftan

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Photography by Heather Kincaid

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  1. I would like to be tanned for…gosh, for ANYthing bc I’m just SO incredibly white. Would love to try a spray tan, and I think you’ve now inspired me to do it. Thank you for the fab tips!

    1. thelifestyled 04/20/2016

      You gotta try it! You’ll love it.

  2. Nicole 04/20/2016 Reply

    So happy to read your blog, welcome back! I would love to be spray tanned for the many events coming up these next few months. Thanks for all the great tips!

    1. thelifestyled 04/20/2016

      Thank you so much! I’m glad to be back.

  3. Fatima Gonzalez 04/20/2016 Reply

    Thank you for this incredibly detailed spray tan post! I have always been so intimidated by the entire process but you have encouraged me to give it a try! This summer I will be taking a trip to Turkey with my boyfriend. He is going off to law school and I am going back to school as well so it will be a beautiful getaway with, hopefully, a glowy tan! thank you!! And congrats on your beautiful baby.

    1. thelifestyled 04/20/2016

      I know, it can be so intimidating! That’s why I wanted to lay out all the steps. Turkey sounds divine! Have a wonderful trip.

  4. Great post! I have never been a fan of showing of my legs because they are so pale! Maybe with a little tan, I could finally wear all those skirts I own, but never wear!

    1. thelifestyled 04/20/2016

      Do it girl! You’ll love it.

    2. thelifestyled 05/04/2016

      Heather, you won a free spray tan! I will e-mail you the details for getting your tan on.

  5. Elizabeth Braaten Palmieri 04/20/2016 Reply

    These pics of you are gorgeous!!! I remember when spray tans left that horrible orange residue. I used them anyway, but science and beauty have risen to the occasion and I look forward to trying new ones out!

    1. thelifestyled 04/20/2016

      Thanks lady. Yeah they used to be really bad. So much better now! Kissesssssss!

  6. Jessie 04/20/2016 Reply

    You are a goddess! I am going on a NC beach vacation in a month and should probably work on not looking like a never-seen-the-sun-shut-in when I arrive!:) Great post!

    1. thelifestyled 04/20/2016

      You are the best summer vacationer I know!

  7. Alexis Buese 04/20/2016 Reply

    I just had a baby two days ago and would love to have a spray tan to help me feel attractive again this summer as I get back into shape without the damaging rays from the sun. Everything is always better with a tan! (Not to mention the super cute shorts from the photos!)

    1. thelifestyled 04/20/2016

      What?? Two days ago!! OMG congratulations Alexis!! I’m so happy for you! And I’m so honored that you’re reading/commenting on my blog two days after giving birth.

  8. Great post. I have always seen flaky tans and it has strayed me away from spray tans. I am going on vacation to Spain and in my best friends wedding, would love to look naturally tan like you!

    1. thelifestyled 04/20/2016

      You gotta try it! I promise it won’t be flaky and gross if you do all the steps! Have an amazing trip!!

    2. thelifestyled 05/04/2016

      Amanda, you won a free spray tan! E-mail me at catherine@thelifestyled.com by EOD Friday 5/6/16 to claim your prize!

  9. As a pregnant momma I would love to go from pasty white to golden goddess! Question, do you exfoliate the week after your tan? I am an exfoliating junkie and found that I cannot really take those steps after a spray tan as it literally scrubs it off. What about pool swimming? Chlorine seems to eat it away too or is that just me?

    1. thelifestyled 04/20/2016

      Congratulations on your pregnancy! I do a light exfoliant (even that St Ives body wash I mentioned works great) about 3 days after, because that’s when dry skin gets a little flaky. Just keep it moisturized and you should be ok! Especially if you prepped your skin well before the tan. However, chlorine is the WORST for a spray tan. But just don’t soak too long and stay moisturized!

  10. I would love to be tan for the first time in my life!!! Honestly it would mean a whole new world. Tan Alex would go to the beach and not scare people with her reflective skin. She would also love to wear some off the shoulder tops all summer. Can’t get enough of those!

    1. thelifestyled 04/20/2016

      See even us naturally fair girls like to have a glow (the bronze kind, not the reflective in the night kind) in the summer!

  11. Hillary 04/20/2016 Reply

    I love this post – such great trips. Barrier cream is essential! I’ve definitely had orange feet on the beach and it’s not a good look. I’d love to be bronzed for a trip to Santorini and have a nice summer glow w/o the harmful sun.

    1. thelifestyled 04/21/2016

      santorini sounds so divine! and yeah the orange feet are just no good no matter what. ;)

  12. Nicole LaViolette 04/20/2016 Reply

    Woohoo! Would love this!

    1. thelifestyled 04/21/2016

      seriously you gotta try it!

  13. Christine Cecil 04/20/2016 Reply

    This would be perfect for my trip to CALIFORNIA this summer! :)

    1. thelifestyled 04/21/2016

      yes that would be perfectttt!!! can’t wait!!!

  14. Christine Murphy 04/20/2016 Reply

    First time mom and I just returned to work. (Music teacher) I am counting down the days till summer vacation.I’m planning to get bronzed and lay out by my kiddie pool with my 7 month old. Under a tent… With sunblock..And a UV hat and long sleeves…

    1. thelifestyled 04/21/2016

      That’s the best part about a spray tan – sitting outside in the SHADE with a lovely tan already on lock! the best of both worlds. Enjoy your well deserved break! Music was my favorite part about grade school and I looked up to my teachers so much. Props to you!

  15. Jennifer 04/21/2016 Reply

    I’m almost 5 mos pregnant, fair skinned and have two summer weddings to attend. I’d love to get tanned to make me feel a little prettier and heck slightly skinnier even if it’s only an illusion :)

    1. thelifestyled 04/21/2016

      Congrats on your pregnancy! So exciting. Weddings are a great time to do it – I always feel better in fancier outfits with a tan!

  16. Kim Sheppard 04/21/2016 Reply

    I would love to be bronzed for these beautiful Cali days we have coming our way! Possibly a trip to Catalina to show off a bronze glow!!

    1. thelifestyled 04/21/2016

      Oohhh yaaaaaas queen! Catalina or nah?

  17. This summer my family and I are being relocated (my husband is active duty army) to North Carolina. I have a five month old baby boy and am both nervous and excited about the move. I’m a fellow Minnesota girl (with delicate pale skin :) and could use the confidence boost from a bronze glow as we make a new life in NC. Plus, the tan would help hide these last pesky lbs that my bi-weekly spin class can’t seem to get rid of!

    1. thelifestyled 04/22/2016

      Wow! Best of luck with your move! I hear you. I’m on a bi monthly spin routine. ;)

  18. spray tans scare me, but i could envision going for it with this handy checklist :)
    the questions isn’t what event would this be great for, it’s which event wouldn’t it?

    1. thelifestyled 04/22/2016

      I know they can be intimidating! But spending so much time by the pool you might love it!!

  19. My fiancé is taking me to the beach for my 25th birthday! Because of his work we don’t get to spend much time together so I’m really looking forward to this beach trip

    1. thelifestyled 04/28/2016

      That will be so fun!

    2. thelifestyled 05/04/2016

      Stephanie, you won a free spray tan! E-mail me at catherine@thelifestyled.com by EOD Friday 5/6/16 to claim your prize!

  20. Tracy Henry 04/23/2016 Reply

    Going to Mexico in a few weeks. Would love the new clothes and great tan.

    1. thelifestyled 04/28/2016

      OMG sooo jealous! Have a wonderful time!

  21. Jen Cadman 04/23/2016 Reply

    Key West for my 35th bday!

    1. thelifestyled 04/28/2016

      Happy birthday! That will be such a fun trip!

  22. I’m going to the beach in June, so I would love to have a great tan for that!

    1. thelifestyled 04/28/2016

      Beach trip definitely requires a great tan! So fun.

  23. These directions are so helpful! Heading to Isle of Palms in South Carolina in a couple of months, will be a great place to show off my glow!

    1. thelifestyled 04/28/2016

      I’m so glad you found them helpful! Oh that trip sounds so fun. Perfect time for a good tan. :)

  24. I have two weddings coming up and I want to look like a bronzed goddess!

    1. thelifestyled 04/28/2016

      Amen to that! :)

  25. Krystye Kearney 05/01/2016 Reply

    I want to be a Bronz Goddess because my friends and I are going to Mexico for 10 days and my hubby and I are going to California.

    1. thelifestyled 05/04/2016

      That sounds like an amazing vacation! Have so much fun!

    2. thelifestyled 05/04/2016

      Krystye, you won a free spray tan! E-mail me at catherine@thelifestyled.com by EOD Friday 5/6/16 to claim your prize!

  26. Trisha Prince 05/01/2016 Reply

    Summer plans including relaxing by the pool and going on our yearly family beach trip!!!

    1. thelifestyled 05/04/2016

      Perfect summer plans!

    2. thelifestyled 05/04/2016

      Trisha, congrats! You are the grand prize winner of the Nordstrom gift card! E-mail me at catherine@thelifestyled.com by the end of the day on Friday 5/6/16 to claim your prize!