Fake Tanning: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly (…and How to Avoid the Latter Two)!

Balance Day Spa Client...Fake Tan and Make-Up by Yours Truly!

Balance Day Spa Client…Fake Tan and Make-Up by Yours Truly!


If you are concerned about premature aging then there are several golden rules that you MUST abide by.  Of these rules, the 5 most important are:

  1. Do NOT smoke…EVER!  If you choose to ignore this rule then your odds of aging gracefully will plummet, plain and simple.
  2. Limit your alcohol intake.
  3. Eat a healthy diet loaded with fresh fruits and veggies.
  4. Be sure to get adequate sleep.
  5. Do NOT tan.  When you are planning to be outdoors for any extended period of time be certain that you are wearing your sunscreen.  Recently released studies have suggested that artificial tanning beds may be even more carcinogenic (cancer-causing) than cigarettes!!!

With that said, many of us have a difficult time forgoing a little color…particularly in the warmer months.  So what are our options?  Personally I have trained myself to not really care for the look of heavily sun-tanned skin…to me it appears unhealthy; however, I do like a healthy glow.  One of the best options for achieving this is to get a fake tan.  There are several ways to do this, which include: spray tans, auto-bronzes (hand applied lotions), or DIY home-applied tans.  Whether you are a “sun-kissed sweetie” or a full-on “bronzed babe” I am here to provide you with the professional know-how to achieve your most natural look for you fake tan!

Lets begin by addressing your tanning options:

  1. Spray Tans- Spray tans are applied by either a machine or a technician via airbrushing.  Personally, I am not a fan of spray tans and I do not offer them at my spa.  Why?  To begin with, it is generally not recommended that you receive spray tans while pregnant due to the chances of your inhaling noxious fumes.  In my mind, if it isn’t really safe for you when you’re pregnant, then it probably isn’t really the best thing for you.  Also, based on the formulation used, I find that spray tan color results can be a bit unpredictable.  Should you opt for a spray tan you will obviously get a much better result when your tan is applied by a professional versus a machine.
  2. Auto-Bronzes- Auto-Bronzes are my faux tan of choice and the only type of tanning service which I offer at Balance Day Spa (see client photo above).  These faux tans are professionally applied entirely by hand.  They often adjust to your individual coloration building up a color which is several shades darker than your natural pigmentation; this gives the tan a very natural look.
  3. DIY Home-Applied Tans- These tans are definitely the biggest “wild card” in terms of achieving your desired result.  Your results can run the gamut all the way from making you appear healthy to making you look like someone who Willy Wonka recruited while on vacation for employment in his factory (Ooompa-Loompa-Doompity-Doo)!  If you do choose to brave the DIY tanning products, here are a few recommendations:
  • Start by doing a small “test patch” in an inconspicuous area.
  • Do NOT entertain the idea of attempting an inaugural full-body tan with a product which you have never used prior to a big event…try it out in advance, preferably when you have nowhere to be for a few days.
  • Wear gloves!  NOTHING looks worse than having your palms (an area which would never tan in nature) dyed orange.
  • For that matter, be mindful not to apply product to areas that would not tan in nature (i.e.- underams).
  • Avoid tiger stripes by keeping your fingers together at all times as you apply the tan in long, straight strokes.  If you are able to enlist help for hard to reach areas, then do so.
  • Lastly, if you are miserable with the results lay low and exfoliate like crazy (inexpensive drug-store brand apricot scrubs work well for at home body exfoliation).

Whether you opt to go the professional route, the tanning-salon (machine-sprayed) route or the DIY home-applied route, here are some tips for faux tan preparation and after-care:


  • Exfoliate your full body PRIOR to your tanning service…this will help your tan application to go on more evenly.
  • Do NOT apply any lotions, make-up or similar topical products to your skin; these products will affect your tan’s ability to adhere to your skin.
  • In order to allow your tan the opportunity to fully develop, you should plan to be tanned at least one day PRIOR to your event.


  • Do NOT get your tan wet in any way, shape or form for 12 hours following application.  This is a cardinal rule of almost all faux-tanning treatments.  Do not shower, exercise, do dishes, etc..  I even go so far as to recommend that my clients use hand sanitizer just on their palms after using the bathroom.  Moisture will streak your tan which generally takes up to 12 hours to fully develop.
  • Following the first 12 hours, you may shower normally; however, I would advise refraining from using a loofah, wash cloth or body pouf as these can speed up the degeneration of you tan.
  • After the first 12 hours you can help to maintain your tan by applying body lotion all over 2 times daily.

*Please note that a well-prepared-for, well-done and well-maintained faux tan should fade out naturally within 4-5 days of original application.


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