I stand before my computer in the second most uncomfortable state I know, the first being physically injured or ill: waiting for my tanner to dry. Although not painful, it is incredibly awkward and, frankly, pretty vile. It's sticky, smelly, dries out the skin, and stains clothes. And, all too often does it turn out orange, as opposed to toasty brown.
So why, do you wonder, do I waste my time, money and pride on this rubbish? Because, in this case, it's better than the alternative: showcasing day-glo white legs (and other body parts) and blinding both spectators and officials, alike. I wish I was exaggerating, but unfortunately, I am that pale. As some of my coaches have put it, if I'm going to put the money into the lessons, the dresses, the shoes, and the competition, I had better complete the look with the "healthy tan," the perfect hair, flawless makeup, and manicured nails. See the pretty lady on the right? I'm supposed to get that colour.
Having a family history of skin cancer, I avoid the tanning beds. Although a good spray tan can get the job done, it's expensive, and when I need to decide between getting an easy comp tan or eating for a few days, I typically go with the latter. That leaves me with the goo in a bottle. Although drugstore products are fairly reasonably priced, they aren't manufactured with the performing arts in mind (and often result in an attractive orange tint), so I visit sketchy online vendors with outdated security certificates and buy special goo. So far, I've found success with a combination of three products.
I'll begin the near week-long process with Super Braun Classic Self Tanning Liquid, which, until recently, had been discontinued (I just checked danceshopper.com, and suddenly it's available for purchase again. Yay!). As close to daily as possible, I apply some of the tanner to a sponge (also available on danceshopper for $3.95 plus tax and shipping) - this stuff has a consistency only marginally thicker than water, so application by hand is out of the question - then apply it to my skin shortly after showering. Super Braun is a translucent liquid that takes forever to dry, murders my skin and smells like toxic waste - though I've grown accustomed to it - but offers a pretty dark colour in only a few coats. In addition, there is bronzer in the solution, which serves as a great guideline when tanning. I rarely miss a spot. Danceshopper sells 150mL for $29.95 plus tax and shipping.
The night before a competition, and occasionally the morning of, I'll also use Pro Tan Instant Competition Color. I've never actually bought it. Instead, I've managed to scavenged half-used bottles from friends who have no longer needed it. However, it's available on bodybuilding.com in two bottles: 4 fl. Oz. for $10.20 plus shipping, or 8.5 fl. Oz. for $17.40 plus shipping. Another watery tanner, Pro Tan comes with its own cute little brush for application. It's a cheap quality, though, so I'll stick to using my own sponge. Although Pro Tan provides instant dark colour, especially when applied over preexisting colour, most of it washes off in the shower. With that in mind, I only use it the night before and/ or morning of a comp after showering to keep as much of the colour as possible. Pro Tan also smells disgusting, and unfortunately, rubs off all too easily on costumes and clothes when I don't wash off the "excess" colour. Luckily, however, I don't think it stains clothes too much.
The most recent addition to my tanning repertoire is a product of Spray Tanning by Aero Tan, SexSymbol. This product is a recent fad among both amateur and professional ballroom dancers, and I have to admit, the colour is the most non-orange I've ancountered so far. The smell isn't atrocious, either. I buy my Aero Tan from Brian Bercury, a friend of mine, student at Balera, and owner of Take the Lead Dancewear. A 5.3-Oz. can sells for $22.00 plus tax and shipping. I spray this product directly onto my skin and rub it on the morning of a competition (in lieu of the morning coat of Pro Tan). It washes off, and gets all over clothes, but as far as I've found (I've only used it a couple times, so far), it washes out alright. Some dancers will only tan with this product, but I have tried applying it to my untanned skin and didn't get an impressive result, so I'll only use it if I already have some colour.
I do use a few other products, depending on what what I've finished off and what-not. Last summer, I stocked up on MAC's Skinsheen Leg Spray in "deep dark." It's advertised as a bronzing spray for legs, but I'll use it everywhere, save my face, for competitions. Like Sexsymbol, I can only use it on top of a preexisting layer of tanner and only on that day, since it washes out (although not as easily as SexSymbol, I've found). It almost has a mousse-y, creamy consistency, and I also apply it directly to my skin. Like Aero Tan, as far as tanning products go, it doesn't smell half bad. I hope MAC brings it back for summer 2009.
When I don't have Super Braun onhand, I'll substitute Flash Tan, which, like Super Braun, is available through danceshopper.com. A 125mL bottle costs $24.95, plus tax and shipping. I'm actually not a big fan of Flash Tan. It's not nearly as effective as Super Braun, and although it is a lotion and doesn't dry out my skin as much (or smell as awful, for that matter), it contains no bronzer, so it's tricky for me to apply even coats. Streaky legs are a common result of this product. I'm actually working down my inventory (only one bottle left!) and planning on finding another tanner.
In between tanning coats, I try to moisturise with my Victoria's Secret's Ultra-Softening Body Butter from the Secret Garden Collection. Vickie's sells 7-Oz. tubs for $10.00 plus tax and shipping (or 3 for $24.00 plus tax and shipping, or 5 for $30.00 plus tax and shipping). I wouldn't have bothered trying this product, but while I worked at Victoria's Secret (which I hated, by the way), I received a complimentary container in order to provide customers with personal testimony. I grabbed the pear glace, since the smell was the least offensive of the bunch (I can't stand lovespell, and can't understand why it's the most popular scent in the Secret Garden collection). As it turns out, I actually like using it, and it does reduce the dry skin syndrome. I guess Vickie's got the personal testimony it wanted.
And on that note, my tanner has just about dried. I'm off to more productive activities!
"Tomorrow Is Such a Long Time," Rod Stewart
"The Alcohol Diary," Keepsake
"The More I See You," Michael Bublé
"Hallelujah," Rufus Wainwright
"Burn Baby Burn," Ash
"Piggies," The Beatles
"He Hates Me," Sarah Johns
"A Distant Episode," Till Brönner
"When the Bells Don't Chime (Banjo Mix)," Brian Setzer
"Let It Rock," Kevin Rudolf & Lil Wayne
"Wonderful Tonight," Eric Clapton
"2 Man Show," Timbaland feat. Elton John
"They Just Want You to Be There," Carly Simon
"Otherside," Red Hot Chili Peppers
"You Are the Sunshine of My Life," Stevie Wonder
"Let's Live It Up," Brian Setzer
"Hey There Delilah," Plain White T's
"When You Wish Upon a Star," Erich Kunzel; Cincinnati Pops Orchestra
"Sway," Dean Martin
"Shout," Tears for Fears
"Sing, Sing, Sing (RSL Remix)," Anita O'Day & RSL
"Say It Like You Mean It," Matchbook Romance
"Goodnight Goodnight," Maroon 5
"The Way to Your Heart," Soulsister
"Stay," Small Sins