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What I Learned from My Spray-On Tan Disaster

What I Learned from My Spray-On Tan Disaster

I am 25% Norwegian. Therefore, I have pale skin. In the winter months, I look especially translucent. I am proud of my pale heritage except for one specific moment. Dum, dum, dummmm.... Yes, like 95% of the world's population, with the exception of those who work out and those who walk on a runway, I hate wearing a bathing suit.

I was complaining one day about this very topic when my friend said, "Tan fat looks better than white fat. Why don't you try a spray tan?" I had done a spray tan a couple of years ago and I liked the way it looked. Sitting in the hot sun, wondering the whole time if this is the moment that you are getting skin cancer, is not my idea of fun. Lying out in the sun, for me, is like water torture. The whole time I am lying in the sun, I obsess over the fact that I probably am giving myself cancer while I am burning my skin.

I never actually tan. I burn. Then I peel. Then, I am translucent again. Let's face it, Norwegian people are not known for their awesome tans! Plus, every time I go in the sun I get a new "beauty mark," i.e. a gross mole. (By the way, whoever called these things beauty marks? Thanks anyway. If they really were beautiful, I would be walking on a runway by now. I will just keep it real and call them moles.)


Another reason I do not like lying out in the sun is the sunscreen. I mean, who really knows which one is the healthiest? Lately, they have labeled them all as unsafe. Who knows?

Efficient Beauty?

Anyway, a couple of years ago, I went to a tanning place. i found it kind of creepy. First you enter a dark dressing room and then a recording tells you to hold your breath just as a blast of cold liquid is sprayed on your naked body, causing you to gasp while inhaling the liquid into your lungs! What is this liquid anyway? Probably more cancer-causing chemicals! Then you are told by the recording to turn around and subject yourself to the same torture again.


The only reason I subjected myself to the process is because I am an efficient seeker of beauty. The whole thing was over in five minutes and I was on my way. Sticky, albeit, but on my way. No sweaty beaches, no chemical sunscreen, no sunburn and no sitting in some dumb salon waiting for something to dry while reading a magazine pretending to care if I am wearing the latest fashionable item. Efficient beauty is how I like it.  So what if I spent the next couple of days smelling like vegetable oil! I was happy to have a "healthy" glow.

So this year, I took my friend's advice and made an appointment to acquire a healthy glow yet again. This time, however, I decided to go to a tanning place that uses a real person to spray it on. I thought this would be better than the black dressing room with the recording. Plus, I thought maybe she could paint some tight ab muscles on me.

The Big Day

On the day of the appointment it started raining. I brought my twin seven-year-old boys with me to the salon and made them sit in the waiting room. I went into the spray tan room. No black dressing room today, it was  more like a doctor's office. It was better than the black dressing room, although the lighting was fluorescent and made the atmosphere somewhat clinical. Standing naked in this light was anything but (pun intended) flattering. I was told I could choose to leave my underwear and bra on, but she said most people just leave their underwear on and bra off, so they don't get tan lines on top. I did just that.

The twenty-year-old perky (of course) spray tan girl walked in. Although she was actually very professional and nice, I wished they had hired someone more like Maude from the Golden Girls TV show to do the job. I didn't enjoy having to get naked in front of someone as young and perky as (let's just call her) "Tiffany".  You get the picture! But, I needed to "tan the fat", so I sucked it up. I cracked jokes to distract "Tiffany" from my 41-year-old white, peanut-butter-and-jelly-loving body, which was now shining under clinical lighting.  But who was I fooling! It was really embarrassing! But, I just kept my head held high and acted like this was perfectly normal.


She told me to put lotion on my hands and feet to protect them from appearing orange. Then, she said to stand forward with my arms in the air while she sprayed and then to put my arms down. This went on for fifteen minutes with a myriad of different positions. My favorite was when she told me to face away from her and sort of bend forward, so I wouldn't get a streak of tan under my butt... OMG! Where is the black dressing room with the recording? Despite the humiliation, once she finished I was thrilled. I was so happy to get it all over with in about twenty minutes. Done. Check! The boys were still patiently waiting in the room that was just outside the door. When I came out with my newly tanned skin, Zeke looked at me and said "Mom, did that lady paint you orange?"

Oh, God!

The Rain

As we started to leave, I looked outside. It was now pouring. I do mean buckets. Hard, huge raindrops with wind. The "Tiffany" girl told me to take her umbrella, cover myself, go to the car, then pull towards the door and she would run out to get the umbrella. I told her I would park close so she  wouldn't get wet. Ha! The minute the boys and I got outside, we got hit from every angle. I was struggling to determine which angle the rain was coming from, but I was getting pelted from every direction. As for the boys, they were on their own. Normally, I would cover them and sacrifice myself, but not today little people! "Run!" is all I said to them.

Finally, we got into the car. I kept one arm out of the car in order to close the umbrella. It was getting pelted by the rain. Because my hands had the lotion on them and were slippery I was having difficulty closing the umbrella. Closing it took at least 45 seconds. In the middle of it all, I dropped my keys almost under the car! Now, I had to expose my entire upper body to the wind and rain in order to retrieve the keys. I finally got the keys, finally closed the car door and then looked at my arm. The spray tan was dripping down my arm. It was like bad mascara in a horror movie from the seventies. My tan was ruined! I tried to mop it up with an old napkin that had old ketchup on it from McDonald's that I found in the car. But like any paint job, once you start touching things up the whole thing just looks worse. 


I returned to where "Tiffany" was waiting for her umbrella and I told her my tan was ruined. She asked me to come back in so she can re-do my arms. Once I got in and took off my shirt, I realized the rain had soaked all the way through my shirt. I was as spotted as a cheetah. I pulled up my pant leg, same thing. Cheetah legs. Ugh! No! These gross feet are not mine, but mine looked like these. She told me to use the baby wipes that were on the counter and wipe off all of the tan. She would then re-spray me. So much for efficient beauty. So, I did. I should have counted how many blessed baby wipes it took to wipe it all off. Fifteen minutes later she returned to my mostly-naked, half-spray-tanned, wet-haired, hair net-wearing self. Seriously. Guys, if you had any fantasies about two hot chicks spray tanning each other, hold on to that vision, because it truly was not the reality.

Despite all that happened, I was glad I did it. My funny friend was right: tanned fat did look better than pale white fat.

Image Source: iStock Photo

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.

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