It seems that tanning has gone the way of teeth whitening - we have an increasingly skewed perception of what looks natural. With images of spray tan-doused tv presenters and celebrities thrown at us every day, someone with even the most enviably bronzed skin could be feeling pasty.
The thing is, a lot of fake (or “self,” if we prefer not to feel “fake”) tanning products are designed to make the body one uniform tone, whereas the sun naturally hits you harder in certain areas like the knees and shoulders. And while I recognize that it’s not everyone’s goal to look “natural” per se, those of us interested in deceiving the rest of the world need an alternative to streakiness, orange pigment and total-body color.
Considering my naturally-pale skin in light of the coming summer, I decided to dabble in self tan for the first time this spring, and some research directed me to St. Tropez’s Gradual In-Shower Tan. Apply all over, wash hands, stand for 3 - 5 min in the shower without the water on and freeze, and then wash off with warm water. I was pleased to discover that it had the effect of the natural sun on me, darkening my legs more than my arms while providing an all-over glow.
No surprise, the online product reviews were filled with people complaining that it doesn’t work. It does work, if you don’t expect it to turn you into a Cheeto (with UV party-ready teeth, to match!)
Meanwhile, the May 2016 issue of British Vogue listed several new products that are designed to give the most natural-looking tan possible. Tan-Luxe’s new Hydrating Self-Tan Water is supposedly filled with “natural and organic active ingredients that use your own melanin and skintone” - now I would LOVE to hear the science on that one. Meanwhile the Vita Liberata Marula Dry Oil Self Tan SPF 50 promises “instant color but gradually builds a tan while protecting you from the sun.”
I have yet to test any of these claims, but the logic is forward-thinking. We might be moving away from a visible spray tan, whether it’s because we just know better by now, or because of a certain orange crazy person currently running for President of the United States.