I love my natural complexion, but I’m always down to try anything that will amp up the glow. I’ve done laser treatments and peels on my face, but never really thought about ways to achieve total-body radiance. My skin is naturally a deep caramel hue—I was born with a beautiful tan, so getting the treatment never ever crossed my mind. That is until, one day when I was watching a reality television show (yes, go ahead and judge me). One of the the cast members was filmed getting a spray tan, and she has the same complexion as me. My natural beauty curiosity got the best of me, and I did a quick Google search to find out if it was really a thing for black women to spray tan. After a few clicks I swiftly discovered that several chocolate celebrities indulge in the full body treatments on a regular. The Game actress Lauren London is a fan of the bronzing effect, and even the dark-skinned Victoria’s Secret models have all tested out spray tans. So, I was eager to find out firsthand.
While I’m all for experimenting with products and treatments, I will admit that I was really nervous about getting my first spray tan. I knew that the new color would be temporary, but what if I didn’t like the results? There were only two possible outcomes: I would walk around for two weeks looking crazy, or end up having that Ashanti glow circa 2003 that I always wanted. So, I took my chances and hoped for the latter.
I scheduled an appointment with St. Tropez Tan USA’s official brand ambassador, Sophie Evans. She’s a pro who has worked with several celebrities, and she made feel extremely comfortable especially after revealing that she once tanned Rihanna and went on tour with Sade.
Evans sent me instructions to follow before my appointment, and I was surprised to learn that there’s actually a lot of prep work that goes into getting a spray tan. You have to completely remove all hair off of your body and exfoliate the night before. I didn’t have a problem with that step, but I was a little nervous about the the third prerequisite. You’re not supposed to wear any deodorant, perfume, or lotion on the day of your appointment. When I read that instruction I automatically started to have second thoughts. Maybe this really isn’t for black girls? Skipping lotion is a huge no no for me, especially since I have dehydrated limbs. My skin becomes as dry as the Sahara desert if I don’t moisturize immediately after showering, but I was willing to tough it out for that ‘Yoncé glow.
Dry-limbed and fuzz free, I showed up to the salon ready to get my first spray tan. She explained to me that I could get the express tan, which allows you to shower right away, or the classic, which needs to settle for at least eight hours. I wanted to truly experience the real deal, so I chose the classic. Before beginning, Evans warned me that the force from the spray tan applicator would be strong. I closed my eyes and braced myself as she began blasting my face.
The gust of wind wasn’t that bad, and actually felt like a refreshing mist. Evans moved the applicator down to complete the rest of my body. I couldn’t help myself, and I peeked at the first layer. I instantly noticed that my arms looked glossy as if I had applied a thin coat of body oil (sans the greasy residue). From that moment on I knew I would become hooked on spray tans.
That evening, it felt weird to wrap my sticky body up underneath my covers that evening, but not showering for one night was worth it. When I rinsed off the next morning my skin was slightly darker, but what I loved the most was the sun-kissed glow that the spray tan had left behind. It looked as if I had just spent a couple of weeks in Jamaica. It’s like turning up the saturation on a picture before you upload it to Instagram. It didn’t change my color, but enhanced it. And another major plus, it evened out my splotchy complexion. The skin on my elbows and knees is slightly darker than the rest of my body, but the spray tan left an even mask. It also made my stretchies less noticeable, so it’s a must for me before heading to the beach. Consider me a spray tan fan for the rest of my life. I’m definitely planning on fitting in another appointment the next time I have a special event. Until then, I’ve become obsessed with the Dry Luxe Oil form St. Tropez ($40; sephora.com). It adds a luminous glow, that will stay put for days. I like to add a few drops to my lotion to give my limbs a subtle sparkle even long after the spray tan fades.
I still can’t believe that so many dark-skinned women haven’t been exposed to the benefits of spray tanning. It’s a great option if you’re looking for a way to even skin tone, cover blemishes, or get an all-over glow. Don’t take my word for it; here’s a picture of my skin before and after getting the spray tan below.