It's a sad and crushing thing to know that your friends are using you. Especially when they are using you to look more tanned in photos. Yes, I am that kind of pale. Despite my repeated efforts, tanning has never really been possible for me. But I have a little secret. I used to be a fake tan fanatic — "used" being the optimum word. So, I wanted to see what happens when you get a spray tan for the first time in ten years. Will it still look good? Would I fall back in love with it? Well, I'll fill you in.
Tanning was once an every day thing for me. I am not joking. I had overpriced tanning mousses, a professional mitt, a big stick with a sponge on to do my back, and exfoliating was an actual daily part of my life. Then, for emergencies, there was instant tan. If you have ever used instant tan you will be familiar with the dangers of any form of water getting near you. Now imagine this where I grew up, in Ireland. A country known, nay renowned, for its water heavy climate. A country not exactly suited to instant tan.
So, returning to an old interest is super easy right? Just like riding a bicycle or so they say. So, why did this whole process have me quaking in my boots? My Dr Marten boots, not the tan stained Ugg boots of old. I have changed my look up a little since then, and now I kind of like my pale skin. Most people asked me if I was unwell upon seeing my "untanned" skin during that initial transition period, but then they eventually realised I was just as pale as the day is long. And that's where I was at the start of what turned out to be a really interesting little step into the past by getting a spray tan.
I then contacted Charo, local business owner of Sun-Kissed Mobile Beauty, having heard several tan fans sing her praises. Charo has been keeping Thanet in a golden hew for nearly ten years, with clients of all shapes, sizes, and genders. Luckily, she had a free slot and so I booked an appointment.
Honestly, I was a nervous wreck from the get-go, which is unlike me. Remembering my old routine, I exfoliated 24 hours before, then no creams, or moisturisers. You also have to wear baggy clothes straight afterwards to prevent the tan from rubbing off. Having checked everything off the list, I was ready.
Charo then came over to my house and set up a huge tanning tent, and got to work pretty sharpish. I had a whole spray tan done, while standing in just a paper thong and hairnet.
Honestly, the initial colour was pretty cool. I looked like a person who could go outside and not burst into flames when the sun touches their skin. I felt like a Disney princess, who had been given a new gift by my fairy godmother in the shape of an LA spray tan.
But like every fairytale, there were warnings. Charo told me that the tan needed to develop slightly before I could wash off the tint the next morning and that when I woke up, it might feel startlingly deep. She also advised sleeping on towels or dark sheets to avoid staining anything.
Remembering my fairy tan mother's warning, I was careful with tight clothing and water. Ever one to blend in, I went for a walk in a fluorescent orange hoodie and green sunglasses, opting to go braless, which is no easy feat for me. As I constantly updated my Instagram stories afterwards, newer friends were in shock, older friends were all "it's like the old Aoife." But all friends were united in waiting with baited breath for the result of this little renaissance.
The next morning I leapt out of bed, like a little flea and went to lift my annoying tangly venetian blinds so I could have a look see what sort of damage had I done to my sheets. In the interest of hard-hitting journalism (and also, TBH, I forgot about the staining issues), I left my cream sheets on the bed. What I saw in the cold light of day was what looked like a crime scene.
A prolific sleep wiggler, I effectively sprawled myself like a human rolling stamp and annihilated my sheets. Leaving stains I am always going to have to explain. Not that bothered about the sheets, I was far more excited to see if I had developed into the dizzying heights of tan—mom—esque super faux tan. Well, pre shower, it was intense.
When I got in the shower, choosing to luxuriate long enough to even wash my hair, the top coat of my varnish came off. A red river flowed down the bath, swirling hypnotically in the plug hole as I watched it take away my OTT look. A part of me actually felt sad to see the crazy dark tan wash away. Maybe a hangover from teen years spent wanting to look orange. Honestly though, what I saw after the shower really surprised me. I looked, well, great.
Making sure to moisturise regularly as recommended by Charo, I managed to tone it down to a very natural and healthy looking glow. You can definitely understand why people get hooked on getting fake tan done and now I find myself looking suspiciously at anyone who looks tanned. I want to know who else is walking around fooling people with a healthy glow.
But is this something I want to slip back into? Am I going to go back to my perma-tanned ways? Desire says yes but my incredibly lazy beauty routine says no. Tanning is not what it used to be, with spray tans being more affordable and there being an actual endless supply of new and improving brands ready to get you glowing. However, this low-maintenance babe is going to stick to getting her occasional glow from laughing too much, nice brisk walks, OK, and maybe the odd special occasion spray tan.