I won’t lie: I L-O-V-E being tan. If tanning were a professional sport, I would’ve been a champion back in the day. In my teens, you couldn’t get me to move from the beach during prime tanning hours. There I would lie with my Sony Walkman, little plastic eyecups, and a full SPF palette on my body: 15 on my face, 30 on my chest, and 8 on my limbs. No joke, it was a well-thought-out recipe for achieving the perfect shade of bronze. Once I established a base, there was no telling where we could go from there. Eventually, though, I realized my sun-worshipping ways were not the best path to warding off wrinkles, freckles, or melanoma. Since the recovery from my tanning habit, I have dabbled in countless self-tanning creams and bronzers. While a few can achieve a little sunny shade, most left me either looking like an orange, or dirty. Then came spray-tanning. I am not talking about the timed booth from the classic Friends episode. I’m referencing tanning-artist airbrushing. Airbrush tanning instantly sheds pounds, years, and even adds a few inches to my leg length. It is beyond brilliant.
My first spray tan was about seven years ago. I was heading to Mexico on holiday and didn’t want to appear pasty in my bikini. My girlfriend, who always seemed to have the perfect tan on the first day at the beach, sent me to Portofino in Beverly Hills. First, they had me complete a personal profile. Then, I chose my color (I have settled upon Ibiza for the past several years), scent (my loved ones say I reek from the spray, but I think it’s become more subtle in recent sessions), and sparkle (you can add a little glitter should you feel so inclined).
After I completed the paperwork, they matched me with my artist. The rest of the experience was definitely not for the modest at heart. After disrobing, I stepped into the booth stark naked (you don’t want “tan” lines) with only a shower cap on my head, and cotton balls in my ears. They offer professional exfoliation prior to color, but if you are not inclined to spend the extra time or money, you should exfoliate and shave at home. Note: DO NOT wear any lotions, deodorants, or oils; arrive totally dry. Also, be sure you get your mani/pedi the day before your session. Following exfoliation, the airbrush artisan instructed me to maneuver into all sorts of compromising positions in order to achieve my perfect “tan”: “Bend over, please,” “Spread your legs,” and “Put your arms in the air and turn your fingers into claws” were common phrases. Thankfully, they made pleasant conversation to distract me from the whole situation.
When spraying was complete, they gave me a warm dryer to make it “stick.” I was instructed to wait eight hours to shower in order for the tan to sink into my skin. They say to wear dark, loose clothing with no underwear or straps. That meant going braless on the way out. Frankly, it was this last part that has lead me to do home-tanning sessions ever since. In my own home, I can throw on a robe and be done after the spray. A huge, magical benefit of using Portofino versus other salons is that Portofino airbrushing does not stain my clothing. I can then step onto the beach (or into a cocktail-length dress) with a golden tan as if I’d been spending my days at Le Club 55 in Saint-Tropez.
Preferred Spray-tanning Outposts:
Portofino Santa Monica
1510 Montana Avenue
New York City