We snub the summer scorch and subject four spray tans to a rigorous test in an effort to get that bronze beach glow the safe way.
It’s easy to get caught up in the endless opportunities for beach time and sun-tanning here in Dubai. But let’s face the grim facts – a natural glow can age you prematurely and lead to skin cancer. Here, we put four spray tans under the microscope to see how they compare to the real deal in the hope that a tan from a can will encourage us make the switch.
Mystic Tan spray tan at Salon Ink
The promise: A scented, non-sticky formula, Mystic Tan develops in eight hours, lasting for four to five days.
The experience: I’m given the option of going nude or wearing underwear, which is a relief. I’m then offered three different scents to add to my spray. The friendly therapist puts moisturiser on my elbows, knees, feet and hands and the entire tanning process takes about 45 minutes. I decide to go two shades darker than my normal skin tone (taking me from very pale to a shimmery peach colour). I’m not quizzed about any allergies, which is very surprising. Lastly, I’m told to wait eight hours before showering.
The results: I’m told that because I chose the lightest shade it would make me shimmer more than anything else. As promised it took around eight hours for the true colour to develop and I’m happy with how it turned out. Not blotchy or streaky, my skin is now slightly darker than my normal, pale complexion. I’d absolutely choose this over a natural tan as I never sunbathe.
Dhs220. Beach Park Plaza Centre, Jumeirah Beach Road (04 385 4402).
Vita Liberata at Pastels Salon
The promise: Named as the ‘official spray tan of The X-Factor UK 2012’, this 80 percent organic tan is free from parabens, alcohol and perfume and claims to be kind and nourishing to skin, lasting up to a week.
The experience: Before my appointment, I’m given no instruction on preparing my skin, so arrive un-exfoliated. Once in the room, I’m given the choice of disposable underwear and a shower cap to protect my hair and asked to clean off any make-up, moisturiser and anti-perspirant. Elvie, my therapist, suggests we go for a medium shade, as I already have some colour from sunbathing. Two coats take approximately 20 minutes to complete, and then a fan is switched on to help me dry.
The results: Despite being concerned the extreme humidity on my journey home would cause the tan to run, the result when I wake up in the morning is impressively even. Though a little deep for my liking (my boss has taken to wearing sunglasses whenever I enter the room), it’s nice not to have such pale legs, and I’d opt for it again for a special occasion.
Dhs180. Pastels Salon, Al Wasl Road, Jumeirah (04 388 3534).
Xen-Tan spray tan at BodySmart
The promise: A paraban free, non-sticky formula, Xen-Tan features organic ingredients that develop in six hours, lasting for five to eight days.
The experience: I’m encouraged to exfoliate, moisturise and shave one day before the treatment. On arrival, I complete a health form highlighting any medical problems before entering a room where disposable underwear is supplied. The therapist tells me three shades are available and chooses the most suitable colour for my skin. Overall, the process takes 20 minutes. Standing almost nude with a stranger is made easier, thanks to the friendliness of the therapist. For best results, the therapist encourages me to avoid showering for six hours.
The results: There are some minor patches in between my fingers and some excess tan on the soles of my feet – but overall the appearance is natural – and it smells sweet too.
St Tropez spray at Sister’s Beauty Lounge
The promise: The St Tropez tan promises a natural looking glow that will last up to a week.
The experience: When booking my appointment I’m told to exfoliate and to avoid using moisturiser or deodorant to ensure there is no streaking. On arrival I’m given the option of wearing underwear or going nude and I choose the latter so there are no tan lines. I decide on the natural brown bronze colour as I am lighter skinned and did not want to turn orange. The therapist sprays me for about 35 minutes and then I’m left to dry in a fan for ten minutes. I’m told to avoid showering for six hours to get the best results.
The results: The tan is not at all patchy as the therapist spent a good amount of time ensuring she covered the problem areas including the knees, ankles and elbows. I look like I have a summer glow and although the process is lengthy, my skin feels better, less dried out and doesn’t wrinkle like it would in the sun.
Dhs175. Sister’s Beauty Lounge, The Dubai Mall (04 339 8500).
Spray tan allergies
Are you allergic to the chemicals in spray tans? Alyson Hogg, founder and CEO of organic spray tan brand Vita Liberata discusses why you should choose organic.
‘One of the common allergies in spray tan solutions is fragrances, which many manufacturers are tempted to use in tanning products because of the high level of smell. We have worked hard on our formulas to ensure that we have formulated the smell associated with DHA (the active ingredient), without the requirement for fragrances in our products.
People with very dry skin might want to consider a lotion application, which is manually applied by a therapist. Of course in our case these are also without fragrances, alcohol or indeed toxins of any kind.’