First Spray Tan in 10 Years: Has It Gotten Better Than I Remember?

I got ready for Independence Day weekend with a fine mist of bronze glory.
Publish date:
July 5, 2015
vita liberata, spas, self-tanners, spray tan

This year it feels like so much has been wrong with our country, but our system of checks and balances has finally allowed the judicial branch to hit the pressure valve. Americans, especially LGBTQ Americans, have been granted a sliver of dignity, and hard-won at that. Some of my best friends and I founded our high school’s first Gay-Straight Alliance, and it was at a school with a Confederate Soldier as its mascot (still is to this day). My heart was so filled with joy at the SCOTUS decision, but I know there are many rivers to cross, like Jimmy Cliff says. It's still time as activists to dig in our heels and push for even more change, like football players push a sled at training, but I’m going to take this weekend to be proud of my country and proud of a small bit of progress.

I got invited to partake in a spa visit to prep for Fourth of July, and I leapt at the chance to try Vita Liberata’s professional tan options offered at Townhouse Spa in Midtown NYC. I have to say, I just knew it would be a slippery slope, trying self-tanners at home, and now wanting to dabble in the more refined bronzing experience: spray or airbrush tanning.

Olivey-gold-green skin undertones just look so good with a smidge of a tan, and doing it safely has become very important to me. Townhouse is known for their relaxing treatments and full service hair, nail and makeup services in addition to massage, tan, and skincare. It sounds like the most perfect place to go!

Speaking of prep, it’s been a minute since I have gotten a spray tan, so after reviewing Alyssa’s primer, I gave myself a hefty scrub and shave the night before with Korean Italy Towels after a softening scrub like Calgon’s cheap and lovely Mineral Scrub. It’s affordable enough to use generously, but you have to use it the night before so no oil remains the day of your tan. For face I used Mario Badescu’s new Botanical Exfoliating Scrub. Mechanical exfoliation really gets the best sunless tanning results over chemical. My prep was deemed suitable by the staff, so I was happy that skipping lotion (normally a mortal sin) was exactly what I was supposed to do.

My tan tech was Lori, Artistic Organic Director of the spa, so she knows her stuff! Lori works with organic and naturally derived products wherever possible, and she has been a pioneer of using less harmful methods to still give people a great service. I could tell right away that we were going to get along swimmingly, ideal when you are getting butt naked for a stranger. The entire process was simple and took just only a few minutes!

Vita Liberata is coming into people’s homes and giving them amazing faux tans enveloped in luxury skincare and makeup, so having a chance to try their pro-only airbrush formula was such a treat for me. Their NKD Skin line was among my fav’s from my at-home adventures, and this formula had a similar effect and depth.

The naturally sourced DHA is in an aloe vera base with botanical ingredients, and I didn’t smell funny or look funny after my refreshing birthday suit spray down. The color was visible right away, though subtly, and Lori told me that it will get darker over the next eight hours and it did just that.

Yes, just YES! I love it. And I knew I would, too. My man was worried I would look like OG Snooki, but I have a perfectly deep glow as if I was on a weekend tropical jaunt, and he agrees. Thanks to my existing base, I was able to use the darker out of the three shades, and it gave me a 2-3 level boost.

I’m told that darker skin tones can still use a spray tan in a lighter shade to add warmth and glow, counterintuitive to what I would have assumed, but the DHA changes skin color no matter what the starting color; it’s just a bit more subtle on darker skin.

To take care of a spray tan, avoid water for 8 hours and wash with just water the first day, and MOISTURIZE that ass! Seriously, the key to keeping any tan is moisturization; even a sun-begotten tan can fade without crucial maintenance. I like to use Nature’s Gate Glow Lotion to add a gradual amount of color as the spray fades, it smells like apple pie and is really effective at moisturizing, so you don’t need to use a lotion on top.

This spray tan was so natural-looking and my skin felt nice the next day, not dry or tacky or funny smelling. All of my fears were B.S. and there’s no orange in sight! Much better than the goofy spray booths I remember from my early 20s.

  • Would you prefer a pro spray tan you or would you prefer to do it yourself?
  • Would you do it only for a special occasion?