Before this weekend, I had never had a spray tan. But after a truly great experience at Nordstrom Galleria on Saturday, I have become an overnight fan of Xen-Tan. (Their website.)
I’m not saying it’s not hip to be pale, but I spend quite a lot of time standing around outside. So even with daily application of sunscreen, my arms get some color while my legs remain fish-belly white. The idea of being all one color is appealing.
Xen-Tan doesn’t currently offer spray tanning in the U.S. (they do in the U.K. and in Dubai). In the U.S., Xen-Tan is mostly a purveyor of tan-at-home products. You can buy their wares at Nordstrom and Ulta.
But Xen-Tan is doing a promotion with Nordstroms in the area, offering a free spray tan ($45 value) and free full-size self-tanning-de-scenter (Scent Secure, $32) with $70 purchase. The event was at Nordstrom Galleria in Dallas this past Saturday; they’ll be at Stonebriar on June 17, and at Northpark June 17 and 18 (11 am – 5 pm; call to make your appointment. 972-712-3794 for Stonebriar; 214-231-3900 for Northpark).
For my appointment, I met with tanning professional Tiffany in a private room in Nordstrom Spa. She had a pop-up, one-person, vertical tent (both to shield the room from errant spray-tanner and as a privacy screen. The clear part was higher than eye level for me).
The tanning device was something like those Weed-B-Gon canisters that attach to your garden hose. She had a vacuum hose that put out warm air, to which she attached a sprayer containing the tanning liquid. The sprayer had an adjustable dial, so she could give my legs more color, but go easy on my face, chest, and arms.
We went through a series of poses to systematically cover my whole surface area (nothing weird: facing forward, turning to the left, turning to the right). The liquid smelled like cherry vanilla — like being in an old-fashioned soda shop. After she finished, Tiffany disconnected the sprayer and used the warm air from the hose to dry the liquid. The whole process took maybe half an hour, and when she was done, I could get dressed right away. My skin felt slightly tacky, but the tanner didn’t pull off or mess up where skin touched skin (like the insides of my elbows).
Checking myself out in a full-length mirror, I looked like a easy-going child of the sunworshipping 70s. I was a beautiful tanned color (the sort of color I’d never lie in the sun long enough to achieve now), but not orange.
I think spray tanner is kind of like henna: the longer it stays in contact with your skin, the more satisfying the results. My skin stayed slightly tacky for about three hours, then was dry to the touch (and the Xen-Tan website says you only need three hours, but can sleep in the stuff if you choose). I got my tan at about 5 pm, and went to bed without showering (it didn’t rub off on my sheets). The next morning, I hopped in the shower and rinsed off. Even without touching/rubbing or using soap, the water ran brown. Once the spray tan was all rinsed off, my lovely tan was left behind.
A spray tan like mine should last 7-9 days, but I’ll probably keep self-tanning my legs at home for the rest of the summer.
Tiffany’s Pre-Spray-Tan Recommendations:
- Exfoliate before you go to your appointment
- Shave before your appointment, too
- Don’t wear lotion or perfume or sunscreen (it can prevent the tanning agent from reacting properly with your skin)
- My additional recommendations:
- Don’t wear tight-fitting clothes (things that rub)
- Don’t wear makeup
Tiffany’s Post-Spray-Tan Recommendations:
- Don’t get wet after your spray tan. That means don’t swim/shower/work out/get sweaty (ideally, wait until the next day to work out). It also means try not to let water drip on you (condensation from a glass of water dripping onto your leg, water running down your elbows after washing your hands or brushing your teeth). Water will wash your color away.
- Try to avoid hot leather car seats. Don’t park in the sun if you can help it; bring a towel to sit on if you can’t.
- If any color transfers to your clothes, it won’t stain if you wash them right away.
- If color gathers in any areas (wrists, knees, elbows), the next day in the shower, use a washcloth to gently buff that area.
- Get your spray tan two days before your event (e.g., Thursday for a Saturday event). That way you’ll have a chance to see and correct any unevenness.
- Sea water will shorten the life of your spray tan. (Just something to think about if you’re tanning before a beach vacation.)
- Lotions with alcohol will also shorten the life of your spray tan. Xen-Tan makes a companion product, a “de-scenter.” It’s a moisturizer you can apply 3-5 hours after any self-tanner (not just Xen-Tan). It smells enjoyably like a watermelon Jolly Rancher (a sour watermelon hard candy). The scent doesn’t linger, but it neutralizes any self-tanner scent. The moisturizer also keeps your tan looking nicer. Many of the Xen-Tan products (like the E! Live from the Red Carpet tanner) contain this moisturizer/de-scenter ingredient.
- Try not to scrub your skin. Body scrubs and loofahs (and retinols… anything that removes layers of skin) will take your faux-glow off faster.
As for Xen-Tan’s at home products, I’m pretty keen on the E! Red Carpet tanner ($43). It has a dial, so you can adjust the amount of instant, visible bronzer versus the amount of long-wear self tanner. If you don’t want to self-tan, you can turn the dial all the way to “Bronzer,” (for one-night leg color that washes off in the shower).
And when you’re looking at their product offering, “Luxe” is the darker version of any given product. So when choosing between “Face Tanner,” and “Face Tanner Luxe,” Luxe is darker.
Now all of this happens to coincide with Nordstrom’s Summerize Your Skin event, and the stores are offering a tote bag full of samples with any $125 purchase in cosmetics or fragrance. You can also get a Nordstrom gift (but not the Xen-Tan gift) online with a $100 purchase and the code BEAUTY. The code will also give you $5 shipping, and the online gift (which is slightly different from the in-store gift) includes:
- Bare Escentuals bareMinerals Purely Nourishing Moisturizer for Combination Skin (0.17 oz.)
- Deborah Lippmann Nail Color in Between the Sheets (0.3 oz.)
- Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Glow Pad Anti-Aging Self-Tanner (1 towelette)
- Dr. T’s Supergoop! SPF 30+ Everyday UV Face & Body Moisturizing Sun Protection Lotion (0.33 oz.)
- Fekkai Essential Shea Ultra Rich Mask (1.6 oz.)
- Laura Mercier Golden Bronze Pressed Powder (0.19 oz.)
- MOR Essentials Basil & Grape Hand Cream (0.1 oz.)
- MOR Essentials Sugar Rose Tiger Lily Hand Cream (0.1 oz.)
- philosophy miracle worker miraculous anti-aging eye cream (0.1 oz.)
- StriVectin-SD Instant Retexturizing Scrub (0.75 oz.)
- Cosmetics Case