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Monday, December 7, 2015

Tanning Basics: Spray Tanning for Ballroom

Last week focused on if tanning is an absolutely necessity for ballroom dancers, and for those of you who missed last week’s post, the answer is “yes.” Now it’s time to get into the details of deciding what tanning tactic is going to be best for you. Over the next few weeks, we’re going to delve into both artificial and natural tanning methods, but today’s focus is going to be solely artificial. Undeniably, artificial tanning, aka fake bake, is the absolute safest method of acquiring the golden glow that we Dancesport competitors crave, so I highly recommend you select one of these methods. Today I want to focus exclusively on what, in my experience, is the most popular method of artificial tanning among newcomers: spray tanning.

I think the popularity of spray tanning is largely in part because it is one of the easiest tanning methods. You don’t have to worry as much about covering every spot or trying to get an even coverage, because you’re not applying the product yourself. Spray tanning is great for those who don’t have someone to help them out with the application process, because you can better assure an even application. That said, there are a few things to keep in mind when deciding if a spray tan is the right option for you. The first thing you’re going to want to consider is that spray tans almost never get dark enough for Dancesport. Let’s be honest, the tan that most competitors wear on the floor isn’t something you would want to walk around with in every day life, and that’s the problem with spray tanning; spray tanning was designed for easy application and to look fairly natural in every day life. This is especially true for the automatic spray tanning booths, as consistent pre-determined levels of DHA (the chemical that creates the tan affect – we’ll go into more science-y details of that later) are used in these booths to help give a consistent result, and this level is not changed from person to person, meaning the DHA levels are those most optimal for a natural look – not what you’re going for in ballroom. Even in the booths that offer darker options, the DHA levels are still usually too low for Dancesport. Oh, and that dark color that you see immediately after stepping out of the booth – that’s temporary pigment that will wash off as soon as you get into the shower and it’s usually much darker than the real result of the spray tan.

If you’re dead set on spray tanning, which I don’t advise, your best option is going to be an airbrush application, where a technician spray you his/herself and can control all aspects of the application. This application method is preferable to automatic booths because you can have more control over the DHA levels, and it give you the opportunity to sculpt out your muscles, if your technician is talented enough. Another perk to the airbrush method is that you can use higher levels of temporary pigment, meaning your tan will look much darker upon completion than with an automatic tanning booth. The drawback here, like with the booth, is that most of the pigment will wash off in the shower, or, more concerning, run as you sweat and leave you with an uneven, streaky tan. In other words, the DHA itself still won’t get you dark enough, and you’re going to have to reapply this shit every day of your competition – and you better hope you don’t sweat (not likely!). Another drawback for the more conservative among us: you’re going to have to be comfortable bearing it all for your tanning technician, because tan lines showing around your costume are a big no-no when it comes to ballroom dancing.


So, in sum, I really don’t advise spray tanning for Dancesport, primarily because I don’t think you will be happy with the results; it just doesn’t meet the needs for a ballroom dancer. That said, if you don’t like the other methods discussed in upcoming posts over the next couple of weeks, a spray tan is better than no tan. Keep a look out for the next few posts in this series, and comment below with any questions and to share your own tanning tips and tricks.

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