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Friday, January 15, 2016

How I Tan: Confession Time...

A little over a month ago I promised to tell you how I tanned and the best way to attain the coveted ballroom glow, and while I’ve already told you my top recommendation for what I think is the best way to tan for your competitions, I have yet to tell you how I tan for performances and competitions. To be honest, I have been reluctant to write this post, partially because of the backlash I will likely get, but more importantly because I don’t want to promote unhealthy habits. So, before I jump into disclosing my own personal tanning secrets, let me sound like every annoying mother ever, and advise you to do what I say, and go for the DHA tanning, rather than doing what I do. Now, that that’s taken care of, on to my confession…

I use UV tanning: UV as in tanning beds. Before you jump into lecture mode, I am aware of the health risks, which is why I advise you not to do what I do and opt for DHA tanning instead. Despite the risk, I choose to UV tan for a few reasons, first and foremost being that it is easy for me (shitty reason, I know). I naturally have olive skin that tans dark easily and quickly, and it holds onto that tan for long periods without any maintenance; to clarify, I can forgo the tanning bed for 2-3 weeks and I won’t fade, and if I need to really amp up my color before a big event, I can do it in a week with no problem. For most people, you will never be able to achieve the appropriate level of darkness for ballroom with UV tanning regardless of how often you tan, and you certainly will not be able to achieve a significant increase in darkness in a week. So to put it simply, unless you naturally have olive or dark skin that tans easily, don’t even try UV tanning.

Aside from cancer, which is obviously the most important risk involved with UV tanning, you need to keep a few other “side-effects” of tanning beds in mind. This is particularly important if you are light featured, which include those of you with light hair and/or eyes even if you have slightly darker skin, because light features are an indicator of increased genetic risk to UV exposure. The first side-effect of tanning is aging, which is probably obvious for most of you. Science has proven that UV rays age skin dramatically, and obviously the more you’re exposed to those rays, the faster you age. So unless you’re going to be able to keep the desired darkness by tanning once a week or less, don’t do it. Similarly, there’s the risk for discoloration (i.e. sunspots) and freckles, especially if you’re lighter. This isn’t an issue for me, as I don’t freckle, but every one I see in the salon I go to that isn’t naturally olive (i.e. literally every else) is covered in freckles. While it may not be politically correct to say, the reality is that an even tan is much sexier than a freckled tan, and for the most part, fair girls don’t tan well in tanning beds; they tend to stay reasonably pale, but pick up a pinky-red tone with lots of freckles. It’s also important to remember that no amount of UV tanning is going to change your undertones, and undertone is a huge part of the ballroom tan. Most of the self-tanning products (including DHA) give a more brown/olive look to the skin, regardless of your natural undertones; tanning beds just deepen what you already have, so if you’re not olive you’ll never look olive using a tanning bed.  Finally, you need to be concerned about dry skin. All the UV exposure is drying as hell! Regardless of who you are and/or how well your skin reacts to tanning, you’re skin is going to slowly morph into alligator scales unless you moisturize the shit out of every inch of your body, and even then you’re still going to be dry – basically the moisturizer is just the difference between being an alligator and a shark – your skin is still going to be scaly as fuck (yes, sharks have scales), it’s just a matter of how scaly you appear.

So now that I’ve disclosed my dirty little secret and also told you all the reasons NOT to tan how I tan, I’m going to wrap it up. Next week, I’ll tell you the specifics of my tanning routine, how to achieve maximum darkness in a tanning bed (if you’re stupid enough to try it), and my favorite tanning lotions (which can be used outside of a bed!).

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