The Spray Tan

Just call me "Pasty White Wilcox."

You'd never guess in a million years that I'm 1/4 Native American. Because the German, Ukranian, and Finnish wash it all completely out. I am pasty-whiteness. To the core.

I used to say things like, "I just need to get one burn and then it's all tan after that!" Which was partially true. Eventually I would tan. After I scorched myself first.

And in my teen years, I would sunbathe without sunscreen. And use baby oil instead.

I've had my share of burns. Just some of my memories include burning my belly so badly with baby oil that it bubbled and peeled, forgetting the sunscreen on the boat and getting so badly burned that I had to miss a week of work and crawl to the bathroom naked... sleeping naked, covered in aloe, freezing and burning at the same time. Good times.

I have all sorts of freckles now but fortunately there is no other damage beyond that and I think I caught it before rampant skin cancer. I am not all leathery looking, I don't have wrinkles. I have returned to my native pasty white color and I look just one shade darker than the vampires in Twilight.

I am now a recovering burnaholic and am desperately trying to become one with my pasty-whiteness.

Which is very, very hard when you have remnants of motherhood lurking around in every corner.

A (possible) stretch mark (or two) might escape the bathing suit coverage on the upper thigh where the bathing suit ends... some dimples in the back that haven't yet smoothed to their pre-baby condition, a little junk in the trunk left over from that 9 month trip you took...

You know what I'm talkin' about.

I have done a lot of work over this year to lose weight and I have seen a lot of progress. I am trying to be one with my body but I am still my own biggest critic. The closest to one-ness I have gotten is finally buying a bathing suit that is not a black one-piece, or the "momsuit," as my husband called it last weekend.

Because he made fun of me and my two girlfriends (who between the three of us have 7 boys, by the way) who were all wearing black one-pieces at the pool last weekend. It was like some mommy bathing suit uniform.

And here I was thinking it was pretty good that we were all exposing ourselves at all, with reckless abandon (which I will leave for another post), to be perfectly honest.

But this week I charged myself with the task of buying a non-mom-suit because I am going away for a beach weekend with two non-moms with perfect bodies. How's that for intimidating.

So I bought a compromise in my own mind. The tankini. Probably the best invention ever. A two piece but not!

And because of my mom-markings, I was thinking really hard about the bathing skirt. But I just couldn't do it. I tried on every bathing suit in the world and the skirt looked the most ridiculous on me. I don't know why. I think I just couldn't get the right length. Way too much leg or wayyy too much skirt.

So in the end, I just decided on a green, blue, and white flowery tanktoppy top and the regular old black bathing suit bottoms. The kind that mom-marks and dimples tend to sneak out of.

The suit is really cute, actually. And I only half don't like me in it. Which in contrast to hating what I look like in it really is progress!!

But then there's the pasty whiteness. And mommarks.

And I've had this little discount card in my Breaking Dawn book that I was using as a bookmark for months (because I only get time to read in tiny increments). It was for a tanning place near the mall. My hairlady gave it to me because I was asking about the spray tan.

I was considering it.

I know I live in Florida and I should be tan. But I'm not.

I also realize the irony of getting a spray tan in Florida.

And since I'm pretty much done with the UV (I have a lot of skin cancer in my family and have had a few moles removed myself), it was looking quite appealing the more I thought about it.

Especially on the cusp of a bathing suit weekend with perfect bodies.

Oh the pressure.

So I called the place last week and asked the following questions:
-What do you do?
-How long does it take?
-Will I look like an Oompaloompa?
-Are you sure? Because I'm really white...
-Are you super sure?
-Are you positive? I don't think I can express to you how white I actually am.

And then I called back again yesterday and asked another girl all the same questions.

And when I went in last night after spin class, the girl at the desk said the other girl warned her about me.

Which I thought was kind of funny.

So she went through the whole spiel again, what to do in the booth, yada yada yada.

There were four colors to choose from. Light, a little darker than light, medium and dark.

I chose the second one. She tried to steer me toward the third one but I could see no good coming of that.

OK. So I'm really going to do this.

I won't lie. I was scared. There's only one thing worse than pasty-white with mom-marks and that's orange with mom-marks.

So, here is how it all went down because I know you're dying to know and I wish I had someone telling me this beforehand:

You have to go in after you've showered and shaved, with no makeups or lotions on. Nothing. Preferrably at night, sometime before bed, because you can't wash yourself or sweat for 4-8 hours so the spray has time to seep into your skin. I went in at 8:30 p.m.

When you get in, you strip down to nothing, rub lotion on your feet and hands so they don't turn a darker color than the rest of you because those places are really dry. You put a shower cap on.

Then you stand on the little foot markers, the sprayer sprays, then the tanning robot voice tells you to turn around and stand on other little foot markers. It sprays you all over for 3 minutes.

You dry off, put your clothes back on and Voila! You're done.

It all just felt kind of silly. Not to mention everyone in the place was at least 10 years younger than me (and the fiance of the girl working there stormed in, threw some loose change and money at her and stormed out -- that was an little incident on its own...)

So then I went home and was waiting for "the change". Because I wasn't immediately tan. The kind I chose was one that went on clear but the color was supposed to deepen over time. So when I woke up I was kind of excited to see what happened through the night. It was kind of like Christmas, but a little scarier, like maybe he didn't bring me what I was asking for for months.

And my husband was curious too. He even turned on the light to see what happened. He said I got some color, and then he went to work.

So I got up excitedly, I stripped down, I stood on the stool to look in the bathroom mirror, front and back.

My main goals were two-fold, to a) camouflage some dimplage and b) cover some mom-marks.

So did it work? Was I orange????

I rushed to the baby's room where there is a full-length mirror and I tried on my new bathing suit. I looked at the upper thigh region and Voila! Blended!!!!!

That right there was my $25 worth!

The dimples are still there, but really, what was I expecting? It wasn't a spray-miracle. It was just a spray tan.

So I am pretty happy.


I could've used a little more lotion on a finger or two and my feet. Because there is some weirdness there. It crossed my mind to fill in the spray tan with some regular tan, but the point for me is to not go with the UV. No UV. (Might I suggest slathering lotion all over your hands and feet with reckless abandon next time.)

I am also glad that I did not go with her suggestion for the darker color because I fear that I would very much be orange right now. With this one, I am tanned a little, and in some very key places, mind you, but not orange. Except for one foot and a kind of orange thumb edited to add: ok, one seriously orange thumb, borderline freaky. Like I've been eating Cheetos. But my mommy marks on my legs are blended so it equals out! The good with the bad!

The spray itself also kind of stinks. I've since showered and the stuff still kind of smells. Which means I still kind of smell.

So goes my first spray-tanning experience. Just enough to fix some troublespots. But not enough to be a regular. Pasty-White Wilcox will live on.
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  1. thank you thank you thank you for this rundown! I've always wondered what the process would be like. It's more of a winter thing for me because I get yellow-ey pale, lol.

  2. You are so freaking adorable - I can't stand it! I have wondered how the spray tan works so thanks bunches for giving up the scoop. I'm sure with all the sureness in me that you will look and feel absolutely wonderful in your new tankini with newly darker than before skin. Have a great time you cute girl!

  3. Thanks for writing about this! I've never gotten a spray tan--I have enough trouble keeping up with leg shaving!--but I think I'd probably give it a go sometime. (Salon only, though...the home stuff does look rather orangey, and I'd probably pick the wrong shade.) I'm pasty-pale, and I live in California, so I know what you mean! (OTOH, I won't have the leathery skin later in life. Whew!) I haven't been a sun worshiper since I got a really nasty, blistering sunburn when I was 18. Oh, I still get the occasional burn, like about a month ago when we had a warm, sunny weekend and I paraded around in a tank top without sunscreen. I'm usually pretty obsessive about slathering on the sun screen.

    I'm certain you'll be looking very cute in your new suit and tan! :-)

    p.s. - Good luck with the open water swimming!!! No, you will not get devoured by sharks.

  4. very cool - so its a "special occasion" kinda thing then?


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