A great tan looks great on the floor. Bodies look more toned, and the feel of the International Latin or American Rhythm costume feels more complete. But, if not applied correctly it will look odd, messy or even painful.
Your main options are spray tan, self-tanner, sun, or tanning bed. Here are a few DO’s and DON’Ts to consider for each:
1. Spray tan is the most popular method of tanning for dancers. It can, however, be messy and look unnatural if not done well.
- Exfoliating before a spray tan is a must or the tan will look uneven. Exfoliate all over a couple of days before applying, with special attention to the rough parts of your skin to ensure a smooth surface and avoid the need to remove patches after.
- Also shave or wax the day before, so you are spraying the smoothest skin surface possible.
- If you use nail polish, do it before your spray.
- If you do not use nail polish, put moisturizer on your fingernails and toenails. Also put moisturizer on your feet and eyebrows, knees and elbows to avoid a dark brown or orange tint.
- No make-up, deodorant or perfume, but lip balm or petroleum jelly on lips is a good idea.
- If you are spray tanning at home, choose a tinted aerosol over a clear one, so you know how much spray tan you have applied.
- Protect your bathroom by going into your shower and closing the door or curtain.
- Spray in a circular motion, starting with your feet and working your way up. It is easier to see and correct mistakes on the legs than the upper body, in particular because legs that look a little darker are usually OK (as long as you do your feet as well but not the soles). You will also avoid creasing your upper body tan when it is wet by bending over to your legs if you do them first.
- Go easy on dry areas like your knees and elbows, as well as the underarms, inside the arms, the back of the knees and top of the feet toward your toes. Spray them more lightly than other areas.
- Unless you have the help of a friend, you might need to be creative to do your back. Try spraying into the air and stepping back into it as you would if you were applying perfume. Do this 2 to 3 times to make sure that you get enough spray on your back.
- Always do your hands last and your face lightly. You can always add color to your face with make-up, but a heavy spray tan on the face can easily look odd, so is best left to pros or those with a lot of experience.
- Correct mistakes with a sponge brush. You can also buy a specially designed tanner remover to take off dark spots, streaks or other application errors.
- While you are spraying and after, do not touch your skin. You will risk creating marks.
- Also wait 2-12 hours (depending on the product) before showering.
2. Self-tanner lotions or mousse give a lot of control in the level of tan. The main risks are uneven color, streaks or orange palms and soles.
- A lot of the spray tan tips also apply, in particular the need to exfoliate first and the need to protect certain areas from the product.
- Use gloves when applying lotion or mousse and always rub in a circular motion.
- You might need to wipe off some tanner from your underarms with a baby wipe to make them lighter, which looks more natural.
- You will probably need a friend for your back and other areas such as the back of the arms and neck. If not, many drug stores have back sponges with long handles to help apply self-tanners in these areas, and the back of hands once you take your gloves off.
3. The sun is always an option but it takes time, risks wrinkles and skin cancer and may produce lines if you are modest.
- Again exfoliate. By now you should know that your need to do this for any tanning.
- Drink water and moisturize your skin. Tanning while dry and dehydrated won’t make you look or feel good.
- Apply waterproof sunscreen instead of sunblock so rays will come through.
- Apply waterproof sunblock not sunscreen to your lips, the tip of your nose and the top of your ears since they are most likely to burn.
- Start with 15 minutes a day and then add 5 minutes each day to a max of 45 minutes if you want to avoid a flash burn.
- Tanning near water or spraying water on your body will speed up the tanning.
- Never use baby oil or any other oil, since it will make you burn.
- As soon as any skin gets red, get out of the sun!
4. Tanning salons often give the option of either a tanning bed or a pro spray tan.
- The tanning bed has similar risks and benefits to the sun.
- The preparation for the spray tan is the same as it is for home.
Whether you tan, or whichever tanning method you choose is a personal choice. Just make sure that any spray or lotion is completely dry before you put on your costume. If not take a look at our post on cleaning your ballroom costume.