Tag Archives: I Tried It

I Tried It: Airbrush Tanning

The week before our Wedding Weekend Extravaganza I took to getting myself a fancy pants spray tan. My skin is incredibly pale, and while I’m not really against looking fresh-faced and ivory-colored, lately my legs are also covered in bumps and bruises and scrapes from CrossFit. I thought a tan might help me camouflage that, so I set out to get one!

I am generally a lily white or sunburned kind of gal — there is not a lot of in between for me. In fact I went to Maui for 12 days and hardly came back with a tan line despite many days on the beach. My skin’s natural state just doesn’t really evolve to glowy. Maybe you are one of those lucky folks who can just pile on the Jergens Natural Glow for a couple of weeks but I am so pale that even that will turn me orange, if it works at all.

So these were my legs the day I got sprayed (crappy iphone photo in bad lighting. Awesome!) But you get the idea:

Not a tragedy, but I knew (FOR SURE) I needed to involve a professional. Also, I knew I didn’t want to fry myself up in a tanning bed. I’m too old for that, man. Too much time spent in tanning beds in my 20s and all I have to show for that are laugh lines. BOO. So — a spray tan, it was!

There are two main types of spray tans you can get if you go to a salon: A spray booth tan or a custom spray tan. Both have pros and cons, but I chose the custom spray. Here’s why:

1. I’m sorry, but a decade later this experience is burned into my brain. This would totally happen to me! I didn’t want to take that chance.

2. Booth tans require you to walk through a series of timed poses without supervision, and most say it takes a time or two to get it right. While this is nice if you have time to experiment, I didn’t. It takes a certain level of skill that I didn’t want to practice. I just wanted it right the first time. We were heading to our Wedding Festivities Friday, so I scheduled my tan for Thursday evening after work.

3. A custom tan in my area only runs about $10 more + tip. SOLD.

Prior to Tanning

So I was advised there are a few things you need to do to prepare yourself for your tan:

*Make sure your skin is completely exfoliated and shaved. You are basically having someone spray a bunch of dye on you that develops over time (icky, but true!) so if you show up with dry skin, the dye is going to look blotchy

*That said, most salons will recommend that you do not moisturize for up to 6 hours prior to your appointment. I don’t get it, but I complied.

*You will want to remove your makeup. Maybe bring some of those makeup remover towelettes in your bag with your change of clothes. (I’ll talk about the clothes to bring in a minute.)

During Your Appointment

*You will arrive for your spray tan and need to decide your comfort level around nudity/tan lines.

*If you decide your comfort level involves wearing undergarments (thong/bra) bring ones that you don’t mind getting dirty. Even though the developing dye they spray is invisible, it is usually mixed with an instant bronzing agent that does have visible color. This will get on your clothes.

*Also if you do wear undergarments, make sure that you are comfortable with the tan lines they are going to leave. You may want to try on your swimsuit over them to make sure you won’t look funky when the tan is done.

My Experience: I’m just gonna throw it out there that I’m pretty comfortable with the idea of getting (mostly) naked in front of strangers. Not like random strangers, but for professional strangers my modesty level is fairly low. Keep in mind this is their job and part of what they do involves seeing naked people. They aren’t analyzing you, no matter how awkward it may seem.

I ended up choosing to just do it in a thong (boy, aren’t we getting all cozy up in here today) which I felt like was a good combination of getting a great tan without any hoo-ha flashing. That worked for me. If you want to keep more clothes on, again these are professionals, so no one is going to make you feel bad about that. It’s about YOUR comfort level. This is a service YOU are paying for, no one makes the rules but you!

*With a custom spray tan you will still be walking through wacky positions in various states of undress (which is hilarious, actually, if you can stop and be objective in the moment) but you will be doing it at the behest of the person controlling the dye gun. For me, this is worth its weight in gold. They won’t spray until you are ready. No chance of you coming out looking like Ross Gellar!

After The Spray

*When you are done, they will probably make you stand in front of a fan for a minute to let everything set. You will be dry but still feel sticky. You now have developer on you, plus the visible bronzing agent so you will feel kind of sticky like you just got home from a day at the beach but with less sand in your crack. (Yeah, I said it.)

*Pack some loose (preferably dark) clothing. The dye is water soluble so things are not going to stain for life, but the clothes you bring will get a bit bronzy. Just in case, don’t pack your super expensive and tight white pants, ok?

*Wait 6-8 hours before showering or sweating. This is tricky because you will look and feel like a slightly sticky Oompa-Loompa when you leave. You will want to shower immediately, but you cannot. Here I am in the Oompa Loompa phase

*Also, and maybe this is just a personal preference, don’t plan to have drinks with the ladies afterward. Or really anything social. You will feel kind of gross, look kind of orange, and brown stuff is going to be rubbing off on your clothes. Maybe have a nice night in! 🙂 Your color will continually develop as the night goes on.

*When you finally can shower (and it will feel GLORIOUS!) don’t exfoliate or use shower gels or lotions with mineral oils or AHAs in them. Both will decrease the length of your tan.

The Cost

So what kind of cashola does this set you back? I’m sure it varies. I spent $75 plus potentially the cost of a new set of sheets.

Here was the breakdown:

$40 for the tan
$8 for the fancy pre-lotion crap (that I probably wouldn’t buy again)
$17 for the post-tan “extender lotion” that really just looks like a fancy pants Jergens Natural Glow (I probably wouldnt’ buy that again either, but now I will have it for the next time, so…)
$10 for tip

Potentially the set of sheets? Well, we have bright white sheets on our bed and I couldn’t shower before sleeping that night. I wasn’t sure how much would rub off on my clothes 5 hours after the spray, but let me assure you: A LOT RUBS OFF. I washed my sheets afterward, and while everything totally came out, they are sort of dingy looking now. I’m sure I could bleach them but they are old sheets and I want a new set, so there. 🙂

The Result

Well, if you compare crappy, poorly lit iphone picture to crappy, poorly lit iphone picture I think you can tell a difference.


Don’t believe me, here’s another couple shots. See? Much darker with the spray tan!

Was it flawless? No, there was one spot on the inside of my hand/wrist that was a little dark, but that is to be expected I think. Can you imagine if I had done a booth tan? I feel like patches of my entire body would look like this! For a week. And that would be awful!


Overall I was very happy with the quality and precision, and I didn’t have to worry about barrier lotion or my fingers and toes or having blotch armpits, or looking like an *actual* Oompa Loompa.

How Long Does It Last?

I exfoliated, scrubbed, shaved and bought the fancy pre-lotion. I also followed all the instructions, waited to shower, didn’t use any mineral oil body wash, and followed up with a post-tan lotion extender. Whew! I’m exhausted thinking about all that maintenance. I would say the tan looked flawless for about 3 days. On day 4 it started to fade in spots. On day 6 it was patchy. By day 8, I was hardly tan. I’m writing this on Day 12 and I still have brown patches on my legs, despite exfoliation and it’s not that attractive. The Tan Aftermath isn’t that pretty.

The Verdict

Despite The Tan Aftermath, I would totally say this is worth it. You don’t have to spend $75. In fact, I could have spent $45-50 for the same quality. Also, most salons sell packages that make the tans considerably less expensive. The girl I saw has a package that is 3 for $100 and I’m honestly considering it.

It’s pricey enough that I won’t do every couple of weeks, but maybe I will treat myself and for $100 go once a month all summer. We’ll see!

Any other questions that I didn’t answer? Leave ’em in the comments and I’ll respond.


I Tried It: Barefoot Running


I don’t know when I concocted the fantasy in my mind of Becoming A Runner, but it was ages ago. It wasn’t because I thought it looked romantic, or because everyone on The Internet was doing it so I should try. Mostly I wanted to run because it looked hard. Awful, actually. And for some reason I have a sick fascination with doing hard things. Personality quirk, I guess. So I tried it, as I normally do, and it was AWFUL.

What was also overwhelming to hear about was all the potential gear and options and stretching requirements and overpronating vs. underpronating and supination and MY GOD, I just wanted to experience that feeling everyone talks about of “Runner’s High” and I never freaking got it — where on earth did one GET IT?

I did, however, experience stiff knees, shins that felt like they took a beating, Plantar Fasciitis that was almost debilitating and general displeasure when I thought about running. So, of course I did what many a lady is wont to do in a challenging situation and I bought new shoes. And then I bought a different pair. And then I was fitted specially for shoes at a fancy running store. And then I spent time running in front of strangers who were going to tell me how to run better. And then I ran around the inside of another running store looking like an ass. It goes without saying I also spared no expense because I was going to be A Runner. Yet I still did not experience pleasure while running.

And so after a while I stopped.

I was carrying a significant amount of extra weight at the time and just figured — well, running isn’t comfortable for people who are overweight. This isn’t a problem with my shoes, this is a problem with my ass — and that problem is that it needs to get smaller.

But I decided to try stopping one more thing before I completely gave up, and with my ass the same size as is always was, I decided to stop wearing “Running Shoes.”

Born to Run

What prompted me to do such a silly thing, and you probably saw this coming, was reading the book Born To Run at the end of 2010. I’ve mentioned it before and surely at this point if you have ears you have probably heard of it, but if you are someone who has even the tiniest desire to run, it is totally a worthwhile read. And since I’ve never really shared my story, I thought it was high time I did so.

So let’s get back to this book, shall we? Born To Run tells the story of the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico, who are mysteriously the World’s BEST distance runners. I mean, their athletic feats are AMAZING, and they do it all running…barefoot. Like, Jesus-walking barefoot! For that alone it such a fascinating story. But the story goes even deeper into the history of the running shoe, the science of shoe technology and how common running shoes are made and marketed. So Interesting. Because the odds are that you have read it I won’t go on and on, but I will tell you it inspired me, and almost since the day I finished that book, I have been a “barefoot” running convert.

How I Started

The book was like a juicy article in a magazine but more inspiring. But I certainly rolled my eyes a bit at all these crazy claims. The Trend of Barefoot Running was being hotly debated, and I wasn’t sure which side I fell on. It all sounded a little extreme, but I was curious nonetheless. I’m not crazy, so I wasn’t just going to go out and start racing with nothing on my feet, no matter how natural and easy and Earth Mother-y it sounded in the book. But at the end of 2010 I did take the plunge and bought a pair of Vibram Five Fingers.

This was a tough purchase, you all. And I say that after having invested more than $1000 into my attempts at running at that point. They are $100 but more importantly, they are just about the ugliest shoes you can spend that amount of money on Also, people look at you like you are CRAZY when you wear them, which I didn’t love. Garrett called them my hippie finger shoes, my mom made fun of me. I mean, they were a tough sell!

But in the end: THEY WERE AWESOME.

Barefoot Evolution

Most sources recommend easing into minimal footwear because they stretch your calf muscles more than you are used to and engage the soleus muscle in a way that running in heavily padded shoes does not. So I did just that. And I certainly noticed a sore soleus muscle the first few weeks! But little by little I turned into a running machine. And a comfortable one, at that!

Since starting wearing minimal footwear in 2010, I haven’t had a running injury, experienced any pain associated with running, and most importantly I am completely devoid of Plantar Fasciitis even though I’ve INCREASED the amount of high impact exercise I do. My technique has improved without even trying and I honestly think it is mostly because your body has an intuitive sense about how to move itself safely. It is virtually impossible to have heel strike issues in barefoot shoes because your brain just WON’T let your body beat itself up over and over.

Now, quick disclaimer: This is not to say I am the world’s best runner, because I am not even close. Also, I’m not saying that this is right for you and you should run out and immediately do it. We are all different. But what I am saying is that at a time in my life where I thought I was too fat to have fun running, a stupid pair of hippie shoes turned me into something I never thought I would be: a confident runner. And to me, being someone who genuinely enjoys running is way more important than someone who is THE BEST at it. There is a freedom in knowing that you are just a pair of (minimal, of course!) shoes away from a great workout no matter where you are.


About a year ago I switched to running in a pair of New Balance Minimus M10s, for efficiency purposes because I also use them at CrossFit since I haven’t taken the plunge and bought a pair of weightlifting shoes. (I KNOW! I need to get on that!) And while I can’t say that I will never trade those in for something different, I can tell you that I wholeheartedly recommend them now. I still have love for my Vibrams, and always cheer people on if they are thinking about taking the plunge, but I like the way the New Balances look like actual sneakers, but have the Vibram sole. It’s a great compromise!

Some things to keep in mind for context: the longest distance I’ve ever run at once is less than a half marathon, and I generally run on asphalt or dirt, but not too heavy on the trails. So far, this is what works for me.

The craziest thing I can tell you is that I tried running in my old Running Store Sanctioned Professionally Fitted Very Lightly Worn Expensive Sneakers a few months back just for shits and giggles and my whole body hurt for a week. Knees, shins and feet…ugh, my feet! And that is AFTER losing 100 lbs.

Yes this is completely anecdotal and not scientific but I’ll just say I was ASTOUNDED.

Some Additional Resources

This video touches briefly about how the foot works while running and how a regular shoe helps/hinders your body. (Born to Run talks SO MUCH about this, it’s awesome!)
Why Run Bare?
Forefoot Striking & Training Tips

So I’m not interested in striking up a huge debate on this issue, I just wanted to share my own experience. Whether you are For or Against Barefoot/Forefoot Running, I know you feel passionately. And that’s cool. We all have to do what works best for us, and this is what works best for me. For now.

But I’m curious — do you wear minimal footwear when you run? What has been your experience? Have you ever considered about it? Think it’s a bunch of hogwash? I love to hear varying perspectives.

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