Beauty

By Tiffany Luning

I am white. I don’t mean regular Caucasian-white, I mean blindingly white. Generations of Irish ancestry have all conspired to create a skin tone that is neither cool nor warm, but a strange sort of milky white-blue. A hue prized by the Victorians, perhaps, but not as much here in 21st Century New Amsterdam. I have long since accepted my sickly pallor, since I only have the ability to burn my skin instead of tanning it, and skin cancer is so not on my to-do list. But sometimes, particularly in the summer, you want to have a healthy, luminous complexion. What to do? What the safe middle ground between looking like an extra from “Interview with the Vampire” and baking yourself into a leathery crispy critter? I bring you the faux tan gorgeous burnished radiance without the dangers of UV rays. A guide, if you will, to all of the new tan spots and do it yourself options on the market today.

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completely bare is renowned for their contouring and shading techniques. You know, the ones that make you look like you have a six-pack when you really have a keg. Not that I would know anything about that, of course. Anyway, completely bare has recently developed quite a few cool new faux glow packages in addition to some of their classic techniques. The oft-imitated Sculpted Tan ($75) is provided by an aesthetician that has been specially trained by a body painter in the fine art of shading and contouring. The Sculpted + Tan ($75) technique combines the body-contouring awesomeness of the Sculpted Tan with a natural cellulite reduction formula which contains caffeine to increase blood flow and tighten the skin appearance, anti-oxidant-laden white tea, Q10 to plump the skin, and erythrulose to help the skin tan gradually and more evenly. Your newly-bronzed hide will look more defined and smoother, which is always a plus. For the poor souls like me who sunburn themselves accidentally and end up with that tacky farmer tan, we have the two-session Tan Line Eraser ($150). On the first day, the skin is exfoliated and lightly tanned inside the tan lines. For session two, the entire body is tanned with a bit more concentration inside the tan lines to create an even hue. I so happy that someone has finally come up with a way to help me get rid of the gross neckline tan that I always end up with and can get rid of until December.

completely bare now has five locations: 764 Madison Avenue (212-717-9300), 103 Fifth Avenue (212-366-6060), Barneys New York at 660 Madison Avenue (212-833-2566), 12 Chase Road in Scarsdale (914-713-0200), and 304 South County Road in Palm Beach. Visit www.completelybare.com for more details.

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California Tan Sunless brings us a few different methods, first of which is the AutoBronzer, where you stand in an open-air machine and are instructed by an automated voice. I like following the directions of evil robot overlords, so I dig on this idea. It’s also super-quick, delivering your new color in under a minute. The AutoBronzer is currently available at City Sun (212-353-9700), conveniently located at 50 East 13th Street in Union Square. California Tan also has the CustomBronzer Spray Treatment, where you can receive a traditional human-contact spray from a technician. The CustomBronzer is available at the aforementioned City Sun, Acqua Beauty Bar (7 East 14th Street, 212-620-4329), Gloss Day Spa (51 East 73rd Street, 212-249-2100), and more. Prices vary by location, so be sure to ask when you book your appointment. Definitely swing by www.californiatansunless.com – they have an amazing website that features an informative grid of tanning methods and their components (application sensation, drying process, privacy level, etc.), an ingredient glossary, a section on tanning etiquette, and lots more.

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If you’re more comfortable fake-baking in the privacy of your own apartment, where no one can see your mismatched undies, then I’ve got the scoop for you. Xen-Tan features a whole collection of self-tanning products that are enhanced by a sweet cherry-almond aroma. You’ll first want to scrub yourself down with the cool green Body Scrub ($18) to gently exfoliate your skin and prepare it for the tanning products. The Dark Mousse ($29) is a quick-drying whipped foam that dries in less than 60 seconds, which is excellent for a klutz like me who gets stuff on her clothing. The mousse smoothes on for a shade as light or dark as you prefer. The Dark Mist ($29) is applied via a non-aerosol pump, and is non-sticky and dries quickly. The mist can be applied direct from the can or swiped on with their Body Sponge ($4). There is a separate self-tanner for the face which they sensibly call Face ($22) – the lotion contains Vitamin E and gentle fruit acids to smooth the more delicate skin of your face and throat. After all is said and done, and you are sitting on your couch rocking a gorgeous Mediterranean tan, you’ll want to apply the Tan Extender-Light Tanning Lotion ($28). This lotion can extend the life of your new tanned skin, and is also ideal for skittish sunless-tanning newbies, since the lotion contains a modest amount of the active tanning ingredients without the dark “instant” color. If you’re still a bit unsure about this whole tanning world, you can give it a very temporary whirl with the Perfect Bronze ($28) powder bronzer. The sheer color will give your face the instant look of a well-deserved Caribbean vacation, or enhance the tan you got if you actually got to go there. To purchase Xen-Tan products, call 866-XEN-TANS, or visit www.xen-tan.com or www.nordstrombeauty.com.

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The always-fab Estee Lauder has just launched a new spray self-tanner, Go Tan Air-Brush Self-Tan Spray for Body ($28.50). Quite a mouthful, that name. The aerosol spray is so ultra-light that it dries almost instantly, so you can spray and dress in just minutes. One of the coolest features of the Go Tan is the 360E spray, which means that you can hold the can at any angle – even upside-down – so you can spray the hard-to-reach areas without becoming a contortionist. The spray works with your skin to create a shade that mimics what would be your natural tan. The color begins to develop in under an hour, and will continue to develop over the next few hours. Over the course of the next several days, it begins to fade like a natural tan would. The inclusion of Vitamin E, Caffeine and Sucrose keeps your skin moisturized, calm, and smooth. Visit www.esteelauder.com to purchase Go Tan or find an Estee Lauder counter near you.

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American International Industries brings us the re-formulated and re-vamped Body Drench Quick Tan ($27.50) spray tanner. The new formulation includes aloe barbdensis leaf juice (loaded with soothing and moisturizing vitamins), walnut leaf extract (a natural bronzer – who knew?), sunless tanning ingredient DHA, and the skin enhancer erythrulose. Like most other self-tanners, Body Drench Quick Tan allows for multiple applications to deepen your color. You can find Body Drench products at beauty supply stores, salons, spas, and tanning boutiques nationally – check www.aiibeauty.com to find out how to buy these products.

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Clarissa Azar of Fake Bake smartly states that the new Instant Self Tanning Spray ($30) is “the answer to the back question… Women can now spray their own backs and be tanned on both sides!” Groovy, because being brown on one side and white on the other doesn’t look so hot. The Fake Bake spray is said to last up to seven days without fading, which is ideal for those going on a long tropical vacation and don’t want to be referred to as the “pasty American”. The spray can contains a unique air-shaft that provides a continuous aerosol mist that can be used on the body and the face, but you’ll want to spray the mist on a makeup sponge to apply a glow to your face. I say that because I can imagine some woman spraying a full blast of tanning mist right into her mug and the entire bathroom wall behind her. For your very own Fake Bake products, visit www.fakebake.net.

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Like many New York gals, I am a bit stressed and high-strung as of late… in that “so, what exactly constitutes ‘justifiable homicide’?” sort of way. Luckily for me and everyone around me, the fine folks at Bath & Body Works have created 24/7 Radiant Moisture Gradual Tanning Body Lotion ($14.50) as part of their Breathe collection. This lotion is a scented self-tanner with a touch of shimmer, and formulated with Vitamin E, White Tea and Pro Vitamin B5, making it ultra-nourishing for your skin. Even the color of the Breathe collection’s packaging is designed to stimulate your senses! The 24/7 Radiant Moisture Gradual Tanning Body Lotion is currently available in the following five packaging/fragrance configurations: Romance (red packaging, amber myrrh scent), Energy (lime green packaging, ginger verbena scent), Calm (light blue packaging, lotus blossom scent), Delight (orange packaging, tamarind nectar scent), and Comfort (tan packaging, vanilla milk scent). You can find this tanner at the scores of Bath & Body Works stores all across the country, or online at www.bathandbodyworks.com.

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What if you a) are super-shy and want gleaming tawny skin in the privacy of your own home and b) consider yourself far too inept to actually apply the color to yourself without screwing it up? Believe it or not, I even have a service for you – the mobile airbrush spray tanning service from Brownberry. Their copper glow comes from a solution made from beets, brown sugar and the active ingredient DHA. Mmm, brown sugar. Once you’re sprayed, the outermost layer of your skin reacts with the mixture’s amino acids, giving you a natural-looking tropical brown. Now you can lie to all your friends and tell them you went to St. Thomas, and they’ll be sooo jealous! Brownberry will come to your apartment or office (I wouldn’t advise it for cubicle-dwellers) and tan you up for a mere $150. Of course, you can visit them in-house in Soho for $90. To make an appointment and become a cute little brownberry, call 917-612-5814, or roll up to www.brownberrynyc.com for additional info.

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Finally, I thought I’d pass on some words of wisdom from one of the experts: Lana Bargraser, the owner of Allure Day Spa & Hair Design, located at 139 East 55th Street (you can book an appointment with Allure by calling 212-644-5500, or visit www.alluredayspa.com for more details).
* Airbrush tanning only really looks great for five to seven days, so you may want to consider getting your tan airbrushed once a week.
* Have you been genetically cursed with cankles? To give the appearance of slimmer gams, apply a strip of shimmery powder down your shinbones. If you’re using a self-tanner, apply one coat to your entire leg and then a light second coat just down your shinbone.
* Always exfoliate before receiving an airbrush treatment – the exfoliation will help open up the pores, which allows the product to penetrate deeper and thus, last longer. Also, avoid using loofahs, scrubs, or brushes when showing, since you’re essentially scrubbing the coloring off your skin.
* Avoid going to the gym right after you’ve been spray-tanned. Sweating will make the product streak and run, which is totally gross.

So get thee to a tanning session – either at a salon or at home. Tanned flesh creates the optical illusion of being thinner and firmer, and there is nothing bad about that. You’ll look healthier and fitter, all without baking yourself in the Evil Sun and putting yourself at risk for skin cancer. All that’s left now is to sink into a lounge chair and hail down a passing daiquiri. Ahh, the splendor of summer.

Originally published June 2006
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