Living in the Midwest, I usually try to embrace my paleness. However, around April I have cultivated such a pasty glow, I literally become reflective in the daylight. With all of the warnings of the skin damage and premature aging, baking in a tanning bed is beginning to be a taboo in society. Yet, the desire for a Giselle-like bronze goddess look is stronger than ever. Add to that my personal tanning philosophy “tan fat is prettier than pale fat” and I was forced to investigate UVA/UVB-free tanning.
Since a professionally done airbrush tan is not available where I live, I decided to try out this fancy thing called Mystic Tan.
Mystic Tan works kind of like a car wash. You step into the booth, and the sprayer sprays you with Mystic Tan solution. You can choose level one, two, or three; which correspond not to the level of DHA (the chemical that develops the tan color) but to the amount of spray that you are hosed with. Level one seemed to little, and level three sounded two much. Level two sounded “baby bear” (just right). The Mystic Tan solution contains DHA as well as a bronzer. This means that you immediately have a little bit of color after the session, and the DHA deepens the color in a few hours.
Mystic Tan is available in most traditional tanning salons, and the booth is inside a regular tanning room. The night before my session I shaved and exfoliated. This helps cut down on the chances of unevenness. I also made sure I coated my hands, feet, ankles, elbows, and knees with a thin layer of Vaseline before going to bed. This is in addition to the layer of lotion I reapplied the next morning just before I went for my Mystic Tan.
I was also provided a hairnet, disposable booties, nose plugs, and goggles. I opted not to wear the goggles because I didn’t want a reverse raccoon look. I also went into the booth au natural. You can wear a swimsuit if you like, but I wasn’t going to pay for tan lines!
I was told that the Mystic machine would spray for about 10 seconds, stop, and then another 10 seconds. During the brief intermission you are supposed to turn around (insert Friends episode reference here). I faced away from the nozzles first, so I wasn’t startled by the loud noise and rush of cold solution. This was a good idea. I was able to regulate my breathing before I turned around to avoid inhaling excess amounts of Mystic Tan. As soon as the machine shut off I gingerly hopped out of the booth and immediately began dabbing myself off with a towel. You must do this in order to stop any drip marks. I looked in the mirror and noticed I was significantly more bronzed than before.
Once I got home, I made sure to wash my hands and feet. These two areas have a reputation for turning orange with self tanners (Mystic Tan or otherwise). A few hours later I was quite impressed. While not the same natural color you’d get from the real sun, it was pretty close. I was no longer pasty pale; I now looked sun-kissed.
Mystic Tan lasts about three days, and starts to fade as your natural skin cells shed. You have to exfoliate after a few days because it starts to emphasize any unevenness. I purchased 10 Mystic Tan sessions for $49.99. You can do a single session for anywhere from $10-$25.