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Patricia Dates O'Brien
Ask Trish

How to get a good looking Dancesport tan safely

by Patricia Dates O'Brien
August 1, 2002

Ask Trish - August 2002

How to get a good looking Dancesport tan safely

Dear Trish—

For once and for all, Trish——HOW do I achieve that super-dark, super-glowing, all-over perfect tan for my Latin Dancesport competitions??? I have no problem with tanning the old-fashioned way, except that my dance partner is aghast that I would actually submit my body to the poisonous rays of the sun. Pro-Tan is gross and comes off on my costumes. Actually, it isn't THAT bad, except for days later, when it starts to flake off in uneven patches, leaving dark areas around my neck, elbows, and toes. How's a single girl supposed to get a date looking like I have some rare skin condition? (By the way, Trish, a dating or match-making column would be way cool…just throwin' it out there…)

Anyway, please tell me about some miracle tanning product that I can run right out and buy tomorrow, ok?


Dear Casper—

Just tell the guy you're dating that you have some kind of rare incurable disease, like Winona Ryder said to Richard Gere in that sappy-ass movie I can't remember the name of. It worked for her…but she actually had to die at the end of the flick, so maybe it's not a good idea after all (sorry to ruin the ending for those of you who haven't suffered, I mean, haven't seen it. Anyway it was stupid so save your money.)

But I digress. Myself, being a Greek girl, have no problem being out in the sun and catching the rays….but it is dangerous and nowadays there are many alternatives to real sun, that can still make you look tan like the real thing:

The two alternatives to the sun are tanning salons and self-tanners. Tanning salons are just as cancer-causing as being in the sun, so we're going to skip the fake-bakes and talk products!

After polling many Dancesport competitors, the self-tanners that scored the most points were by Lancome, Estee Lauder, Clarins, and St. Tropez. Lancome's Flash Bronzer for the face scored high, but I personally found it to be a bit greasy, even though it states it's oil-free.

Estee Lauder's Sunless Supertan Spray for Body sprays very evenly, even when its upside-down. The color is pretty good, too—-I remember years ago, Estee Lauder used to be a bit orangey, and smelley, but they seemed to have solved both problems nicely.

Clarins makes an oil-free gel called Radiance-Plus Self-Tanning Cream Gel, which is great if you have oily skin or are prone to breakouts. And St.Tropez's Whipped Bronze mousse scored high with those who are very fair, giving a realistic tan that wasn't fakey for their fair complexions!

Before you run to the store, however (or decide to use that Pro-Tan after all), here are some suggestions to get the most out of your tan-in-a-can:

  1. . Do it the day before you need to be tan, in case you make mistakes.
  2. . Exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate! Loofah! Scrub! Pumice!! Especially your elbows, knees, ankles, etc., etc. If you don't, the self-tanner will appear darker in those areas, and then you'll have to perfect the Winona Ryder-dying thing, and let me tell you, that was pathetic. Although she landed Richard Gere before she died, and that ain't so bad…..
  3. . But I digress.
  4. . Blend very carefully, using smooth, even strokes.
  5. . Don't forget to wash your hands after applying!
  6. . Don't take a shower, or go swimming, or work out, for at least several hours after applying. Give the product a chance to sink in.
  7. . Don't use lotion before applying, or the product won't be able to sink in!

If all of this seems overwhelming, you can always have your self-tanner professionally applied. Check in your area at local spas or health clubs for application rates and info. If you live on the NYC area, I do know of a great pro-tanner, run by Dancesport competitors, even—Fantasy Tan Soho, right in the village in NYC. Here's what they tell me:

"Our goal is to keep you looking great before, during and after the competition. Also, the Fantasy tan at Fantasy Tan Soho is not "a one size fits all" approach to tanning. We will take into account your individualized needs, your natural color, any of many variants that may affect your body's ability to react with DHA (the ingredient that causes self-tanning). We will work with you to create a specific formula that gives you the color you want, because if you're happy and feel confident about the way you look, it will reflect in your confidence on the dance floor. Pretty soon we will be providing our service at major competitions across the United States. Everyone is in safe hands at FantasyTan Soho. We promise that you will leave looking and feeling marvelous!"

You can check out their website at www.fantasytansoho.com. In the meantime, get tanning!


(This column has also been published in Dance Beat. Email any questions or comments to TrishDatesOBrien@aol.com.)

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