I think I sort of forgot about spray tans.
For me, the very words “spray tan” conjure up images from the late nineties and early 2000s… a bright, Technicolor orange face and body; sticky, brown-stained towels and sheets; an opened suitcase packed with bikinis and bandage dresses destined for Vegas. Don’t forget the darker orange “drip marks” down the back of your legs, the tell-tale muddy-looking hands and feet, and that ever-lingering, sickeningly sweet (likely toxic?) smell.
Sure, it was better than being pale, but did we really think we looked good? Apparently, because I remember spending lots of cash standing in those one-size-fits-all tanning booths, timing my turn for the most even tan possible (God forbid you forgot to turn around!) Good times, good times.
So yeah… I haven’t gotten a spray tan in years.
Enter, Elizabeth Collado from Coronado Glow. She’s much more than a local small business owner and tan expert. She’s really a cross between a mixologist, color specialist and a scientist. She’ll tell you more than you’ll ever need to know about what goes into making a good tan, and after a few minutes, you’re convinced that she takes her work VERY seriously. She’s not going to let you leave her tanning spa with anything but the perfect tan. There’s just no way.
I’ve been following the Coronado Glow marketing and social media feeds for a while now, so I was excited when I finally booked a tan with her.
“For me, the human body is a canvas, and what I am doing is a work of art,” says Elizabeth. “So I really feel like I’m an artist when it comes to spray tanning the body.”
When you enter her studio, it strikes you as a calming, stylish sanctuary. How could anyone leave this posh little spot looking anything less than beautiful? Well…they don’t!
“I’m a very meticulous, picky person, so whatever service I give a client is what I would want done for me,” says Elizabeth. “When you come to me, it’s a spa-like service…you don’t hop in and out of a box. This is your skin we’re talking about, and you want to know the person who is spraying you is just as concerned for your skin as they are for their own.”
So let’s get to it. Is there any prep work that goes into getting a perfect spray tan?
“The tan begins before you walk in my door, so I make sure you have all the info you need for the best possible outcome,” says Elizabeth. “I always say, if you start right, you end right. If you prep right, you glow right.”
This means don’t exfoliate the morning of your tan and no lotions or perfumes whatsoever. Basically nothing on your body, including makeup. Wear dark, loose fitting clothes…preferably long-sleeved shirt and pants, and flip flops. (Don’t worry, Elizabeth will send you a text with the prep “Cliff Notes” the day before your tan, and all of the info is on her website at CoronadoGlow.com.)
I threw on a black bikini, some navy blue sweatpants and a dark colored shirt, flip flops, and I was good to go!
Here’s me before, sucking it in hard, and feeling a wee bit…pasty. A little Elmer’s-like, actually.
When you show up at her salon, Elizabeth doesn’t start spraying you right away. First she helps you determine the kind of tan you are going for, and what shade will work best for your skin tone. The first thing she did was look at my veins on the underside of my arm.
“This really helps me determine what undertone I’m working with, what color I’m going to spray you with, and how long I’m going to leave it on for,” says Elizabeth. “I also ask…do you burn easily? What kind of event do you have coming up? What color is your dress? All of these things are really important when it comes to a spray tan.”
And my veins…green. My veins are green. Isn’t that lovely?
“That means your undertone is yellow, so we are going to go with a deep violet color with red in it, that will give you a nice, Mediterranean tan,” explained Elizabeth. “If you had purple veins, that would mean you have more of a red undertone and we’d do a completely different color.”
So obviously, this is a very different experience than visiting an automated spray tan booth.
“I’m not knocking a spray booth, some people like it, some people prefer it,” says Elizabeth. “But I’ve never had the same results all of the time… I’ve definitely had some unevenness.”
Elizabeth says that when she sprays you, she can personally control the amount and volume of the spray that’s going on the body, and she can see exactly where it’s being sprayed. She can also adjust the volume of the spray to make up for unevenness in your skin tone.
“For example, maybe your legs need more color than your upper half. A machine is not going to know this, but I am, and I will be able to blend or add more product,” says Elizabeth. “Or maybe your skin is really red and you want to mute that. Or you want more definition or want to feel more slender in a certain area. It’s not a one-size-fits-all.”
Sounds good to me! And here I am prepped and ready for my tan, inside the fantastic tent. This is where the magic happens! (And yes, the magic happens when you’re wearing a shower cap.)
In case you were wondering, yes… you can go topless or totally nude. I’m a major prude so I opted for the bikini, then ended up going topless at the last minute.
The first thing Elizabeth did was apply a moisturizing prep spray all over, and a barrier cream to my hands and feet.
What’s a barrier cream, you ask? It’s exactly what it sounds like…a barrier to keep the tan from over-saturating the skin on different parts of the body. She applied the cream to my hands, the bottom of my feet, the sides of my feet, and even my gel nails to protect them from the color.
Next, it was time for the spray. The spray didn’t feel yucky or overwhelming, and hardly had any smell at all. It really just feels like a little bit of cool air hitting my skin.
So what exactly is in that spray solution? Elizabeth is serious about her products.
“I have my own solutions of the highest-quality ingredients,” says Elizabeth. “I use a blend of natural and organic ingredients that contain no parabens, mineral oils, artificial fragrance, glycols, sulphates, petrochemicals DEA or TEA. I use eco-certified DHA, which is the ingredient that makes your skin change color.”
But the most important thing, according to Elizabeth, is how “fresh” the solutions are that are being used in the spray tan.
“At least for me, I know my product is guaranteed fresh, which makes a big difference when it comes to the outcome of a spray,” says Elizabeth, who stores her solutions in a wine cooler. “If you go somewhere where your product has been sitting for a certain amount of time, in a room that’s not kept at temp, then it goes into this machine, that product has already begun to breakdown and almost expire.”
“It comes down to quality control,” says Elizabeth. “How long a product has been sitting for, and what is the turnover for that product being used? I’m in this industry and this is all I do. The products I use get turned over quickly, so it’s always going to be fresh, nothing is going to be sitting for too long.”
And what about that dreaded orange, fake-tan color? I wasn’t going to walk out of here looking like an Oompa Loompa, was I?
”The good thing about this solution, is you’re not going to look completely different, you will look enhanced,” says Elizabeth. “You’re not going to look all orange and brassy when you walk out.”
Next, Elizabeth brushed my skin with a natural mineral-based powder and essential oils to help blend the tan.
And that was it! I got dressed in my dark, loose-fitting clothes, and met some friends at Leroy’s for some tomato soup. I didn’t look freaky at all. and was totally cool being out in public post-tan.
Elizabeth instructed me to take a shower in four hours and wash the solution off, as she used a “quick rinse” solution. This sounded great to me, because I always felt a little weird sleeping in a tanning spray.
Here I am, feeling awesome in my dark clothes.
And here’s the before and after.I felt amazing! The tan was a beautiful Mediterranean color just as she promised, and made me feel really…pretty! I had a business dinner that night with my husband and felt super confident, and got lots of compliments thanks to my subtle, post-tan glow.
And I’m not the only one. Two of my besties got tans the same day, and they also loved their results!
Am I coming back? Heck yes! I’ve already booked a tan for myself (and my husband!) before our trip to Miami in two weeks.
Now excuse me while I head to Boneys and run some errands, WITHOUT ANY MAKEUP ON (which I never do.) Why? I’m feeling so badass and bronzed, I don’t even need makeup!
Which made me remember…this is what I used to LOVE about getting a tan! You instantly feel prettier, leaner, happier, and more confident. And that feeling is PRICELESS.
Want to get your happy glow on? Couldn’t be easier. Book online here. For first-time clients it’s only $30! And please share how you feel about your results. I’m sure you’ll be as happy as I am.