It's amazing what an all-over tan can do for revitalising your chances with the opposite sex. You may be orange, but some women love it.
And while getting a fake tan used to be looked upon with disdain by blokes, these days it's seen as a very respectable way to add an additional sheen to your exterior veneer.
The fake tan is also a lot better than it used to be, and the choices for getting yourself the right shade are numerous. Gone are the days when all you could do was go on a slow cook in the nearest sunbed centre for as long as was healthily viable.
Nowadays you can pretty much pick your shade and, if you get it right, the results can be truly astounding.
Colour of money
The tanning business is a big deal these days. A whole industry has grown out of something that started as almost a backroom operation.
Much has been written in the media about cases of sunbed customers spending too long topping up their tan. Fake tanning is an alternative to the sunbed and is seen by many as the safer alternative to frying yourself under UV lights on a regular basis. After all, those odd little glasses you have to wear aren't just for decoration, are they?
What's the appeal?
So what exactly is it that makes women go weak at the knees when they first clap eyes on a bloke who's the colour of a ripe satsuma?
Alexa, a beauty therapist, has her own take on it: "Well, put two nude guys next too each other and one is a pasty white colour while the other looks bronzed and healthy. If you were a woman, which one would you go to bed with?"
Much of the fake tan business revolves around the use of lotions and spray-on liquids that contain dihydroxyacetone or DHA, which when applied reacts with amino acids in the dead layer of skin on the areas that you apply it to. The product range is extensive these days and can be administered in the shape of gels, rub-on lotions, sprays and even wipes.
However, for a real treat it's not a bad idea to head for the local health spa, gym or a salon that specialises in spray tans. Going to one of these places appears little different to taking your car in for a respray. Customers either enter a booth and get the orange stuff misted onto their body, or a 'technician' will spray it on by hand using an airbrush, with all the finesse of a skilled artist.
But is it art?
Marco is a spray tan convert who is bubbling over with enthusiasm as he leaves a salon that specialises in administering the orange overcoat loved by so many.
"Why not," he says, peering out through a mop of bleached blonde hair. "I started off spending hours on sunbeds, but got worried after all the stuff in the press. But I want to have a tan all year round, so I began trying the various lotions and potions on the market, but then developed issues with dermatitis."
Since moving on to spray tanning, Marco reckons he has suffered no health-related problems and, give or take some heavily stained white shirts, he thinks the airbrush option is the way to go.
It's certainly had an impact on his sex life as he winks and says, "I've never looked back. For some reason, having an orangey hue attracts women to you like nobody's business."
A nice earner
Whatever the reasons for tanning having the effect that it does, there's no mistaking the financial attraction for people getting into the spray tanning business. How much can you make if you're any good and you've got a regular clientele?
Well, it seems that it can be quite lucrative. Danni, a 'tanning technician' we caught on her break, reckoned it would buy her a new exotic car before Christmas, although she proved decidedly cagey on exact figures.
Spray tanning is a competitive marketplace though, which is always good for us, the consumer.
Shop around and some places will offer two-for-one deals and the like. Bear in mind that it won't last forever, so you'll need to go back on a fairly regular basis too.
Giving it a go
If you fancy going down the spray tan route then there are plenty of places that now offer this service. If you've got sensitive skin or have concerns about the process then its a good idea to plump for a water-based option. You'd be well advised to get an informed opinion from the technician too as regards the actual shade you want to be.
The great thing about the spray tan is that it can offer a consistent overall finish, which will be the same if you've got olive skin already or if you've got a really fair complexion. And, better still, you'll get a much more decent all-over tan than if you're fair-skinned and sit on a sun-drenched beach for a fortnight. There'll be no redness, just a healthy looking bronzed glow from top to toe.
So, in reality, the best thing with spray tanning is that it actually leaves you with a pretty realistic looking tan and not the garish orange that many expect to see when they open their eyes after a session. While some women still love to get as close to the colour of a tangerine as possible, most men who go under the 'brush tend to prefer their tan shade a little more natural looking.
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