Wednesday, February 20, 2008

I Want To Be Tan. Is That So Wrong?

Above: All the tanning products I own, right at this moment. I could buy more, though. You never know.

Tip Of The Day: A quick run-down of all the self-tanners just waiting for you at Target. Also, a few words on Mystic Tanning – what it is and where to get it done.

Tip For Tomorrow: I had ANOTHER dream… actually it was more like a daydream. Using your noggin is FREE, and can be very rewarding. Tips on daydreaming, the cheapest form of entertainment out there.

Further Elucidation Of My Cheap Deal: As I stated in an earlier post, it’s cold out. I know, really? In Minnesota? In the winter? Go figure. Listen, smartypants, you try living in extreme temperatures for your entire life. I bet your brain would turn to mush, too.

Anyhoo, I know I can’t get warm – but at least I can get tan. With that in mind, I skibbled off to Target to check out their stock of self-tanners. And WOW. They have a few.

First of all, it seems that every brand of drug store moisturizer now makes a gradual self-tanner. Second, they all seem to fall in that $6-and-some-change price range. Third, here are the ten (TEN!) brands of tanner I found:
Jergens – they make a separate face lotion, too.
Target – they knock off of the Jergens brand. It’s only $4.19!
Vaseline – It’s the cheapest besides Target’s knock-off, just $4.84. The lighter skin formulation is on clearance for $3.38. Perhaps it’s being discontinued.
Nivea – the dark skin formula is also on clearance for $4.64. However, their lighter skin formula is full-priced at $6.64.
Dove – my favorite! It soaks in fast and is very moisturizing.
L’Oreal Paris – their Sublime Bronze line. This is more of a self-tanner than gradual tanner/moisturizer. I use this when I want to get dark (okay, dark for me) fast. They also make bronzer lotions, for instant gratification. But, they’re higher priced than the gradual tanners, usually the $8 - $9 range.
Oil of Olay – I’ve never tried this one.
Banana Boat – Never tried this, either.
Aveeno – this might be a better choice for folks with sensitive skin.
Neutrogena – they have tanners, bronzers, AND gradual tanners. One of their products, the Micro Mist, is the most expensive of the bunch at $9.39.

What do I love about self-tanners? You can tan anytime, anywhere, just slap it on and go. They are fairly inexpensive, especially if you compare the price of a bottle to the price of a plane ticket. Best of all, they do not cause skin cancer. Yay! Here’s to NOT dying to be pretty!

Now for what I hate about self-tanners: they all (ALL) smell bad. There’s no way around it – when your skin reacts to the chemical that makes you tan, it smells bad. But it beats the “I’m burning” smell of tanning beds.
They will blotch up on your skin, somewhere. I usually get blotchy feet and knees, and occasionally my tummy.
And last, they’re hard to apply all over. I can’t reach my back by myself, and since I’m single, I have no one to help me. Sob!

When I feel the urge to get an all-over tan, face and back and everything, I will (when I’m feeling splurgy) get a Mystic Tan.

Here’s how a Mystic Tan works: you step into a pod-like booth, naked, and then get sprayed, front and back, with a mist of self-tanner. The tanner dries almost instantly, so you can dress as soon as you leave the pod. Most places will provide you with a towel, so you can blot off the extra solution, and “barrier cream,” to apply to your palms so they don’t get orange-colored. Which is not cute.

I’ve Mystic Tanned at Italian Tan in Blaine, for less than $15 a session. But you have to buy a package to get the price that low. Usually it’s above the blessed $20 if you just go once.

There’s also Darque Tan, with 8 metro locations; Lakeside Tanning with 3 locations; and Golden Tan Salons with 6 locations (the Eden Prairie location doesn’t have Mystic yet) for your tanning convenience.

One thing I learned the hard way – don’t assume that every tanning salon has Mystic Tan. They don’t. Call first, and keep calling until you find one with the sacred pod. And I don’t care WHAT Rachel Zoe says, avoid tanning in the actual sun. She tans every day, and just look at her skin. Ugh.


Tundrababe said...

I have the Jergens kind, this post reminds me I should actually use it. I didn't know they had a separate one for the face - why should it matter? Is it a way to sell more lotion?

I'm a little afraid of orange sheets.

LaRue said...

I don't think I will ever be first to comment again. Sigh.

My problem with self-tanners is that they ALWAYS make people with red hair look orange. Seriously orange. I believe my favorite Redhaired make-up (you should blog about this) place, has a redheaded alternative. So instead of paying the money at Target and Mystic Tan, it behooves those of us with recessive genes to buy our product online AND pay the shipping.

And Rachel Zoe is a scary, scary little woman.

kathy said...

I have found the perfect self tanner that does give you that olive tone we so desire eithout the smell, and it's called XEN-TAN. I AM A CRONIC QVC, HSN, ect. shopper, just ask my family. but thats another issue, so I bought a kit from them and love the why it looks and smell. Now I only hope that since I shared this it won't be out of stock. I understand that it is what a lot of the spray tanners use. GOOD LUCK, KATHY

ofagirl said...

I did the Mystic Tan for a wedding and it was a horrible experience. I had done the spray tan before with ok luck. But this time it was awful. It came out in streams, not a light mist. The product was literally dripping down me. I pretty much started crying and yelled for the girl working to help me out. She basically just shrugged and said "I've never seen that happen before." I can't remember the name of the place, but it was in Bloomington off of South France Ave. Anyway it took me a long time to rub it all in with some of the barrier cream. Then when i got home I had to rub it in some more with some lotion.

Anonymous said...

what about staining clothes?!?? i tried a couple products before and that is what happened.... especially a white bra etc.

Norwego said...

Ooo, I want to try a Mystic Tan so bad!

Hey Cheap Chick, any ideas for cheap or free massages? I know you've talked about the Aveda Institute before, but I don't care for that cattle call. There are tons of massage therapy programs offered at various schools in the Twin Cities. Could you research this for us? I am cheap. And I need a massage. (Some schools I know of: Everest Institute, Globe College)

Anonymous said...

Just to set the record straight, I much prefer pale skin.

Now I'm all for variety and there's nothing wrong with a good tan, but its certainly not a prerequsite for beauty.

Don't worry about it, just be the color you are.

El jefe

Anonymous said...

I use this stuff in the summer. I have definitely not found a perfect self tanner, but there are amazing tips at where she gives a whole list of "how to do it well" so that you don't end up streaky or spotchy. It's a hard gig to maintain once you start.

Anonymous said...

here are a couple more self tanners that I use, off and on. "Comodynes",found on, and "Tan Towel" found on Both are a towelette containing a self-tanner, that has a single use. I suggest wearing disposable gloves, or wash the palms of your hands when done. These are great for traveling.