Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Smell of Self Tanner Tells Me It Is Hot (and I am not).

It has been warm here for quite a while, mostly due to the fact that winter decided, like so many single prom attendees, to just say "Fuck all" and not even show up this year.  But it hasn't been full-fledged "GIMME MY POPSICLE AND A CHURCH FAN BECAUSE I AM SWEATING LIKE A WHORE IN CHURCH" until this week really.  We are finally at that stage where I need to put my boots up (even though I might be ordering another pair today!  eek!), and yes, apply something of color to my nasty, gross, horrible legs.

You guys, I know as a feminist that I am supposed to love and respect my body.  It is healthy, it gave my children life and sustenance, it allows me to do things like run and work and drive to Target to buy totally cute shoes and babykinis.  But y'all, there will never be a feminist day when I will feel something other than downright contempt for my legs.  I'm sorry--I'll hand over my copy of Our Bodies, Ourselves and the picture I had taken when I met Gloria Steinem my freshman year in college now.  Even when I was running semi-regularly and got totally proud of their shape, I couldn't help sneaking a glance at them every once in a while and thinking, "For God's sake, I could have watched a whole freaking ton of Lifetime movies in the time it took me to whittle you.  GO TO HELL."  Because I think we can all agree that Hell has never spawned a worst liar than those people who tell you that running is "fun" and should be used for anything other than a plot device in a horror flick.

So, yeah, my legs.  And you guys, my legs were looking especially rough this year.  White, pasty, dimply, thick.   And you know, I could start a running regimen again, and yes, I need to do that despite everything else.  But my life right don't even want to know.  Apparently when you add "Prepare to move across the state" to the already insane list of demands on my time, things get to a really interesting fever pitch.  And by "interesting", I mean, "Pass the vodka--we're in for a bumpy ride."  Let's just say running right now is not in the cards.

And that's where self tanner comes in.  Self tanner is what happened when some higher being looked down at all us fat, pasty Americans and said "Fuck this shit.  Just because they want to be gross doesn't mean I have to look at that filth."  It is the quick and relatively easy way to look thinner, more healthy.  If you didn't know that because you've actually been doing something awesome with your life, I'll stop while you do a happy dance and sing the words you know from "Party Rock Anthem."


Anyway, I have a long, relatively torrid relationship with self-tanner because I've hated my legs forever, probably even while I was in the womb.  I remember when self-tanner came out, y'all.  At first, I just glimpsed an ad in a fashion magazine, and it was kind of like a mythical, wonderful hobbit.  Did it exist?  Was it even possible?  I begged my mother to take me to the Lancome counter to buy some, and after some particularly dehumanizing whining, she relented.  We bought it in mousse form.  And after a pretty steep learning curve, we learned to put it on with rubber gloves, to exfoliate like the dickens and to put it on with minimal streaks.  Yeah, it was a little orange back in the day.  But anything is better than super pale, amirite?  Sure I am.

Since that time (and that was when I was in 7th grade), I have worn some kind of self tanner every year.  I've used Clarins, Lancome, L'oreal, Philosophy, Coppertone, Jergens (oh, the year gradual tanners came out--when tubes of the stuff could be used as currency!) and others that I can't think of right now.  I don't have any real substantial complaints about any of them really--some have been better than others, but the end result is always pretty much the same.  The unifying factor?  The smell.  All of them have a particular aroma.  And it smells unlike anything else.  Faintly chemical, maybe a bit burnt?  At one point in my life, I said I thought it smelled a bit like urine.  I don't know.  I don't like the smell at all, in fact, I loathe it almost as much as I like having vaguely tan legs.  But I put up with it because HAVE YOU SEEN MY LEGS!  GAH!

This year, I decided to spin the wheel of fate and picked up a tube of Nivea Sun-Kissed Radiant Skin in Fair to Medium.  I did this because of seeing consistent good review on the internet, which is pretty much how/why I buy anything anymore (sometimes I long for the days of just going to a store and purchasing something because it just appealed to me and not because I had read good things--is anyone else like this?). This is a gradual tanner, the sort I have been more drawn to for the last few years, mostly because I'm a huge klutz and with full-blown tanners, I always end up with one very, very dark ankle or some such.  These are much more fool proof.

I put it on last night for the first time and at first spread, yeah, I'm very pleased.  This is a good body lotion apart from being a self-tanner.  I could tell as I was rubbing it in that it was very moisturizing, it rubbed in quick and wasn't greasy or tacky.  I especially liked that aspect because I don't want to get tanner everywhere, so yes, I will lay naked on my bed after applying tanner, just waiting on it to absorb enough to where I won't turn my robe orange by putting it on.  This causes a great deal of parental angst because no one wants to have to explain to Child Services that they couldn't keep their child from climbing into the dryer because they were too busy tanning.  Better absorption is better mothering, which sounds vaguely like a propaganda poster for a utopian, tan society.

The best part?  The smell.  At least at first.  Matt and I both agreed  that it smelled like artificial peach flavoring.  But not in a cloying or heavy way.  It is pretty faint and just merely pleasant.  I was thinking HOLY GRAIL at that point.  However, the morning after, my eyes fluttered open on a new, glorious day, and well, the first thing I noticed was that I smelled self tanner.  DRATS. I've noticed that it is not as strong as with other tanners, so that at least is a good thing, but if you apply it in pretty quick succession (once in the night and then again in the morning, for example), you're going to get a bit of a scent.  I've discovered that one way to combat this is with coconut body butter (you could probably use other scents of body butter, but I have used coconut nearly everyday for my entire adult life, so well, I'm biased).  Just a bit is enough to combat the chemically smell of this tanner, which again, is not as thick as others (raise your hand if you are thinking of smells actually fighting a literal war against each other!  Cute!).  Don't think I am advocating covering this scent up with other scents, turning yourself into a veritable chemical weapon.  All I'm saying is that a bit of a natural scent can mask a bit of a chemical one.

Anybody else love the tanner?  Anybody have any tips?  Feel free to share.  Knowledge is power, ya'll.


  1. WOW. There IS one thing in this world we don't agree on - tanning, fake or not so fake. My one regret in life is that my skin is pale, but not Dita Von Teese pale. I actively try not to get any "color" in my skin.


    Just kidding. Obviously.

    If I had skin like Dita, fuck if I would do anything about it. Her skin is amazing, as are the complexions of lots of pale movie stars. Me? My skin tone is kind of varied all over (not pretty), and have I mentioned the dimples in my legs? Yeah. It is probably all mental but self-tanner gives me some bit of solace that my legs won't scare someone. It is not even so much the tan color as it is the thought of it covering me up in a way that won't make me suffer a heat stroke during a VA summer.

    That said, I wish I could be like you and wear my paleness proudly. You are my pale hero.

  3. Yeah, I'm pale and proud, too. I look good tan, but I would only do self-tanner, and I'm too lazy to put on lotion in general, let alone self-tanner. So I have no help or tips to offer, sadly. ;-)