When I first arrived in London, one sunny day in April 2005, three things struck me as far more bizarre than the usual craziness you’d expect from moving countries:
- Left-hand-traffic and its potential to provide for my untimely death.
- The diminutive effect on £550 if put towards a flatshare in Notting Hill.
- Streaky shades of orange on bare legs, arms and hands of barely dressed girls.
Back then on the continent, you didn’t do fake tan (or boob tubes, but that’s a different kind of story). Fake tan was reserved for people who were stuck in some kind of weird, 1990s perma-tanned ballroom dance fantasy. The kind of people who weren’t smart enough to be proper geeks, but yet not cool enough to hang out with the popular kids. People like Marion and Marco. Marion, my best friend’s eldest sister, and Marco, Marion’s extensively spectacled fiancé, were the epitome of uncool. That might have been down to the fact that as 14 year-old teenagers, my friend and I snubbed at everything her seven years older sister touched – but it might as well have been because M&M really were the uncoolest couple on earth. Ballroom dancing in the age of Nirvana was just so corny; and the bright orange permatan that came with it didn’t only stain their clothes. Nope, with every exaggerated hip swing and every gum-flashing, etched-on smile, M&M’s rosy dream of ever being cool shimmied a little bit further towards a deeper shade of auburn.
Hence, fake tan for me always came with a whiff of dusty, small town gymnasiums and ill-fitting sequin costumes. Don’t even get me started on the little odour-cloud of stale omelette M&M trailed behind them.
But as they say, the times they are a changing, and so are the products that we use to tint ourselves a happier shade of beige. Rumour has it that the new generation of self-tans gives you a natural, healthy glow and that the dreaded fake tan smell has been reduced by a minimum of 70%.
So not surprisingly, tan is the fastest growing segment in the beauty industry. And gazing at my very own evenly caramel-coloured legs, I think the fake brigade is likely to have won yet another customer. Apart from a few, rather patchy try-at-home disasters and a one-off salon experience (which resulted in a gorgeous glow but was only achieved by spending 12 hours looking like someone had thrown half a ton of mud at me), I so far had been living fake-tan free. The image of M&M’s carroty gambol just sat too deep.
Nevertheless, recently invited to a St Tropez’s blogger event, I signed up for a free spray tan. I don’t know where this sudden courage (madness?) came from. Only three days to go to the year’s biggest event in the Mummy Bloggersphere, and I found myself standing in a carwash-resembling spray booth, wearing nothing but a black thong and a pair of stick-on soles. I know, what was I thinking?!
Luckily though, it all turned out to be more than just fine. The colour developed into an even, soft caramel-brown with a hint of bronze. I’d say this comes close to the long-weekend-Cote-d’Azur-tan. Despite having cared for an extremely cranky 2 year-old with flue during the past week and feeling adequately knackered, I actually look rested. Result!
I don’t think I am going to become a hardcore tanorexic, but I will definitely experiment with the products in the goodie bag*. And I might even book myself in for a spray tan every now and then.
*the goodie bag is enormous. Watch this space for a give-away!