How To Tan Like A Cheerleader
Or just stand in a Mystic Tan booth and be spritzed like one.
Thursday, May 23, 2002
Photo by Randy Tunnell; Sun Shower: That Mystic Tan "technology" may be on the cutting edge and all, but our reporter sees no reason to let it get in her hair. Note that her palms are still pale, thanks to a cream applied to keep the look natural.
Sahara Sun''s Gina Giammanco gets it once a week. Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader Tanea Brooks gets it twice as often. I, on the other hand, was a virgin till last Wednesday. And my first time in the Mystic Tan Booth at Sahara Sun salon was a little scary.
Mystic Tan, for those who wish to be associated only with the very best people, is the official tan of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. It''s a 45-second-long sunless tanning procedure in the privacy of a tanning booth. Its Web site (www.mystictan.com) promises a sun-kissed glow without the pesky byproducts of UV rays-sags, wrinkles, melanoma, death-and without the smell, mess, streaks or orange skin from self-applied tanning creams.
We here on the Monterey Peninsula are among the lucky few cities that have access to Mystic Tan. The next closest is Sacramento. So in the name of research and the pursuit of truth, I head to Monterey''s Sahara Sun to try it out.
"We''re slammed, we''re so busy with [Mystic Tan] customers," says Giammanco, who owns Sahara Sun. I''m relieved to see that she''s neither orange nor smelly. She says she''s in the Mystic Tan booth about once a week, and her skin looks great.
She tells me that Mystic Tan solution has three components: bronzer; dihydroxyacetone (DHA), the sugary principal ingredient in most self tanning products; and aloe vera to carry the DHA deeper into the skin. Yes, deeper!
I''m skeptical when she says that, unlike self-tanners, this solution won''t streak or look blotchy.
"It''s the process-the MagneTan technology," she says. (This is good-I just love technology.) "When you''re in the booth, your body acts as a magnet. The solution goes on perfectly even. You don''t have to figure out where you missed a spot."
Giammanco pops in a video describing the breakthrough in sunless tanning technology. (I just love breakthroughs.)
In the clip, a well-endowed blond in a pink bikini steps into the Mystic Tan booth, which looks like an elongated shower stall. She presses a green button which activates the MagneTan nozzles, and the solution mists over her body. Forty-five seconds later, she and her perfect, bronze body step out of the booth and towel off. She''s done, like a toasty loaf of bread, like a perfectly browned Snickerdoodle, like a broiled chicken breast.
Now it''s my turn.
I strip down, don a shower cap (why put dihydroxyacetone in my hair?) and step into a dark booth with a green, glowing button. I push the button and step back-spread eagled, arms slightly lifted, fingers separated-onto a metal oval on the floor. I take a deep breath and close my eyes. The blast of air and mist makes me jump. It''s loud, like an airhose at a carwash, and it''s cold. The nozzles move up and down, up and down, misting for about 15 seconds, and I forget to breathe when the nozzles are shooting Mystic Tan solution at my feet. Instead I inhale some smelly tanning solution when the nozzles are pointing at my face.
Then the spraying stops and I turn around, face backwards and wait for it to begin again. It''s kind of like waiting for the blast of air at the eye doctor''s office.
Less than a minute later it''s over. I dress and go back to work, where my co-workers laugh at me and tell me I''ll soon be orange. The color begins to darken two or three hours after tanning, and is supposed to reach its peak golden brown within 24 hours.
Day Two, I wake up looking like I just stepped off the plane from Bermuda.
"It looks even," says one once-skeptical co-worker.
"You are tan, and it looks real," says another naysayer.
But don''t take their word for it. Listen to the experts.
"My skin is fair and was rarely getting a good tan," says Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader Bobbi Claar in the Mystic Tan brochure. "Mystic Tan is the first natural-looking tan I have gotten." The endorsements continue.
"I''ve tried all the tanning creams-it takes forever," complains cheerleader Tanea Brooks. "With only two short tanning sessions a week, Mystic Tan gives me the tan I want."
"It''s completely safe," says Dr. Christopher Dannaker. "DHA is a sugar, and once it joins with the skin proteins, it begins to darken gradually. It lasts until the dead layer of skin is exfoliated."
He adds that''s he not getting money from Mystic Tan-he just wants to save your skin.
"The best tan is no tan at all, and this device does not tan in the traditional sense," Dannaker says. "It''s basically like spray painting a car. You''re spray painting your body, but you''re doing it with an entirely safe, invisible sugar."
So then. Cheerleader-tested and dermatologist approved. And it''s a whole lot quicker than trying to get a real tan in the Monterey summer sun.