Welcome to my latest beauty-related gameshow-esque endeavor, The Price of Vanity. In this feature, I’ll pick a beauty treatment and break down in what ways said treatment most negatively impacts your life (Time? Money? Sanity? Health? Um, ‘other’?), and you can decide for yourself if it’s really worth it.
First up: Tanning and Sunless Tanners
We all know what this involves: basting your ass up (with things like tanning lotion, baby oil and BUTTER) like a goddamned cornish hen to go roast in Mother Nature’s oven until the sun either goes down, or the smell of cracklins eminating from your dermis becomes too strong to bear and you have to go inside and microwave yourself some pork rinds. Whichever comes first, really.
Getting that perfect bacon-y glow can take hours, so the time factor on this is really high. As far as money goes, well, how much does butter go for these days? Yeah. It’s safe to say that the real price of tanning is health. I’m not gonna put up UV photos of people’s sun-fucked faces, canyon-sized wrinkles, or malignent growths that oddly resemble Whistler’s Mother. It’s my damn blog, and I’m gonna keep it pretty. For the love. If you need to see that shit, just Google ‘Melanoma’ and see if you ever feel like eating sun-dried tomatoes ever again.
Verdict: If you like hospitals, exasperated doctors, and skin-grafts, this vain extreme is totally worth it!
Tanning in a Salon:
Tanning salons always make me think of American Psycho, and that’s never good. The basic premise is: you walk in the door, give a start at the intense humidity and strong smell of bleach and tropical fruit-masked B.O. in the place (seriously, those places always smell like they’ve just cleaned up after a murder, and that there was a struggle before the Chiquita Banana woman went down), you buy a tanning package from Britney McFutureinporn, and then you lie down in an oddly-shaped acrylic clamshell coffin and mutter Arnold’s dialog from Total Recall to yourself. “Get you-ah ass to MAAAHS!” Seriously, the VR Headtrip to Mars machine from Total Recall looks about as comfortable as a tanning bed. And you stay in your UV closet until the timer that you trusted Perky McBoobjobforgraduation to set shuts off. Then you itch in places you never knew you could for days and days and eventually wind up with a skin infection from an improperly cleaned bed. Anyone hungry?
Tanning in a salon costs a lot of money. It’s like you’re paying for your skin cancer upfront, and then paying for it again once you have to get your cells scraped & analyzed. Tanning in a salon can also be time-consuming, but not nearly as much as lying in the sun. The cost, this time, is both money and health.
Verdict: If being surrounded by gum-popping, squealy-voiced high school girls who could already pass for middle-aged (if only their strawlike manes of chlorine blonde were cropped shorter) is your thing , then the tanning salon is the place for you!
Airbrush Tan/Spray Booth:
This is where you go back to the coconut crime scene salon, strip down to your skivvies, and let Candi McSpringbreak furrow her brow at your pasty legs and airbrish your spider veins away with an expensive gun. OR, the cheaper option is to put yourself through a human car wash of sorts and let a computer-controlled booth give you the George Hamilton Special.
Verdict: Bronzing this way on a regular basis will part you from your cash faster than a Roman pickpocket.
DIY Sunless Tanning:
The element of choice here is more of a hindrance than a help. You could got through about a hundred types of sunless tanner before finding one that works for you, and the variables are insane: What shade? What brand? Instant, gradual, “natural” or bronzer? Lotion, cream, spray, foam, or towlettes? So, the price that first comes to mind is sanity. But lemme help break it down: Pick the shade that’s not too different from your natural skintone. Brands: Neutrogena = no, always. Banana Boat = yes. Coppertone = iffy. L’Oreal = extreeeeemely hit-or-miss. Jergens = I don’t know. I’ve heard good things. But the winner = Ban de Soleil. I don’t know why, but I’ve gotten the best result from this brand. As for the mode d’employ- foam. Always foam, spray sometimes works ok, but foam is the best. Lotions have suuuuuucked every time I’ve tried them. Bronzers are poopy b/c they streak. I usually buy a dual-action spray tan & brionzer b/c it “shows where it goes”. Also, Dove used to make a soap called Energy Glow that had self-tanner in it, and that always worked well. The color is seriously subtle, but it’s good to use in the winter and between tanner applications.
But wait! There’s more! Here’s how to actually use the shit:
Shower and exfoliate– I scrub myself with leftover coffee grounds in the shower. It’s messy as hell, but kind of “green” in that it’s recycling and I don’t have to go out & buy anything to use as an exfoliator. I also use Olay in-shower body lotion, just so I can skip the next step.
Moisturize and let dry– If I wasn’t already doing this in the shower, I’d use Neutrogena body oil b/c the sesame oil absorbs really fast into the skin.
Apply and let dry– I apply the tanner with Platex yellow rubber house gloves on b/c no matter what they say, that shit WILL stain your palms and nails. Use a small amount of product on small areas and work slowly, rubbing each pump of foam in until it won’t spread anymore. Let yourself air dry all nekkid. This will take at least 20 minutes. Do not wear white on days you self-tan. And do not get wet for at least 3 hours, or you’ll streak. If your self tanner has a bronzer in it, it will streak anyway. To avoid this, let the tanner develop for 4 hours, then get back in the shower and rinse the yucky bronzer off. Your tan will look worlds better.
Doesn’t all this fucking work sound like FUN? It’s pretty clear that the real cost here is time.
Verdict: There are tons of better things you could be doing with your time, but if pasty pains you that much, it beats the hell out of cancer. Or looking like this:
Tanorexia rules! Leave me comments!