I have a confession: I am terrified of spray tans. It stems from back in my college days when I used to sit next to a fellow student called Abby (names have been changed) during Anthro 101, who despite her friendly demeanor, would come to class smelling strongly of cat pee every few weeks. I never said anything to her. I didn’t know her well (and because, well…manners). The wrinkled noses of my classmates confirmed it wasn’t just me.
About halfway through the semester, I discovered her secret. Two words: orange hands. Abby was getting spray tans every so often and that’s where the smell was coming from! I gave her a quizzical nudge that day, to which she alarmingly asked, “Do you think it’s noticeable?!” Needless to say, it traumatized me. The smell was bad. Her orange hands were obvious. I have been terrified to try a spray tan ever since. When my editor asks me to test out Oztan, a natural & toxin-free spray tan made with organic ingredients at The Skin Gym, I am nervous. But I comfort myself with the knowledge that it’s been over a decade since college and surely spray tanning has come along way?!
High above Lan Kwai Fong on Arbuthnot Road, I walk into The Skin Gym, an immaculately clean skincare clinic known for offering a range of eco-friendly skin and beauty treatments. Josie Coro, the head spray tan technician, introduces herself and takes me to a private room. She gives me the rundown of Oztan, Australia’s leading developer of natural tanning products. The tanning products are made of plant sugars, a blend of native Australian nutrient-rich botanicals, pure essential oils (that includes Kakadu Plum, an Aussie indigenous fruit that boasts very high Vitamin C levels and a bevvy of anti-aging properties), and organic macadamia oil. Oztan products are also also free of chemicals, parabens, alcohol and synthetic fragrance. So far, so safe.
You can opt for one of two tan shades: a light ‘Golden Honey’, which emits a “soft, golden glow and a just right sun-kissed hue making it perfect for every bride,” or the more medium ‘Bondi Bronze’, for a naturally olive tone that will fade slowly and evenly. The latter is the more popular of the two. Josie senses my apprehension immediately and suggests the ‘Golden Honey’, rightly so. Next, she gives me the option to either don a disposable thong (with a faux tan line warning) or go stark naked for a nice, even tan (which is what I choose to do). As she steps outside, I wipe the makeup off my face with their complimentary make-up remover, get undressed, put on a hairnet, and it’s showtime. Josie comes back in, rubs Oztan’s Kakadu Plum Body Moisturizer on my cuticles and soles to prevent the solution from seeping onto my nail beds and starts applying the formula, beginning with my back, dispersed the product through a spray gun. The first thing to note: the fine mist that comes out is very, very cold. Working her way down my back, I follow her instructions on how to stand (left arm up, other arm up, bend my knees to get all the creases) and before I know it, it’s finished! She wipes down the palms of my hands and nails and dries me down with an air hose. I’m advised to stay dry (no showering or sweaty workouts for at least two to four hours), moisturize daily, and avoid soaking in a bath or pool to maintain the tan, which can last anywhere between five to ten days.
When Josie steps out of the room so I can change, I inhale deeply. Happily, there’s no cat pee scent. In fact, it doesn’t really smell like anything at all. I give myself a once-over. I inspect my hands, front and back: no Oompa Loompa palms here. My skin is glowing, radiant even. I’m pretty impressed. I look as if I’ve been laying out at the beach, only without all the cons associated with too much sun exposure. There’s something about a summery glow that instantly gives me a boost of confidence and I go about the rest of my day with a extra spring in my step. At the end of the night, I opt to take a light shower, and a little of the solution rinses off but it’s not much. I moisturize all over and head to bed feeling more than chuffed. I did it! I finally got a spray tan, and it wasn’t scary! While I won’t be upgrading to ‘Bondi Bronze’ anytime soon, I have a feeling Golden Honey and I are going to be lifelong friends.
Images courtesy of Pexels and Oztan.