I (Finally) Tried It: Spray Tanning

I was naked within minutes of meeting Stacey Fike. That’s how most girls do it, she told me. In the buff.

We’re talking about spray tanning here, folks, the airbrushed method of faux glow that began to surge in popularity in the ‘80s, yet somehow still took me 25 years to try. By contrast, I started fake-and-baking via tanning bed in high school, encouraged by girlfriends similarly seeking that summertime bronze in the bleak Vermont midwinter.

I tan easily, and like most other women since 1923–when Coco Chanel reportedly (accidentally) popularized the trend after too much fun in the sun on a Cannes yacht–firmly believe I look my best when I’m a shade or two darker. For a while, I'd achieve that by any means necessary. Growing up in an arctic tundra, I was forced to take that into my own hands, frequenting a place called Body Le Bronze where my only human interaction was answering the inquiry, “lay down or stand up?” (I prefer to lay down and have occasionally been known to fall asleep in the warm, relaxing bed, only to awaken when the timer goes off and the entire room, once filled with blinding light, powers down.) 

I’ll be the first to admit I was reckless in my pursuit of those precious (but deadly) rays, reaching peak tanorexia status my freshman year of college where, for a time, I imagine it’d be hard to pin down my ethnicity. More than one friend of mine has endured hole-punch-style removal of a freaky looking mole, a fate I’ve thankfully–shockingly–been spared from thus far. Still, as I grew older and wiser, I learned to cool it (literally) with the ultraviolet. Then, I moved to Texas. 

It’s sunny and warm here a lot more often­–and earlier–than it is in Vermont, where my Victorian-chic skin would still long be safely concealed beneath cable knit. Suddenly, my alabaster legs and arms were on full display for the world, and they were damn pale. Enter Stacey Fike, who’s now seen more of me than anyone I’ve met on the job, owner of GloGirl Spray Tanning. For more than a decade, GloGirl has expertly sprayed Houstonians to that coveted, carcinogen-free level of tawny.

Spray tanning is by no means a new or untested practice, yet I was still left with questions derived from a mix of hand-me-down horror stories and that one episode of Friends: Would I end up orange, the second coming of Donald Trump? Would I mess it up by crying or sweating or spilling something, my clumsiness suddenly exposed to the world in the form of an undisguisable streak? Would I miss that sweet, lingering scent unique to a tanning bed or a long, restful day at the beach?