Did You Know You Can Get A Professional Airbrush Tan In Your Own Home? You Can! And I Did!

Glow Mobile set up a futuristic tent right in the middle of my apartment and gave me the customized faux tan of my dreams.
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Glow Mobile set up a futuristic tent right in the middle of my apartment and gave me the customized faux tan of my dreams.

Here’s the deal: I like to be tan. 

I feel my best when I’m all bronzed up; I feel sexiest and prettiest when I’ve been out on the lake all day. My skin looks better, my eyes brighter, my whole body feels tighter and hotter. If you want to lecture me about skin cancer and wrinkles, you can, and I will listen. It’s just a personal preference.

I used to be a pretty big tanning bed user, but I quit that habit a few years ago. I'm not gonna bash anyone for it, because that would be incredibly hypocritical. It is a specific type of wonderful to be encased in that little spaceship of warmth for 20 minutes in the dead of winter blasting Britney Spears--I totally get it.

This winter has been really, really rough on me. It’s so cold and snowy, and I’ve started feeding off the negative temperatures. I felt ugly, cold and tired all the time. I needed the boost I knew a tan would provide, but I wasn’t willing to hit the beds again.

I debated popping into my local Darque Tan for a Mystic Tan or two. I’ve used these booths many, many times in the past when I needed a fix. I loved going to bed pale and waking up all sun-kissed like a goddess. However, I could never fully master the whole “lotion your feet and hands” trick, and the tan always faded and flaked awkwardly after a few days. And even though Mystic Tan booths are the easiest thing ever, I’m still terrified I’m going to end up like Ross and forget to turn around and turn into a walking tangerine. 

Artificial tans are the result of a magical little simple carbohydrate called DHA, or dihydroxyacetone. It’s a colorless sugar that reacts with amino acids in your skin to turn paleness into tan. Germans started using it as a sunless tanner first back in the ‘20s, and Coppertone was first to capitalize on a sunless tanning product, introducing “Quick Tan” in the ‘60s. Self-tanning lotions you can purchase at the drugstore contain about 3 to 5% DHA, while your average spray tan mixture containing 5-15%. If too much DHA is applied, that’s when you turn orange. 

Gradual tanning lotions never get me dark enough and I loathe the smell. Self-tanner and I have never gotten along, and believe me, I’ve tried them all. It is impossible to self-tan yourself. I mean, how do you get your back?

But I needed a tan. My whole being was crying out for a boost.

So I called in the big guns. In the Twin Cities, that’s Glow Mobile.

The Glow Mobile tanning tent. My cat was afraid of it.

The Glow Mobile tanning tent. My cat was afraid of it.

Glow Mobile owner Melanie showed up at my apartment--that's right, they come to you--and unloaded a little spaceship-esque tent right in the middle of my living room as not to damage any walls or furniture. 

We briefly chatted about my desired color and agreed on a noticeable, but not obnoxious, shade. If you're getting a Glow tan, you know it's customized for you. One shade does not fit all. (Just remember to shave and exfoliate the night before and refrain from using any lotions or oils to prolong your color. This is very important.)

And then I got naked! Well, I wore a G-string because I think tan lines are kinda hot.

Is this too hot for Vain?

Is this too hot for Vain?

Melanie prepped my skin by spritzing me with a pH-balancing solution; she said that's an important step towards not turning orange, and it helps your color pop and last longer.

Next, she sprayed my entire body with her airbrush gun, including my face, with the mixture. It smelled lovely, like vanilla. She posed me in order to fully, evenly "tan" me, having me lift my arms and turn back and forth. After we were done, she looked me over and made sure each inch was perfect. A spray here, a tweak there, and bam! It’s over.

Cleverly censored boobies pic.

Cleverly censored boobies pic.

This process took 10 minutes tops. Once she was done, I was perfectly tan. There weren't any weird spots on my feet or between my fingers. I looked like I'd been on a vacation and come back to snowy Minneapolis bronzed and glowing.

Melanie advised me to let the color “marinate” for 24 hours for the best, longest-lasting tan. I’m gross and went three days. When you’ve been artificially tanned, stay away from hot baths, chlorine and exfoliating agents like lotions that contain AHAs. They’ll wear away at the tan and it’ll fade faster. 

An airbrush tan isn’t cheap; Glow charges $65 per tan. However, as I write this, I’m on day four and it hasn’t budged, flaked or turned orange. Glow uses a high-quality formula, a pharmaceutical-grade DHA that’s paraben-free, vegan and nut/allergen-free. And it doesn’t smell like stinky self-tanner, which is a huge selling point.

My Glow Mobile tan the day of. Perfect, right?

My Glow Mobile tan the day of. Perfect, right?

Airbrush tans like Glow’s are perfect for brides and special occasions. Melanie said she sprays her brides a few nights before the wedding so the tan settles perfectly. Technicians are trained to highlight and contour your body to make you look slimmer and/or more toned if you so desire. They even do bodybuilders, but that takes a few sessions.

If you’ve got an event coming up that you need to look killer for, by all means, get yourself airbrushed. Or get one just to beat the winter doldrums like I did. I think I’m addicted now.


Please tell me some of you guys are tan people. Let’s talk about this.