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Confession: I love being tan.

I love the way my short legs look when they’re dark and my toenails are painted bright pink. I love that “just off the surfboard in Hawaii” look that some women get in the summer. I’m not shooting for a super dark tan. I still want to embrace my red hair and fair skin. It’s just nice to have a little color so it looks like I actually go out in the sun and do things, instead of staying inside reading books all day.

However, I hate getting sunburned. I hate the threat of skin cancer. 

So, after spending copious amounts of money on sunless tanners, I broke down and bought a spray tan machine on Amazon–and it has been amazing. 

The version I got was about $200 and it’s meant to help you start a spray tanning business. You could, I guess if you wanted to. I just wanted to tan myself and my friends without spending an arm and a leg.

The average spray tan at a local tanning salon costs about $45 and lasts for one week. In the South, you start wearing spring clothes in mid-March and rock that dress/boot combo until the end of November. That means you have about 34 weeks each year when you show your legs and could possibly want them tan. That’s $1,530 each year in spray tans. 

That just isn’t possible for me.

After I got my machine, I got some organic solution and the barrier cream to prevent the tanner from getting on your hands and feet. That ran about $60 for both, but they were both on Amazon Prime so I didn’t pay for shipping. They will both last me at least this year and part of next year. 

Economically, it was a great decision. 

When I tell people about my purchase, the number one question I get is, “Can you tan yourself?” 

Short answer: yes. 

I watched a few Youtube videos on spray tanning yourself, and there was a definite learning curve, but I’ve almost mastered the skill by now. The machine comes with a pop-up tent that has plenty of room to maneuver around in. (This is definitely something you’ll want to do alone in a room because you get pretty twisted up at some points.) You can also do it in the bathtub. The solution washes right off. 

Here are some tips before you start tanning yourself: 

1. Don’t start before a big event.

The first time, I started at the very beginning of March so I could still cover up with long sleeves and long pants if it turned out really bad. So far that hasn’t happened. 

2. Buy the better solution on Amazon.

The stuff that comes with the machine isn’t that great but it will help you determine which color you want. Novelle makes an organic solution that doesn’t make me itch. I usually can’t wear anything with a scent but this hasn’t bothered me. 

3. Another point about the organic solution: my dogs seem to really like the way tanning solution tastes.*

The first time I tanned, I accidentally fell asleep with my chihuahua. I woke up with a white patch on my leg where she had licked it all off. 

4. The barrier cream is imperative.

It isn’t regular lotion and regular lotion won’t work. The barrier cream makes the tan blend seamlessly from your fingers to your arms. 

5. If you have an extra $50, you can get one with a heated sprayer.

I highly recommend this. I thought I wouldn’t need it because it’s summer, but it gets pretty chilly. 

6. Don’t wear deodorant when you spray tan.

It interferes with the tan and you’ll have strange colored armpits. 

My only regret so far is the money I’ve spent on sunless tanners before this. They just never turn out looking natural and my hands are always orange. To date, I haven’t had orange skin whatsoever. 

The self-tanning stops in November. There is nothing I love more than my porcelain skin and red hair in the winter. We were made for winter and fall. The colors of clothes make our features stand out. I go back and forth about whether or not I should cover up my fair skin. Isn’t natural always better? I also go back and forth about wearing makeup. For me, spray tanning is just an extra accessory–another shade of makeup to help you mix up your life. 

READ: Redheads, 6 Tips for The Best Sunless Tan

The fact that it makes cellulite less noticeable is just one added benefit during bathing suit season. 

Rock it like a Redhead! 

Photo Credit

*Disclaimer: How to be a Redhead and the author are not condoning the product to be safe for animals. Always consult with a veterinarian.