I don’t even care about being tan. On the other hand, it’s not really an option for me: tanning beds and sunshine make me break out in hives. I walk in the shadows of buildings and have spotty Irish skin.But now my editor is telling me I can test-drive a Tropic Spa Home Mist Tanning System. A tan! Maybe I do care! Because tan is sexy and sexy means boyfriends and boyfriends means snuggling to ‘80s movie marathons on rainy Sundays and this machine is going to change my whole life, probably! I mean, I’ll try it.The setup was easy. Well, I cheated. I hate putting stuff together. I hate squatting over parts and reading instructions and pinching a finger and screaming DAMMIT. So I sang to the new Taylor Swift album while my friend Patrick installed spray cans into the machine. It looked easy. The contraption is small enough to be manageable for one person to assemble and lift. I just didn’t happen to be that person.Once the sprayer was charged and assembled, I couldn’t figure out where to put it. The instructions act like it’s normal to just hang the machine anywhere, as if it’s not going to spray tan juice all over. My shower is pre-war and its makers obviously did not anticipate the future quest for hotness that would occur within. After failed attempts to hang the system from my ancient showerhead, I gave up and up and propped the misting log on the middle knob in my shower and Scotch taped it to the wall.The instructions have a diagram of girl in a bra and underwear, but they don’t specifically tell you what to wear. I don’t like that; I really needed them to be definitive about whether the tanning mist can touch my junk. I watched the DVD of a depressingly sexy model go through the process in her bikini. She didn’t tell me what to wear, either. In the end, I dug up some Bush Administration underpants and decided to go braless because I’m a wild man.The kit does not skimp on accessories. It’s probably because it’s a Canadian company. Like, they’re so nice. They give you shower caps and plastic to wear around your feet and hands and even these exfoliating gloves so the tanning mist doesn’t stick to dry old skin and flake off. I used them in a shower before tanning and they were effective. I could tell because a friend had drawn all over my feet the night before — being in my 30s is not like I thought it would be — and all the pictures of frowning dinosaurs came right off. When I dried off and got back in the shower for The Main Event, it was comforting to know that the tanning mist would stay on my skin.It was go time. I was scared. Virgin spray tanner here. But the experience turned out definitively Not Horrifying. Once you push the button, the entire process takes 12 seconds, and you do quarter turns every time it beeps. I almost failed Ballroom Dance 101 in college, but I could do this. (Note, though, that the mist will make your tub very slippery, which is why they suggest standing on a towel.)When it was over, I felt covered in … well, I couldn’t put my finger on it. There was definitely a light smell, though. I rubbed the thick liquid into my skin, then sprayed the tops of my hands with the touch up can. I was terrified to see myself as I stepped out of the shower. Where had I missed a spot? Was I going to be really, really orange? I looked in the mirror and… nothing was different.Oh, right, the stuff takes hours to set in. I put on my lingerie (sweatpants) and went to bed. The smell still lingered in the morning, so I was pleasantly surprised the tanning mist hadn’t stained my white pillowcase. BUT WAS I ORANGE? I looked in the mirror. No. I was, however, ever-so-slightly tanner. I checked my whole body and didn’t notice much of a difference on my legs and tummy. But all my skinny parts seemed slightly tanner and not in a gross way.This gave me the confidence to try two more times. The second attempt, a week later, turned out much the same. I noticed a line around my underpants, so the goo must be at somewhat effective there, but my legs especially still seemed less tan. On the third try, six days later, I used the touch up can to add a little extra to my gams.When friends saw me the next day in a low-cut tank top, they said I looked “glowing,” a word I usually take to mean “sexy in a pregnant way.” But in this case they meant my décolletage looked particularly tanner. So, score.Would I recommend this? Well, I’m gonna do it again. On the other hand, it’s probably not going to make you a Tan Queen. If you want to look like you’ve been sipping daiquiris on a beach for a week, I’m sorry to tell you, you might have to actually go and do that. Still, I’ve got an evened-out décolletage for the next five days and a new guy’s number. All hail the misting log!
The author tried the Tropic Spa Home Mist Tanning Unit as a sample. You can find out more at TropicSpaTan.com.