Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Tanning disasters and other pageant prep

I have 8 weeks until my pageant, Beauties of America, in Myrtle Beach and I am as white as a piece of paper.

Oh, I'd intended to be tan by now, but with Darling Hubby's car breaking down and the gas prices and all the other day to day, money-sucking crap that goes along with being a parent and a spouse, there was just no extra funds to obtain a tanning package or the time in which to use it.

So here I am, looking as Irish as ever.

I did get a wicked little sunburn on my appearance at the Miracle League party when I agreed to be the dunkee in the Dunk a Buddy booth. I had prepared (so I thought) by slathering spf45 all over myself when I got out of the shower that morning. It took quite some time to correct last year's nasty little sunburn before competition and I was not going through that again. I took extra care to get my shoulders, ears and my entire neck. What I did NOT get was a sliver of skin between my neck and the collar of my t-shirt...how that happened is a mystery. Sufice it to say, I now have a crescent shaped patch, about the size of a slice of cantelope, peeling off my neck!

I used to have a fair bit of success with self tanners when they first came out. Coppertone made a great one. Unfortunately, as with many things, when you find something you like, that works well, they decide to "improve" it, thus changing it so that it never works for you again. I mean, helloooo...if it ain't broke, don't fix it! But manufacturers never quite see it that way and feel they can be more "marketable" by making "improvements." Good idea in theory, but usually lacks something in the execution. (I always refer to the "new Coke/Classic Coke" debacle in the late '80's as an example of this phenomenon)

One of the "improvements" was adding a fragrance. Those of you who know me well know that I can't do fragrance. Someone in my offices uses that ghastly "Sweet Pea" lotion by Bath & Body works. They don't use it often, but enough. The fragrance is so powerful, it shuts down my sinuses from several cubes away. Then I am sick for the rest of the week. Now one would think that a tanning product would have that pleasant tanning-product-cocoa-butter-and-pina-colada-going-to-the-beach smell. We all know that smell really well. (Admit it...you just got a whiff while I was talking about it!) Imagine my shock and horror when I picked up the "new and improved" version of my favorite self-tanner and read "NEW PLEASANT FLORAL SCENT!"

I was never able to use it again.

Other self-tanners have bee disapointing in other ways.
Orange, streaky, hard to apply, hard to remove, or I would get hooked on one just in time for them to be taken off the market because the company went out of business. I did really like one that Toni Fake-Ponytail was hawking on HSN. It was brown, so you could see where it was going (and what you'd missed!) and the resulting mild golden brown color did not scream "fake tan" on my pale Irish skin. Best of all, there was ZERO fragrance! It was $19.95 for a 3 ounce bottle. Kinda pricey compared to the 10 ounce bottle of the "new and improved" brand I'd been using. But I deemed the expense worth the money and bought several bottles.

No one told me the crap had a shelf life, so imagine my surprise when 6 months down the road all the elements seperated and turned a lovely Kermit-the-Frog green!

So here I am...pastey and white...contemplating my options.

8 weeks is not enough time to get any sort of tan from the tanning bed. Heck, by 8 weeks I've just worked up to where I can lay in it the full 20 minutes!

I could do the whole airbrush tan thing, but no one around here does it anymore. I could buy the canned version they sell at Sally's but neither my husband nor my best girl pal Cyndi are willing to help me with it (primarily because they are both tan and don't understand my persepective).

So I headed off to my one of favorite places on the planet...my neighborhood Walmart.

Our Walmart has it's tanning products displayed on an island shelving unit. For those of you who are unfamiliar with store fixture terms, (thanks to 7 years of grocery & drug store experience I can share) an island shelving unit is a section of shelving designed to be used freestanding and can be moved around the store. They are typically set up in high traffic areas of a store for seasonal or sale merchandise. As with all retail shelving, they are 4 feet wide and typically range in height from 3 to 5 shelves, netting from 12 to 20 feet of merchandising space. Some are sectional and can be linked together to increase merchadising space. The island in question is 12 foot wide with 2 sides: one for actual tanning and/or tanning prevention and one for self-tanners and an assortment of the green & blue gooey stuff to use when all the others have failed. At an impressive 6 shelves high, that makes 144 feet of tanning goods. An island indeed.

So I stood in front of the 8 feet of self-tanning products. I knew to rule out my beloved Coppertone but the dizzing aray of benefits and tones and application processes made it hard to choose. I tried to think of things others had told me about various products. There was something good about them all. I knew I needed "medium" because I would look foolish with "dark" so that ruled out another section. I knew I didn't want lotion and spray wasn't looking great either, so I settled on the towel variety.

I purchased my box and headed home.

Lucky for me, I still had the rubber gloves that came with my expensive tanner. I read the instructions carefully. I showered, exfoliating like mad. I dried completely. As instructed by another of my pigment-challenged friends, a pro at self tanning now, I slathered Vaseline on my elbows, knees, ankles, feet and the scar on my leg so as not to attract too much tanner. I donned my gloves and opened the package.

A tanning towel is like a big wet wipe. The instruction say to start wiping the folded towel across the areas of your body that you want tanned, unfolding as needed. Let dry completely and the tan would develop within the hour.

I thought I'd done pretty good for my first attempt. I'd gotten my legs completely, but had a big, swirling white spot on my left arm where I'd swiped but missed on 2 passes.

I made my second attempt a week later. We were going to attend a picnic and fireworks show at D/H's cousin's church. I had planned to wear shorts, so it was a must. I began the ritual all over again. I made extra care to get all of my arms, my neck & chest, but when I got down to my legs, there as a knock at the bathroom door. "30 minutes" my hubby informed me. Knowing I had to dry completely or risk ruining both my clothes and my tan, I started wiping in high gear.

It felt like I hit everything. It wasn't until I went to the ladies room at the church, a good 2 or 3 hours later, when I saw my first mistake. A wide, white patch down the inside of my calve. Okay, it's on the inside, I'm good I thought to myself. The ladies room was far too crowded for any real inspection, so I finished up and went outside to find a seat for the fireworks show.

"Hey, you missed a spot on the back of your leg" my husband informed me.
"Yeah, I saw it"
"I don't see how, it's the back of your thigh. You'd be sitting on it"

Holy crap...I dashed for the ladies room. Sure enough, I missed a patch down the back of my thigh and to make matters worse, I could see that now my feet had tanned too. The swipe at my feet highlighted only the bones, each with a nice white stripe in between!

I was turning into a zebra, right in front of everyone's eyes! There is no telling what these people thought. Bet I made it on to the prayer list for having some horrible skin disease.

When we got back, I began googling ways to get self tanner off. Surprisingly, there aren't that many that don't involve some sort of torturous scrubbing. Perhaps someone needs to invent a self tanner remover.

I will try to correct my self tan today. Can't get any worse, right?
And if it does, well I still have 8 weeks, right?

Gotta love pageant prep...