Us ladies have a lot to do to prepare for a show during peak week. Not only do we have to get an amazing stage-ready tan but also we have to worry about our hair, makeup, and nails. In addition to finding the perfect suit, and learning how to pose in your new heels, now at peak week, you have a whole slew of superficial appointments to deal with. But do keep in mind, while you can do your own hair and makeup or choose just about anyone to do it for you, your tan is not that simple.
Peak Week: What They Sometimes Don’t Tell You
Typically, the show promoter will have contracted a tanning business to do the majority of the competitor’s tans at the venue. This contractor is usually the only tanning institute allowed backstage (at the state-level, at least). Often times, having the contracted vendor do your tan is the more intelligent decision because it is less stressful, as they typically have a better setup and it’s just flat out easier to work with the business that is promoted because they have more freedom at the venue. Less hassle equals less stress for you. But in the end, it doesn’t really matter who you choose, as long as it’s a business whose main interest is competition spray tans. NOT vacation spray tans, or day-to-day tans. And if you make the mistake of going to a tanning boutique for your tan because it’s only $25 and show tans range from $80-$120, DO NOT wash off their tan. They will tell you to take a shower if you go to tanning boutique but don’t do it. It washes off layers of tanner, which makes your lighter, which defeats the purpose of the tan. Just don’t! Honestly, if you’re serious about this sport then shelling out the money for the perfect tan is worth it. There are other ways to save on money (i.e. hair, makeup, used suits, nails, etc.). It’s doable if you plan accordingly.
So What Don’t They Tell You?
Your skin’s condition is the foundation for your perfect tan. So there are some things you need to know. Your skin needs to be dry, clean, and free of hair.
A few things about shaving
- You don’t want hair on your body because it hides those beautiful muscular lines you’ve worked so hard to achieve.
- Hair is distracting. Especially if it’s in all of the wrong places.
- If you do not have shaven skin, the tanner will stick to your tiny hair and it will look like a bunch of tiny dark bubbles all over your body. Again…distracting.
What you should do about body hair
Shave less than normal the two weeks leading up to your show. You don’t want your skin to be rough or overly dry. Shaving causes both of these phenomenon’s. So, on the last two days leading up to your show, shave everything. And the day before the show, shave again. If you’re like me, your hair will likely grow back the day after you shave: if that’s the case, shave only what’s necessary on the day of the show. Waxing is fine too. But if you’re going to wax, do so a week in advance.
Peak Week Skin Prep
At this point, you’ve probably realized that the tan depends on the quality of your skin. This goes beyond shaving. Having “clean” skin doesn’t just mean that you have just taken a shower, it also means that you get rid of all of your dead skin. Cleansing your skin is fairly simple actually. You just need to exfoliate your body – in my experience, nylon mesh has seemed to work the best – at the very least, 3x during peak week. If you’re feeling ambitious, start exfoliating a few weeks leading up to the show. This way, your skin can become accustomed to not having that extra layer and it will respond to the tanner better.
Please, please, please, don’t use lotion, lotion makes your skin moist. Its sole purpose is to seep into your pores to hydrate your skin. So don’t use lotion approximately 5 days prior to your show. The moisture will make it tough for the tan to stick and then you’ll be cussing out the tanning vendor when the entire issue is actually your own fault. You can go without lotion for 5 days. It’s worth it.
Now, some people are against artificial tanning via UV rays, but if you’re unopposed to it, you may want to think about pre-tanning a few months prior to your show. That is not to say, go to the tanning booth every day and fry your skin. That’s not okay. Fake baking is already detrimental to your health, but when you overdo it, it may have dire consequences. I recommend fake baking once a week at a low-level UV light for a short period of time (~6 minutes) for the first 3 weeks. After that, feel free to up the frequency once your skin has become accustomed to the light: 2x per week, but no more than 3. Fake tanning dries out your skin and helps you to achieve the “dry” look on stage while setting a great foundation for the spray tan. But you know your body better than anyone else. If it’s making your skin flake, the spray tan won’t look good. And if you notice excessive dryness, decrease the frequency of your visits to the tanning booth and/or the duration of being exposed to the light. But do keep in mind, fake baking is not essential…just helpful.
The Day Before the Show
Typically, spray tans will be applied the day before the show. Other than carb-loading and getting your tan, you should have just about nothing to worry about the day before the show. Focus on relaxation and packing your backstage bag. On the morning of the day before the show (before you get sprayed), shower and shave, if needed. DO NOT put on lotion, deodorant, perfume, or sprays of any kind. When you go down to get your tan, take a hair tie or clip (shower caps should be provided) and wear dark, loose fitting clothes. Colored clothing has the potential to alter the color of your tan after your spray; so, it’s best to stick with black, navy blue, brown, or gray. Stay away from tight clothing because it can rub your tan off and stay away from zipper and buttons, as they can make sometimes unsalvageable imprints in your tan. Be prepared to be in the booth for up to 2 hours. Most competitors will receive 2 coasts of tanner but some will receive 3. Each spray can take ~20-25 minutes and in between sprays, time varies based on your body’s response to the tan. Basically, it just needs to be dry before for the 2nd and 3rd coats to be able to be applied. And don’t forget, you’re not the only person getting a tan. Your wait may be longer because the technician is busy with someone else. Just be patient.
Once your tan is completed, plan to stay in your dark, loose-fitting clothes for the remainder of the day and when you go to sleep. You don’t want to do a lot of moving around and changing clothing once your tan is applied. It will make your tan uneven. With that being said, just wait until you get to the venue and/or after your hair and makeup and running around is done to put on your suit.
The Day of the Show
If the contracted tanning vendor does your tan, they will receive another spray the morning of the show. That doesn’t give you free range to fool around the day before the show and ruin your tan though. The more uneven you tan, the more work the vendor has to do to fix it, and it may not be salvageable. Once you get your final coat of tan, get your hair and makeup done and continue carb-loading and relaxing.
After you’ve done a bit of moving around, it’s inevitable that you’ll have a few scuffs in your tan. Don’t freak out about this. The contracted vendor is available during the show to do small touchups AND they’ll Bikini Bite your suit too. They really try to give you the most bang for your buck and make your day as stress-free as possible. And, if you have a few friends who are also ding the same show, the tanning vendor may even provide a group discount. BONUS!! But even though they’re there to make your life easy, don’t get final touch-ups or suit glue until right before your class is about to line up. Reason being, you may have to use the restroom or have some last minute running around to do. You really don’t want to make the tanning vendor have to get you stage-ready twice. They may deny you. Just try to avoid messing up your tan as best as possible. And keep your skin dry. If it’s hot and you’re getting sweaty backstage, it may not be a bad idea to gout front and watch the show. Personally, I’ve never sat backstage and waited for my class’s turn for the entire duration of the show: mainly because it’s too hot backstage. If there are open seats, the promoter will generally allow competitors to watch the show. But be smart about it. Don’t miss your cue. Go backstage when you know your turn is near, and make sure you know the order of the divisions and classes. Whether you’re hanging out backstage or in the audience, know the sequence of events to occur. Missing your turn means all of that money and hard work was all for not. On show day, pay attention and be smart. You got this!