Ayesha Muttucumaru decides brown skin needn't be left out of the tanning trend and puts Sienna X to the test - but is fake tan for the already tanned actually worth booking in for?
I wouldn’t say that I’m a particularly greedy person, but when I told my friends that I was having a spray tan, I couldn’t help feeling like a fat kid at a party making a beeline for the last piece of chocolate cake.
“But you’re already brown,” they reminded me. “Fair point,” I replied, before telling them about a brown-skinned acquaintance of mine who’d discovered that a spray tan was the best way of giving her skin a subtle pre-summer glow. So after their initial confusion, bemusement and laughter (lots and lots of laughter), bafflement was slowly replaced by intrigue and they were soon eager to see whether fake tan would actually make a difference to my already cocoa-coloured skin..
I booked in at James Harknett’s studio at The W in London for a Sienna X spray tan with expert, Sophie Gorden. With his tanning hub having garnered a reputation for producing some of the boldest and most beautifully tanned bodies around, I knew any Ross Geller-inspired mishaps (‘I’m an eight!’) were thankfully something that I could push to the back of my mind. A fact that left my friends hugely disappointed.
As I sat in the waiting room worried of looking a little out of place, Sophie put me at ease by telling me that a spray tan was a great way to give sallow, ashy skin a subtle but effective pick-me-up no matter what your colour. With a variety of intensities available depending on the product’s particular DHA percentage (the chemical responsible for the tanning effect), the choice was mine as to whether to go for 6% (think Four Weddings) right up to 16% (think Strictly Come Dancing). Sophie recommended that I go for the 12% option so that I would be able to see a noticeable difference on my darker skin tone.
Having overcome the first stumbling block, I was then faced with the next. Nudity. And with it, deciding between paper, my own M&S gigantic (yet oh-so-comfortable) black cotton extravaganzas or The Full Monty. I opted for the second. With my arms tentatively placed over my ‘lady lumps,’ Sophie applied barrier cream onto the soles of my feet, my elbows and my knees to ensure that the tan only went where it was meant to. My palms were left till last. Out stretched one hand (one boob out) and then the second (hallo). After a few awkward seconds, I started to settle into my new found nearly nude glory and felt a lot more comfortable. Perhaps more so than expected.
What followed was perhaps one of the finest showcases of modern dance that this country has ever seen. There were lunges, Lady Gaga-inspired monster claws, turns and stretches all to ensure that every nook, cranny and bulge was sufficiently covered by the wonderfully tropical-smelling mist that emitted from the spray gun’s nozzle. A speedy 10 minutes later and I was done, dusted, dried and good to go.
Designed to develop overnight, the results could be seen pretty shortly afterwards. The residual straplines from my holiday a few months ago were now nowhere to be seen and my skin had acquired a delicate beachside luminosity.
Waking up the next day, I saw that the tan had developed into a slightly darker and warmer colour and it went on to last 12 days in total. My skin looked healthier, sun-kissed and more even in tone - like an airbrush had been used from top to toe.
So, would I book in again? Most definitely. The treatment was a hit in my books. However, you can’t please everybody. “I thought you’d come back darker,” said one of my friends, a tinge of genuine disappointment in his voice. Maybe next time I should go Geller and opt for the 16.
Tans start from £40 at the AWAY Spa , W London, 10 Wardour Street, Leicester Square, London, W1D 6QF. Call 020 7758 1071 to book an appointment.