Faking it: Tanning Shop

When the weather warms up, I’m always reluctant to get out my pallid limbs, so this is where a bit of fake tan steps in.

Over the years I’ve tried all manner of tanning options from the occasional sun bed to hands on salon-based St Tropez tanning treatments. It’s expensive, time consuming and only lasts a few days. In recent years I’ve found that gradual tanning creams work very well at home once you get used to the distinctive biscuity fragrance, but they do take a few days to take effect.

However, for a more instant glow before going on holiday, I’ve started having a quick spray tan at the Tanning Shop on Barnet High Street. When I first went last summer I quickly discovered why it was so reasonably priced – it’s completely automated (the previous time I’d had a spray tan, someone literally sprayed me). You have a chat with the staff who work out the level of tan you require before taking you through to a large private cubical.

Inside the cubicle is a Mystic Tan booth, rather like those space-age self-cleaning public toilets. The staff prepare the tanning liquid concoction (mine was light with ‘triple bronzing’), which they insert into the machine and put it on standby until you are ready to go in and be sprayed. You are left in complete privacy to strip off, remove jewellery and cover your hair with a hairnet, keeping your ears and hairline exposed. You then generously apply moisturising barrier cream to your hands, nails and feet before stepping onto sticky paper foot protectors which stop the soles your feet getting tanned. They also help stop you slipping over inside the tanning pod.

Once inside the pod you wave your hand across the sensor to get it started. A voice talks you through the process and you gradually turn around while sprayed, keeping your feet on numbered foot-markers so you get an even 360 degree treatment, with hot air drying you off after each of the four applications. The hot air continues at the end for a while to dry you off and try not to pat yourself to check if you’re dry (see below). Once you leave the pod you uncover your hair and wipe off the barrier cream before getting dressed.

You’re advised to wait four to six hours before bathing, showering or any other ‘aquatic activities’ and avoid touching your face or other areas or you’ll end up with unnaturally brown hands (much easier said than done though). You end up with an even all-over tan and in my case, a subtle glow rather than ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ (or Trump) orange. As the days go by and the tan starts fading I revert to a gradual self-tanning cream to maintain the colour on my legs.

It’s strangely nerve-wracking being at mercy of a machine, but you just have to go with it and trust it. Mind you, it’s surprisingly effective and much more affordable than the salon treatments and if you exfoliate well beforehand, it should last just as well. Just mind those hands.

Spray tans from £14.99. Mine was £17.33 including the bronzers.

Opening hours
Monday to Friday: 10am – 8pm
Saturday: 9am – 6pm
Sunday: 11am – 6pm

Tanning 2

Faking it: Tanning Shop
166 High Street, Barnet EN5 5XP
020 8449 8884

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