To spray tan or not to spray tan?

Posted 7/2/17

With a trip to the beach for the annual Alabama Press Association Summer Convention set for this week, I had an extremely important decision to make. Should I get a tan?

After seeing a few …

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To spray tan or not to spray tan?


With a trip to the beach for the annual Alabama Press Association Summer Convention set for this week, I had an extremely important decision to make. Should I get a tan?

After seeing a few photographs of myself from our last beach trip, the answer was an easy “yes,” but how could I achieve that bronze look when my natural skin tone is somewhere between a body in a morgue and a vampire, and I’m not talking about those vampires who get all shiny in the sunlight.

My skin has honestly never been tan, not even close to it. When I spend time outside, my color typically goes from a pale white accentuated by blue veins to an extreme red with a sometimes violet hue. From there, it always goes directly back to pale white.

I also have fairly sensitive skin, so I don’t like for it to get burnt by sun rays. My current sunscreen is an SPF 85 with aloe vera already built into it. So if I wanted to increase the shade of my pigment, actual sun tanning or laying in a tanning bed was not going to do the trick.

While we were shopping a few weeks ago, my wife informed me that I needed some new swimming trunks before our trip. She was tired of the old board shorts that I had been wearing for a few years, and she said I needed to up my beach image if I planned on impressing anyone at our statewide convention. She had read where shorter swimming trunks were in style this season, informing me that was what I should purchase. I tried on a pair of shorts so short that they would have made John Stockton blush. My pasty legs would not be impressing anyone. Andrea also pointed out a Baywatch tank top nearby, and said, “With that outfit, you’d look just like The Rock.”

I detected her sarcasm, but I joked back saying, “All I need is the tan.”

As we talked about the beach trip, I joked again that I might get a spray tan. My only experience was spray tans was from a handful on films or television shows that featured spray tan scenes, and all of them were comedies.

How about the John Travolta and Robin Williams comedy “Old Dogs” when Williams character stayed in the spray tan booth too long while Travolta was flirting with the young lady working at the salon? After overexposure in the booth, Williams is mistaken at the train station as Indian, Hispanic and an Oompa Loompa.

Then there was the scene in “Christmas with the Kranks” where Tim Allen gets a spray tan and botox, only to end extremely bronze with a frozen face.

The most memorable spray tan moment in television history would have to be “The One Where Ross Got a Tan” episode of “Friends.” Ross accidentally gets the front half of his body sprayed four times only to have to go back to the tanning salon to try to even out the job, but again only gets the front half of his body sprayed.

With those examples running through my head, I am not sure why I decided to get my first spray tan at all, but I made and appointment and went through with it on Saturday afternoon.

A good friend recommended going to the Sly Fox salon in downtown Jasper. I booked the appointment through their Facebook page, and the owner even sent me a link to tips to follow before getting a spray tan. It was obvious the tips were written for ladies, and I was more confused after reading the tips than I was beforehand. I was too embarrassed to ask exactly where I should shave or just what exfoliating actually means, but my wife was quick to tell me not to worry about any of that stuff and just show up “as-is.”

Andrea went to the appointment with me, and was even invited to come back to the spray tan room. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous, but the sprayer was very friendly and helped keep my nerves in check. Before the process began, she did give me directions on how I should stand, and thankfully, she went back over them each time she had me move, because I didn’t take notes. At one point, Andrea and I looked straight at each other and both of us starting cracking up. By the end, I felt kind of like a turkey on Thanksgiving who had just gotten a good basting.

For most of us guys, the ladies in our lives go to great lengths to try to look great for us. I felt like the embarrassment of getting a spray tan was a small way that I could try to look a little better for her while we were at the beach. And if I’m being totally honest, the process actually felt pretty nice. I doubt that I am going to look like The Rock while walking around Orange Beach next week, but at least I won’t be blinding anyone with the sun reflection off my sickly, colorless body either.

James Phillips editor and publisher of the Daily Mountain Eagle. He may be reached at 205-221-2840 or