The Perfect Stage Tan! (Part 1)

It can not go without saying, a perfect competition tan is an integral part to success in bodybuilding. Countless hours are committed to sculpting a great physique in the gym, and just as much time spent on posing practice all to best display that hard work. A deep competition tan enhances physical features, particularly under the bright stage lights. Don't be unprepared or sell yourself short by neglecting the importance of your stage colour.

Unlike the past when tanning solution was put on by hand from close friends using cotton socks (yes, that's right!), the method of competition tanning used today puts the entire process in someone else's hands. Current usual practice has the colour hand airbrushed onto the body while standing in individual tents. It can be nerve racking relying on someone else, someone who is often a stranger, to create the perfect tan for a single moment you've worked so hard for.

Here is some info and tips to help you be prepared:

- Only book with experienced competition tanning companies who are reputable amongst the bodybuilding community. It is important to note the solution I'm referring to is NOT equivalent to anything offered in a tanning salon, unless specializing in this type of product of course. The most popular types of tanning products are made by the companies Liquid Sun Rayz, JanTana and ProTan. If the tanner you have inquired with isn't using any of these products, it's most likely not the proper solution for a stage tan. Don't be afraid to ask fellow athletes who they've used and what they thought about the result. (The first image with this blog post shows two different products, the stage picture on the left was Liquid Sun Rayz and on the right was Jan Tana.)

- Research which companies will actually be available at the show you are attending. Not all companies travel to each show, so you may have to use different tanners depending on who is working, where. Keep in mind only the official tanner of the event will be able to do touch-ups backstage, so plan ahead if you must be tanned at an alternate location.

- Book early! Tanners will book clients on a first come, first served basis. It's expected that the best and most in demand tanning companies will book up quickly. As well, some allow clients to choose their own time slot to get tanned. Picking a prime tanning time that works well around your personal schedule is a great option to have. Take advantage if available!

Allowing my tan to set a bit more after returning to my room. 
- Be prepared to be tanned in a room with multiple tents, and therefore multiple people present. Not all companies use this method, but those at larger shows usually do. I've seen 5 tents all with athletes being sprayed and then around 3-5 people drying on the side lines. It can feel embarrassing to be naked during this process, just keep in mind the tanners see hundreds of people a year. And the other athletes in the room feel just like you!

- Particularly considering the previous point, don't rush the drying time. The better you allow the solution to dry and set on the skin, the less chance of causing smears. Don't rush away with your colour still wet.

- Wear loose cool clothing after being tanned. Any clothing that is tight, including form fitted or with elastic bands, will lift the colour and leave crease marks on the skin. Black in colour is highly recommended and red is strictly forbidden by some, as it apparently can cause a reaction which changes the colour. Avoid socks and high footwear, flip-flops are ideal. No undergarments.

- Although your instinct might be to sleep naked, I'd suggest sleeping with both a shirt and pants on. Light in weight, of course, to avoid sweating. We sleep in strange positions and it's a hassle to correct spots the morning of the show. Stay covered up and avoid those hand marks on your legs and stomach! ;)

- Bring your own towels, sheets and pillow cases if staying in a hotel. You will be charged for damages if you ruin anything. As well, it's just respectful and professional to leave a clean room so the host hotel and the promoter can have in a positive relationship in the future.

- Bring several shower caps and large clips to keep your hair up and protected from the overspray. This is very important for the blondes out there! Also consider your nails as well. Most tanning companies will either use a barrier cream or clean up your nails before the solution sets. I actually paint my toes, and glue on false nails after my tan is done. If you have professionally manicured nails, just give them a quick check to make sure they are clean.

- Avoid water like the plague! Rain is a nightmare to deal with, so check the weather ahead of time. Any time you turn a tap on, drink water, anything relating to liquids at all, be cautious. This especially includes using the washroom. Hover over the seat to not remove any tan and be very careful. Take extreme care if shampooing your hair after being tanned, and possibly have someone help if needed.

- Don't rub any areas of your skin. If you do get smudges inform your tanner and allow them to handle it. Often marks can be buffed out. Over working an area will just make a minor streak become muddy.

- Once backstage and ready DON'T sit down, lay down, lean on walls! You get the idea…;)

- A glaze will be applied prior to stepping on stage. Often times the official tanner will glaze everyone since they are backstage, but you can purchase your own if you like. This glaze will give your colour a healthy sheen and be the finishing touch that enhances your physique. Check in the mirror to ensure you aren't overly shiny, looking wet, or that your skin looks dull and matte. Either situations are not ideal.

As you can gather, it is very easy to mess up a competition tan. Responsibility goes far beyond the individual who applies the tan and is largely in your hands. None the less, the tan must be flawless! The preparations prior to receiving your spray tan is integral to the process as well. Since this post is getting lengthy, I'll create another entry laying out my step by step process of skin prep leading up to show time.

Past tools of the trade! Sheets, cotton socks, make-up puffs, sponges, gloves and a plastic container.
The liquid stain was usually poured into the container and applied layer after layer using the socks/puffs/sponges. Then a final coat of "mud" was rubbed on top using your hands, which gave a deep colour and sheen to the skin. This "mud" has since been banned by use in most shows because it stays moist and easily wipes off on things, causing such a mess that hotels and venues wouldn't allow promoters to return. Although things seem better now, I must say, most of the blame should be on the competitors for being neglectful not on the product itself.

Here is a link to The Perfect Stage Tan! (Part 2 - Skin Prep)



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