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My name is Louis Baragona and I am a former tanning addict.

For proof, see below.

This is fetus me, way back when:  

This is adult now me:

 


As you can see, a big change.

Thanks to 16-year-old Louis’ little 20-minute daily tanning habit, 23-year-old Louis now spends about 20 minutes each morning focusing on anti-aging. I will forever pay for the wrinkles I caused myself in the name of looking like a Jersey Shore cast-off. Like, Snooki who? I loved tanning. It made me feel thinner (I was struggling with an eating disorder) and it also gave me a cosmetic form of self-care, a little time alone to relax and lay everyday amidst all of the stress of high school while feeling like I was doing myself an indulgent favor.

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We all crave Vitamin D, some more than others. It’s totally normal. The problem with fake and baking is that it is HORRIBLE for you and I could have caused myself some long-term issues (luckily those have yet to be seen) or even fatal diseases for some temporary fixes. That’s because tans are caused by extremely harmful UV radiation, which can come from the sun or from tanning lamps. It causes major skin cell damage. It also leads to premature skin aging (brown spots, wrinkles, loose skin) and skin cancer. It’s kind of crazy because people who use a tanning bed before the age of 35 increase their risk for melanoma by a whopping 75-percent. Super scary. 

Despite how ridiculous I looked, every now and then I miss being tan. In the summer, I get relatively dark, but usually sometime before summer and at the tail-end of spring, I start to get antsy. I plot ways to ignore sunscreen (new season, who dis?) and I feel insecure about showing my pale limbs with temperatures that call for t-shirts and shorts.

Sometimes I try spray tans, but they’re pricey and can be a bit of a gamble. Other times, I give in to the tanning bed, but I immediately feel guilty.

I finally decided to try everyone’s highly-suggested solution: self tanner. Immediately, I was given overwhelming advice to try St. Tropez. I did my research and the Internet backed me up. So I reached out to St. Tropez to test their products and see if it would be my one way ticket to a natural-looking, tropical glow.

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The results left me, a tanning bed devotee and self tanning skeptic, FLOORED. This is me after a week of self-tanning:

To satisfy your own tanning urges and “get you gold, no spray tans” (thanks Drake!), here’s my tips on how to use this miracle product. 

1

Before you do anything in this world, let alone tan (self or spray), make sure to exfoliate. If you don’t remove all of the dead skin, your tan will come off streaky and uneven. I used Biore’s Charcoal Bar all over my body and exfoliated in an attempt to wash the sins of winter from my skin. It didn’t work, but I was clean enough to move on to the next step.

2

Next, I used the St. Tropez Gradual Tan Everyday Body Moisturizer in medium/dark, along with a regular lotion on the dryer parts of my body (elbows, ankles, knees, etc.). Though this is gradual, I pretty much saw immediate results and they were subtle but satisfying. Rub this generously all over the body, but make sure to wipe off your hands ASAP in order to avoid any gross marks.

3

I am extremely paranoid about my face not matching my body, so I also used St. Tropez’s Classic Everyday Face Cream. I didn’t want to go too heavy with this, so I did a pump of my usual post-shower moisturizer with the tanning cream mixed in. I rubbed this all over my face and neck and I was immediately happy with the effect. Steps 2 and 3 are gradual, but they do provide some quick color payoff and a little radiance. Again, remember to wash or wipe off your hands post-tan.

4

24-hours after exfoliating and prepping, the real process BEGINS. Before right to the tanning, make sure that you are moisturized, especially in the aforementioned dry areas. Once you’re ready, grab the St. Tropez mit and the Express Bronzing Mousse.

5

Pump a bit of product onto the mit. BE WARNED: the mousse comes out dark, but it isn’t as crazy as it looks! The mousse is foamy and light. The amount of pumps onto the mit depends on the corresponding area you’re hoping to tan. I did 2-3 pumps for my legs, one pump per arm, two pumps for my chest and abdomen, two pumps for my butt/back, and then I rubbed the excess on my neck and face. Smooth evenly all over and make sure that everything is equal without one area more covered in mousse than the other.

6

Once the product is dry (for me it happened in about 5-10 minutes, with body hair seeming to prolong the process), you can put on clothes and lay around! Depending on how dark you want to be, you’ve got time! I did two hours, which was for a medium tan. I’d say in the future, especially once summer actually hits in all its glory, I’d wait for the three-hour dark tan.

7

Hop in the shower and rinse off! I wouldn’t recommend scrubbing, just let the excess wash away. When you’re done in the shower, pat dry and then do your thing! I’m paranoid (and I sleep on white sheets) so I hopped into bed with some layers of protection for the night between my skin and the blankets to avoid any product rubbing off.

8

Continue with using the daily lotion between using the mousse. I touched up with the express mousse product weekly and I absolutely loved it, but I did notice that if I didn’t immediately scrub my hands, they’d be a dead giveaway as to my new hobby. I’d also say to really exfoliate thoroughly as you prepare for each new round of mousse.

In the end, I think my addiction has finally been satisfied. Consider me cured thanks to an eight-step program with St. Tropez.