Wedding Skin: The Dorito Effect

You saw it in a magazine; you saw it on a friend, now you are looking at yourself with an orange… tan? Spray tan “gone wrong” is not what you want put in your bridal announcements. The appropriate pre-spray tan steps can be given to you at the TIME of your wedding or now.

From Cris: Remember those times I posted THE BEST wedding beauty guest posts ever for y'all (all about ladyparts waxing and skincare?)!
Whelp, my  old high school friend Millie, a professional Esthetician,
is back and this time she’s taking on pre-wedding skin and the
importance of proper spray tanning!

This is your emergency coverage on
the Dorito Effect, aka The Orange Spray Tan Help Guide. If you already have
this problem, please skip this next section and read the "Emergency"
section first. The spray tan that you decide on is not quite the Vogue
look that you wanted…

Wedding Skin: The Dorito Effect

You saw it in a magazine; you saw
it on a friend, now you are looking at yourself with an orange… tan? Spray tan "gone wrong" is not what you want put in your bridal
announcements. The appropriate pre-spray tan steps can be given to you at the
TIME of your wedding or now.

You are not a Spray Tan Technician

Rule Number 1: Find a place that
knows their equipment and their products. That isn't your job right now. Your
job is to relish in the fact that you may have one of the most fantastic
gatherings of friends and family for your entire life. Why? Because you are
doing all the other planning. Are you catching me here? Talk to everyone you
know that has spray tanned. Call all the salons. Heck, stop by if there is only
one in town. Seek it out.

These pre-steps will help your
mind wrap around the fact that once this process is done, you will never look truly
tan from chemicals. Mixing sun tanning or bed tanning gives a good effect but
it will be a different look than your pictures from summer. That is where experimentation
kicks in. You should realistically spray tan three times to work out any kinks
before your wedding.

Prep That Skin

Two prep steps that can be
accomplished on your own time and in your own space can really make a huge
difference in the look of your spray tan. 

Step 1: Exfoliate with an
appropriate tool at least three times daily before you spray tan. Appropriate
exfoliation tools are NOT currently in your bathroom. If you have a body puff
or exfoliating hand mitt, throw it in the washer. It is full if bacteria if it
has been resting in your shower for more than three weeks. Refrain from fabric softener
during your wash and hang it out to dry. Live in a humid area? Spray your tool
down with 70-99% isopropyl alcohol prior to hanging it to dry. This will speed
the process and keep additional bacteria at bay. Don't currently exfoliate?
Choose a tool:

  • Salt Glow – in a small bowl mix 3
    large palms full of kosher salt and 1 palm full of olive oil. 
  • Body puff (get the big one)
  • Exfoliating Mitt 
  • Italy Towel (traditional Korean
    spa tool, can be found at almost any Asian market)

Step 2: Pick a body moisturizer.
Not all moisturizers are created equally.  Alcohol in any form should not
be in the first three ingredients listed on the back on the packaging. If you
have sensitive skin or allergies to fragrance check out the moisturizer
analysis at
Note: The base of the moisturizer should not be a Shea Butter or Cocoa Butter
the day if your spray tan. If you choose one of these two ingredients as the
primary base of your moisturizer, you will need a second type for the day if
your tan.

Time to exfoliate in the shower!
Bring your exfoliating tool into the shower. Wet your entire body with water.
Turn the water off. Starting at your collar bone, softly move your exfoliating
tool in circles all around your shoulders and down your arms. Make a
second pass over your elbows and outer wrists. Once your arms are done,
exfoliate the trunk of your body. Try to use both of your hands to do this
instead of just your dominate hand. This is a move that will pay off. Be sure
to get the area where your bra rubs on the side if your breast and the rear
portion of your armpit where your back starts. These are important areas if you
are going strapless with your gown.

Once your trunk is done, focus on
your buns.  Do the top, sides, underneath, and inner portion that meets
the thigh. Remember to switch hands while doing this part. Work down to your
legs. You want to start at the thigh and work all the way past your ankle. Make
a second pass over your knees and ankles. Turn the water back on and rinse.
Continue your shower as usual.

When you are done, step out and
towel dry off. Now to moisturizer! The goal here is to use enough moisturizer
to cover your body and make a second layer on your knees, elbows, wrists, and
ankles. Apply in the same order as your exfoliation process. Moisturize daily
until your wedding whether you exfoliate that day or not.  You are now
prepped for spray down! 

Note: Your chosen moisturizing
product should not make you burn, feel tacky, or be so thick that your upper
lip starts to sweat. Those are all signs that you are not using the right
ingredients or weight for your skin. Bought a bum product? You can always use
it AFTER your wedding. Store unused moisturizer in a sealing plastic container (like
a gallon zip bag) in the fridge. This will slow the product breakdown until you
have the chance to use it.

Spray and Relax Time!

This is the part that most brides
do not take advantage of. After you spray tan, it takes a couple of hours for
the complete color to appear. During this time you should avoid activities that
require tight clothing or make you sweat. Plan on wearing loose dark colored
clothing to avoid stains from the tanning product. You should wear these clothes
to your tanning appointment. Be sure to have activities planned post-spray that
do not make you exert enough energy to sweat. If you do not plan this
accordingly, you will screw up your tan. This is a great time to make calls, start
on your thank cards, or just have tea with a friend. 

15-20 minutes before your tanning
appointment, go over your wrists, elbows, knees, ankles, and lastly the backs
of your hands with your moisturizer. Tie your hair up or bring a hat. The spray
tan process is not forgiving on your hair. Next, get sprayed! Barrier cream is
a product use before spray tanning. Your tanning technician should explain
how to protect your fingernails with barrier cream before you tan and how long
it takes for the full color to appear. This is important. After you are done
with your appointment, Q-tip your outer ear and wash your hands. Discoloration
of acrylic nails is common with spray tanning. Transferring tanning product to
your nails while washing your hands post tan can happen. Make sure that water
does not run up your arms while washing. Be careful, blot your hands dry and
concentrate on dabbing the wrist area. Proceed to your chosen relaxation

"Help it" Post Spray

Only professional actors and
socialites will pretend that you can just spray tan and move about daily
business. You really do have to touch up a couple areas every time you spray.
Severe discoloration on ALL the places you made second passes on while
exfoliating can be an issue. If you feel like any if the areas above look less
than desirable, gently exfoliate the area while taking your post spray shower.
These are the ONLY areas that you want to exfoliate right now. I always prefer
to use the Salt Glow recipe for this. When you get out of the shower,
moisturize your entire body and be sure to double coat any areas of concern.
Continue exfoliating any discolored spots for two to three days post-spray. The
better you moisturizer the longer your tan will last. Feel a little orange? You
may need to tan in a tanning bed to change the effect. Be sure to use SPF on
your face and second pass exfoliation areas. Your underlying skin tone
will change the color if the tan to a more natural look.  

Emergency Note: If you already
resemble a Doritos chip when you read this, moisturize your problem areas and
let it absorb for 20 minutes. Exfoliate in the shower using Salt Glow and
moisturize with a Shea Butter or Cocoa Butter product. Repeat this process
daily until your color has toned down. If your wedding is tomorrow, you can
exfoliate twice in one day but be very gentle with the pressure you apply. Is
your wedding a couple days away? Tanning will dry your skin out. Know that this
will make the "bad" spray tan stay around longer. 

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Millie Ferguson is an Esthetician and owner of Cosmopolitan
SkinCare in Fairbanks, Alaska. Millie is a United States Air Force
Veteran, holds a Bachelor’s degree from Park University in Business,
attended Esthetics International, and is a member of the Associated Skin
Care Professionals. She can be contacted at