Four of the best ways to get a sun-free tan tested, just for you
Time Out Bahrain staff
We arrived at Xquizite having followed the salon’s instructions not to apply any moisturiser, since this can prevent the absorption of the tanning lotion. At this point, nerves came into play because the sunless tan effected by the Su-do airbrush system is said to last up to two weeks, and while pale and pasty is not ideal, streaky orange is even less so. ‘You’ll look straight-from-the-beach golden bronze,’ the therapist assured, before asking if we wanted to keep the bikini on or take it off for an all-over tan.
We opted to strip down to our birthday suit, and struck several poses to ensure that all areas were evenly coated, then waited 30 minutes for the product to dry before putting on loose clothing to avoid any staining. Like other self-tanning lotions, this spray-on formula contains the active ingredient dihydroxyacentone (DHA), which is a colourless sugar that gradually darkens the skin; in our case, it took five hours for the colour to appear. Being particularly fair-skinned, there was more work to be done, so it was off to the salon for a second half-strength treatment the next day, which resulted in an even bronze tone. For now the foundation will stay in the cupboard. Xquizite Ladies Nail Salon, Al Murjan Centre, Juffair (17 811 363). BD30 for the first session, BD15 for the second if required.
Scrub ’n’ glow
So much more than a simple self-tan application, the Elemis treatment at Dessange comes with a spot of pampering on the side. First up was a Moroccan bath, in which we were scrubbed from head to toe since, apparently, the exfoliation makes the final result more even. Buffed, clean and dried off, we moved into another room where the actual tanning began. The massage used to apply the Elemis cream was another added bonus, and we were lulled into a sense of total relaxation as visions of our golden body prone on a lounger played in our mind. The face in the mirror after the treatment didn’t quite live up to the dream, though, because the tan takes around three hours to develop.
But when we woke up the next morning, there was a definite, if subtle, difference – and a not-so-subtle one in a couple of areas such as the feet, which were orange around the edges. Fortunately, some scrubbing evened out the tone, and the general look was a pleasing natural-looking tan. A bit pricey, though, for only a week’s worth of sun-kissed glow. Dessange, Adliya (17 713 999). Moroccan bath and Elemis cream tan treatment, BD38.5.
Going it alone
Rather than spending loads of dinars to get someone to apply tanning cream to our body, we decided to try doing it ourselves. We bought Soltan’s self-tanning kit and gave it a go. You can easily add this tanning process to your shower routine. Apply the moisturiser/exfoliation cream before you jump in (the beads are rough, but they do leave your skin silky smooth), then rub in and rinse, dry off and apply the tanning lotion. The cream is pleasant: it doesn’t have that weird biscuit smell that some lotions can have. When applying it, it’s also very light and refreshing on the skin, but its almost complete lack of colour means you can’t keep track of where you have and haven’t applied. There are no instant results and, in truth, we didn’t see anything after two or three hours. In fact, Time Out was convinced it hadn’t made the blindest bit of difference, until the next day when we noticed the streaks. Oh dear. Soltan Self Tan Lotion, BD4.6, from Boots, Bahrain City Centre (17 179 852).
The gradual tan
Weary of rocking the streaked look, we decided to try one of those gradual tanning kits, care of Sanctuary. At first glance, the kit looked daunting. It’s a three-bottle process, implying you have to invest time to get the best results. We needn’t have worried. The first tube, containing dry skin-banishing exfoliator, smells citrusy and can easily be incorporated into your shower. Second up, the moisturiser doesn’t have any strong smell and goes on lightly to knees and elbows to avoid giveaway orange areas. Last, but not least, the cappuccino-coloured foam rubs in smoothly and doesn’t stink of potatoes, unlike some well-known brands. The packets advise you not to put any clothes on until the lotions are dry, but we put this to test with light-coloured shorts minutes after the process (call us reckless), and thankfully avoided any stains. The real test? Whether anyone noticed our new glow, or found it natural. Lucky for Sanctuary, they did, and we didn’t even have to put in any effort. In fact, we felt as if we’d spent the day at the beach. Almost. Sanctuary Self-Tanning Kit, BD17.95, from Boots, Bahrain City Centre (17 179 852).