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Wedding Tanning – Top Tips, Pros and Cons

Wedding tanning – nearly every bride-to-be has thought about it. Should I or shouldn’t I? Will I end up looking my best ever… or like a lobster? What will my other half say? Will I look like a bread roll in photos? These are all valid questions. There are various options on the market from tanning products you can pick up in your local pharmacy to salon spray tanning, and tanning pills to sunbeds and of course the natural way, lathering on the sunscreen and getting yourself some natural rays (your only hope is hopping on a plane to sunnier climes so you’ll need to consider the time and budget factor). Self-tanning and salon spray tanning are two popular choices for brides-to-be so we’ve got the low-down on both with pros and cons…

Golden rules of wedding tanning: 

1. Try your chosen product well in advance – so you can let the results fade if they don’t look great.

2. Is your other half wedding tanning as well? If not, the difference in your colour will really show up in photos, so go easy on the colour. 

3. Remember, a tan looks darker when you’re wearing white, so resist the urge to go that one shade darker.

4. Have the spray tan before the makeup trial, or if that’s impossible, tell the makeup artist you’re planning on having one.

5. Waxing and tanning don’t go together – do your waxing no less than 24 hours before you tan.

Wedding tanning DIY-style

From spring until autumn (that would be now!) every pharmacy in the land is well-stocked with all kinds of self-tanning products. They come in all sizes to suit all skin types, so it’s easy to pick the one you like best, and you could even ask for free samples. You can take it up a notch and go to a posh spa place or an upscale department store to search for some more luxurious brands (Debenhams, Arnotts, Brown Thomas and House of Fraser will have some good options). In the end though, paying more doesn’t always mean a better look – it’s all about how it looks on you. We suggest asking around for advice – you probably have friends or work colleagues who have tried a product or two. When you’re ready to buy your own, here’s what to do: buy the smallest bottle first, then apply to an area you don’t normally show in public – like thighs or upper arms. You’ll see the difference as quickly as overnight, or several days if you’re using one of those ‘build-up’ products. Check the colour in natural light to make sure you like it, and more importantly, whether your skin has reacted in any way. If all is well, go ahead and apply all over. Remember to exfoliate from head to toe before every application – otherwise parts of you may look like you were dipped in porridge (no, it’s not a good look for a bride). A good rule of thumb to follow is that specialist tanning products last longer than tinted moisturisers or mousses.

The American website has recently done a review of the best self-tanners on the market, and while some of them may be hard to find in Ireland, their number-one product is available to buy – it is Clarins Intense Bronze Self Tanning Tint. Another Clarins product, the Self Tanning Instant Gel, has made it to number 8, while Dior Bronze Self-Tanner Natural Glow Body was number 6. In the top four, we have the St. Tropez Self-Tan Bronzing Mousse, the Sally Beauty Salon Bronze Airbrush Tanning System, and Vita Liberata Phenomenal 2-3 Week Tan Lotion – in case you felt like trying a few options. 

Pros: inexpensive, easy to apply, easy to switch to something else if you don’t like the colour

Cons: may take several days to produce the result you want, if you apply before bedtime you may end up with tanned sheets, some products wash off in the shower, some aren’t suitable for use on your face


Spray or booth tanning at a salon

If you’re minding your budget, you may be tempted to go to the least expensive place possible. This isn’t a problem – but before you book, call them up and ask what products they’ll use on you, then call a more upscale place and ask the same question. You may just be surprised if they tell you they’re using the same thing! If they aren’t, spend a little time online checking what those products are, just in case you may have any allergic reactions. Before you go in the booth, speak to the assistant and explain exactly what you’re looking for – or you may end up looking like Anne Hathaway in the movie Bride Wars (if you haven’t seen it, she looked a bit like an angry amber traffic light). A good idea is to bring some celeb pics to illustrate the right hue. Do your first spray well in advance of the wedding. Ask how long the results will last, and whether you should use any special products in the shower to maintain it until the wedding day. You should bring loose, dark clothing to wear home, and don’t make grand plans for the rest of the day – best to reserve your evening for Netfix and popcorn. For more great wedding tanning advice, read Cosmopolitan’s stellar advice for first-timers.

For professional help close to home, we highly recommend the Mediskin Laser and Skincare Experts in Co. Tipperary who offer customised body-sculpting spray-tanning. They use 3 different brands of tan to ensure the perfect colour match for you and the Mediskin spray tan can make you look instantly lifted and toned by using the method of highlighting and contouring the body. A full spray tan will cost €25.

Pros: quick, very precise application, looks very natural when finished. Not harmful to health, unless your skin reacts. Instant results that settle in a day or two, and last for up to 10 days.

Cons: you have to get naked in front of a stranger and most likely put on a paper thong. The spray is very cold. You may stain your bedsheets on the very first night. Some find the scent unpleasant.

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Rachel Green

Rachel Green

If you think the bride should always have the last word, then Rachel is on your side! A devoted fan of everything quirky, unusual, colourful or crafty, she loves scouting WOL's real weddings for unique and fun touches. When not gazing at pictures, she's dispensing no-nonsense advice on everything from reception entrance songs to bridesmaid problems.
Rachel Green

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