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Darker by the hour

July 03, 2004|By ANDREA ROWLAND

andrear@herald-mail.com

I felt like a sports car (OK, a sedan) about to get a fresh coat of paint as I stripped and stood against a plexiglass covered wall for my first-ever airbrush tan.

It's a new way to get that sun-kissed look without exposing an inch of skin to the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays. Hotel heiress Paris Hilton and a bevy of beautiful people in big cities like New York and Los Angeles get airbrushed. Now, Chris and April Smith's Brazil Glow Bar in Hagerstown and a few other airbrush tanning salons in the Tri-State area have made the opportunity available to the local masses.

I arrived after work on Tuesday, June 15, at Brazil Glow Bar within plastic surgeon Salvatore DiMercurio's Cosmetic Plastic Surgery Center at Robinwood Medical Center. While I was tempted by such salon options as the "Cellulite Annihilator" and "Sculpted Tan" packages ($55) ? which use a combination of different products to create the illusion of less cellulite, more defined abdominal and pectoral muscles, and enhanced cleavage ? I chose the standard airbrush tan ($35; $25 for the first time; multiple-session discounts available).

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The lightly bronzed Smiths explained the spray-on tan process ? 10 to 15 minutes to spray, 10 minutes to dry ? while I completed a short client information form. After Chris Smith left the room, I stripped to my underwear (clients can wear as much or as little as they choose) to prepare for the spray.

April Smith ? whose professional demeanor and experience in the medical field made me feel more comfortable ? first applied latex to my nails to prevent the tinted tanning formula from staining them. I put petroleum jelly on my lips and a shower-like cap over my hair for the same reason.

The airbrush gun's cold, odorless spray blanketed my skin, starting at my feet and moving upward. Following Smith's directions, I turned, bent, lifted and faced the plexiglass wall with arms and legs spread like a criminal suspect about to be frisked. I closed my eyes and held my breath to Smith's slow count of five as she sprayed my face ? an experience I ranked slightly more bearable than the glaucoma test at the eye doctor's office. Sticky but already looking tanner, I dried myself with a fan and blow dryer.

My cat licked my tinted hand when I got home. I expected to lose either the tan or the cat, but all was well. My husband said he could see me turning darker by the hour.

I kept track of the tan for a week.

Day one: Shocking! Awoke to a much tanner face in the mirror. Welcomed my first post-spray shower, which looked like a murder scene after the water washed the bronze tint from my skin. Besides the small, coppery splotches around my ankles, and, on the side of my right hand, the tan looks natural. Many positive comments from friends. Only dilemma is that concealer for dark spots under eyes too light.

Day two: Slathering on moisturizer to help maintain my bronze glow. Love this tan! Used fresh razor blade to avoid scraping tan off legs.

Day three: Still quite tan, though some of my color seemed to rub off on my white socks. Hmm. Cat scratch also removed a sliver of tan on hand. Ready for a long, hot shower, but quick, warm showers are recommended for sunless tans.

Day four: While traveling to Montreal, husband commented that my face appeared to be "splotchy." Quick check in rearview mirror confirmed his observation, which I attributed to my use of facial scrub that morning. Tan definitely fading.

Day five: Tan just about gone, so decided to take a dip in the hotel pool followed by a hot shower. Natural skin tone returning, but I'm still tanner than most of these Northerners.

Day six: Tan completely gone, except for a few scrapes and scars that seemed to hold the tanning formula longer than the rest of my skin.

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