How to tan for a figure competition
          Wendy Page

Why is it important to be tan for your figure show? Well, there are a variety of reasons. But here’s the most important one: The lights used for stage illumination are very different from the light we use in our normal, every day lives. Your skin will look severely washed out under the lights if you’re not protected with a tan. It’s much easier for the judges to evaluate your body condition and muscle development when you’re being compared to the other competitors on stage.

So when do you begin tanning and how should you tan?

I’ve heard of women who have gone to spray tan booth just days before the show to get their show color. It’s not dark enough. Because as dark as you think you are at home, you’ll be washed out on stage. Spray tan booths work well for a summer bronze, or if you need a quick tan for a wedding, but they don’t work for competition tanning. That’s why there are products out there that have been created solely for the bodybuilding world.

For an even, all-over tan, you should really consider beginning your tanning process weeks before the show at a tanning bed. And just as a tip; tan naked. You don’t want any unsightly tan lines. Avoid natural sunlight because you’re almost guaranteed to get tan lines – even with the use of a sunscreen. About two weeks from your show, begin using an exfoliating body wash that will strip your body of any dead skin cells that will hamper the evenness of your tan application.

The various self-tanners on the market.

There are a lot of self-tanners on the market. But when you’re preparing for the show, you should really use a tanner that was specifically created for bodybuilding shows. Here is a summary of a couple of them:

Pro Tan – Pro Tan is simple to use. It’s actually the tanner of choice for our shows. You can get a deep tan within hours of an easy brush-on application. Pro Tan guarantees even coverage too and it has a special non-streaking color formula. Plus, it won’t interfere with your natural tan. It will even out any spots that may be lighter on your skin and it dries completely. Be careful though, Pro-Tan will run if it gets wet. It will also dry out your skin a bit because of the alcohol in it. You won’t be able to apply lotion because it will smear the color unevenly after the tan is dry.

Dream Tan – Dream tan is used as an alternative to applying any tanning liquids for days before the show. It’s safe for use around the eyes and it’s smooth formula spreads easily and coats completely in just one application. The good thing about Dream Tan is that you don’t have to tan before a show to use it. You can apply up to one hour prior to your show and you’ll be stage ready. It only takes about 15-30 minutes to coat your entire body. But, Dream Tan never dries completely, so you should avoid rubbing the tan with anything as it will streak before you get on stage. Plus, you will want to wash it off after your morning show and reapply it before the night show.

Jan Tana – Jan Tana offers a complete line of products that includes a pre-tan scrub, face and body bronzer, show and competition tanners, deep moisturizers, posing oils, hair remover, triple accelerators and shower gels. The color glides on creating a rich competition color that continues to darken for hours. It dries instantly and the color washes out of most clothing.

The process of applying Pro-Tan self-tanner.

About four days from the show, you will begin to apply your paint-on tan. Before you tan, make sure you exfoliate to get rid of all the dead skin. Patches of dry, dead skin may absorb the tanner better and therefore you’ll wind up with dark patches on your skin.

Here’s your tanning schedule beginning four days from the show:

4 days out: Shower like usual in the morning and apply a coat of Pro Tan in the evening.

You can even apply two coats the first day. It is better to get darker quicker than to realize the last night that you aren’t dark enough. Apply the tanner and help the drying process with a hair dryer. Wait until the tanner is completely dry before you apply the second coat.

3 days out: Shower in the morning with lukewarm water, use light soap. Apply 
                   another 1-2 coats of Pro-Tan in the evening and use your hair dryer to 
                   help speed up the drying process.

2 days out: Shower in the morning with lukewarm water, no soap. Apply another 1-2                     coats of Pro-Tan in the evening and use your hair dryer to help speed   
                   up the drying process.

1 day out:  This is the day before your show. Take a shower in the morning. This                         be your last shower before the show. Apply your Pro Tan as early as 
                   possible just in case you are not dark enough and you need to apply
                   another coat.

You should have your all of your tanner on before the day of the show. That will minimize the amount of work you need to do the morning of the show and make sure that your color will not streak.

Pro Tan Tanning Application Tips

The Pro Tan comes with a sponge brush for application. But it is easier just to use a regular sponge. Make sure that the sponge you use doesn’t have any additives in it, like a cleanser or scrubber. Just buy a dollar store sponge.

I find it easier to have a tanning partner. It makes the job quicker and sometimes they can reach places that you wouldn’t be able to reach evenly – like the middle of your back. If you work with a partner, make sure they wear gloves because their hands will stain from the tanning liquid.

Pour the Pro Tan into an old container, like a Cool Whip container. Dip one end of the sponge into the container and soak it with the tanner. Rub it over your skin in even strokes until the color doesn’t look as dark as when is started. Turn the sponge to the other dry side and just run it over the tanner to soak up any excess that may be on your skin. Continue to so this for your entire body.

Be extra careful when you tan your knees, elbows and heels as they are usually dry and may soak the tanner up faster. I would recommend putting a light coat of lotion on them right before you begin tanning. Rub it in and then let your knees and elbows be the last thing you tan. Just put one coat on your elbows, knees and heels at the very end. They don’t need much more than that. It also helps to blot them with a damp washcloth after they have been tanned to smooth out the color. You can also use a damp washcloth to smooth out the tan on the top of your feet and your wrists and hands. I usually wait until the last day before the show to tan my hands and feet. You definitely want them tanned because if not they will stand out against the rest of your skin.

Removing the tanner after the show

Pro-Tan should completely wash off in about 5 days. Most of it will come off after your first shower, but some of it will stick around and may come off looking blotchy. The best tan remover I have found is good old Palmolive dish detergent. It stripped the tanner off my body better than anything I tried, even washes including exfoliants. Just apply it liberally on a washcloth and scrub. The tan should come off fairly easily.

Remember to soak your suits right after the show using a mild detergent and lukewarm water. Oxyclean works well on the suits.

Pro Tan won’t stain if you wash your clothes out quickly and thoroughly, but for the week before the show when you have the tanner on, you will want to wear dark clothes, use dark towels and put old sheets on your bed.

Best of luck to you in your tanning endeavors!

Competition Figure
Figure Competition Coach/Personal Training
Advanced Fat Loss For Women
Buffalo N.Y.