All of the Color None of the Cancer

During the winter I fully embrace the fact that I’m one of the laziest human beings around when it comes to grooming habits and natural skin tone. At the beginning of spring my mentality shifts. I purchase the big value bag of razors to chop down the Amazonian forest that is my leg hair and begin the search for any product that will give my sad pale skin some color. Shout out to my Norwegian ancestors.

When I was a kiddo I played in the sun a lot. Guiltily, I admit, both with and without sunscreen despite the ever-present insistence of my mother to always slather my body in SPF. Being tan was cool and the best way to achieve the ever-formidable perfect glow in my mind was to go sans sunscreen. Fast forward to my early twenties and I’ve already had precancerous moles carved out of my back. No more joshing around with the SPF my friends, “pour that sunscreen on me” (sang to the tune of that Def Leppard song).

There’s just the personal appeal of having a golden glow during the summer. I’d rather liken myself to a perfectly toasted marshmallow than my natural Casper-the-friendly-ghost state.

So here I am parked at the intersection of health and vanity. What’s a girl to do? The answer is to throw up the praise hands for modern day science and grab a sunless tanner. There are a ton of products on the market that assure bronze perfection without pesky streaking and smelly odors, but only a few follow through on these promises.

One product in particular that I’ve fallen in love with is Flawless by Fake Bake. Granted all of their products I’ve tried work well, there’s something about Flawless that I really like. Maybe it’s the fact that the name of the product takes me one step closer to emulating Beyoncé. More likely it’s due to the fact that this self-tanner is formulated with a color guide. The phrase color guide sounds complicated, but it’s not. It just means your skin is immediately given a nice bronze tan where you’ve applied the product. Seriously, that’s genius. I wasn’t left with any streaky lines or patches of pasty white skin because I could see where I’d already put the product and where my skin still needed a little love. Plus, it was incredibly easy to apply. The package includes plastic gloves, a mitt for your hand and a spray bottle of product.

Fake Bake states that “the color develops using three organic tanning agents – Dihydroxyacetone (DHA) boosted by DMI & Erythulose – without any stains or dyes, Fake Bake works with your own unique skin tone to produce a naturally-based darker pigmentation on your skin’s surface.” It’s also paraben-free and has no artificial preservatives.

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The lineup of tools for this self-tan exploration

I like this product, but the first time I used it was quite the learning experience. As with any self-tanner I did have difficulty reaching my back, but I enlisted my sister who agreed to give me a helping hand on my journey toward a sun goddess glow me, as long as I agreed to support her Taco Bell habit and purchase some Nachos Bell Grande… seemed like a fair trade to me. I suggest having a friend around who you may have to bribe, or not, to help you reach the hard places.

Another helpful tip to ensure you get the best results is to exfoliate your whole body beforehand. I took the time to pamper myself a little bit and finally used a sugar body scrub I was given at Christmas. If you don’t exfoliate before applying the product there’s the potential to get some splotchy results. The product develops by soaking into the skin and if there’s excess dead skin just hanging out on the top layer, the product won’t be able to develop as well as it would on squeaky clean skin.

Following a shower I would suggest rubbing lotion on the extra dry spots on your body with a general lotion. Common dry skin areas are the front and back of knees, elbows, ankles and wrists. The trick behind this is that if you put on moisturizer beforehand the product won’t soak in too much and make those areas a darker color than the rest of the body, so you’ll get a more natural overall tan. Although I would find it funny if someone came up to me and said dang girl those elbows are really getting a lot of sun!

The first time I applied this product was quite a shock to my system. After I looked at myself in the mirror my stomach dropped. I. Looked. So. Dark. I began questioning my life choices. Is this the end? What if it never comes off? How did I get here? It was madness for five hot minutes. After searching Google my nerves were calmed when I read that the color guide appears darker than your skin will be after the product develops.

The product develops over a timeframe of about 6 hours so I chose to put it on right before bed, which worked out well with a few caveats. I would suggest wearing loose fitting clothing or put sheets on your bed that you don’t care too much about. If you’re body isn’t fully dry before you go to bed sometimes a bit of the product can transfer to your sheets if you like to snugz in your blankets a lot at night.

Lastly, if you drool at night I would put the product on a couple hours before hitting the hay to assure optimal drying time. If you don’t think you’re a drooler, think again and then still give yourself a little extra time before slipping under your sheets. I didn’t think I drooled at night either; after all I got my braces off in 7th grade and therefore should be past the glory days of open mouth sleeping that my sexy headgear made me endure… Oh. Buddy. All I can say is old habits die hard.

The next morning I woke up and went to grab a cup coffee with my mom. I didn’t look in the mirror. It’s the morning nobody wants to look at my raggedy demeanor then, not even me. I sat down as she looked up and a huge grin plastered itself across her face, followed by “I think you may have drooled a little last night. You have a little mark.” I had previously informed her of my shenanigans to do Fake Bake the night before and she knows you’re not suppose to get wet for at least six hours while it develops. I responded “Really? Is it super noticeable?” That elicited a belly laugh and tears after I turned my head to reveal my shoulder… That’s right friends, I drooled so heavily throughout the night that a line extended from the corner of my mouth all the way down my neck, onto my collar bone and shoulder. Is there a drooling competition in the Olympics? If so I’m packing my bags and heading to Rio to bring home the gold for the motherland, USA.


I stood up and looked at myself in the mirror and all I could do was laugh. Here’s another photo if you’re having a bad day and need a good laugh….


To fix the line I took a bit of the product on the tip of the mitt and filled in the line and let it sit for one hour. I then took a shower while rocking out to ACDC and watched as the water flowing by my feet turned a red-brown hue. I toweled off and put on body lotion. Putting on body lotion isn’t only great for your skin’s texture, but it’s a great way to extend the life of any self-tanner. After checking myself out in the mirror I was impressed!

I wasn’t oompa loompa orange. There wasn’t a single trace of droolmaggedon from the night before and I didn’t have a single streak. My tan looked incredibly natural. Plus, the tan lasted a little over a week before it started to fade. Compared to other products I’ve used, such as gradual self-tanning lotions, Flawless by Fake Bake is my new favorite. For three reasons:

  • It was incredibly easy to apply
  • It only took one application to see great results
  • All mistakes are easy to fix

If you’re looking for a great tan this summer and want all of the color, but none of the cancer I’d suggest giving Fake Bake a try. After we admire each other’s beautifully toasted marshmallow brown color we can swap the inevitably hilarious stories that come from finding the perfect self-tanner.


Guinevere Ayers

My name is Guinevere and I’m a twenty-something woman, born and raised in Montana. After a brief hiatus to experience the big ol’ world (Nebraska… yeah… I know) I’m back in Big Sky country, navigating life and working at Billings Clinic as a consultant in the Facial Plastic and Reconstructive surgery department. I have degrees in Medical Anthropology and Biology. I’m a lover of lazy Sunday mornings, a connoisseur of mac and cheese and I often find myself in situations that make my mother laugh and say, “what am I going to do with you.” I previously struggled to find articles about topics I was interested in, that were fun to read, down to earth and informative. Somewhere along the fruitless journey of wandering the Internet I figured, why not just trial the things I’m interested in and write about it myself. Thus, I bring you my experiences with the aesthetic side of medicine and cosmetics. It's going to be a wild ride!

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