Manolo for the Big Girl Fashion, Lifestyle, and Humor for the Plus Sized Woman.

June 6, 2011

Summer Legs Part 1: Sunless Tanning for Idiots Like Me

Filed under: Advanced Fashion,Makeup,Plumcake's Secrets of Fabulousness,Summer — Miss Plumcake @ 2:48 pm

Greetings gang, I’m back in Texas! In a few weeks I’ll be leaving the spend most of the rest of summer in an idyllic little beach house in Mexico, which brings me to the subject at hand. Or rather leg.

Yesterday when I surveyed my wondrous gams in preparation for wearing some very short shorts indeed –I haven’t worn shorts since Clinton was in office– the outlook was Not Good. I needed to summerize my pins with a quickness, so I thought I’d offer you some tips and tricks on making your legs look long and shapely for summer.

Today it’s self-tanning.

I’m not gonna lie, my legs are really white. That doesn’t bother me, I don’t mind being more Snow White than Malibu Barbie (fun question: would you rather live with 7 really short dudes or have a closet case for a boyfriend?) but they look like those see-through lizards that hang around my door at night. You can see all the internal workings; hair follicles, the anterior and posterior tibial arteries, PLUS whatever bumps and bruises and random injuries I have done unto myself at any given moment. It’s less than ideal.

I don’t subscribe to the Everyone Must Be Bronzed At All Times theory of summer leggery, but since my wardrobe in Mexico is going to be all about my legs, especially since the other occupant of the bungalow thinks my gams are the greatest things since sliced vodka and I have every intention on keeping the illusion alive as long as I can.

If I’m going to be showing off vast tracts of leg, I want them to look their best and that means a bit of color for that healthy glow and evenness.

I’m not about to sit out in the sun to get a real tan, but what are the alternatives? I’ve had epic fails with every sunless tanner or spray I’ve tried and it stinks so bad I can barely stand it.

Until now.

Enter the L’Oreal Sublime Bronze ProPerfect Salon Airbrush Self-Tanning Mist in Medium Natural. Friends, Romans, fellow residents of Honky O’Sunburn’s Home for the Chronically White, this is good stuff. I mean REALLY good. Even I didn’t mess it up, which is saying something, plus it’s one of those gradual tanners where you add color over several days so there’s no way you’re going to go to bed alabaster and wake up Oompa Loompa.

Preparation is the most important part for sunless tanning.

You want to exfoliate as if your life depended on it.

I got a handy dandy loofah pad and scrubbed myself, then I shaved my legs with a new razor –if you’ve got extremely sensitive skin, I’d shave a day before– had another spin with the loofah, and then rubbed my legs down with a towel pretty vigorously. The goal was to make sure all the dead skin got gonesville. Then I hung out naked under a ceiling fan for a while until I was completely dry. No moisturizing yet.

Once dry, I rubbed a thick body butter all over my feet and put on a pair of very short socks –this ended up creating a bit of a tan line, but rather than orange feet– and with the remaining lotion on my hands, rubbed my knees and just below my knees. Your knees take color more easily than the rest of your legs, and rubbing a bit of lotion on them slows absorption, which makes for a more even-looking tan.

Then I sprayed.

This can sprays from all angles, so I could hold it upside down and get an even, steady mist. I started with my thigh and worked my way down, skipping my knees –I let the overspray get it– trying to make sure I didn’t go over any one area much more than others. I’m sure I did and the tan developed fine anyway, but it’s worth making the effort.

There’s no rubbing or massaging or anything like that so I moved on to the next leg, did the same thing and then stood under a fan for a few seconds until I felt good and dry. About 30 minutes later I dusted on some baby powder –sweat is the enemy and I wanted to be safe– all over my legs, especially behind my knees and between my thighs, took off my socks and went to bed.

The first thing I noticed was it didn’t smell. I am very sensitive to the sunless tanning smell and although there is still just barely a tiny hint, it’s completely tolerable, even for a big nelly like me. I knew it didn’t smell when I applied it, but the proof is in the newly-bronzed pudding because that’s when the DHA develops and the stench comes out. Since this is a gradual tanner –meaning you put it on several days in a row– it’s got less DHA, which means less stink. Plus there aren’t any gross heavy fragrances to make things worse.

Second thing I noticed was that my legs were indeed darker. Not a ton darker, but I’d say what I’d expect from a full afternoon in the sun. There are no streaks and absolutely no orange (phew!) and although there is a bit of a tanline from my socks, it’s natural looking. I did another application this morning since I knew I was going to be in the house for a few hours and could do the same naked lounging with baby powder thing, and this time I just moisturized my feet and then sprayed.

I’ll keep you updated on how the tan progresses, but so far so good, so get spraying!


  1. I too am of the super pasty persuasion, so pretty please keep us posted on how this works out. Could you also let us know how long it lasts? Hope you enjoy your time in Mexico!

    Comment by Jessica — June 6, 2011 @ 4:06 pm

  2. I have another question. What is the best way to get rid of, or lessen, tan lines? I’m in a wedding in September for which I’ll be wearing a strapless dress. First I will try to prevent the tan lines from forming, but I know complete prevention will be impossible. Is this spray exact enough to be able to tan just certain parts of my shoulders?

    Comment by jen209 — June 6, 2011 @ 5:13 pm

  3. @Jen209: No, it’s not exact enough for that, but it might lessen them. For that I’d use makeup like dermablend or if you definitely wanted to go the sunless tan route, one of those towelettes you’re supposed to use on your face.

    Thanks, I will! So far it’s pretty swell. I’m on the second application and it looks like a natural tan. Not orange at all, thank goodness.

    Comment by Miss Plumcake — June 6, 2011 @ 6:08 pm

  4. This is intriguing – I have never had success with self-tanners (including the much-loved Jergens) and gave up a few years ago. Do you think you could wear moisturizer with SPF on top of an area you spray without ruining the look?

    Comment by Camo — June 7, 2011 @ 1:06 am

  5. My problem is that a day or two after shaving my legs, I have to shave again. If I self-tan, won’t some of the tan come off along with the hair?

    Comment by lali — June 7, 2011 @ 5:01 am

  6. You’re gonna love this stuff forever. I’ve been using the Sublime Bronze lotion in the tube for several years and it is fantastic. (Hate looking like the lupus/cancer patient that I am and this helps!) I’m never without a tube of it now. Lali, the shave does take it off somewhat, but I find that even with pretty frequent shaving I only need to reapply every third day or so once the color is built up to the desired level.

    Comment by Eroica — June 7, 2011 @ 12:25 pm

  7. I had picked up a bottle of the lotion this weekend and I’m also pleased so far. My skin is bluish-white and this gave me a ‘healthy’ look without turning orange or making my skin break out like Jergens did.

    Hint, Medium/Natural IS the lightest color – I was looking all over for Light until I was told it doesn’t exist in that brand

    Comment by Thea — June 7, 2011 @ 3:27 pm

  8. Thanks for the information. Now if I could just find a bottle in Manila…

    Comment by lali — June 8, 2011 @ 1:49 am

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