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Bronze Age

These days, you have to be tan before you hit the beach. so which salon is best at helping you fake it?


Applying the finishing touches at Acqua Beauty Bar.  

Acqua Beauty Bar
7 East 14th Street (212-620-4329)
$65, $75 for contouring

Application: Fifteen minutes to apply, twenty minutes to dry. The technician gets every crevice, but disposable panties leave horrendous, too-high tan lines.
Mess factor: Vaseline is applied to fingers and toenails, so your cuticles are safe. Stickiness lasts for about 30 minutes.
Duration: The next day’s shower took a great deal off; by day five, our tester was pasty again.
Realism: More like a day at the beach than a week in Jamaica.
Rating: 3

Brazil Bronze Glow Bar
580 Broadway, near Prince Street, Suite 203 (212-431-0077)
$50, $80 for contouring

Application: Ten minutes to apply, five minutes to dry. Save yourself $30 and skip the contouring: It doesn’t make much difference.
Mess factor: You’ll feel a bit tacky for a while, so wait as long as possible before you dress.
Duration: Fabulous until splotchiness set in on the sixth day.
Realism: Friends will be begging for all the gossip from your vacation.
Rating: 5

Maksim Spa
80 Fifth Avenue, Suite 1208
(212-414-9434); $80

Application: Twenty minutes to apply, ten minutes to dry. The spa ran out of disposable panties, so our tester had to get naked.
Mess factor: Barely any mess, and the solution didn’t run on clothes or sheets.
Duration: Spa claims seven to ten days (ten to fourteen with exfoliation). Tester got a solid five.
Realism:> Maksim tans the face and neck darker than the body—fine in the long-term but awkward if you want to hit the pool immediately.
Rating: 3

Bliss Spa
568 Broadway, near Prince Street (212-219-8970);
19 East 57th STreet (212-219-8970); $100

Application: A shower is followed by 40 minutes of spraying and 20 minutes to dry. You could be there for an hour and a half.
Mess factor: You won’t feel completely dry until a shower the next morning, and the tan still flakes when you touch your face or scratch your arm.
Duration: Four days.
Realism:> Our tester was told she’d be able to pick the shade, but later learned Bliss stocks only one color. It was too dark: “When I woke up the next day, I literally screamed because I looked like Tara Reid.”
Rating: 2

Anushka Day Spa & Cellulite Clinic
241 East 60th Street (212-355-6404)
$39 color, $69 body buff and color

Application: Fifteen minutes to apply, ten to dry. An even tan with absolutely no streaks—and, even better, it disguised veins and other flaws on our tester’s legs.
Mess factor: Some color came off on a gym towel after a run the next day, but not enough to be noticeable.
Duration: Five days.
Realism: Perfectly natural glow means you’ll plan your next top-up right away.
Rating: 4

Tips on the perfect fake tan from Brazil Bronze Glow Bar owner Sally Blenkey-Tchassova.

1. Technicians have a lot of control and can generate many different effects. Don’t be afraid to say you want something subtler or darker than they suggest.

2. Clients with a pale complexion shouldn’t go too dark: You’ll have a dirty fade. More solution isn’t guaranteed to make the tan last longer.

3. Sunscreen is corrosive to an airbrush tan. Put on one application of a higher SPF instead of continually reapplying. And take heed: DHA, the active ingredient in tanning solutions, will stain leather car seats.

4. Wear what makes you comfortable during the application: underwear, paper underwear, or nothing at all. Don’t be embarrassed; try to relax, and you’ll walk out feeling great about yourself.

5. Hands and feet pick up color in a different way and can give your tan away as a fake. An experienced technician will add a touch of color to both.


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