In which order should I tan and shave my legs?
May 6, 2017 12:19 PM   Subscribe

My best friend's wedding is a week from today and I am wearing a super beautiful bridesmaid's dress that will reveal my arms, knees, and lower legs. These parts of my body are pasty and pale, slightly bruised, and hairy because I haven't yet started wearing anything that would show off those areas. What will be the best way to hide the cuts and bruises, get a reasonably realistic tan, and get rid of the hair at least on my legs?

All of this really needs to be done by next Friday morning in time for the rehearsal dinner and bridesmaid bonding time. I'm willing to forgo my arms in favor of my legs since they're less pasty. Everyone else in the bridal party is tan. So:

1. When do I shave or use Nair or whatever?
2. When should I apply some sort of waterproof self tanner?
3. What else can I do to make this last Friday and Saturday?

I'd try and get a natural tan but the weather where I live is gloomy and I can't make it to the beach anytime soon because of work. :(
posted by Hermione Granger to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (21 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I think you're supposed to exfoliate and shave before using self-tanner. I'd do the shaving first, and maybe wait a day or so for any irritation to settle down before doing the self-tanner. And I'd be more inclined to go with something like the Jergen's Natural Glow lotion, which is way more subtle than regular tanning stuff. Or maybe go to a spray-tan place?
posted by sarcasticah at 12:25 PM on May 6, 2017 [10 favorites]

I'd shave and exfoliate and then get a professional spray tan. If you're not practiced at putting on self tanner, you can get a very blotchy outcome. Or, you can shave and then use Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs spray. It's a makeup that covers imperfections, makes you look tan, and is budge-proof once dry. But, it can be removed if you get some weird spots (less likely since you can see how the application looks right away).
posted by quince at 1:08 PM on May 6, 2017 [12 favorites]

I really like spray-on leg makeup for occasions like this. My legs are pale and translucent and this stuff evens out my skintone really well.
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:12 PM on May 6, 2017 [4 favorites]

posted by aniola at 1:14 PM on May 6, 2017 [10 favorites]

Shave or wax first, and get a spray tan. I would do the spray tan Thursday or Friday, it will last a few days and if the professionals do it, it will look fine. Arnica can help with bruises, but they take a while to heal. I use Derma blend on bruises, you can get a pretty close match at a place like Ulta.
posted by chocolatetiara at 1:27 PM on May 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

Yes, if you're not experienced at self-tan you need to get a pro involved or wear tights instead.
posted by threetwentytwo at 1:35 PM on May 6, 2017 [6 favorites]

Thirding the Sally Hansen airbrush stuff. You would apply that on the day of, after your legs are shaved of course, before you get dressed. Not necessary but I sometimes prime my legs first with Monistat Anti-Chafing gel, which is intended for use in areas such as the inner thigh, but which many people use as a face primer since it has the same ingredients at a much lower I basically combine the two uses and use it as a leg primer. That might help create a smooth layer over any minor cuts. Both of these products are less than $10 and are multi-use so you can try out the process before the big day.
posted by acidic at 1:58 PM on May 6, 2017 [3 favorites]

Depending on how bad the cuts and bruises are there is body make up beyond the SH airbrush stuff. But for such an occasion and given pictures of this will haunt me for many years I'd go for the professional spray tan. And I'd spend the days leading up to that exfoliating and moisturising as required. Any fake tan, professional or diy, is going to look a lot better on smooth, well moisturised skin.
posted by koahiatamadl at 2:26 PM on May 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

Get waxed first, preferably today or tomorrow. Spray tan professionally Wednesday or Thursday, so you've got time to match your new skin tone with Dermablend or other corrective foundation. You can get that at Ulta or Sephora and the people there love to help. I've used the booth spray tan and it's cheap, but it is super weird and it does take your breath away (cold!) when it first hits you. Never done an in-person airbrush tan, so I can't speak to that directly.
You don't want to get the tan too close in time to your events, because the bronzer part will rub off on your nice clothes (and I frequently find that my tan looks kind of dirty at that point). After a shower you'll have just the actual tan left, so you don't have to worry about streaking the bride's dress brown if you hug her. Definitely exfoliate (waxing will help with that) and pay careful attention to all instructions about putting barrier cream on feet, palms, etc., to avoid getting random super dark spots. Though if you get the Dermablend to cover the bruises you'll also be able to blend out any weird spots in the tan.

(For the record I'm totally *not* a salon person. Every time I've ever spray tanned has been for someone's wedding in similar circumstances -- still pale from winter, want to not throw off the white balance in the photos -- and I definitely recommend getting it professionally done. I've also used some home bronzers and like them okay -- they're the same chemical makeup/process as the professional ones -- but getting even application is SO challenging. Especially because you don't want it staining your hands, so you need to wear gloves or mitts, and you can't reach your own back/shoulders, etc. It's so much faster to get it done, and it can be cheaper if you find a booth place that's got a promo deal for a first-timer.)
posted by katemonster at 2:43 PM on May 6, 2017 [3 favorites]

Get a professional lower leg wax and spray tan.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:21 PM on May 6, 2017

I had a professional spray tan 3 days before my own wedding...MISTAKE!!!!! Later, I was asked to be in a wedding. I found a lady who did airbrushed tans. WOW. They used an airbrush gun and some kind of tan stuff. It looked real and fabulous!!! See if you can find an airbrush tanner. I had to exfoliate my body and shave my legs right before going. I've also had excellent results with Clarins self tanner. Same with it, exfoliate and shave your legs first. Good luck with whatever you choose!!
posted by Amalie-Suzette at 6:14 PM on May 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

If you've never waxed, this week is not the week to do so. If you want to do self tanning there are lots of great products; shave tonight and start applying the self tanner in the morning. Apply it twice a day every day to build a deeper tan, once a day for a lighter tan. Shave again Thursday night, reapply tan on Friday morning. Repeat again Fri/Sat if the wedding is on Saturday. Don't skip your arms, do your whole body.
posted by vignettist at 6:28 PM on May 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

Don't wax if you haven't before, in fact don't wax unless you have a person you trust implicitly right before a big event. You can have a bad reaction or get a burn or bad ingrown hairs pretty easily. I can't wax at all because I just get hideous red itchy bumps for a week afterwards, I've given up on it.
posted by fshgrl at 7:33 PM on May 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

+1 for a professional spray tan in this case. If you've never done it there are always some great newbie deals. But if you insist on DIY, my grunge to glam method is day 1: shower-exfoliate like heck; day 2: shower-shave, and days 3-5: shower- apply self-tanning lotion.
posted by scrubjay at 8:51 PM on May 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

What colour are your bruises? They usually go away in 2-4 weeks, so that part might not be as much of an issue by Friday. You could try to help the cuts along by applying Polysporin/Neosporin daily. Could give vitamin C & D a shot, too, no big risk with those and they could help*.

2nd Jergens (maybe all week?) + spot makeup. That sounds and is annoying, but it would be much less annoying than doing the full on spray tan or something darker / possibly streakier like e.g. St Tropez. (Tried it once, super stressful! And smelly.)

Shave now and on the Thurs/Fri, with a safe razor like the Venus. If you haven't shaved in a while and fear a rash/ingrowns, try Tend Skin (TM) or DIY tend skin (crushed up aspirin + water) - apply right after shaving.

*Am taking those + B complex, iron & magnesium [on advice], and have been surprised by how fast bruises etc have been healing. Had a huge, raised, gashy bruise that I'd have expected to stick around for ~ a month - mellowed out in half the time! Might be imagining that, don't think so, but there is some stuff on C and D possibly being helpful if you're missing those.]
posted by cotton dress sock at 11:24 PM on May 6, 2017

I may be crucified for this but I think you should use a tanning bed. A professional spray tan is expensive and high-maintenance. Just shave your legs a couple times and hit the tanning bed for 6 minutes a couple times before the wedding.
posted by pintapicasso at 7:27 AM on May 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

You can probably still get a tan even if the weather isn't nice (assuming it is summer where you reside). The vast majority of UV rays get through clouds, etc. Read a book and wear a hat.

Would not advise waxing, using nair, self tanner, etc., unless you have done it before...

Otherwise just get nice pantyhose? They cost a lot more but last, feel nicer and look nicer.

I don't shave or tan and I haven't been "in trouble" for not suddenly doing so to fit into a bridal party.
posted by love2potato at 12:01 PM on May 7, 2017

Response by poster: Sally Hansen spray AND gradual tanning lotion acquired. Going to test them tonight to get a feel for the whole process (after exfoliating). Tights and pantyhose are no-goes. Thank you so much for the advice!! I may post photos to show the results (pray they are reasonably natural looking 😭)
posted by Hermione Granger at 3:22 PM on May 7, 2017

Response by poster: Update:

I look like Donald Trump.
posted by Hermione Granger at 5:43 PM on May 7, 2017 [11 favorites]

I look like Donald Trump.

Oh no! Okay, then I'll join in pintapicasso's recommendation. Scrub the stuff off and if you're mentally able to get over the tanning bed hurdle, that might be your best bet. I have done this before and applied a very light layer of a light sunscreen (like a 15 spf) and gone in for maybe 3 sessions in a week. It is enough to get the blinding white off.
posted by LKWorking at 7:57 AM on May 8, 2017

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