Getting a Fake Tan For Dancing: Tanning for Dancesport

by Lissie

Ever wondered how the competitors on Dancing With The Stars get their tans? Its all fake - and here's how you can get the same look for your next dance competition

We've all seen the competitors in Dancing With The Star like they have a gorgeous tan - how do they do it? And more importantly how can you do it - if you are preparing for a dance competition, be it ballroom, latin or another form? In this article I'll talk about why we tan and then describe two easy ways to do it, and one that is not recommended at all.

Why Do I Need a Fake Tan?

Well honestly you don't. If you are of African, Polynesian or Hispanic ethnic origin, you probably don't need to tan for dancing. If however you are white - the short version is you do.

Why? Now take it from me - I've never used fake tan before I took up dancing. But after a few competitions it becomes obvious to me why you need to tan. There are two reasons:

  • one to make you not look "washed out" under lights - the same reason TV presenters wear make up; 
  • it makes you look slimmer and it makes your body look better - that's why the body-builders use fake tan which make the ballroom dancers look subtle!

What About A Natural Tan

You mean natural skin damage - like a light burn? Because that's what a natural tan is. Whether you use the sun or sun beds - "natural" tanning is not recommended for anyone anywhere. In fact I think sunbeds should be illegal. I may however be biased, its just my mother died of skin cancer, and its not a nice way to die. Other side effects is making you look older than you are. And for most of us you will never tan dark enough. Am I being clear on this? Fake tanning is far safer than sunbeds or the indeed the real sun.

How To Fake Tan

Fake tan makes the competitorIdeally you do not want a tan that is dark out of the bottle - you want one that goes on clear and then develops into a tan overnight. Why? Because it will stay on you and not get on your dresses nearly as much. At least men's shirts can be washed, but most ladies ballroom and latin costumes are not designed to be washed frequently. Particularly if you have a white, or otherwise light colored dress - make sure you get tan that will not come off.

These products are used by professionals on Dancing With the Stars and are recommended by professional dancers. 

Both the brands below have a "green" base rather than a "red" base  -so even on fair skins they won't go that unpleasant orang colour. 

Mousse or lotion is a personal choice - mousse is slightly easier to get even if you haven't tanned before, but in my experience lotion goes further and is therefore usually cheaper. 

Dancing With The Stars Spray Tan

St Tropez: Mousse can be easier for a beginner, lotion is probably more cost effective
St. Tropez Self Tan Bronzing Mousse, ...
St. Tropez
$42.00  $26.00
St. Tropez Self Tan Bronzing Lotion, ...
St. Tropez
$42.00  $29.00

Also Recommended

Sun: Your skin type determines the level of tint you need
SUN LABORATORIES Self Tanning Lotion ...
Only $17.95
Sun Laboratories Dark Sunsation Self ...
Sun Laboratories
Only $14.95

Preparation Is Key To a Good Fake Tan

Before you tan make sure you defoliate and moisturize your skin - preferably for a couple of days before the big day. This will really help your tan from coming out even. Be particularly careful of elbows and knees - both of which tend to dry out and then pick up too much tan - leading to dark spots!

If you are tanning at home - you will probably need a friend to help - most of can't reach our backs! I tend to only tan the bits that show - but this looked pretty weird when I went on holiday to a winter-sun location, after a competition with very brown lower legs and arms and everything bright white from the winter!

If you are not very experienced - don't try to tan in just one application - two applications will make it much easier to get an even tan. 

I will generally moisturise for two mornings after my shower, and on the second evening put the first layer of tan on and on the 3rd evening (the day before the competition) put a second layer of tan on. That way its easy not to shower for 8 hours after you've tanned.  

Tanning Essentials

Sun Laboratories Exfoliant Body Gel 8 fl oz.

Like painting, the key to a good tan, is preparation. Exfoliating will get rid of dry skin, dry skin picks up tan much quicker than normal skin - gives you a really blotchy appearance. Pay particular attention to knees and elbows.

$18.00  $6.62

View on Amazon

Color-Trak LATEX Disposable Gloves POWDER FREE MEDIUM 100/Box

You do not want tan on the palms of your hands - use disposable gloves and then carefully tan the back of your hands last.

View on Amazon

St. Tropez Tanning Essentials Tan Remover 8 oz

What it is:A salon-inspired formulation designed to remove self-tan residue.What it does:This formula helps to remove any unwanted self-tan product, particularly on the ...

$18.00  $16.00

View on Amazon

Air Brush Tanning For Dancing

Air brushing is great - it gives a very nice even tan. However if you go to a commercial studio try to find one that understands dancers - you don't want a "natural" look - you want a much darker tan than they are used to applying.

A solution to this is buying your own air brush applicator- these are pretty cheap - and you could share with a friend - and then tan each other. Make sure you do it in a space that is easy to wash down afterwards though!

More of My Dance Articles

Updated: 03/14/2012, Lissie
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?


Angel on 03/02/2012

Thanks so much for the tanning recommendations. I have had Melanoma and I am always looking for a good self tanner. My dermatologist blames tanning beds for my cancer since that is all I would use. I didn't lay in the sun.. I went to the tanning bed twice a week. It got me in trouble. It has been 15 yrs and cancer free. I will have to try some of these tanners....thanks!

MarenEliz on 03/02/2012

Sensible advice! Well done!

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