St. Tropez Tanning Masterclass

st tropez tanning products

Scene: St. Tropez’s Sophie Evans Tanning Masterclass at Sephora in Times Square

Characters: FashionEtc assistant editors, Lindsey, a dedicated sun worshiper; and Piper, she of the alabaster skin

... And Action ...

Lindsey: I've been a true sun worshiper for as long as I can remember. Actually more than that, a sun addict. Dare I admit it?—a tanorexic. During PTT (prime time tanning hours) on a sunny day, NOTHING can get in the way of me and my rays.

Piper: On the other hand, I am proudly pale, and yell at Lindsey everyday to wear sunscreen. A devotee of SPF 70, I've been turned away at makeup counters for asking if the brand might have something a little less "orange." ("That's the lightest we go," the saleswoman said.) Sure, I intentionally sought some color in my teen days, but a two-year leftover burn (cap sleeves, baseball game, 2005) ignited my caution—and my fear of wrinkles.

Lindsey: As I get older and understand the dangers and wrinkly consequences of sun damage, I'm working harder and harder to wean the addiction.

Piper: False! That is such a lie.

Lindsey: Really, I have! Sunless tanning is the obvious answer, but I've been unconvinced. I've tried every product possible, but orange streaks and stained white tops have left me loyal to the sun—and to many dedicated hours of PTT.

Piper: I’m with you on that: Before weddings or other monumental summer events, I’ve tried sunless tanners. But terrible scents, stained kneecaps, and Creamsicle-toned feet weren’t worth it. So when we were invited to a tanning masterclass with St. Tropez, I thought maybe some expert guidance from their go-to girl, Sophie Evans, who flew over from London for this, would help me look less vampiric.

Lindsey: I was honestly a little skeptical, especially when we were welcomed by a crew of bare-chested male models (not that I'm complaining) ... I'm pretty sure Sephora snatched them up from the Abercrombie across the street....

Piper: But Sophie's tan was encouraging. She swears by sunscreen, yet her color looked so natural but was completely fake. Linds, I hope you took note when she tsk-tsked about how Americans are still using beds and baking in the sun, while the Brits are all about the fake tan and the SPF.

Lindsey: Yes, I was very attentive. ... Sophie used to tan Victoria Beckham and if it’s good enough for Posh …

Piper: That’s the spirit. Your face looked so good.

St. Tropez Sophie Evans male models

Lindsey: Well, thanks! I really wanted some color on my face so she actually sprayed bronzer on me with a special tanning tool. I'm obsessed with it, and I loved how the color turned out, but Sophie said that’s something you have to get done at a salon. Plus, I wouldn’t really want to spray my own face. With my hand-eye coordination and overzealous attitude toward tanning, that seems like a disaster waiting to happen.

Piper: Yeah, that would not end well. The best part was when Sophie showed us how you can actually spray on abs. She demonstrated on the models. And Linds, you were really getting all up in there!

Lindsey:  It was research! I have no shame ... I had to see the results up close and personal. You could definitely tell the "before" from the "after", even though it’s not like they needed more of a Situation six-pack. Did you do anything to prep for your faux glow?

Piper: I exfoliated the day before, to be safe. I thought there was going to be some sort of tent set-up: We'd have to strip, then be sprayed down in the center of Times Square Sephora. I wanted to minimize any additional steps in case semi-nudity was involved. Spoiler alert: There was no nudity. Phew.

Lindsey: I wasn't really sure what to expect—I just kept thinking about that Friends episode when Ross gets spray-tanned, forgets to turn around in the booth, and he comes out completely orange.

Piper: Me, too! I fully anticipated looking like that woman from There's Something About Mary. I'm just relieved we didn't have to disrobe, although I wasn't super-pleased about hiking up my skirt so she could get to my legs, especially since the models moved inside on account of the rainstorm.

Lindsey: Yep, that's why I opted for the face and arms. But your legs had a really natural glow. I think the applicator mitt makes a huge difference. The tanning cream looked like chocolate sauce, but when Sophie applied it using the mitts, it didn’t look too dark. And her tip about long strokes and avoiding circular motions was key. My instinct is always to rub lotion in circles.

Piper: I guess we've been doing it all wrong. Another helpful hint: Moisturize your knees and elbows before applying because they get five to 10 times darker. Makes sense that those areas would absorb more. Now that we actually know what we're doing, are you getting in some PTT this weekend?

Lindsey: Honestly, I'll probably/most definitely be in the sun this weekend. I just can't resist. However, I'm really excited to use the lotion a couple of times during the week to maintain my color. I'm truly hopeful St. Tropez will help me at least curb my sun addiction—I was so impressed by the really natural color it gave me ... and it lasted for a solid week without reapplying.

Piper: I knew you couldn't stay away. By the way, I have sunscreen in my bag if you need it.

Photos: St. Tropez Self Tan Bronzing Mousse (left), $30;, and Wash Off Instant Glow Body (right), $18; St. Tropez's Sophie Evans and a male model