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How to get that perfect bridal tan

There's a reason they call it The Big Day: it's the big day! You are getting married! You are also going to be posing for photographs that you will be looking at for the rest of your life. As important as the venue, the seating plan, the band v DJ debate - oh, yeah, and the groom - looking her best is a bride's top priority.

These days, that probably includes a blast of spray tan. "About four years ago, the spray tanning market exploded in Ireland," says Marissa Carter, owner of Carter Beauty Salon. "We do, on average, 120 spray tans per week."

Elaine Cawley, owner of The Beauty Suite, adds that her salon's spray tanning appointments "seem to be all week long -- morning and afternoon appointments are as busy as evenings."

As a treatment, getting a good going over with the airbrush has become a big part of the bridal look. "Most bridal dresses are white, which means that a lot can go wrong if the tan isn't right. The colour can stain the dress or the tan can look a different colour against the white," says imminent bride Shirley Beattie.

"I think every bride has the right to look their very best but, at the same time, should look like themselves, too."

We sent Shirley out on a quest to find the perfect tan ahead of her own Big Day and she availed of two at The Beauty Suite: traditional Fake Bake and a new kid on the block, Vani-T Velocity Rapid Tan.

FAKE BAKE V VANI-T

First up: Fake Bake. "I am an old-time fan of Fake Bake," says Shirley. "It really is one of my favourites, so I was very intrigued to try out the spray version and it didn't let me down."

However, there were several things that made it, perhaps, the less-than-ideal bridal option.

"It is a messy tan and very muddy -- it will wreck your clothes and bed clothes. Also, you do need to leave this tan on overnight, so it's just not as convenient as Vani-T."

Vani-T Velocity Rapid Tan allows you to determine how dark you want to go: wash it off one hour after application for a light tan, two hours for medium, and three hours for dark.

"It is actually a lovely tan, and not too smelly either!" Shirley reports.

"I always think a true test of a tan is how it comes off your body and this tan does come off gradually over a week."

She tried this one twice, and offers this insight: "I scrubbed really well, even though it felt wrong to do so, but it came up great. I didn't exfoliate my face and as a result my face was a little darker than my body."

And the winner is... the Vani-T tan. "The best thing about this tan has to be the fact that you can wash it off after a couple of hours," says Shirley. "It's just very convenient especially for the busy bride!"

LET'S SEE, SHALL WE?

Not that I didn't trust Shirley's judgment, but I went to test this 'wash-off' tanning craic for myself. It feels a bit tricky to keep your tanned skin safe on the way home, but I made it through my door without incident -- no unexpected thunderstorms and I took my time so I didn't get all sweaty. I waited for two hours and a bit, and then hopped in the shower. Elaine had recommended washing off with exfoliating gloves, using a non-astringent shower gel. I didn't have any so I used a Dermalogica cleanser, which seemed like a smart compromise.

I had a very bad moment after drying off, as I felt like I'd scrubbed all the colour off myself. The whole process seemed counterintuitive. But, trust the professionals: Elaine said that the tan continues to develop overnight, and so it did.

Frankly, it's gorgeous, and you don't have to be a bride to enjoy its excellent effect.

The Beauty Suite is located above Zeba Hair Salon on 60 South Williams Street, Dublin2, 01 671 8129. The Vani-T tan is €45 for full body, €30 for half body. Carter Beauty Salon is in 40 Main Street, Blackrock, 01 210 3624


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