Airbrush Tan

I got a spray tan once—the kind where you stand in a booth and hope for the best. I came out looking like an Oompa Loompa and smelling just as funky—the result of DHA, a key ingredient in sunless tanners. Unfortunately, this doesn’t stop me from wanting to be bronzed. Let’s face it: Unless you have flawless, alabaster skin like Anne Hathaway, most of us just look better tan.

Who better to transform my pasty, mid-winter body than Sandra Avelli, a Greek-goddess-like model and bodybuilder (could it get any worse?) who creates custom airbrush tans for fellow competitors and recently started offering her services at Extrados spa.

When we meet, Avelli assures me that she won’t make me look like Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler. Instead of using a standard shade, she custom-blends color for each client to control the shade and depth according to their skin tone and desired results. I strip down to my underwear, don a hair net, and step into a tent-like structure.

Using a wand-like device and a steady hand, Avelli sprays a fine mist back and forth over my face and body. The organic product she uses smells surprisingly fresh, not putrid. She then applies a second coat to ensure the color is even and accurate. Avelli adds a bronzer to the solution so I look tan immediately, even though the color won’t develop for another four to six hours (a bonus for anyone who has a same-day event or is seeking instant gratification).

I love the color. It’s deeper and more natural then anything I’ve ever achieved using sunless tanners—and it lasts a whole week. Even my husband, who has been privy to many beauty experiments gone awry, remarks on how great my tan looks. Take that, Anne Hathaway.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Sandra Avelli is no longer working for Extrados, which now offers a version of this service. This type of airbrush tan can now be found at Sola Salon Studios: 3519 West 70th St., Studio 21, Mpls., 612-840-7376.

What: Airbrush Tan
Where: Extrados, three metro locations,
Time: 30 minutes
Price: $60 full body, $20 à la carte


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