We Put Five Boston Spray Tans (and One from Wellesley) to the Test
G2O Spa + Salon
At this Back Bay spa, tans are applied in an automated VersaSpa booth, with primer and bronzing applications as well as multiple dry cycles. Similar to a car wash, we thought. Not so. Once inside, we were confused by the prompts, and almost missed the moisturizer application. The color was even everywhere except our right hand, which got an overdose of spray—and lots of laughs back at the office.
$45, 278 Newbury St., Boston, g2opasalon.com.
At this salon on the edge of BU’s campus, owner Fran Hauck asked about our dress before recommending a shade (light, medium, and dark hues are available, with multiple-coat options). Things were going just fine until a customer barged into our room, looking for a friend—and left the door ajar while we stood completely exposed in our skivvies. Even the great result couldn’t make up for the coed vibe.
$47, 1030 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, perfectan.com.
This North End salon has four tanning “rooms,” each separated by curtains for privacy. Here a technician airbrushed on the solution by hand, taking the time to clean up our nails, hands, and feet afterward. The result? Natural color that remained pristine for close to a week. As it faded, however, scars, pores, and hair follicles looked darker than usual.
$45, 142 Commercial St., Boston, naturalglowboston.com.
Upon arrival, we immediately received a skin and color consultation—the technicians here can whip up more than 100 shades. And then the awkwardness commenced, as a woman cheerfully spritzed every nook and cranny with the solution (let’s hear it for the disposable thong!). Thanks in part to the HVLP spray-tan machine’s handy built-in dryer, we were perfectly bronzed and out the door in less than 20 minutes.
Starting at $45, 562 Washington St., Wellesley, blushtan.com.
Femme Fatale Airbrush Tan
Armed with Infinity Sun airbrush guns, the tanning gurus at this mod salon sprayed on a formula packed with antioxidants like ginger-root extract. And then—voila! A glow so legit, one coworker asked if we’d escaped to the Caribbean for a night. With the exception of our right foot: 12 minutes in front of the fan wasn’t enough to prevent smudging.
$70, 464 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, femmefataleairbrushtan.com.
Owner Lauren Rampello arrived right on time, setting up her pop-up concierge tanning station in the living room with nary a judgmental look at our dirty laundry (brides can also visit her recently opened studio). Applied with painstaking attention to detail, the spray smelled like vanilla and coconut and imparted a subtle honey hue that lasted five full days.
$95, 176 Newbury St., Boston, pureglowtanning.com.
Pure Glow’s Lauren Rampello shares the secrets to spray-tan success.
— Before —
Avoid hard-to-correct tan lines by staying out of the sun for at least a month.
Shower with a loofa or an exfoliating mitt—hemp or sisal ones are best—to remove residue on the skin.
— After —
Leave the salon in loose-fitting clothing to prevent sweating, which could cause splotches.
Wait It Out
Allow five to seven hours for color development before working out or hopping in the shower.
Apply moisturizer from head to toe twice a day, making sure to cover easy-to-miss spots like the tops of your feet and ankles.
Avoid excessive scrubbing or soaping, which will shorten the life of your tan.