Why My 10+-Year Love Affair With Self-Tanner Hasn’t Stopped While Social Distancing

POPSUGAR Photography / Tori Crowther

Like many of you reading this right now, I’ve been social distancing for three weeks and counting. I’ve been outside four times in the past week, and, in that time, I haven’t spoken to anyone else face-to-face, in the flesh, but my partner. So why would I bother going to the effort of self-tanning while social-distancing? There are a few reasons, but the main one being, because I f*cking can.

I’ve been a self-tan devotee since I was about 14 years old. In my teens, I was a competitive Irish dancer, which meant spray tans and slapping on Fake Bake Flawless Darker Liquid was a regular part of my routine. Faux tan was my uniform (no, seriously, it was a competing essential), and while the product takes up a much smaller portion of my schedule now, it’s still very much a part of my life (thankfully, I use a lot less of the stuff now), whether I’m social distancing or not.

Here I am, declaring that: I, Tori Crowther, am still dedicating one evening a week to exfoliating away old tan, re-applying a fresh layer, and begging my boyfriend to tan my back. Then, I put on an old pair of PJs, and let my tan marinate for eight hours while I get some kip, before washing it off the next morning. All so I can feel just a smidgen better about myself for the week ahead. This is, based on what I’ve seen on Instagram lately, I don’t think I’m alone.

“Tan takes us emotionally and psychologically to a happy place. It reminds us of honeymoons, holidays, hot summer days, and long-lasting memories of special occasions.”

Why do I do it? The first reason is for the control. I may not be able to control the fact that I can’t commute to work, see friends and family, or even sit at a park bench, but I can control my beauty routine. It’s no secret that humans find comfort in routine and structure. If, before all this, you regularly spent a portion of your day styling your hair, following a skincare routine, or applying a layer of self-tanner, continuing to do so might just bring a sense of normalcy to this new normal. It certainly has to mine.

The second reason is because it makes me feel good. I prefer the way I look when I have a light, bronzed glow. “Tan takes us emotionally and psychologically to a happy place. It reminds us of honeymoons, holidays, hot summer days, and long-lasting memories of special occasions,” says Marc Elrick, founder of Tan Luxe. And I agree. Because while I won”t be attending holidays or special family occasions in person for a period of time, I can still embrace the pre-rituals of these events. No one said we can’t get all dressed up and join the family for a virtual Sunday dinner.

My relationship to self-tan was the same back in 2012 after I suffered an accident that pretty much left me housebound (though not to the same extent as self-isolation) for months. I vividly remember (once I was well enough, of course), my mom taking me to get a spray tan to cheer me up. There was no special occasion, she just knew it would perk me up. And guess what? It truly did. I’ve held that gesture close to my heart ever since.

Lastly, self-tanning takes up time. And right now, anything that takes up a portion of my time in the evening is a positive in my opinion. I take my sweet time, I use new products (which is also part of my job as beauty editor – win-win), and I enjoy every second of it.

And I’m not the only one who feels this way, either: According to Elrick, in March, Tan-Luxe had its best month ever despite the pandemic. Whatever the reason, people want to continue their tanning rituals despite not attending after-work events, boozy brunches at the weekend, or going on dates.

So, may we continue to self-tan ourselves, only to sit in our favourite joggers, and eat all of the biscuits while re-watching Louis Theroux’s best documentaries. You’ll know you’re a golden goddess underneath that sweatshirt – and that’s what really matters.

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