Rio's ProAirbrush Tanning System promises to make you look good and feel great. It uses airbrush technology for an all-over fake tan without the need for sunbathing or sun beds. Spray-on tanning booths are still fairly new in salons so how would this home kit stand up. Would it really make us look like J-Lo?
Rio gets ten out of ten for the video explaining how to use the kit. Our test was just legs so if things went horribly wrong we could hide under trousers. Rio recommends exfoliating and then moisturising with a water-based moisturiser before spraying. Exfoliator and tanning solution are included with the kit, but you will need you own water based moisturiser. While we waited for our moisturiser to sink in, there was time to assemble the airbrush. An air pipe attaches to the airbrush at one end and at the other it fits onto the regulator cap on the propellant can. A small, carrier jar that you fill with tanning solution attaches to the airbrush. The propellant can has to be placed in a bowl of cold water to keep the pressure constant: this sounds tricky but the air pipe is plenty long enough to sit the can out of the way while you use the airbrush. Once the regulator cap is turned on, holding the trigger down on the airbrush starts the spray. A flow adjustment nozzle works like a garden hose to let more or less tanning solution through.
Trial and error is the secret with this product. To start with we filled it with water and practiced spraying the wall and ourselves. Too little flow, and the spray is almost entirely air; too much and it drips. At best, the airbrush emits a very fine steady mist; finer than anything we have tried out of a can. Once you start spraying your legs, there is the added complication of keeping the airbrush a constant distance from your body and moving evenly. The video recommends a circular motion, which we tried to copy. We suspected our first attempt was dodgy because we had only used about a quarter of the recommended solution. The air helps the solution dry quickly but this meant it was difficult to see how thoroughly our skin was covered. Next morning, our legs were more Patch than Paris Hilton.
What this product has going for it is that it is fun to use. Applying a mucky tanning solution by hand in latex gloves is no match for spraying a fine, cool mist on your skin with an airbrush. Our first attempt may have been a failure, but we wanted to try again. By our fourth attempt, we were starting to get a fairly even tan and were free of problems with knees and feet around the ankles absorbing too much solution. Exfoliating daily, it took about three days for our first attempt to fade. Applying a tan remover such as San Tropez Self Tan Remover within four hours of applying the solution removed it instantly. The kit includes two large cans of propellant but you can order additional cans from Rio for £3.95 each plus postage and packing.
Spray booths in salons are great but expensive; too expensive to justify regular visits. For a safe, all over tan, all year round, Rio's Airbursh is worth investing in. The kit comes with tanning solution but you can use your favourite brand if you prefer. Reaching all over your body with the airbrush is impossible so you will need a partner. Going by the TV series Queer Eye For The Straight Guy, we wonder if airbrush tanning will be the latest his and hers gift for honeymooners.