OK, ladies, let’s talk about tanning. Many dancers (especially beginners) ask me, “Why do I need to tan? It doesn’t make me a better dancer!” And that’s true, it doesn’t, but as a performer/competitor, you’re not only being judged by your technique but also by your general look and feel. You wouldn’t go on the floor without doing your hair and makeup, right? Now, think of tanning as part of your makeup routine.

When you’re dancing on the floor, there will be tons of lights on you, making you look much paler than you are in real life. Ideally, your skin should be a nice medium brown color.

Tanning Salon

The easiest way to get the nice tanned look is to go to a tanning salon and get a spray-tan. I wouldn’t suggest doing the tanning bed because – as we all know – you significantly increase your risk of cancer by using a tanning bed. Depending on your natural skin color, you may want to go several times to get a nice deep tan. But please, avoid being orange. Also, be mindful of the clothing you wear, as tight-fitting clothing can rub your tan off.

At home

Another – cheaper – way is to tan at home. This is going to be a bit of a process, and you’ll need a friend to help you out if you need to tan you back.  Personally, I prefer to tan at home so I can choose how dark I get. Start the tanning process about 5 days before you need to go on stage. It will take that long. The reason is that your tan will wash off in the shower, so you’ll have to slowly build it up over the days.

If you’re very light skinned (like me), you’ll need to start with a base coat. I usually go with Neutrogena MicroMist Airbrush Sunless Tan with a Level 2 or 3 tan. Start applying this once a day for three days. On days 2 and 3 before you begin, make sure you didn’t miss anything on day 1. If you did, apply extra to that area. Don’t forget your hands, feet, neck, and back of the arms! After each spray, allow more than enough time for the spray to dry. You’ll need more than the time indicated on the bottle. After the third day, do not shower anymore. I know this sounds kind of gross, but otherwise, you will undo the solid basecoat you’ve just achieved.

Once you have a good basecoat, apply Dance Spa Competition Color once a day for the remaining two days. This part is pretty time consuming, as you have to make sure you don’t miss any spots. Get a friend to help you with hard-to-reach places like your back. Again, allow ample time for the drying process. Otherwise, you can stain your clothing and your tan will come out blotchy.  You want a clean, even tan, so don’t cut corners!


If you need a touch up on the day of your competition/performance, Sex Symbol Aerotan is very quick and easy. It dries fast and leaves a bit of a shimmer. Amazon even sells the Sex Symbol and ProTan together in a package!


  • Shower and shave before you start tanning! You won’t be able to shave once you start the process.
  • Shower the least amount possible. Your tan is not resistant to water.
  • Be VERY mindful of the clothes you wear after you start tanning. Your white shirts will stain. Try to wear dark colors (this may mean planning your outfits for the week).
  • Avoid wearing tight fitting shirts. The more contact your clothing has with your body, the more the tanning will rub off.
  • If you choose to tan at home, the process will get much easier the more you do it. You’ll learn tips and tricks as you go along.

Have some favorite tanning products? Leave them in the comments below!