I wish I could say that I keep my skin ghostly pale for a really good reason, but I’d be lying. It’s not that I have an appropriate fear of skin cancer that keeps me from tanning. It’s that the only thing that happens when I tan is that I end up looking like a blistered tomato. And I will blister and peel at the slightest hint of sun. Sure, there are times I go out without sunscreen in the summer, but those times are from 8:00 at night to 4:00 in the morning.

Now, I can remind myself constantly that throughout most of history, pale skin was considered beautiful. I can play that clip of Gone With the Wind where Mammy tells Scarlett that no one will ever love  her if she gets all tanned over and over (maybe the clip isn’t exactly like that, but it’s like that in my head). But yeah, on the beach, I still don’t quite blend in. Still, I’m pretty much terrified of glowing an unnatural orange, so I’ve always avoided self tanning products.

Until a bunch of St. Tropez tanning products showed up like lost infants on our doorstep. And I figured, what the hell? I’m going to spend one week trying them. We’ll see if by the end of the week I have gone from deathly-pale-Rococo-French-aristocrat to anyone-considered-attractive-in-the-21st-century.

Day 1: Fun fact: spray on tanner looks kind of like Cheez-Whiz when it squirts out of the can. St. Tropez has offered me a few different products – some if I want a tan right now (like the Everyday Perfect Legs spray, and the Self Tan Bronzing Mousse and Self Tan Spray) and some to help me develop a gradual tan. I try using the Perfect Legs stuff on my legs immediately, and it’s like smearing finger paint all over them. It’s kind of fun, though I thought this process would be more sophisticated that essentially just painting myself. And it is kind of orange, and I find myself wiping it off with a wet towel pretty quickly.  I like the mousse stuff a lot more. It’s foamy and easier to smear over my arms and shoulders. And when I step away I look different. I look all brown-ish. Bronzed. That’s what the kids call it, bronzed. Bronzed and sticky! The stickiness is kind of a downer, but it’s not enough to stop me from spiraling back and forth in the mirror staring at my newly brown shoulders. And they look… skinnier. I totally understand why Armani is so obsessed with the tanning now. I spend the rest of the night marveling over my brown-ish sticky skinny arms.

Day 2:  Okay, it doesn’t look as good in the light of day. I don’t look orange – and I don’t look streaky in the way I imagined I could, which is good. However, I do look like I have been bruised in very particular places; also, I didn’t really get the underside of my arms so it looks as though the tan ends really, really abruptly. But it’s still brownish. And, after a shower, not so sticky. If you apply it with more care and precision than I did, I’m pretty sure it can look universally good. I try the Perfect Legs stuff again, but I think it’s just too dark for me, and I’m not really feeling it.

Day 3: Holy shit, my palms are orange. I have no idea how I didn’t notice that before – it’s like the tanner has seeped in and taken up residence in the creases of my palms. It’s like that because that is exactly what has happened. I think I should be really doing this with gloves, but smearing myself with artificial tan while wearing gloves just seems weirdly medicinal in some sort of creepy, Buffalo Bill It-rubs-the-lotion-on-Itself way.

Day 4: I woke up this morning and realized that my tan had mostly faded. Also, while doing my laundry, that all the clothes I wear to the gym are now orange on the inside. I am sweating out orange stuff. Which does not in any way make me feel less sad that my tan is almost gone. I don’t have time for the tasteful mousse stuff before going out to lunch with my friend. I do have time to spray this spray-on self tanner all over my body! And then I learnt a valuable lesson about how you should not apply spray tan wildly, while in a rush. Because when you do, you come out looking like you have psoriasis. I bundle on a lot of layers, so it’s not a worry the way it would be if I were doing this at a time of year when it was not snowing out. However, as soon as I arrive at lunch my friend begins sniffing the air, tilts his head to one size and says “why do you smell like bug spray and vanilla?”

Day 5: Okay. It’s time to let this fade a little bit. My knees look bizarre. I think I sprayed too much on. On the upside, the gradual tanning stuff, the stuff you use on your face? That looks great. It’s giving me a gentle glow, and it looks nice. It’s just a little extra color, and it’s a moisturizer too, which is great during the winter. I would very happily use this all the time.

Day 6: One last, furious burst of moussing, during which I manage to smear it all over my arms and do a check in multiple mirrors. I wish it were warm enough to wear something short sleeved. I think in general this is the kind of thing I’ll be saving until summer, but I have almost no doubt that I’ll use it the first day I hit the beach. The perfect legs stuff and spray on stuff, I think are going to be retired permanently.

Day 7: I decided that I was pretty much done with all tanning products, at least until it gets warmer out. And then, as if by magic, DJ Pauly D appeared at a TiVo party. And we talked! And got pictures taken! Why was he there? Who knows. I like to think he was lured in by my bug spray and vanilla scent, though in reality, I suspect he was DJ’ing. He was as nice as he was orange, and he stood out like a giant pumpkin among the pasty middle aged executives who go to TiVo parties. And yes, I was glad that I’d been using the gradual tinting face stuff so that I didn’t look completely washed out next to him. But I realized, especially after seeing him, that I’m never going to look orange like him. Or, for that matter, Snooki. And that’s okay. But it is pretty cool to know that when I want to, I can inject just a little bit more color into my life, and my epidermis.

You can check out St. Tropez products here.

And I really liked the Mousse and the Everyday Gradual Tanning for Face.