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Painting Your Masterpiece

Properly applying tanning products will give you a competitive edge

Here is a checklist of the things you need to prepare your physique for the stage:

A painting partner is optional. I’ve found it easier and faster to paint myself.

1) One or two bottles of tanning product. Get more than one bottle if you can afford it, just in case. Allow about three-fourths of a bottle per show, depending on how big you are. I recommend Jan Tana’s Show Tan (1-800-JAN-TANA) or Pro Tan. By the way, don’t mix products.

2) A good moisturizer.

3) An exfoliating scrub sponge or cloth. Exfoliating soap or gel is optional, as regular soap works fine for most people.

4) Two or three old bath towels. Use one for drying off and the other to stand on while painting.

5) Two to three washcloths or hand towels’one to put down over the counter and one to wipe up any drips.

6) An old sheet and pillowcase to sleep on once you have applied tanning product. (Remember to bring all of the towels and linens with you if you’re traveling, and take at least one towel with you to the show.)

7) Plastic bowl to pour product into. You have much more control that way than if you pour it out of the bottle onto your skin.

8) Small long-handled sponge paintbrush.

9) Small handheld paint sponges.

10) Three or four pairs of disposable latex gloves.

11) Dark sweatsuit.

12) Dark rehearsal clothes.

13) Junk pajamas. Remember, they may get permanently stained.

14) Nice dark clothes for registration and/or after the show.

Okay, you have everything you need. So when do you start your preparation?

1) Count backward approximately 12 to 14 days from day one of your painting calendar’which is three days before your show. Ten days is the minimum number of days to grow hair for waxing. If you choose waxing over shaving, don’t start painting the same day you get waxed. Go to the tanning booth to retan waxed areas and use a cream hair remover such as Nair on any other areas you want smooth’arms, chest, back, upper legs, butt. The smoother your skin, the better your definition will show.

2) Start going to a tanning booth for your base tan at least two to three weeks out. Try to get in about 10 to 12 sessions, but don’t burn. Peeling skin is difficult to paint over. Warning: Women, don’t tan your face. Use a self-bronzer, such as Lanc’me Flash Gel or Sun Ultra-Dark.

3) Start exfoliating four to five days before day one of your painting calendar. Soak in a tub until your skin gets a little wrinkled. Use any body-scrub product and scrub hard everywhere. Take a quick rinse in the shower, dry off and moisturize. Do that every day until you paint. Do not skip bodyparts. Be thorough. After you start the painting process, don’t do any more exfoliating. The only exception is if you’re trying to fix or blend in a blotchy or rough spot.

4) If you choose to shave, do so only before your first coat of body paint. If you must, you can shave before the last coat, but shave lightly and only where you need it. Rinse in cold water’as cold as you can stand in the shower’after you shave to close the pores. That will help prevent the black dots that can occur when paint gets in the pores.

Here’s your countdown for tanning and painting:

*17 days before the show. Grow hair for waxing, tan in a booth and moisturize.

*14 days before the show. This is your last chance to start growing hair for waxing. Go to the tanning booth and moisturize.

*Eight days before the show. Start exfoliating, including your face, and continue going to the tanning booth.

*Four days before the show. Wax away body hair and go to the tanning booth afterward. Use Nair on other bodyparts and gently exfoliate waxed areas.

*Three days before the show. Shave if you have to and rinse in cold water. Put on your first coat of paint. Don’t worry if your first coat isn’t perfect. Don’t overblend or you’ll rub it off. Just make sure you get it everywhere. Be sure to let it dry before you go to bed.

*Two days before the show. Take a quick rinse in the shower in the morning, towel dry, moisturize and apply face bronzer. Remember, no shaving today. In the evening get in the shower and soap only where you need it. Do a cold rinse, dry off and apply your second coat of body paint. Let it dry before you go to bed.

*One day before the show. Take a quick shower in the morning, along with a cold rinse. Moisturize and apply face bronzer. At night do a light shave, if necessary, along with a cold rinse. Dry off, paint, allow paint to dry, and then go to bed.

*Contest day. Take a quick rinse, dry off, moisturize and apply face bronzer.

Here are some tips to make sure you go onstage looking your bronze best.

1) If your show is more than one day, evaluate your color, as you may want to paint again the night before the second day.

2) Paint everywhere. Use a full-length mirror. Lift up, lean over, bend, turn, straddle. Remember, the judges are below you, so they’ll be looking up and under.

3) Always wear gloves, but wear them on one hand at a time. Paint all you can reach with a glove on your right hand, including your left hand. Let your left hand dry. Then put the glove on your left and finish painting your body, including your right hand. Don’t paint your palms.

4) Go easy on the ankles, toes, knees, elbows and underarm area. If those areas don’t need more paint, don’t put any on.

5) Never use paint on your face. Use a face bronzer.

6) Don’t use cream hair removers on any broken skin’floor and rug burns included.

7) You should never paint on the morning of your show. You have enough to do.

8) Buy extra-dark foundation. Get the smudgeproof kind. Make sure it’s dark enough, or you’ll look funny. You need your own stage makeup. Don’t rely on anyone else’s.

9) You can save your costumes if you use the paint-at-night-rinse-in-the-morning method.

10) Save paint-stained clothes for next time. Don’t wash paint-stained items with your normal laundry.

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