We Philly Mag editors have all had our fair share of spray tans. Nearly all of us pop in for an on-the-go glow before big events and appearance, and each year we try out countless places for Best of Philly—sometimes we walk out looking all glowy and fabulous; sometimes we walk out looking bizarrely orange and streaky. (Philly Mag legend has it that a staffer was once laughed out of the office after a particularly bad spray-tan experience.) So we’re pretty much spray-tan experts here, and we’ve all got our favorite haunts. Here, where we girls who’ve tried ‘em all go for our faux glows.
Our most avid airbrush-tanner swears by the folks at this salon, which has locations at the Sporting Club at the Bellevue and in the back of Studio CL. They’ve got countless formulas, so you don’t have to worry about picking out a pre-made shade (i.e. dark, medium, light) that just won’t work for you. In short: It’s the most natural color you’ll get sans sun.
Price: $55 for a single session ($45 for first-time clients); three sessions for $150.
Bellevue Sporting Club, 224 South Broad Street, 215-985-4136; Studio CL, 128 South 19th Street, 215-496-0604.
This relatively new spot is super-tiny, but they offer amazing airbrush tanning. "I went home and my husband told me that I should do it all the time because it looked so good," said an editor. (We can attest: She looked great.) Tip: Opt for the 'Busy Bee' spray tan option. At $60, it's the most expensive one they offer, but you can shower in as little as one hour, so you don't have to spend the day in your sticky, post-spray state. Perfect for a last-minute spray sesh before an event.
Price: From $36 to $60 for a single session; also available in 3-, 5, or 10-visit packages.
406 South 20th Street, 267-928-4393.
Baked Sunless Tanning
This is why we love it: If you'd rather get naked and sprayed down in the comfort of your own home, they've got a mobile service that comes to you, which is pretty freakin' awesome. (Yes, they set up a mess-free tent first.) For those who want a super-dark—but still natural—look, they offer a 'Twice Baked' option: two medium-color sessions in 48 hours, which looks more natural than if you were to do a very dark spray in only one session. Psst: Try their 'Shimmer Shots,' a washable solution that highlights areas like collarbones and legs and is applied after a spray tan (from $10 to $25). And no, it's not cheesy glitter, rather a (very) enhanced glow.
Price: From $35 to $60 for a single session; also available in 5-visit packages.
815 South 4th Street, 610-570-7132.
This is where I pop in for pre-event color. The technicians take their time (don't expect to be in and out), and you'll appreciate it. Color is expertly applied, and after a quick rinse-off, you'll get a solid, natural-looking color that doesn't streak and lasts for at least a week. Don't have the time for a custom airbrush treatment? They've also got a Mystic Tan spray booth, which does the trick in a pinch (though it only lasts for three to five days). My advice: While you're there, schedule an appointment with their on-site brow waxer, Valerie Peoples. She's downstairs, and absolutely fantastic.
Price: $45 for a single session ($40 for first-time clients); monthly unlimited custom spray tans for $99; $30 for Mystic Tan spray booth.
124 South 16th Street, 215-545-5010.
We've raved about their nail art and stylish owner, but this salon also earns top billing for its organic spray tans. The salon uses the Lavish Tan formula, which—ready for this?—is actually made from apples. What our editors adore is the fact that you can go in for an airbrush tan on your face only ($12). It might seem odd, but think of it this way: Getting light color on your face means you can ditch the makeup this summer and rock a (semi) au natural glow sans bronzer and blush. Upper- and lower-body-only tans are also available.
Price: $45 for a single session; six sessions for $216.
501 Fitzwater Street, 215-987-3656; 2051 Walnut Street, 267-758-2385.