Test Drive: Tropic Spa's Home Mist Tanning System

A safe, UV-free tanning system you can hang on your bathroom door


Photo by Chris Nicholls

Summer is coming to an abrupt end, and that back-to-school smell is still in the fresh, morning air. With September comes the end of holidays and the beginning of the slow and sad period when your hard-earned tan begins to fade, so that by Halloween you’re paler than a bed-sheet ghost.

But if you’re willing to put in a financial investment and some initial elbow grease, you may find a solution with a safe, UV-free fall-into-winter tan courtesy Tropic Spa’s Home Mist Tanning System.

Ordered online (, the system arrives in a slightly daunting door-height box. But after watching the instructional DVD (carefully!), assembly is relatively simple (about 20 minutes to jig together, 3–4 hours to charge).

Using it is easy: Hang the contraption on your bathroom door, get naked, wait for the timed beeps, and slowly turn on the spot as the misting cans spray you with a moisturizing solution. Presto, you’re done in 30 seconds. Except for the crucial step of rubbing in (you’re provided with gloves). Paying special attention to hands and feet (oh, the unsightly streaks!), massage, massage, massage to attain an even effect.

After one tan, my workmates and fellow swim team members were taking note of my new brown bod and asking where I’d gone for the weekend. Not even my lane-mates noticed my slightly orange ankles (a blip I managed to remedy on tans two and three). Tanning gets easier, and you get darker as you go along. The initial tan lasts about five days, after which, you can go up to a couple of weeks before disrobing again. After 10 tans, you need to refill.

Tropic Spa Home Mist Tanning System — $349
Refills — $99
Avoiding both the sun’s cancer-causing rays, and the need to use a bed or booth where goodness-knows-how-many tanners have come before you? — Priceless