What’s not normal is that Davidson apparently decided to get the tan hours before a highly photographed event. Usually, Johnson said, people tan late in the day so the darkening process happens overnight and they wake up looking more normal in the morning.
For once, the TikTok detectives managed to get it right and not ruin anyone’s life in the process. On Tuesday morning, Netflix shared a clip from Davidson’s stand-up routine where he confirmed his spray tan: “I couldn’t put makeup on for this because I got a spray tan, which I think is the weirdest thing I’ve ever said…ever,” he says.
While the bronzer may have given the comedian away, what really set Johnson’s spraydar off was the way people were reacting to the new Pete. Many of the Davidson spray tan truthers also had a revelation about him: They suddenly found him good looking. Paulsen was one of those people. “He looks so much hotter with a tan,” he said.
This made me think: should I get a spray tan? Should we all be stopping into our local salon for some artificial glow? Kristyn Pradas, the founder of Pradas Glow and frequent applier of celebrity spray tans, told me via email she’s seeing a lot more men these days. It’s not just the quantity, but the way these clients are coming to her that’s most surprising. In the past, she saw guys coerced by their partners, but she’s noticed a lot more guys booking for themselves.
Part of this is due to the fact that everyone is a personality now. She sees plenty of actors and newscasters who want a tanned glow for camera, but men with Youtube channels, aspiring Instagram influencers, and podcasters who broadcast their conversations are also joining in on the fun. Maybe famous comedians with Met Gala plans, too? Even the pandemic has led to an increase in the number of dudes Pradas is seeing, due to the pressure to look good on Zoom. The statistics bear this rise out, too. 34% of US male consumers say they use fake-tanning products, according to Mintel. (It’s not an exact comparison, but just 14% of British men used these items in 2016.)
While I was considering my own spray-tanned fate, I was faced with almost-overwhelming encouragement. “[Spray tans] look great on all men and all skin tones,” Pradas said. Paulsen, who begged his mom to drive him from his small town in Nebraska to Omaha for his first treatment, believes “everyone needs to experience a spray tan at least ONCE in their life,” he said. “I feel better after I get a spray tan. For me, it’s an instant boost and a form of self-care.”
So what should first-time spray tanners know so they don’t end up exposed in public like Davidson? Pradas says they should be careful about the timing and understand that there are two types of spray tans: an express and an eight-hour version. The former can be washed off within one to four hours in the shower, depending on how dark you want the tan to be (the longer it stays on, the more it sets in). The eight-hour version, the one Davidson likely got, will develop over time but the top layer of bronzer can’t be washed away before that period is up. “So at one point you may look waaaaaay darker than you wanted because your skin has developed underneath the bronzer,” Pradas warned. There are typically more shades available when doing the express method, but it’s more expensive than the eight-hour version. Some people also feel like the eight-hour tan looks better and lasts longer. You really want longer when it comes to spray tans, too: Typically they only last five to 12 days. But while that’s not long, it may be a way to thread the needle for skincare obsessives to get a nice tan without exposing themselves to the sun’s harmful rays for long periods of time. On the big day, Pradas also recommends clients exfoliate well, drink a lot of water, and avoid deodorants, colognes, and moisturizers.
There will be other important decisions to make when the time comes, too. “I asked my boy, I was like, ‘Do I do my dick and my ass?’” Davidson said about his spray tan. “Do I get one of those Borat speedos? (Davidson’s boy’s answer: “No, leave it white, it’s more impressive that way.”) That’s something to consider if you do decide to spray tan before your next Zoom meeting, influencer video, or if you want to really get into character as the sun-kissed John F. Kennedy to your new girlfriend’s Marilyn Monroe. As for myself, I’d rather not have to consider the quandary Davidson put to his boy—but maybe a Met Gala invite will change my mind.