Using artificial coloring agents to deepen
skin tone has become almost universal in bodybuilding. No matter how
good your tan, a skin dye or bronzer can make it better. That's why
hotels frequently despair when playing host to a group of bodybuilders.
Their laundry rooms fill up with sheets and pillowcases covered with
rubbed-off skin dye.
The use of
artificial tans allows a bodybuilder with only a base tan to look as if
he'd spent the summer in the tropics, and allows bodybuilders who are
very fair-skinned and don't tan well at all to compete equally against
those who are more blessed with melanin. This also has a health benefit,
since the use of these coloring agents means that the competitors don't
have to spend as much time in the sun as they once did. However, for
fair-skinned bodybuilders, it's a mistake to try to get your entire tan
from a bottle. Artificial tanning agents over totally pale skin tend to
look very unnatural. The bodybuilding physique itself, with its
exaggerated muscle development, looks very strange to many people in the
first place. If you combine that with an odd unnatural-looking skin
color, the final effect is very strange indeed. So, we recommend that
you get as good a tan as possible first and then increase its depth with
the use of artificial agents.
The most often used coloring products
are based on a product called Dy-O-Derm, a skin-dyeing product developed
for individuals with severe skin problems. One of the more popular
products based on Dy-O-Derm is Pro-Tan, available in gyms and by mail
order. Another version of this type of dye, giving a slightly more
bronze look, is Tan Now. These and other similar dyeing products are
advertised in most of the physique magazines.
Skin dyes like these actually bind to
the skin cells themselves and won't come off until the cells do - which
takes about 21 days. After a few days you'll begin to see the color
gradually flaking off, which gives an odd appearance unless you reapply
some color. The best procedure for applying these artificial tan
products is to 1) shower and scrub off as much dead skin as possible, 2)
apply a coat of the color, wearing rubber gloves to keep the palms of
the hands from staining, 3) allow to dry for several hours, and 4)
shower again to wash off the stain that has not actually bonded to the
skin. This process should be done gradually over a period of days. Do
not try to get a deep tan with only one application.
There are other types of artificial tan
products that are more like a traditional bronzer than a dye. This type
of coloring is easier to apply and fades fairly quickly, but doesn't
give the same solid, deep look that the skin dyes do. Skin bronzers are
available at most drug and cosmetic stores, and there is a version
called Competition Tan by Jan Tana that is specially formulated for
bodybuilders. Most bodybuilders don't use a bronzer by itself. Instead,
they create a base color by tanning and applying a skin dye, and then
use the bronzer-type coloring on top of this to create a finished look
and to cover areas where the stain may have begun to flake off.
Applying color correctly is very
important since it has a tremendous effect on your overall appearance.
Some bodybuilders show up looking yellow onstage or so dark it looks as
if they were covered with shot polish. Others apply the coloring too
late, or when they are perspiring, so that rivers of color run down
their body onstage, spoiling the effect they are trying to create. Too
much color on the face also creates a very strange and unattractive
look, as does getting stain on the hands and feet, or too much on the
knees and elbows. Remember, you spend years learning to train and months
following a strict diet; it's worth some time and effort to learn to get
your color correct or else you end up ruining all your other efforts.
Putting color on at the last minute can
also be very dangerous. We remember one contest in which a bodybuilder
applied a bronzer just before he went onstage, and with the oil on his
skin and the amount he was sweating, the artificial tan ended up running
down his body and totally spoiling his appearance. In some cases you can
apply color at the last minute, but it takes a lot of experience and
know-how to do it right. Which look would you rather have - being a
little paler onstage than you'd like or having little streams of color
running all down your body?
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