Tan by Design

Making the switch from rays to sprays


As a native Rhode Islander, I have a ton of childhood memories of summer days at the beach. Those were the days... the days before anyone really knew how damaging the sun was. Now as a mom myself, I’m lathering SPF 60 on my kids before we even leave the house. Talk about a new set of childhood memories. We all know now that the sun can have some damaging effects on your skin. From the superficial (like facial spots and premature wrinkles) to life-threatening diseases, our relationship with that big ball of fire in the sky has changed forever.

Still, who doesn’t love the look of a tan? Although it’s the opposite of safe, having a little color on your skin is often described as appearing healthy. Your skin tone is even and your clothes look better (it does wonders for anything white). So what’s a sun-seeking gal or guy to do? Luckily for us, there’s an app for that – a hi-definition airbrush tanning application, that is.

I have good friends who swear by airbrush tanning all year round. With the warm season approaching, I decided to give it a try. Like any other spray newbie, I was worried that I’d get too dark or, even worse, orange. So I called in a professional, Sandra Lynn Barber of Serenity Spa at R.G.E. When I arrive for my service, Sandy greets me at the door and we walk through the fine salon and designer boutique. It’s my first time at R.G.E, so I’m in fancy lady heaven. The perimeter of R.G.E. holds private salon spaces, each one personalized by the stylist. Beyond the entrance you’ll find a cafeĢ with a personal chef, then towards the back the most eclectic selection of worldly designer clothing and accessories. By the time I reach Sandy’s space towards the back, my senses are in overdrive.

Sandy’s a total hoot – kind of like your funny aunt you wish you saw more often. She cracks jokes and puts me immediately at ease. In the beauty business for 25 years, Sandy is a career professional, offering services like manicures and pedicures, reflexology and eyebrow threading. “I like to say we’re the ‘busy woman’s affordable luxury day spa,’” she explains. Clients here are mostly busy women (and some men) who want to look their best and feel relaxed. “Everybody knows your name when you walk in,” she explains. “They know how you take your coffee, what you want for lunch. It’s so comfortable that nobody ever wants to leave,” she laughs.

Before I know it, she tells me to take my clothes off. I’m a one-piece bathing suit plus a cover up kind of girl, so I’m far from my comfort zone. But Sandy is so easygoing that I throw them in a pile and ask where she wants me.

We laugh as she positions me in some odd poses and she gets all of me sprayed up. She spends extra time with my legs, to contour the shading to reduce the appearance of cellulite. In ten minutes I’m done and already getting my instructions for the day (to shower in four hours with light soap). The tan looks spectacular – a streak free perfect shade of medium brown that lasts for a week.

Having been an industry leader for over two decades, Sandy has little patience for the trendy services that are hot for a year or less. “I listen to my clients,” she states, sharing how she decides to add to her spa menu. Of late, she’s added services that are organic and progressive yet affordable, such as a waterless pedicure and an herbal body wrap (“It takes inches off your waist,” she promises). “I like to think we provide an oasis. It’s a respite from this crazy, busy world.”