Being a blue eyed, fair skinned girl, tanning doesn’t exactly come um, naturally. My mission: finding the best spray tans around town, preferably one that doesn’t smell or turn my skin orange. After chatting with friends, colleagues and numerous spas, here are my top picks:

Golden Girl Chicago

Location: Your Place or Theirs
Phone: (813) 784-4906

For all you busy guys and gals, Golden Girl Chicago is your go-to for sunless airbrush tanning. Golden Girls, Jenn and Amie will come to your location whether it’s your home or office and set up shop with a pop-up, mess free tent. Not only is it convenient, but they also use an all-natural, water-based organic spray that’s free of alcohol, oil and fragrances. Yes, that’s right NO fragrance. You can go to an event day of without showering again and not worry about being smelly.

Hours: By appointment only
Application: 20-30 minutes
When you can shower: 6-8 hours later or 2-4 if you get the Express Glow
Length of tan: 7 days or more
Cost: Starts at $40, packages are up to $165

Glo Airbrush Tan

Location: David Barton Gym
600 W. Chicago Ave.
Chicago, IL 60610
or Your Place
Phone: (312) 725-6156

Get your glo on at David Barton Gym in River North or in the privacy of your own home. Certified and trained tanning consultants use a customized color depending on your skin tone and preference for a very natural looking tan. For brides-to-be, they also do bridal parties. If there’s 5 or more, the bride’s tan is free.

Hours: By appointment only
Application: 20 minutes
When you can shower: 8-12 hours later
Length of tan: 7-10 days
Cost: $40-$60


Location: 852 W. Armitage
Chicago, IL 60657
Phone: (773) 880-9192

Benefit is another great option for sunless tanning. The boutique offers three different types you may choose from: Full Body Tan, ½ Body Tan (your choice of waist up or waist down) and Face & Neck Tan. Best of all, it doesn’t smell, streak or turn orange.

Hours: 7 days a week, hours vary. Note: Thursday’s are busiest for tanning; you’ll definitely need an appointment
Application: Varies depending on which option you choose
Length of tan: 7 days or more
Cost: $15 – $40

(credit: shop.nordstrom .com)

Nordstrom Spa

Location: Shops of North Bridge
520 N. Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60611
Phone: (312) 379-4300
shop.nordstrom .com/c/spa-nordstrom-shop

Nordstrom Spa is the perfect spot to book an appointment if you have a little shopping to do. Therapists use St. Tropez products that contain an innovative Aromaguard fragrance technology, essentially eliminating that tell-tale self tanning smell. Even better, the spa also has St. Tropez products available for sale to take home to make your tan last longer. You can purchase everything from gradual self-tanning mousse and moisturizer, to bronzing powders and wash off shimmer sticks. Prices range about $20-$45.

Hours: Monday – Saturday, 8:45am – 8:00pm and Sunday 10am – 6pm
Application: Smooth Skin, allow an hour. Instant Glow, allow half an hour.
When You Can Shower: 8-12 hours later
Length of Tan: 5-14 days
Cost: $110 & Up for Smooth Finish Airbrush Tan (they exfoliate for you, getting to places you can’t) or $55 for Instant Glow Airbrush Tan (exfoliate beforehand on your own)

Mario Tricoci

Location: 900 N. Michigan Ave.
Lower Level, Chicago, IL 60611
Phone: (847) 202-1900

Mario Tricoci also offers St. Tropez Tanning Treatment, which includes full body exfoliation and tanning application. As an added perk, the spa has many different incentives such as their Refer a Friend program (you get $20 towards your next visit for each friend you refer) and their Mobile Mario program (text “perks” to 89074 for specials and promotions).

Hours: Monday – Friday, 8:00am – 9:00pm; Saturday, 8am – 7pm and Sunday 9am – 7pm
Application: 1 hour
When you can shower: 8-12 hours later
Length of tan: up to 14 days
Cost: $90

A few tips and guidelines to follow:

1) Shave 24 hours prior to appointment
2) If you’re going to get a mani/pedi or facial, do so before
3) Exfoliate day of the appointment
4) DO NOT moisturize the day of, the tan will absorb better
5) Moisturize twice daily afterwards to make the tan last longer

Samantha McCarthy

Samantha McCarthy

Samantha McCarthy is an editor and freelance writer in downtown Chicago.