How To Paint Yourself For Your Fitness Or Figure Competition!

It is my job as a trainer and coach to teach you how to paint yourself on your own. Over the years, I have hand painted many athletes, and through trial and error have created a step-by-step To-Do list to help you acheive your perfect contest color.

With the advancement in competition coloring systems these days, athletes have such wonderful choices! I never had the extra cash to get spray painted ($150+) at the local shows. Through trial and error, and over the years, I have hand painted the majority of my own athletes and have come up with this hand "to-do" list to help you step by step.

It is my job as a trainer and coach to train you to paint yourself on your own. If you are a local competitor, I still do suggest at least one session with me. If not, then this should help you on your way.

To begin, if you are an individual that prefers to visit the tanning salon, please start 4 weeks out. It is important to use a tanning lotion formula to keep your skin hydrated.

Please invest in a safe and effective sunscreen. Be smart, and protect yourselves. Do your best not to burn! You cannot afford to have peeling skin! Watch for the dreaded "butt line" under your cheeks! Sit on the edge of the bed for the last 5 minutes of the tan to remedy these white lines! Paint will help, but it's your job to prevent them from the start.

Whatever product you choose, (Jan Tana or Pro Tan), the application is pretty much the same. Jan Tana Hi-Definition Formula now has a soft round buff applicator. Pro Tan has the sponge paint brush for application.

Painting Preparation

dot Exfoliate: dot

    Have a natural fiber scrubby brush (with long handle). You should be scrubbing your whole body the entire month before the show, if not already! This not only aids in promoting an already healthy complexion, but will create a gorgeous smooth canvas for the paint to be applied to.

If you have any skin issues, purchase Selsen Blue (with red cap) and use this as your body wash on the scrubby brush. The Selenium Sulfite as the active ingredient does a great job of killing bacteria on your skin.

    Scrub daily, sloughing of dead skin cells, and paying attention to arms, elbows, knees, and back. Don't forget about your face too! I use a sensitive type buff puff - found at your local drug or beauty store.

dot Lotion: dot

    I prefer to use Nivea Q10 as my pre-contest lotion. It is light, hydrating, and is absorbed quickly. I use it after every shower and as an "in-between" lotion on my body between painting applications.

Jan Tana

    now has a new lotion as well to use with your painting products.

dot Hair: dot

    Waxing, shaving, sugaring, or using Nair to

remove hair

    should be done the day before you paint (Tuesday, if your show is on a Saturday). Most ladies have irritation with hair removal, so please be careful. Ingrown hairs or heat rashes are very unsightly onstage when you're painted.

Do your best to try out these processes at least 6 weeks before your show to see if your skin reacts. If you have a major outbreak, then you know that shaving or using Nair will be your alternate choice. Remember that you should have no less than 10 days to re-grown hair for your next appointment.

Sugaring is a "waxing" type of process. They use rolls of sugary goo to remove the hair. It's a nice alternative to hot wax if you are heat sensitive. It is a very popular process, so making appointments can be difficult.

    When making your first appointment to try it out, make a second at the same time (day before show) to ensure you'll be able to get in. Wait times can span 5 weeks! Prices are comparable or higher than wax.

Nair is a chemical hair removal treatment. Apply a test spot on your wrist to test your tolerance. Be very careful with delicate areas. Don't get it anywhere you're not supposed to have an accidental chemical burn!

I use this to remove arm, back, tummy and upper leg hair. I find that this is not the best option for bikini, lower leg, or underarm areas due to the thickness of hair. But everywhere else works great.

    I just hop in the shower and wipe hair away. Usually you should follow up with a quick swipe of the razor for getting those stragglers. Watch the clock though, timing is everything!

Shaving - We all do this anyways, just be good to your delicate skin and use a higher-end razor with shaving cream. Soap works fine too.

I personally don't like running the razor across my low back or upper glutes (that's why I use Nair), but you will need to watch your underarm areas and ankle zone (thicker hair).

Dry shaving at the last minute can open your pores, that can cause the paint to seep into them, creating a polka dot look. This is usually minimal to say the least, but you will need to look over your physique the morning of your show, if you need shaving, or plucking!


  • It's best to have 2 bottles of your product per show.
  • You should have large bath towels for draping, smaller towels for mistakes, and wet washcloth for immediate cleaning.
  • Get a box of Latex Gloves - powder free is recommended.
  • For Pro Tan or Jan Tana Show Tan applications, have a plastic Tupperware with lid to pour product into, and have your paint brush. If your bottle does not have an applicator, cut a regular kitchen sponge in half. Works great! (I would strongly urge to use an "un-used" kitchen sponge).
  • Have a fan or open window to keep you cool (you will be nude, so watch the window).

I always paint in the bathroom so carpeted areas are not stained. Remove any rugs. I completely engulf the room with draped towels and 3 layers of towels under my feet, goodness forbid that there ever is a dropped bottle incident! Application will sometimes get paint spray as far as 8 feet away!

I set up a fan or leave a window cracked for movement of fresh air and for temperature control. Painting should be done while you are at a comfortable temperature. When your body heats up, your skin will no longer "take the paint". So do your best to be cool (not cold with goose bumps). If you see the paint not going on smooth, step out and cool down for a few minutes.

Application: Bottom To Top

Based upon your current skin tone, many trainers may have you continue to train, cardio, or even use the steam room up until the day before the show. This is usually based upon your current physique and current conditioning.

Please follow the plan that your trainer has set out for you. If this is your first show, your painting is very important, but listening to your trainers' advice trumps everything else. You will need to learn what works for you and your body. Each product has different reactions with different skin tones. You may not need to paint as much as I have set forth here.

To Begin: It is my recommendation that if you are on the fair skin side, you should start painting Wednesday night before your Saturday show. Others may wait until Thursday morning. Take a last shower, making sure to run the razor over any hair that's left. Moisturize only ankles, knees, elbows and any immediately dry areas. Do not apply lotion overall. If you are not going to paint right away (within the hour) only then apply a full coat of lotion.

Put hair up in bun, apply self-tanning lotion to face and neck. Remember to get behind your ears. Your speed and accuracy will increase over time. I would recommend having one of your meals prior to painting, using the restroom and brushing your teeth so you are all ready to go! Allow 1 - 2 hours for the painting process Wednesday evening.

Standing nude in the middle of your towel cocooned room, get a generous amount of paint onto the applicator and begin on the top of your foot. Work around your toes. Do not get paint your nails; do not get paint on the bottom of your feet. Work around the ankle and up your calf. (Do not "over paint" dry areas; such as your Achilles tendon area, knees or elbows). Watch for drips.

From the calf, work up the back of your hams, to your quads, making long circular swipes. Don't skimp on the paint! Your job is to slop as much color on you as humanly possible, while maintaining a smooth appearance, with little to no streaking.

Streaks will happen, just do your best to buff it out. You do this by applying more color to the area, and not trying too hard to smooth out what's already on the skin area.

Glutes, Hips and bikini zone are the next areas. Pay attention to lift your legs up and get everywhere, you do remember how tiny your suit is right? Remember your butt crack.

Abs, chest and sides are easily painted. Please note that due to your body's organ placement (body heat), the chest area is stubborn at accepting color. Pay special attention to apply more to this area to even out the tan. (This is also the area that will give you trouble if you start to overheat!) For your abs: paint with swoops coming towards your belly button, to paint with the contours of your own body.

Shoulders and arms gulp up color. Swoop with the muscle's natural shape. Mind your elbows, and for now, don't paint beyond your wrists. The morning of the show is when you can paint the top of your hands! Watch for drips here! And really make sure to get the creases of your armpits.

Your back is another zone that is somewhat resistant to color. Upper back will need extra painting. If you cannot bend your arm behind your back to paint, then cleverly attach the buff or sponge to the long stick handle from your scrubby brush! If you are unable to, or fail miserably at your attempt, you can call a buddy in to help you. Remember, be generous with the paint! You can paint up to your collar bone or chin line.

Now, start all over again! Bottom to top. Your goal would be at least 2 coats. No paint on your face! If you happen to get some where you don't want any, the wet washcloth comes in handy. It won't remove any paint from you, but it will minimize the effect.

Little Reminders & Tips

  • After you are done with your 2 coats, hang out for a while in front of the fan to dry out more. You don't automatically grab for your keys out of your purse after a manicure, so don't go walking around the house thinking you won't rub off on something! The paint should be good to go in about 10-15 minutes! Admire your work! Great job!
  • Wear flip flops or sandals around the house from now on.
  • Don't wear deodorant from now on while painted. If you need something, get spray deodorant. The stick kind can leave ugly discolorations in your color that cannot be fixed!
  • Apply lotion on in-between your paintings to keep your skin soft and flake free (not a mandatory step). Put on a pair of your Latex gloves; grab your lotion and a small hand towel. Apply and dab off the excess pigment that collects with the towel. No worries, you will still have more painting sessions to apply more!

    Pro Tan users may want to skip this step. Works great with Jan Tana. Also - if/when you shower, please apply a liberal amount of lotion full body & wipe excess pigment off to prevent "worm-hole" look from the water streaking before you step into the water. This shower should be incredibly quick and efficient! Jump in, rinse, and jump out. You don't want to get rid of all your hard work!

  • Don't shower every morning! If you reach optimal darkness, you may be able to shower the night before the show, other than that, use body cleansing clothes to keep up your hygiene! Your main goal is to get deep mahogany colored! You'll be okay to hang tough for a day or two. Normally, you will not be working out or doing cardio for the last 2 days before the show.
  • Wear dark long-legged and long-sleeved clothing when you're done painting. Use a separate sheet and pillow case when sleeping so you don't ruin your good linens! Please remember to bring extra linens to your show, so you won't get charged for damages to your hotel linens. It's best to bring extra towels and hand towels as well!
  • Don't wear bras, tight panties, tight socks, or restrictive clothing. Some color will rub off naturally, that's fine. Just do your best not to create any unnecessary lines in your paint if you can help it. You'll do more backpedaling in corrective painting! Find comfortable, breathable clothing!
  • You may find it better to always have a towel or jacket with you to sit on. You won't be leaking or leaving streaks anywhere, but there have been instances that some materials are not good at preventing color penetration for long periods of travel time.
  • Your toilet seat will be brown every time you use it! You can clean it anytime using Comet or Ajax and a washcloth. Just be careful when you are using the restroom, any droplets that get on you will stain your coat of paint.
  • Beware of any water droplets! When you wash your face, brush your teeth, or do the dishes, make sure you are covered to prevent water staining! If it's raining outside, wear an extra layer on your legs and arms, and bring an umbrella!
  • You'll be shocked how dark you look! But don't get too comfortable! You'll need to get many many many shades darker! You don't want to be the athlete on stage that "could of gotten a better place, had she had better color!" No way! And don't freak out because the first coat is always a little weird looking. You'll have 2 additional days of multiple coats to even out streaks, get darker and get the perfect flawless bronzed skin!
  • Don't worry! Your clothes won't be permanently trashed! A few trips thru the washing machine and they are as good as new. Throw the towels in the washer with bleach to help get the paint out. Just remember to not trash your Hotel room! Just bring your own linens and save the big bill! Hotels will charge well over $200 for damages!


You'll look like you have some weird aggressive skin symptoms for about a week after the show as the paint flakes off in terrible fashion!