Wedding day tanning 101 with Ortanic Chicago

Your Wedding Tan: For Better or For Worse

You’ve planned every last detail, from the guest list and the favors to the appetizers and music playlist, right down to the font on the place cards. You spent hours trying on dresses until you picked the perfect one; even your future MIL approves. Now think about slipping into that dress on your big day, looking in the mirror and seeing a) a sunburn b) pale skin or c) an uneven skin tone on your most photographed spots – neck, face, shoulders, arms, or worst of all… d) a blotchy and orange “tan” from a booth.


Don’t let this be you! With custom airbrush tanning any shade can be yours with a little advanced planning. Whether you want a look that’s super-subtle, sun-kisssed, contoured and toned or tropical, you CAN have the perfect color on your wedding day.

First thing’s first, don’t wait until the day before your wedding to get an airbrush tan for the first time. To be sure the airbrush artist knows exactly what you are looking for, we recommend two visits before wedding week comes. At the first visit about a month before your wedding, you’ll describe your desired shade. On the second visit, you can try either lighter, darker, more contouring, etc, and then decide which of the two you prefer for your wedding.

Next, schedule your wedding tan for about 36 hours before the big event. This will give the tan time to develop to the desired shade, but not fade before the big moment arrives. So, a tan on Thursday night for a Saturday wedding would be perfect.

Third, make sure to take proper care of your tan. If you’ll be going on your honeymoon, you’ll want to get a personal bronzer that matches your tan for touch-ups on your face and hands. Also, don’t use harsh scrubs and heavy lotions on your skin in the days following your tan and make sure all your waxing is done beforehand.

Lastly, take a big deep breath and enjoy your wedding day! Don’t forget to pack sunscreen and a wide-brimmed collapsible hat for your honeymoon. Oh, and book yourself another tan for about 3-6 days after you return home to keep that romantic glow going!

April Tanning Special: Take $20 off any Deluxe Ortanic tan Mondays & Tuesdays!

(Offer expires April 30, 2018. No two discounts apply. Available only at West Loop, Gold Coast, and Lincoln Park).

4 compelling reasons you should tan before your vacation

4 Reasons You Should Tan BEFORE Your Vacation

Even if you enjoy the Midwest winters, I’m sure we could all use a little getaway the last month of the season, right? If you close your eyes, you can feel the warm sun on your face, hear the waves crashing on the beach and taste that frozen margarita on your tongue. You’re also probably picturing yourself basking in the sun… but what if, when you get back to your room, you’ve turned a lobster shade of red?! You then spend the next few days of vacation covered up and slathering yourself in aloe vera and moisturizer. Not what you planned, right?!
Sunburn is dangerous and especially common during the first sun bathing days of a vacation on pale/dry skin that hasn’t seen the sun in months. Have no fear!  You can still come home with a great bronzed look – in fact, you can even leave home with a great tan! The trick is to leave already tanned, so you don’t have to worry about over-exposure from working on that bronze glow. Consider these points for coming in for an airbrush pre-vacay:
  1. You will arrive at your vacation destination looking relaxed and sun-kissed. No need to spend your days trying to achieve a tan, you already have one! This will free up your time for other vacations activities as well.
  2. You’ll look great in your vacation pictures, right from day one.
  3. If you can’t tone it, tan it! As hard as we might work out, sometimes we have those spots that just don’t get as toned as we like. An airbrush tan can help minimize the appearance of cellulite and stretch marks. Everyone wants to feel good on vacation.
  4. The tan lasts up to 7-10 days, so you are set for your whole vacation.
Come into Ortanic to see me and I’ll give you one of the best-looking, natural airbrush tans whether you are taking a vacation or just want to look like you did!
See you soon,
Tracy Alexander
Ortanic Gold Coast

Why You Should Tan During Winter

Sub-zero temperatures, snow, and ice don’t immediately come to mind when one thinks of a “sun-kissed glow” although, arguably “skier’s tan” is a real thing… but not likely the look most are going for.

During the winter, much of our skin remains covered up under ponchos, turtlenecks, and assorted North Face accessories. So why, you might ask, would anyone feel compelled to get an airbrush tan in January? If you need some rationale, here are 3 pretty darn good reasons to come out of hibernation for an appointment:

Brunches, parties, and vacays… oh my!

On the occasions that you find yourself peeling off the parka and the mukluks, you’ll want to reveal smooth, toned skin, right?How many of those cute little dresses are short and sleeveless?  Plus fireplaces and heaters warm everything up inside, and the layers start to shed. Whether it’s a wedding, work event, brunch, or caribbean cruise, it’s a great excuse to get a little boost of color!

Cozy nights in with your S.O.  

OK, so your bikini body will go a few more months before hitting the beach, but hanging with your honey with a nice bronzed body that accentuates your curves and contours can always add a little confidence, right? Living single? When you go clothes shopping and bare all in front of the bright lights in the dressing room, your spray tan will help paint a better picture of what that outfit will look like in real daylight!

To look good is to feel good.

Sometimes, just doing a little something that makes us feel better can lift our spirits for hours, or even days. Lighting a candle, getting a massage or buying a new lip gloss don’t seem life changing on the surface, but anything that can improve your mood will create a happier you. A daily practice of treating yourself to something nice, even if it is just a cup of coffee, will go along way. Include an airbrush tan in your repertoire of mood-lifters and you’re bound to feel better even on the gloomiest days!

Remember, take good care of you… all year long. We’ll see you at Ortanic!

Why You Should Be Dry Brushing Daily

We’ll admit there are some daily rituals and spa services that seem quite indulgent, eccentric and over-the-top, if not completely unnecessary. Dry brushing is NOT one of those!
Dry brushing is an ancient practice in cultures on at least four continents, who have been employing it with slight variations for centuries. Nowadays, it’s all the rage among popular celebrities and athletes. Never heard of it? Don’t worry, here’s the quick scoop on why now is as good of a time as any to start:
  • It helps detoxify the body. The skin is the largest organ in the body. When you exfoliate it properly through dry brushing you allow the open the pores to allow waste to be released.
  • It smooths the appearance of cellulite. The dry brushing improves blood circulation everywhere, but most noticeably in areas where fat is commonly deposited (hips, legs, tummy, etc) and tones the skin and superficial muscle.
  • It helps boosts your immunity. By increasing the flow of lymph and stimulating your lymphatic system, you are likely to reap the reward which comes along; improved immunity. It won’t rid you of a cold, but it will probably help you to fight one off.
  • It exfoliates your skin. Particularly in harsher weather months (ahem, winter!), dry brushing accomplishes exfoliating unwanted dead, dry skin cells from every part of your body that you brush!  (Plus, it makes your Ortanic tan apply more evenly and last longer!)
The technique is simple. 
  • Purchase a new, clean brush and replace it every 30 days to maximize benefits. Brushes with a handle will help keep the technique quick and from you dropping the brush, plus gives you a way to hang it afterward.
  • Brush just before you shower. Because you’re already in the buff so why not?
  • Brush firmly, but don’t hurt yourself.  It shouldn’t tickle, it should feel stimulating, but not painful.
  • Brush toward the heart for maximum effectiveness. Don’t forget to do your tummy (go easy on sensitive skin), and your lymph areas: hips, pits, neck and décolleté, and inner thighs)
  • Do it daily. ‘Nuf said.
  • Follow up after your shower only with organic body oils or creams with few ingredients so as to allow the skin to absorb all the goodness!

February Events in Chicago We Think You’ll Like

Hey friends! Brrrrrr it sure is cold out there and the groundhog says there will be six extra weeks of winter this year. The cold weather may have you hibernating but you know, you can’t stay inside forever! Valentine’s Day is on its way, and there are plenty of ways to commemorate the holiday whether you love LOVE or you think cupid is stoopid.

Cupid’s Undie Run – Wrigleyville – 2/17

Consider baring (almost) all and head out for Cupid’s Undie Run in Wrigleyville on the 17th.  Run for prizes like flasks and, you guessed it – undies,  as you raise money for charity. A little friendly advice?  Don’t get down to your skivvies without getting an Ortanic tan beforehand!  🙂

“Naked” Scavenger Hunt – Art Institute of Chicago – 2/11

If culture is your thing, head over to the Art Institute of Chicago for “The Naked” Scavenger Hunt on the 11th, where you can check out some of the most famous nudes in art history.

Makeout Party – The Hideout – 2/11 – 2/12

If you want a little romance (or not), head over to the Hideout for their Makeout Party and have a listen to some local artist playing original tunes on both 2/11 and 2/12.

Whether you’re flying solo or cozying up to someone special, above all else, find a way to love YOURSELF!  Take time to do things you love with people you love…. be your own Valentine!

Using Essential Oils for Healthier Skin Part 2 – The Recipes



As you read in Essential Oils Part I, essential oils such as frankincense, tea tree, and rosehip have been used for centuries all around the world to heal the skin. There are thousands of recipes that people from east to west rely on to care for their unique skin types and specific skin conditions. Since we, as a society, are increasingly looking to more natural and organic ingredients and actives in our skincare products, I’ve put together a short list of essential oil recipes to give you an idea of how these oils are being used to treat acne, sun damage, dry patches, oiliness, cell regeneration and signs of aging.

An important note: as you begin to work with essential oils and experiment with different recipes, please remember to never place essential oils directly on your skin. They should be mixed with into a serum, a moisturizer, a foundation or into one of several carrier oils.

As with any new skin care product, make sure to do a patch test and steer clear of any oils that are not cold-pressed or that are mixed with other ingredients that you cannot pronounce. Remember, we want pure essential oils without preservatives or other additives.

Rosehip: The Firming, Toning and Anti-Aging Super Star

Rosehip seed oil is perfect as an anti-aging oil because it penetrates deep into the skin, much like a serum. Its molecules are small enough to travel through many layers of skin and make a real impact on the skin’s elasticity. It aids in collagen production and cell regeneration, which in turn helps to plump the skin!

Did I mention rosehip seed oil also fades age spots and tiny red lines (capillaries that appear most prominently around the nose, chin, and cheeks)? Here’s a perfect little recipe to mix up and add to your daily skincare routine.

  • 2 tbsp rosehip seed oil
  • 2 tbsp sweet almond oil
  • 10 drops geranium oil or cypress oil
  • 7 drops frankincense oil

Mix ingredients in a small airtight bottle/vial (preferably darker in color to keep the sun out).

Each morning and night, apply a few drops to your fingertips and sweep across your entire face. You’ll love the scent and within a few weeks (depending on your age, as cell turnover ranges) you’ll notice a more youthful, tighter and brighter appearance to your skin.

*Recipe from Pinterest

Acne Away Essential Oil Recipe

  • 6 drops frankincense essential oil
  • 4 drops lavender essential oil
  • 2 drops tea tree essential oil

Add ingredients to a 1-ounce amber bottle of jojoba oil. Apply a few drops to acne prone spots before bed as needed. Visit for more information and recipes.

Dark Circle & Brow Lines

  • Sweet almond oil
  • Organic rosehip oil
  • 10 drops of frankincense oil
  • 15 drops of Roman chamomile oil
  • 20 drops of lavender oil

Add the frankincense, Roman chamomile and lavender oils in the bottle. Add the almond oil and rosehip oil as a 50/50 ratio until the bottle is filled. Screw the lid on and shake. Apply a few drops under each eye and between brows at night. Recipe from the

As always feel free to speak with your esthetician about the benefits of essential oils in your skin care routine. Feel free to email questions and comments to me at! 

How To Use Essential Oils For Healthier Skin


You may be thinking, “Wait, I thought oily skin was bad!” Yes, oily skin can be problematic; however, using essential oils for skin conditions has been shown to have amazing effects on the health of your skin as well as providing anti-aging benefits.

First, let’s talk about what essential oils are. Essential oils are pure oils extracted from plants that have been used for treating skin conditions from acne to scars to elasticity for centuries. The most well-known essential oils are tea tree, lavender, peppermint and rose, but the list of essential oils used in skincare is impressive and growing in popularity.

As we turn more toward organic ingredients and treatments for our skin, essential oils have become, well, essential components of a relaxing and effective skin treatments.

Think back to your last facial. Did the esthetician begin the session with an aromatherapy treatment…asking you to close your eyes and inhale deeply?  Did you smell lavender, rose, or maybe a citrus scent?

Inhaling certain oils like lavender can have an immediate effect on the mind and body, putting both more at ease by activating the nervous system that sends signals to the brain to relax.

Frankincense, geranium, lavender, myrrh, neroli, patchouli, and rose are excellent oils for supporting skin that is beginning to show the first signs of aging. Mixed with a carrier oil (more about these in the next paragraphs), these essential oils can be used daily to fight dryness, loss of elasticity, refine skin texture and tone, retain water in the skin, and regenerate skin cells.

Before stocking up on essential oils, it’s important to understand your own skin and what it needs. Is it dry, showing the first signs of aging or oily and acneic? Schedule a facial consultation with your esthetician and discuss what essential oil would be best suited for your skin.

Doing a patch test is a necessary step to make sure you’re not allergic to an oil and all essential oils should be diluted in a carrier oil such as olive oil, grapeseed oil, or almond oil.

Not only used for skin care, essential oils are also an excellent way to keep your home clean without having to use toxic chemicals. Peppermint on cotton balls tucked inside closets, under the bed, or sprayed around windows and doors will keep spiders away.

Being that I’m an arachnophobia, I always have peppermint oil fully stocked in my home! You can also use essential oils diluted with apple cider vinegar or distilled vinegar to create flea and tick repellents for your four-legged friends.

The bottom line is that essential oils can be used in a number of ways, incorporated into your life to make it safer, cleaner, and in our skincare to heal, improve, and strengthen the skin. For specific recipes using essential oils to cleanse, hydrate, exfoliate, and renew your skin, check back later this month for a follow-up post!

Mid-Summer Days & Nights: How To Incorporate Summer Color Trends

Earlier this spring, fashion-devotees watched the runways in Paris to see what colors would dominate this year’s spring and summer collections. Would this summer be ruled by bold, bright hues? Colorful designs inspired by photography? As we soon discovered, this summer took on a much lighter, fresher, nature-inspired palette that ranges from soft rosy hues to champagne and water lily tones.

Fashion writers, designers and lovers of all that rule the runway were not disappointed with this year’s palette of colors that inspire tranquility and designs meant to calm the mind. Natural fibers like cotton, bamboo and linen, as well as colors taken from nature such as soft greens, teals, and blues (reminiscent of the Mediterranean Sea) found their way into many designs and many closets this year.

With a healthy tan, these softer colors make pulling an outfit together a breeze! So let’s talk colors. Among the list of the most popular colors is blush-  a lighter shade of rose that has found its way into many bridal party dresses.

Now, there are definitely mixed feeling about rose or blush colored dresses (particularly from several bridesmaids that I airbrushed!) Many clients felt that their fairer toned skin almost matched the dresses they would be wearing. The answer? A sunless, healthy looking tan, of course! With a little color, all of a sudden the softer shades of the season could easily be worn and the tan was the showstopper- a natural glow perfect for highlighted the blush/rose colored dresses.

Other colors designers have incorporated into their designs this summer include peach, blue, buttercup, lilac gray, and “iced coffee.” These warm and soft colors are often found in nature (think rain forests and balmy vacation getaway resorts!) This year’s trend may reflect a need that designers see in turning away from the technology-driven world we live in for a simpler look at life. Yes, technology is wonderful, but so is the ability to unplug from it. And, if wearing a buttercup dress or Mediterranean blue tie calms the mind, then what better way to celebrate summer fashion and highlight your tan than to wear the season’s most popular palette this year?!

But what if you don’t want to commit one of these hues to your entire outfit? For women, who tend to shy away from these more “natural” hues, an easy way to incorporate the colors of the season is into a manicure or pedicure. Likewise, for men, it’s easy to reach past the bold red tie for a softer red, a lighter blue, or even a lilac tie to bring a little fashion into the office.

Keep in mind that the softer hues have also been shown to reduce stress levels and are often used in color design in bedrooms and home offices, where calm minds inspire rest and reduced stress levels. This summer the colors are taking the stage and the color palettes are reminding us to take time to stop and smell the roses (or lilacs!)
Questions, comments, suggestions? I’d love to hear from you, simply email me at! Want to book your next appointment online? Visit this link!

Skin SOS: Hyperpigmentation? Freckles? Dark Spots? We Can Help!

As a young girl, I admittedly envied the dusting of freckles across my friends’ noses and cheeks. I remember how cute their freckles were and to me (whose skin is olive-based and plain in comparison), I often wished I had freckles like “Little Orphan Annie.” Today I know better.

Fast-forward 30 years and as an esthetician, I still find myself looking at people’s skin while I’m commuting on the train or walking around the city. However, I now understand that freckles are a form of hyperpigmentation. Let’s take a moment to talk about hyperpigmentation.


Hyperpigmentation is a form of sun damage. When our skin is exposed to the sun, the body produces an excess amount of “melanocytes” – better known as melanin. Melanin is what gives our skin its color.

However, when the skin is left unprotected— no sunscreen to block the UVA (aging) and UVB (burning) rays— the body produces more melanin to try and protect the skin. Regardless of your skin tone, these dark spots can range in color from light beige to black and often appear on areas exposed to the sun such as the face, neck, chest, arms, and hands.

Since I commute every day, I decided to study the people I saw on the train and conduct a very basic study of anyone with hyperpigmentation. Things I observed and took note of included how old I thought they were, skin tone, hair coloring, and so on. What I discovered was very concerning – I was surprised to see so many hyperpigmented people in their 20s and 30s!

Most people think of hyperpigmentation as dark spots or age spots affecting people in their 50s and older. The fact is that the majority of people I see in the esthetician’s room and on the streets of Chicago with hyperpigmented skin are getting younger and younger. This is concerning because by the time they do reach their later years, the spots will get larger and darker!

Take a look at your face, neck and chest. Do you have a tan but also spots on the tan? Or, do see dark spots ranging in different shades of brown to black? Those spots are sun damage. Without treatment and proper protection from the sun, the hyperpigmentation will worsen over time. Thankfully, there are treatment options for hyperpigmentation that range from ultrasonic peels to LED therapy, which require little to no down time or peeling.

Hyperpigmentation Treatment Option Breakdown

LED Therapy:

Light Emitting Diodes (LED) has proven results lightening hyperpigmentation. A series of Green LED therapy can noticeably lighten dark spots, while Red LED therapy can reach the deeper layers of the skin to promote skin rejuvenation. This results in younger, tighter and more youthful looking skin.

Ultrasonic Peels

ELEMIS is known for its breakthrough advances in skincare, including the use of ultrasonic therapy to target dark spots and LED combination therapies to peel away the hyperpigmentation, rejuvenate the skin, and even out skin tone.

After you’ve chosen one of the therapies above to treat your hyperpigmentation, the best way to protect the skin is to wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen and book an appointment for a healthy Ortanic tan that will provide the skin with a beautiful customized glow and protection from the sun. In the long run, your skin will thank you as it ages gracefully without dark spots!

Questions? Comments? Email me at any time:

Healthy Tanning!

How to Heal and Camouflage a Sunburn

FFC Gold Coast Esthetician Shawn Flemming shares a few tips on how to properly (and quickly!) heal and camouflage a sunburn, just in time for beach season!

At one time or another, we’ve all experienced a sunburn- whether it’s because we stayed out too long in the sun, forgot to wear sunblock or thought that we could go without sunscreen on cloudy/overcast days.

Firstly, clouds do not prevent or filter UV rays! The sun’s rays are strong and long enough to reach you at ground level – they actually get reflected more intensely because of the cloud cover. Don’t be fooled into thinking you’re safe from the sun’s skin-damaging rays because it’s cooler outside or it’s a cloudy day!

Recently I’ve also had several clients call and ask if they can cover their “farmer’s tan” or sports bra sunburn with a spray tan. While I would love to be able to help them conceal their tan with a gorgeous, organic, and safe spray tan, it depends on a few factors (like how severe the burn is and when it occurred.)

I’ve put together a “Quick Response Guide” to treating a severe sunburn. The sooner you treat the burn, the more likely that it will heal faster and the discomfort will not last as long. For more tips on protecting skin from burning in the first place, check out my recent post!

Step 1: Cool the burn.

The sunburn has heat trapped in it, so it will feel warm to the touch. You want to cool the burn, but you also don’t want to overexpose the skin to too much water because it will irritate the sensitive skin and cause excessive drying.

If you are near a pool, take a quick dip for a few seconds. Or, if at home, jump in the shower and stand under cool water for a few moments. Do not apply soap!

Step 2: Apply an anti-inflammatory medicine.

To reduce swelling and inflammation take a NSAID (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicine) like aspirin or ibuprofen. Continue taking the medicine as directed on the bottle until your sunburn is no longer painful to the touch.

Step 3. Use cold compresses.

The purpose of compresses is to help reduce the heat and inflammation. Here are several recipes that take advantage of the healing properties of household items:

  • Oatmeal: Pour a scoop of plain oatmeal onto a gauze, cotton, or cheesecloth and wrap the cloth to keep the oatmeal inside. Then run the compress under cool water letting the water soak through it. Open the compress, remove the wet oatmeal and wring out excess water. Apply compress across the sunburn until it no longer feels warm. Repeat every few hours.
  • Milk: Using fat-free milk and 4 cups of cool water. Soak oatmeal compresses in the cooled milk, wring out excess milk/water from the compress and apply the compress to the sunburn for 15-20 minutes. Repeat every few hours.
  • Yogurt: Using plain yogurt, gently apply a thin layer across the sunburn. Leave on for several minutes and rinse off, patting the skin dry.
  • Frozen Peas/Ice Pack: Apply to swollen sunburns after wrapping the frozen item in a damp towel. Never apply ice or cooling packs directly to the skin!
  • Witch Hazel: Apply Witch Hazel to a soft cloth and apply the compress directly to the skin. Witch Hazel has anti-inflammatory properties to help reduce swelling and redness.

Always apply a moisturizer after compress therapy (see step 5.)

Step 4: Cool the burn again.

The first 48 hours of a sunburn can be very painful as will still be heated trapped under the skin. Continue to use compresses and sit in front of a fan or near an air conditioner for short periods to help cool the skin. Follow with a gentle moisturizer.

Step 5: Moisturize.

Using the right moisturizer can make a huge difference in how quickly the burn heals as well as how much or little you will peel.  Here are some common don’t ingredients, followed by a list of dos.

Don’t use: petroleum jelly (Vaseline), oils, or thick creams because they trap the heat in the skin. Also do not use any products with parabens, alcohol, formaldehyde, menthol, coloring agents, or fragrance because they can irritate the skin causing further dryness and itching.

DO use: light and water-based moisturizers, which make them easy for the skin to absorb. Since there are thousands of moisturizers to choose from ask the pharmacist for recommendations. Another option is aloe vera from the source. Break open an aloe vera leaf and apply the juice directly to the sunburn. If buying over-the-counter aloe vera, check the ingredients for any that are on the don’t list.

Step 6: Treat flaking skin.

Since skin, on average, takes about 28 days to renew itself, you will probably have several days to weeks of slight – heavy peeling, depending on how severe the burn is and how you care for it.

If you experience severe itching, apply products with 1% hydrocortisone. Once you’re in the peeling stage, you can use oil moisturizers like coconut oil to help keep the skin soft and the itch factor low.

Do not pick at flaking skin as you can tear healthy skin off, which will leave a scar! Let the skin flake off naturally, using lotions and oil to minimize flaking and provide a barrier between the skin and clothing that can rub against the peeling skin causing itching and irritation.

Step 6: Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

Stay hydrated! From the moment you notice the sunburn, drink plenty of water or liquids with electrolytes as your skin needs the extra hydration and to help prevent hyperpigmentation and even scarring.

Step 7: Hide the burn.

The truth is that until you reach the flaking stage, makeup and even spray tans are a don’t. The skin needs to breathe and release heat, which is what causes the redness, swelling, and inflammation.

Remember sunburn is actually very similar to a burn you get touching a hot flame or heated pan! Until the burn is cooled, medicated, moisturized, and healed, the best camouflage is clothing to keep the sun from the injured skin.

Question? Suggestion? Comments? Email Shawn at or tweet to use using #FFCChicago!