Spray Tanner

Jimmy Coco is the bronzing god of Hollywood


Photograph by Dustin Snipes

➻ “I was watching TV, and an ad for a mobile spray tanner popped up on the screen. I bought all the stuff, but I didn’t really like the results. I wondered if I could make something better. So I hooked up with a lab and had them make an improved tanning formula.”

➻ Coco (born James Snyder) founded his company, now called Jimmy Jimmy Coco Tanning Essentials, in 2003. The 40-year-old former actor-model-bartender spritzes faux glow on the most beautiful bodies in the entertainment industry, including Heidi Klum, Victoria Beckham, and Kim Kardashian.

➻ “I’ve become famous for what I do by accident. A trainer I know was working with Laura Prepon and asked if I could tan her for a magazine cover. Later I met Lara Flynn Boyle and tanned her. Before I knew what was happening, I’m getting phone calls from magazines asking how much I charge.” (Answer: $350 per tan.)

➻ The main active ingredient in sunless tanning products is the enzyme dihydroxyacetone (DHA). The use of DHA to darken skin was discovered in the 1950s by researcher Eva Wittgenstein at the University of Cincinnati.

➻ “I love the look of the tan. I love the tricks that I do to make a body look better with shading and contouring. I want everyone to feel like a million bucks when I’m done.”

➻ Coppertone introduced the first self-tanner to the market in the 1960s. It was called QT (for Quick Tan). DHA-based sunless tanners are considered a safe alternative to sunbathing.

➻ “The minute I see someone, I notice if their legs are short or if they have saddlebags or a pooch. No judgment—I just use all the tricks I’ve learned so I can shade and highlight to make it all look better.”

➻ Every client of Coco’s is spray tanned in the buff, starting with the back. His mobile-tanning unit weighs five pounds, and the process takes five to ten minutes.

➻ “My favorite clients are the brides. Oscar nominees are important, too. The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show is also huge because there are so many models and everyone’s in their underwear. You have to get every inch, every nook and cranny!” 

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