Known as a magician for her ability to sculpt and slim in under 10 minutes, Tamar Vezirian, a former makeup artist and comedienne, parlayed her passion for beauty and knack for putting people at ease, into becoming one of the most sought after airbrush tanners in the beauty industry.
Spray tans aren’t just for celebrities though. I first met Tamar 3 years ago when I scored a makeover segment on The View and called the company she founded, Gotham Glow, to book an all-natural airbrush tan (with an FDA-approved proprietary formula of beets, brown sugar, and DHA) that would give me a “just-got-back-from-Bali radiance.” Well, it did and Tamar has been a perpetual source of skincare and beauty advice ever since.
We sat down earlier this week when I visited Gotham Glow’s Manhattan studio for an appointment. Like blowouts, airbrushing is one of my favorite beauty indulgences. I’ve become addicted to getting tanned for special occasions and on Wednesday I presented at Style Coalition’s Fashion 2.0 Awards. New York winters can be brutal and a little glow goes a long way!
I’m particularly excited to present this interview and hope it demystifies airbrush tanning and provides you with some new product and beauty destination inspiration.
Babble: You turned your passion for beauty into a business. How did you get started?
Tamar Vezirian: Where do I begin? Wow, it’s been 18 years now. At 16, I started as a makeup artist at a fun company called Hard Candy, then Chanel, Origins, Estee Lauder, YSL, MAC Cosmetics, and the list goes on.
I initially moved to NYC to pursue an acting/comedy career but soon found my life was becoming its own comedy trying to juggle two very different passions at the same time. My one woman show, “You’ve Neva Met a Bitch Like Me Befo!” took center stage and I was doing makeup less and less.
It was only when I started spray tanning for one of New York City’s first airbrush salons that I knew I had found the perfect match. It was a natural transition from being a makeup artist and performer to making clients feel completely comfortable about being naked in front of a complete stranger. I loved the way my clients looked and felt when they left. I knew I could take tanning to the next level so I started developing my signature solution and tanning choreography and soon after, launched my own spray tanning business, Gotham Glow. Now, here I am with a beautiful salon in the Flatiron District, helping New Yorkers and a celebrity clientele glow on with their bad selves!
Babble: What should entrepreneurial women know about starting their own beauty business?
Tamar Vezirian: You have to build relationships and make every single client feel special. Don’t hesitate. Get back to inquiries right away. One thing I learned working in NYC is that people don’t like to do is wait. Go above and beyond for your clients because competition in the beauty business is fierce. Also know that it takes time for your business to grow and decide the right growth strategy early on. I really believe when you combine hard work and passion, eventually you will find some sort of success. For me, it was finding a niche market: house calls.
When I first started Gotham Glow, it was a mobile tanning service. There was nothing like it at the time. The hours were insane but that was my niche market. Tanning clients at 1 AM was common for me. I remember tanning someone right before their morning flight at like 4:40 AM! Building my client base in this market was a great opportunity because who doesn’t want to be tanned in the comfort of their own home? It was and still is the natural choice for celebrities and many busy executives, models, and of course moms!
Babble: What exactly is airbrush tanning and how does it work, for those who have never tried it?
Tamar Vezerian: Airbrush tanning is the safest and fastest way to get a glow without the harmful effects of the sun and tanning beds. A trained airbrush technician uses a high volume, low pressure spray gun to evenly apply a solution mist containing Dihydroxyacetone (DHA for short) to the face and body. DHA is the active ingredient in pretty much every sunless tanning product and solution. The DHA reacts with the amino acids in the uppermost layer of the skin to create the darkening reaction or tan. As the skin cells naturally wear off so does your airbrush tan. That’s why its important to exfoliate beforehand. With proper maintenance an airbrush tan can last anywhere from 5-7 days. The whole process including drying time takes about 15-20 minutes.
Babble: What are some of the common misconceptions about airbrush tanning?
Tamar Vezirian: People always worry that they’ll end up orange and the tan will be obviously fake, which is one of Gotham Glow’s biggest selling points. My client’s know that they’re in good hands and that our solution is natural.
Babble: Is airbrush tanning a viable beauty option for moms?
Tamar Vezirian: Absolutely. It’s a great option because it’s quick and easy. Moms are pressed for time and generally not taking a lot of vacations or sitting in the sun for hours. Not to mention the safety issue with UV rays. Most of our house call business comes from moms who work full time. We tan them at night when their kids are sleeping. In and out in 15-20 minutes and they’re left with a gorgeous, guilt-free glow for about a week.
Babble: What are your product recommendations to extend an airbrush tan and moisturize the skin in general?
Tamar Vezirian: I love Aveeno, Lubriderm, and Vaseline Intensive Care. They are all basic body moisturizers that don’t have perfume in them. After being airbrushed you want to avoid products that have alpha hydroxy, soy or anything that produces cell turn-over, and those with lightening agents.
Babble: A nice glow is all anyone really needs but what are some of your other favorite beauty products?
Tamar Vezirian: A Shu Eumura eyelash curler. It’s amazing what a little curl can do for a girl! Stila liquid liner goes on smooth and creates the best cat eye ever. Christina Choi Cosmetics’ On Vacay Luxury Gloss is the classic, natural “go to” lip gloss for day or evening. Awake foundation and concealer is my recommendation for best absolute coverage. It’s the perfect balance between matte and dewy. Seriously, there’s nothing on the market like it.
Babble: You’re a curly-haired girl, what products do you use to tame the mane?
Tamar Vezirian: I love me some Bumble and Bumble Curl Conscious. I’m also obsessed with the Wet Brush that I use in the shower. It works so well and fast to detangle thick curly hair. I’ll share a tip I learned, never towel dry curly hair. Who knew? Also, the master of curls, Jeffery Ching, of JBW Jeffery Ching Salon, told me to always use a T-shirt, not a towel to dry. It prevents frizz and really works. He also recommends apply curling products in the shower while you hair is still really wet, not afterwards. He’s so right every time. I love him.
Babble: What are your favorite beauty destinations in NYC?
Tamar Vezirian: Spadium Korean Spa in Koreatown. I go once a season to exfoliate all my dead skin. They don’t mess around. You feel like a new woman when you’re done.
Sania from Sania’s Brow Bar is the only person I let touch my eyebrows. She will set anyone straight with the brow that best suits the face and knows her stuff. I’m super picky and like my brows nice and thick.
I made two new recent discoveries: I found this amazing massage joint in Chinatown called Health Trail on Pell Street. It’s a total hole-in-the-wall and I cried during my whole session but they cured my plantar fascitiis. Be sure to bring a witness because what they do there is a downright miracle! Also, Pure Qi Regimen Spa. I took the Gotham Glow gals all the way out to Greenpoint [Brooklyn] for a holiday spa extravaganza because I had read so many great reviews about the place. It was hard to get us out of there, seriously, we did not want to leave it was so great. They offer both a la carte and combinations services like reflexology, scrubs, massage, waxing, etc. It’s an all-in-one beauty business that does everything right without breaking the bank.