There’s a TMZ headline from 2008 that reads, “Lindsay — You Missed a Spot.” In the photo, Lindsay Lohan is wearing a short dress and a traffic-cone-colored spray tan that ends abruptly at her ankles. It’s like someone attached the feet of a Fanning sister to her legs.

It was the aughts. Instead of “Is she on Ozempic?,” tabloid culture was centered on “Why is she so orange?” In 2012, Christina Aguilera sang at an Etta James tribute with brown streaks of liquid running down her legs. (She later explained she was nervous and the sweat made her self-tanner run.) There’s the 2003 Friends episode “The One with Ross’s Tan,” where David Schwimmer’s character accidentally sprays his front side three times, making it look like he’s … let’s just say you wouldn’t make this episode today.

I fell prey to my first spray tan in 2010. I was set to go to Mazatlán with friends and had purchased my first-ever bikini. I’m half-Irish. My skin makes Tilda Swinton look like the Bain de Soleil model. Days before the trip, I walked into a Mystic Tan in Manhattan, stepped into a space-age shower booth, and got misted front to back with chemical tanner. I paid extra for a lady to airbrush “abs” on me. Six hours later I was the shade of a charred sweet potato. As for the “abs”? It looked like someone smeared dirt across my stomach rolls. In Spanish: tierra en tus rollos. (It was the joke of the trip.) I never even wore my bikini. And I swore off spray tans.

I thought everybody else did, too. But it turns out sunless tans haven’t gone away—they’ve just gotten better. “The number of people who still spray tan is much greater than we would imagine,” says Molly R. Stern, a makeup artist based in Los Angeles who’s swept blush across the cheekbones of Maya Rudolph and Greta Gerwig. “We’re just not noticing them anymore,” Stern says. “The formulas are better, and the technicians are better.”

Quinn Murphy, a makeup artist in New York, draws a parallel between the return of other 90s trends, such as thinness and body-baring clothes, and the recent resurgence of bronzing. “With Ozempic now and all the skimpy dresses, people are showing so much skin. It makes sense that this would be a thing again too,” says Murphy. “It just all kind of falls under the same world.”

I paid extra for a lady to airbrush “abs” on me. Six hours later I was the shade of a charred sweet potato.

The statistics concur. In 2014, sunless tanning was a $775 million business; by 2032 it’s projected to reach $5.5 billion. Kimmie Worley McCarthy, co-founder of Chocolate Sun, an organic line of sunless-tanning products founded in 2003, says, “People aren’t just doing one-offs. It’s part of the self-care routine they do every Sunday or two Sundays.”

Worley-McCarthy herself bronzed Ryan Gosling, Jennifer Lawrence, and Matt Bomer before the Oscars this year. “People want to look good and have an even skin tone all of the time,” she says. “Why would you do it daily with makeup when you can do it in 20 minutes and it’ll last a full week—and be incredibly conditioning for your skin?”

Tanners have added loads of ingredients to their formulas to meet our skin-care-obsessed moment. Chocolate Sun delivers organic botanicals and antioxidants. Bondi Sands has a new line of tanning creams that offer “blemish control.” St. Tropez’s Luxe Whipped Crème Mousse promises to moisturize skin with vitamin E, echinacea, and hyaluronic acid while delivering a glow.

Last month, I stopped by Kate Somerville, in Los Angeles, to see Worley-McCarthy for my second-ever spray tan. This time, I was readying for a trip to Hawaii and two bikinis. (Since 2010, my skin has remained nearly translucent, though I’ve added some purple spider veins to the mix as a fun little treat.) The experience was night and day from what I remembered—and personal, in more ways than one. Not only did Worley-McCarthy consult with me on my desired color (one shade darker, no more), she sprayed my very nude body herself, taking special care with the face, hands, and feet.

At one point I joked that holding my arms in T position for so long was practically a Tracy Anderson workout. To which Worley-McCarthy chimed, “I spray her too!”

Twelve hours and one shower later, my skin looked perfect. Not orange. Just a shade darker than my usual coloring, and one that complimented my natural undertone. You’d have to squint to see the broken capillaries on the bridge of my nose that I typically cover with makeup. I spent an entire week in Hawaii without searching desperately for my concealer stick. Which felt like a small miracle because I’d have sweated it off anyway.

Does this mean that the days of public orange mishaps are over? Well, no. There’s the glaring example of the former president, whose adjacency to a Cheeto is much commented upon. “He just looks so terrible that if you’re even half as bad, it looks acceptable,” Murphy adds.

That may explain why Murphy advises his clients to not tan their faces. “That can look really flat. I’d rather match the face to the body in a way that’s more dimensional,” he says. For the most part, people are more educated about self-tanning than they used to be. They know who to go to and what to ask for. “Not one person has ever tried a sunless tanner as a joke, to look bad,” says Worley-McCarthy. Like everything else in the beauty sphere, it involves some trial and error. But the errors are fewer now.

It certainly helps that “everyone’s going so much lighter. More normal. More natural,” Worley-McCarthy says. “You don’t want your tan to walk in the room before you do.” If Lohan can be rehabilitated and re-invented, so, too, can the spray tan.

Lauren Bans is a Los Angeles–based television writer