As the days get nicer, most of us are eager to ditch our wool socks and sweaters for shorts and sandals.

But unless you were lucky enough to jet off to some tropical spring break destination, you could probably use a bit of a tan to complete your warm-weather look — especially since your skin probably hasn’t seen the sun for somewhere in the ballpark of five to six months.

When I was in college, I occasionally booked tanning bed sessions, but the cost of maintaining a nice hue, coupled with the risk of skin cancer, quickly put the kibosh on that habit.

When I heard about spray tanning, I thought I had found my sun-kissed-glow godsend. No longer would I have to be the pastiest girl on the track team! At least, that’s what I thought.

I should mention that spray tans affect different skin types in different ways, and not all “sprayees” will suffer the same problems that I did. But let me tell you, it wasn’t pretty. Within 24 hours of my spray session, I had taken on a shade that can only be described as Snooki-meets-Oompa-Loompa.

But wait, it gets worse. A couple of days later, the tan started to fade away in patches. Some parts of my skin were still tan — and by tan, I mean orange — while other areas had faded back to my natural tone. It was unbecoming, to say the least, and I had to hide in long winter clothes despite the fact that it was over 80 degrees outside.

Needless to say, my fake-tanning days are over. But, if you’ve considered giving spray tanning a whirl, now is the time to do it. It’s still cool enough outside that you can cover up any mishaps with long sleeves and pants, and the color will have ample time to fade away before bathing suit season. Plus, I’ve heard that many salons have new spray-tanning solutions that produce better, more natural-looking results.

Brooke is a 2010 graduate of The University of Montana, where she ran track and cross country for the Grizzlies. She is currently working as a writer and editor in Missoula.