In recent posts, we've been guiding you through one of the most surprisingly finicky aspect of bikini competition prep: Achieving the perfect tan. Once you've properly exfoliated your skin and gotten rid of all that pesky body hair, it is up to you whether to use competition tanning products at home or leave it to the professionals. There are plenty of these items to choose from, and a few benefits of the DIY approach are that it is generally less costly and you have plenty of time to perfect your technique. Plus, you are in complete control of the end result, so you don't have to worry about a last minute mistake by a technician. If you aren't particularly confident in your application technique, though, you can always consult fellow contestants about local tanning salons that could tackle the job. Of course, should you take this route before your next NPC bikini competition, make sure that the salon you go to specializes in competition tanning. That's because, according to experienced IFBB competitor Julie Lohre, the ideal tan for an official event is radically different from the coverage an average tanning salon customer requests. "Understanding the chemistry of how tanning products work and how competition diets affect competitors' body chemistry is the responsibility of the spray tanning technician," Lohre writes on her website. "Those that are serious about what they do will have this knowledge and training to work with competitors in this very specialist sport." A deep uniform tan is a great way to emphasize the muscles you've developed over the last few months and really make that posing suit pop, so don't leave this all-important step.