Frequently Asked Questions
What is spray tanning?
Spray Tanning, often called airbrush or sunless tanning, is a process by which a DHA-based solution is sprayed on to the skin via an automated system or handheld HVLP tanning equipment. When the spray tanning solution is sprayed onto the skin, a safe, natural, sunless tan develops and lasts for about 5-10 days. Sunless tanning solutions contain dihydroxyacetone (DHA), an ingredient approved by the FDA, which reacts with the natural amino acids in the top layer of your skin, producing the best looking sunless bronze tan. The pigments resulting from a spray tan do not provide UV protection. The DHA spray tanning solution is applied while the client stands in either an automated booth, or in a spray tan tent. Tanning solutions also typically have a bronzer that provides an immediate tan effect. The color of your developed tan will continue to darken after the initial application. With most solutions, the deepest tan color is reached within about 6-8 hours. When using a spray gun, this instant color helps ensure even coverage. In this age of immediate gratification, solutions that include instant bronzing are popular with most clients. This added bronzer (aka, color guard) will come off in the first shower/bath after application. The color that remains is produced by the DHA reacting with the skin. This will be your final spray tan color, which will last for 5-10 days.
What equipment is used?
There are several options for applying a spray tan, and each has its pros and cons. If there was one perfect piece of equipment, then that is the only piece that anyone would ever buy. In the end, it mostly depends on where, how often, and who you will be tanning.
1. HVLP Spray Tanning Equipment:
Benefits - HVLP equipment is very easy to learn, easy to use, delivers quick tanning results, and is extremely reliable.
Cons - With the exception of the TC3-The Show Stealer, most HVLP equipment is louder than a typical airbrush compressor. It is after all a High Volume Low Pressure turbine engine. They generally tend to sound like small vacuums, which is why it is important to consider where you will be tanning your clients before investing in equipment. If noise is an issue, then we ONLY recommend the TC3-The Show Stealer by Apollo.
The HVLP equipment that we recommend is designed specifically for spray tanning, and as a result over spray is greatly reduced. This is important because it lowers your solution costs and reduces ventilation/cleaning issues. Wasted solution translates into wasted profits. HVLP offers an easier application process, with a much shorter learning curve for the technician. Most equipment is lightweight and highly portable.
2. Airbrush Tanning Compressors:
Benefits - Airbrush compressors are very affordable and quieter than HVLP equipment.
Cons - Airbrush compressors are generally not built for tanning purposes. There are of course exceptions. Airbrush compressors tend to produce a lot more overspray and take substantially longer to apply because of the narrow spray pattern. Additionally, they can overheat if overused for consecutive periods of time. You must also really know what you are doing with an airbrush compressor when you are delivering a spray tan to your clients, as the extremely narrow spray pattern does not lend itself to mistakes of any kind.
3. Automated Spray Tanning Booths:
Benefits - You don't need a technician to operate this booth, as it is automated. People who are extremely body conscious may prefer to not have to stand in front of a spray technician.
Cons - They are much more expensive to purchase and are impersonal. The average booth starts at around $25K, while all HVLP equipment may be purchased for less than $1K. Additionally, a booth can not deliver a spray tan the way that a spray tanning tech can because the booth can not make a distinction between height, weight, and body type differences among its clients.
How long will the typical spray tan last?
A spray tan fades just like a tan from the sun. Depending upon the individual's rate of exfoliation, the sunless maintenance products that the customer uses at home, and the quality of the tanning solution, spray tans usually last from 5-10 days. The use of a moisturizing tan extender (Body Armor: Tan Extending Lotion) will result in longer lasting tans. When used as directed the tan extenders can extend your client's color, keeping it smooth and even for several weeks. We have found that a longer lasting tan results in a much happier client who is more likely to enjoy your services long term.
What should you do to prepare for a spray tanning session?
For optimal results, the person's skin should be clean and free from moisturizers, makeup and deodorants. Lotions and makeup may block pores and prevent the tanning solution from reaching and interacting with the skin. On the morning of the tanning session, the client should shower using mild, non-moisturizing gel soap (Bodyguard: DHA Friendly Body Wash). They should also use a non-oil-based exfoliate (Ambush: Pre-Tan Exfoliator). For walk-ins that are not prepared, we recommend using a pH balancing spray (Hide Out: Pre-Tan pH Prep Spray) to clear their skin of any oils, lotions, etc. Taking the time to quickly cleanse, exfoliate and pH balance the skin before sunless products are applied will help to ensure DHA penetrates and absorbs more effectively. This will produce a more even, longer lasting, darker tan.
What should you wear to a spray tanning session?
Clients should wear loose-fitting clothing to the spray tanning appointment. In warmer months flip-flops or sandals are recommended rather than shoes and socks. If using an HVLP spray gun, the client may wear either an old swimsuit, dark undergarments, or disposables (Fling-Disposable Bras, Bandeaus, Thongs, Panties, Briefs, or Boxers) while being sprayed. Client disposables offer clients the option to wear something during the spray tanning process with no concerns about staining; after all, they are disposable. Some salons will allow their clients to be sprayed nude if they so desire. Allow a few minutes drying time after the session before dressing. Solutions that produce sticky or strange smelling results will leave you with unhappy customers. A quality solution should dry in less than five minutes, should not smell noticeably, and will not feel sticky or tacky for long periods of time.
How long does it take to apply?
The HVLP (high volume low pressure) turbine spray gun will take approximately 5-7 minutes. The drying time is less than that of airbrushing because of the reduction of overspray. Airbrush compressors can take approximately 15-20 minutes to apply depending on the proficiency of the technician. Automated booths get the job done in around 2-3 minutes.
How soon can you shower after a spray tan?
This rule is pretty hard and fast across all of the application methods. Giving the DHA solution time to react will ensure the best results. With most solutions, allow 8-12 hours after your tanning session before showering. You should also make every effort to avoid contact with water during that time.
How do you maintain your spray tan?
After the first post-tan shower, apply moisturizer daily (Hands Off: Oil Free SPF 30 Sunscreen). Hydrated skin is essential to maintaining longer lasting tans. To maximize the results, the client should use a tan extending moisturizer (Body Armor: Tan Extending Lotion), drink plenty of water, and try to avoid contact with harsh chemicals that will strip the skin of its beautiful new color. Please remember that spray tanning is not meant to protect your skin from the sun, and we highly recommend the use of sun block daily to protect the health of your skin.
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