What is Spray Tanning?

What is Spray Tanning?

We’ve all seen celebrities in magazines and on the big screen with flawless skin right?  Not only do they have custom clothing and gowns, teams of makeup and hair artists, personal trainers and chefs, but they also have a spray tanning secret!  Spray tanning has come a long way from the days of your mother’s spray tanning experiences.  There’s little to worry about turning orange because of a spray tan due to the latest formulas being used by spray tan artists.  In fact, many spray tanning solutions today offer wonderful benefits to your skin.  They provide great moisturizers, essential vitamins and minerals for your skin, and are a great alternative to traditional tanning.  So what exactly is spray tanning?

What is a Spray Tan?

Spray tanning is a procedure performed by beauty industry professionals to temporarily tan your skin.  The biggest difference between spray tanning and traditional tanning is that with spray tanning you will not be exposed to any harmful UV rays.  There are really only about two different ways to get a spray tan.  The first way is to hire a spray tan artist to give you a spray tan.  The artist can either come to a place of your choosing (your office or home for example) or you can visit them at their place of business.  The second way to get a spray tan is by using a spray tan booth in a beauty salon.  There are different benefits to each choice; we’ll talk about that more a little later.

Spray Tan Artist

If you’re using a spray tan artist, their toolkit for a spray tan will include (at a minimum) spray tan solution, a spray tan machine, and a 5/spray tan tent.  A spray tan solution is selected based on the desired color and the current color of your skin.  The spray tan artist may even mix various spray tan solutions together to provide you with a custom color.  The selected solution will then be poured into a spray tan machine which usually includes a handheld sprayer for the spray tan artist to use.  The spray tan machine will have a fan inside that blows air into the handheld sprayer.  As the air rushes through the handheld sprayer the spray tan solution gets sucked up into a nozzle and is released as a mist.  This mist contains various ingredients such as color changing agents, moisturizers, and sometimes even vitamins and minerals for your skin.  The spray tan tent keeps this mist contained and ensures that it doesn’t end up on any unwanted surfaces of the room.  The spray tan artist will ensure that your body is coated evenly with the spray tan solution.  The artist will ask you to move and change your body’s position to make sure that you have a uniform color distribution.

Spray Tan Booth

If you’re using a spray tan booth at a beauty salon, the basic components will include spray tan solution, a 7/spray tan booth, and an employee from the spray tan salon.  A spray tan solution is selected based on the desired color and the current color of your skin.  In many cases, you’ll have the opportunity to select the spray tan solution from the salon’s inventory and can talk to the salon’s staff about the individual products.  Once you’ve selected the solution, the salon’s employee will pour the spray tan solution into a reservoir within the booth.  You’ll step inside of the spray tan booth to get your spray tan started.  When you’re inside the booth you’ll be asked to stand in a specific position depending on the spray tan booth.  Some booths will have you stand with your arms up, other booths will have you stand with your arms stretched out at your sides, and I’ve even seen some booth request you to keep your arms at your sides.  Fans inside of the spray tan booth will start and air will begin to blow on you through small nozzles that are placed within the spray tan booth.  A few moments later, a fine mist will be released from these same nozzles and will begin to coat your entire body.  In some booths, the nozzles will move while you stand still, in others the mist will be paused while you change position, and in others the mist will spray you from multiple sides at the same time.  When the mist is complete, the spray tan booth will blow some more air on you to help dry you off.

Spray Tan Solution Ingredients

The most common active ingredient in spray tan solutions is called dihydroxycacetone (DHA) which bonds to your skin and begins the bronzing process.  Generally, the higher the concentration of DHA (4%, 6%, etc.) the darker the tan will be on your skin.  DHA is colorless, and once it bonds to your skin it begins to change the tone of your skin a few hours after the application.  Another common ingredient in many spray tan solutions is erythulose.  This is also colorless and is used primarily to extend the life of your spray tan and to keep your skin from looking orange.  Spray tan solutions also include a cosmetic bronzer that is visible to the eye.  This bronzer is what you’ll see on your skin as the mist is applied to your skin, but it’s not what the finished tan will look like – it’s only temporary.  This bronzer is used to keep an eye on the uniformity of the spray tan’s application and to make sure that there aren’t any unsprayed patches on your skin.  The rest of the ingredients will vary by brand, but may include water, aloe, and other similar items.

A quick spray tanning tip about these bronzing ingredients:  While the DHA and erythulose are clear when they go on, you want to be aware of the contact you make with important clothing items and other people.  There’s nothing worse than giving your best friend a big hug right after a spray tan and having a nice tan develop on her neck in the shape of your arm.  Oh and that cosmetic bronzer, that’s the stuff that’ll ruin your brand new white cloth couch if you decide to have a seat on it right after your spray tan. 

You really can’t go wrong with either option of obtaining a spray tan. In general, a spray tan is going to appear much more natural and flawless as opposed to applying a self-tanner yourself. While a self-tanner can definitely give you bronzed results, it is very difficult to ensure the consistency of the product during application and verify that all areas of your body have been covered uniformly. Interested in learning more about the do’s and don’ts of all things spray tanning? Head over to our most inclusive article The Ultimate Spray Tanning Guide for all the goods! Below we’ve included a quick side by side comparison of the difference between the two types of spray tanning methods.

Spray Tan Artist Pros

  • Customizable Spray Tan Solution
  • Professional Body Contouring and Shading
  • You Can Choose the Location
  • Professional Suggestions and Product Recommendations

Spray Tan Booth Pros

  • Private Room for Tanning
  • Cost is Usually Lower
  • May Be Able to Request Additional Salon Services
  • May Offer Membership Programs

Interested in learning more about the do’s and don’ts of all things spray tanning? Head over to our most inclusive article The Ultimate Spray Tanning Guide for all the goods!

Let me know if you have any other pros for using a spray tan artist or a spray tan booth!

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