If your winter skin needs a fresh new glow, and you do not want to spend time tanning in the sun, then you might be considering a spray tan!
Having a spray tan done for the first time, or even thinking about getting one, comes with quite a few questions, whether it is the right tanning option for you, and what it all entails.
What is spray tanning? Spray tanning is when a thin mist of spray tan formula is sprayed all over your body. This thin mist contains dihydroxyacetone, which reacts with your skin to develop a darker color. Your skin will develop a tan, which will last up to two weeks.
This is just the start of it all – there is much more to know about spray tanning before trying it out. We have put together this guide with every question answered when it comes to spray tanning!
What Is Spray Tanning?
Spray tanning is a temporary method of tanning, which gives your skin a bronze glow no matter the time of year. Many people choose spray tanning to darken their skin because there is no risk of damaging your skin like there is when you tan in the sun.
A spray tan involves spraying a thin mist over all the areas of the skin that you want tanned. Spray tan mists contain dihydroxyacetone (DHA), which is a chemical that reacts with the amino acids in the top layer of your skin cells, to darken the skin.
DHA is an FDA-approved ingredient that is safe to use on the outer layer of your skin, so it is a safe enough method of tanning, and it is much safer than tanning in the sun.
Spray tan solutions can either be clear, or they could contain a bronzer. Clear spray tans do not change the color of the skin instantly and will take a few hours to develop.
Spray tans with bronzers will give the skin an instant glow and color, while the DHA develops. This bronzer will wash away when you shower, but your underlying color would have developed by then.
If you are nervous to try a self-tanner at home, and if you want to avoid spending time in the sun, then a spray tan might be a great option for you.
If you want more information on how spray tanning works with visual aids, take a look at this video from Vacay Beauty on YouTube.
Do Spray Tans Look Natural?
It is completely valid to worry about whether a spray tan will look natural or not. Even though spray tans are temporary, you still do not want to be stuck with orange skin for a few weeks!
Luckily, as spray tans are done by professionals, they should always look as natural as possible. They should be streak-free, not patchy, and they should not have any orange tones. Your spray tan technician will also help to match the product to your skin type.
This is also why it is so important to choose a professional spray tanning salon or technician, to ensure your spray tan does look as natural as possible.
The Different Methods Of Spray Tanning
There are two main methods of spray tanning that salons use. Each has its own pros and cons, and each can give you a gorgeous bronzed glow.
The two types of spray tanning methods that are used most often are airbrush tanning and spray-booth tanning. Here is a little on each:
Airbrush tanning is the most popular type, and it is the type that people go for most often. With airbrush tanning, a professional tanning technician picks out the perfect formula for your skin and then uses an airbrush tanning gun to evenly apply the tanning formula to your skin.
This does take quite a bit of skill as the technician will also need to avoid applying too much spray tan to certain areas which need to stay lighter, and more to areas that would naturally tan darker.
When done properly, an airbrush spray tan will be natural-looking, even, and streak-free.
Spray Tanning Booth
Spray tanning booths are the next most popular spray tanning method. This method involves you standing in an automatic spray tanning booth, which is fitted with nozzles at different levels, which spray the spray tanning solution onto your skin evenly.
You do need to make sure that your body is positioned properly in the spray tanning booth to allow the formula to be applied to your skin evenly. However, as it is more difficult to even out the spray tan manually using this method, it is sometimes not as accurate as when you use an airbrush.
How Long Does A Spray Tan Last?
It is important to know that spray tans are temporary, and if you are wanting to keep up a dark, bronzed tan, then you will need to make regular spray tan appointments.
How long a spray tan will last does depend on how dark your spray tan is. Most commonly, a spray tan will last for about 10 days. The lighter your spray tan, the shorter it will last.
Fair spray tans will last around 5 days, and mid-tone tans can last for a week or so. It all depends on how much DHA is found in the spray tan solution which is applied to your skin, as well as how much spray tan formula is used.
A big factor in how long your spray tan lasts is also how you prepare for your skin before the spray tan, and how you care for it afterward. You also need to leave the DHA to develop on your skin for long enough before taking a shower following a spray tan.
With proper preparation, leaving your tan to develop for the recommended amount of time, as well as caring for your tan afterward, you can expect the spray tan to last for up to 10 days before it begins to fade.
Is Spray Tanning Safe?
Spray tanning is considered to be a safe method of tanning, and it is considered much safer than spending time out in the sun.
DHA is an FDA-approved ingredient for external use, and unless your skin is prone to irritation and sensitivity, then it should not have much of an effect on your skin at all.
The DHA in spray tan formulas can be drying on the skin, but the spray tan solution should have added moisturizing ingredients that counteract this and instead keep your skin hydrated and nourished.
Do Spray Tans Come In Different Strengths?
Spray tans do come in different strengths. The same spray tan solution cannot be used for fair skin and darker skin tones, so there is definitely a need for different spray tan strengths.
The main difference between different strengths of spray tan solutions is how much DHA is found in them. The more DHA, the darker the color of the tan will be.
Having a spray tan technician who knows their spray tan formulas, and who will be able to choose the right color for your skin tone, is so important to get a natural-looking tan.
Do You Have To Prepare For A Spray Tan?
There is definitely preparation that you have to do in order to get the best spray tan results possible. How well you prepare your skin is directly proportional to how well your spray tan turns out.
Here is how you prepare your skin before having a spray tan done:
Be sure to exfoliate your skin if you are having a spray tan done. Do this the day before your spray tan appointment, to give your skin time to recover before.
Exfoliating helps to remove as many dead and dry skin cells as possible so that the spray tan solution has a good, clean base to work with. Removing this layer of dead skin cells also means that your tan will last longer, as the new skin cells will take longer to shed.
Shave Or Wax
Try to shave or wax the areas you usually do before your spray tan appointment too. Do this the day before as well, so your pores have time to close. If not, then you might end up with dark spots (see our article, Forgot To Shave Before Spray Tan – Is It Ruined?).
The hairs might act as a barrier between your skin and the spray tan solution, and cause patches or streaks. It also means you can go for longer without shaving or waxing after the spray tan, and this helps extend your tan as shaving or waxing can lighten it.
You have to moisturize your skin leading up to the spray tan. If your skin is dry, mainly around areas such as ankles, knees, or elbows, the spray tan might develop darker and patchy.
Hydrated skin holds on to a spray tan much better, and allows it to last longer too. Make sure to avoid oil-based moisturizers on the day of the spray tan appointment. We recommend using a water-based body lotion (like this super hydrating one from Neutrogena) after your tan settles in.
How Do You Care For A Spray Tan?
Knowing how to care for your spray tan is so essential to its lasting and being even and natural-looking!
The first 12-hours after a spray tan are really when you need to pay attention to post-tan care. After your spray tan, you need to avoid showering or getting your skin wet for between 10-12 hours afterward.
Not only do you have to avoid showering, but you need to be careful when washing the dishes, walking in the rain, or even brushing your teeth. The smallest amount of water can alter how your spray tan may turn out.
Once you have waited long enough to shower, you can then work to keep your tan glowing and even for as long as possible. You should avoid exfoliating your skin, as this could cause your tan to fade, and you should wait to shave or wax if you can.
Make sure to moisturize your skin twice daily to keep it hydrated and nourished, allowing your tan to glow and fade evenly when it comes time to fade.
Avoid any harsh skin treatments such as hair removal creams, acne treatments, and face scrubs, as these can all strip the tan away.
What Do You Wear To A Spray Tan?
What you wear to the spray tanning appointment will depend on the tan coverage you are wanting to get. For full tan coverage, you would need to wear as little as possible. You can go naked if you are comfortable, otherwise, a thong and a bra can work too. Just be mindful of tan lines.
Disposable underwear is a good option, as it is likely that you will get spray tan onto the underwear, and this can often stain, so being able to throw the underwear away afterward saves you some cleaning.
Remove your jewelry, hairbands, and anything else that you might have on you. Make sure that you also wipe your skin clean of makeup, products, and treatments, and that no deodorant is left on your skin (particularly under your arms – as this could cause the spray tan to turn green).
After the spray tan, try to wear loose-fitting clothing, such as a loose cotton dress, or flowing pants and a baggy shirt. Tight clothing will rub against the spray tan and prevent it from developing evenly on your skin.
Also avoid wearing clothes that might cause you to sweat, because just like getting your skin wet in the shower, sweating can disrupt how the tan develops.
How Often Can You Spray Tan?
If you want to maintain a dark bronzed glow, you will need to schedule regular spray tan sessions, as spray tans do not last forever.
Depending on how long your tan lasts and how well you care for it, you can get a professional spray tan 2-3 times a month. You should ideally wait until your spray tan has faded before going for a new one, but you could exfoliate before the appointment to fade the tan evenly.
To keep your skin healthy and hydrated, you should wait a week between your tan fading and going for your next spray tan, but it will also be worth chatting to your spray tan technician about creating a regular schedule suited to your skin type and your skin tone.
Spray tanning is one of the best ways to develop a dark bronzed glow without having to spend time in the sun, or risk streaks and patches by using a self-tanning product at home.
The DHA in spray tans reacts with your skin’s natural chemistry to darken the skin until those skin cells shed off and the tan fades.
You can enjoy a gorgeous tan no matter the season, with the help of a tanning technician who will be able to evenly apply the spray tan solution to your skin, helping you pick out the perfect shade for you!
Take a read through our above complete guide on what spray tanning is to find out if it is the best tanning option for you!
How long does a spray tanning session last?
A normal, full-coverage spray tanning session will usually last for around 30 minutes. This is a super quick way to get a full tan without having to do any work yourself.
How do I sleep the night after a spray tan?
If your spray tan is still developing when you go to bed, and you have not showered yet, then it is a really good idea to sleep in loose-fitting, long clothes. Wear a long-sleeved shirt and long pants that are not tight on your skin. This avoids smudging and avoids the solution staining your bed linen.