1. The biggest difference between gradual and full strength self-tanning products is the level of dihydroxyacetone (DHA) – the active ingredient. Gradual tanning products normally have anywhere up to three percent concentration, while full-strength products generally run up to eight percent.
2. While gradual tanners are relatively safe from the threat of orange skin commonly associated with self-tanners, they still contain DHA; too much of the active ingredient will cause clients’ skin to turn orange, so be sure to instruct them to use these products sparingly. The ingredient can build on the client’s skin, so tell them not to apply the product every day. Suggest application every other day or every second day.
3. Gradual tanners are great for the facial area and blending down the neck. The client’s face should never be as dark as the rest of their body. The face is naturally a shade or two lighter, so clients should use these products to mimic a natural glow year-round.
4. Gradual tanners can be found in many forms – mousse, gel, cream, lotion, body wash, and spray. It is best to stock a few different options, as some clients might be more comfortable with one type of application over another.
5. The palms of the hands are not supposed to be tan, so wear gloves when applying gradual tanners to a client or, if they are doing the application themselves, recommend that they wash their hands with an exfoliating scrub immediately after application.
6. Gradual tanners can be applied to the full body and are great for clients that want to achieve a slight glow in the winter. They might not want the intensity that a spray tan brings, so a gradual tanner can give them a pop of color.
7. As a gradual tanning product is lower in active ingredient intensity, this type of product is a great suggestion for clients (especially teenagers) that are just starting to use self-tanning applications and want to get comfortable before they try to apply a full-strength product.
8. All self-tanning products, including gradual tanners, are available with or without a color guide. The color guide is generally comprised of artificial coloring that also provides an instant glow. For clients looking for a healthier, more natural option, look for a product without a color guide.
9. Gradual tanners should be applied just like a full-strength tanner. If clients are using a lotion, gel, cream, or body wash, ensure that they rub the product into their skin in a circular pattern. Spray applications should also be applied in a circular pattern.
10. Ensure that the products are applied to exfoliated, dry skin. Any excess moisture on the skin will result in the product streaking or running down the skin, giving clients a result that is less than perfect. Just like any other tanning product, professionals and clients want to ensure there are no oils or lotions applied to the skin that would form a barrier and keep the active ingredient from penetrating the skin.
Always remember, less is more when it comes to any type of tanning product! Clients can always apply more product if they do not like the intensity, but they cannot exactly take it off. Client will be stuck living with the results of their application for a few days, or even up to a week if they are using full-strength products, so remind them to use tanners sparingly.
Kelly Richardson is the Founder of Venone Public Relations, a media placement, marketing, and consulting agency; working with companies to successfully launch their products and services, as well as shape executives in the media. Formerly a CEO in the sunless tanning and skin care industry for over a decade, Richardson still enjoys speaking at conferences and writes regularly on business-related topics that are relative to the entire beauty industry, as well as wellness travel.