Monday, 04 March 2013 04:31

Spray Tanning

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Sunless tanning is considered the application of a natural or chemical-based product that is applied to the skin to produce an effect similar in appearance to a natural suntan. The popularity in sunless tanning services has grown over the past 30 years as an increase in concern about sun exposure, the health risks of tanning beds, and the "Hollywood" factor. Originally in a lotion/cream form, sunless tanning products are now found in gels, mousses, sprays, and professional applications with machines and automated booths.
Professional applications – now known as spray tanning – were once only found in tanning salons, but are now an expected service to be found inside skin care and makeup studios, day spas, salons, and via mobile service.

This process involves a liquid solution to be applied evenly to the skin, allowed to set and dry, and then rinsed off after development.

Automated spray tanning booths give off a machine guided spray, using three to four ounces of product for the treatment. Clients getting their glow from these booths must apply barrier creams and use protective items for the eyes and mucous membranes. After the treatment the client must "towel off" the excess product which, if not done correctly, can sometimes cause the tan to look uneven.
Hand-held spray tanning machines generally use HVLP technology. However, these machines have utilized airbrush technology in the past. HVLP machines allow for a faster and more precise application of the product to the skin. The machines also only require the technician to use one to two ounces of product for the treatment. Solutions tend to dry instantly when they are applied and no protective gear is recommended or required.


Ingredients in sunless tanning products have come under scrutiny over the past decade. The active ingredients found in sunless tanning products remain constant, while filler ingredients tend to differ amongst different
product lines.
Dihydroxyacetone (DHA) is used in all sunless tanning products and is derived from either a sugar beet or sugar cane. DHA is not a dye, stain, or paint as most people understand it to be. It reacts with the amino acids and amino groups of proteins that are present in sweat, keratin, and on the skin, which leads to the production of colored melanoids. DHA produces a color on the skin that is true to one's skin tone. The effects of DHA are temporary, and can last anywhere from three to 10 days (depending on how one is taking care of their skin). DHA is approved by the FDA for cosmetic use, however not
for inhalation.

In regular spray tanning solutions, DHA levels range from eight percent to 12 percent, while in "rapid" developing spray tanning solutions the levels range from 14 percent to 22 percent. The level of active ingredient applied to the skin can control the depth of the tan. However, too much active ingredients can cause the skin to turn orange.
In 2010, The European Union published a directive by the Scientific Committee of Consumer Safety. It was a review and a compilation of numerous studies of DHA and potential safety hazards. It has been formally recommended by the EU that the level of DHA should be limited to no more than 14 percent for safe inhalation. There has been no action on this taken in the United States; however "rapid" developing products utilizing high levels of DHA should
be avoided.

DHA is dehydrating to the skin and it is important that clients moisturize regularly and drink plenty of water if they are using these products on a regular basis. DHA allergies are rare, but if one is allergic, they may develop a
mild dermatitis.
Erythrulose, the second active ingredient most commonly found in sunless tanning products, is not strong enough to produce a faux tan when used by itself. But coupled with DHA, it can lengthen the life of the sunless tan and develop more of a brown color. Erythrulose is found and derived from
red raspberries.
Spray tanning solutions generally have a base of water or a water and Aloe mix. Aloe is often found in sunless tanning products as it helps to soothe and also re-introduce moisture to the skin. Many spray tanning solutions are infused with professional skin care ingredients to exfoliate, hydrate, and repair the skin. Commonly found ingredients are hyaluronic acid, caffeine, pro-
vitamin B5, and various plant extracts.
While there is no governing body that certifies sunless tanning products, you can still find products that are made with "eco-certified" active organic ingredients and that are natural as possible. Many product lines are paraben-free, which is a good choice as these products are applied to the entire body.


Spray tanning solutions are available with or without bronzers. Bronzers are artificial coloring that give the client an "instant glow" immediately after the product is applied. Bronzers rinse off of the body with the initial shower after the treatment. They do not affect the color of the sunless tan, but simply work as a color guide.
"Clear" solutions, or those without bronzers, go on the skin without a color guide. While they can be a bit trickier to apply, they do not have the mess that is often associated with sunless tanning.


Offering sunless tanning services in your salon or spa is a great way to enforce the "practice what you preach" with your clients. A good aesthetician can always recommend sun care products to their clients and getting a spray tan or using a self-tanner to get a golden glow.
If these services and products are offered in your business, you will not have to refer your clients elsewhere and can earn extra income. Spray tanning services have an extremely low cost of treatment – in most cases, less than a dollar. In addition treatment time is usually around five to 10 minutes and treatment costs range from $40 to $65. This makes a quick, profitable service that you can offer.
If you do not have a treatment room to dedicate completely to spray tanning, consider using a pop-up tent and extraction fan in your existing treatment room. Other options are to use a Vichy shower room or space in the locker room of your facility.

Clients must exfoliate before the treatment is applied with a water-based scrub. The client must remove all oils that are on the skin before the treatment.

It is important to choose a product and equipment line that comes with hands-on training instead of a DVD or over the phone instruction. Having a trainer present during the educational process will ensure that your technicians are performing the service correctly. Sunless tanning is an easy service to mess up, and with very few cosmetology/aesthetic schools offering training in their programs, most technicians are not formally trained and tend to learn on their own. Sunless tanning technicians do not have to have a license in the United States, except in the state of Oregon, so salons and spas can utilize reception or massage staff to provide the treatment.


Packaging the spray tanning treatments with other complementary treatments offered in your spa or salon (including waxing services, manicures, pedicures, and exfoliation services) can be an attractive "beach ready" offer for your clients. In addition, the treatments should not be priced as an exclusive service, but as an affordable everyday treatment that can be purchased often, promoting clients to spray tan on a regular basis, rather than just for special events.sray-tan3

Offering sunless tanning products in your spa also ensures that your clients have access to at-home products in the event that they do not want to partake in the actual treatment. Holding self-tanning parties or events to teach your customers the proper application is a great way to promote client education, as well as introduce your spray
tanning treatment.

You can also move your machine and tent to your lobby/retail area in the spring time so that customers can see the machine, ask questions about the treatment, and get the conversation started. Since the treatment has such a low cost to provide and does not involve much time, it is an easy treatment to use as a complimentary or "thank you" service for your customers.




kelly-richardsonKelly Richardson, Celebrity and International Spray Tanner, is the designer of B.Bronz®, a line of professional tanning equipment, solution, and accessories which is used by the International Natural Bodybuilding Association, The San Francisco 49ers Gold Rush Cheerleaders, and contestants vying for the title of Miss America. 707-546-6240 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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