12 Easy FAQs about What a Spray Tan is

What is a spray tan?

A spray tan is the application of a melanin stimulant to the outermost layer of skin of your body.  The most common is called DHA (dihydroxyacetone) and another is erythulose.  Some solutions use only DHA and others have a combination of the two.  The combination solutions tend to make the spray tan last longer.

Is this DHA solution safe?

DHA has been tested and approved for external use by the FDA, so we assume it is safe.  The problem lies in that some solutions have many other ingredients which have not been tested.  At a Tanning Spa most commonly used are  Sjolie, Celestial Bronze and Jamaic Me Tan solutions which are all natural and paraben free.  Some people, depending on their skin type could possibly have an allergic reaction .  We can provide a full list of ingredients if you have sensitive skin or allergies to certain products.

What is a paraben

A paraben is a chemical that is put into products to extend shelf life.  It is a preservative and is found in many products including suntan lotions and spray tan solutions.  Recent studies have found low levels of parabens in biopsied cancer cells but no determination has been made to link parabens with causing cancer.  It is best to err on the side of caution and only use products that are paraben free thereby limiting your exposure to this chemical.

How do I make my spray tan last longer?

what is spray tanThere are several things you can do to get a longer life from your spray tan.  The first and most important is to thoroughly exfoliate before having your spray tan applied.  The reason for this is that the DHA or erythulose reacts with the outermost layer of skin cells and these cells slough off roughly every 7 days leaving your whole body with a new layer of skin similar to how a snake sheds its skin all in one piece.

If you exfoliate with a good scrub or loofah or a similar device you will remove as much of the dead skin cells as possible and the spray tan will react with the newer, fresher skin cells underneath.   The second thing you can do is to use a good tan extending lotion which will keep those new outer skin cells moisturized and extend the time until they slough off thereby extending the life of your spray tan.

How is a spray tan applied?

There are several different ways a spray tan can be applied. A lot of sunless tanners use a spray booth in which a machine applies a heavy mist to the tanner’s body. The tanner stands on a magnetic plate and the natural electrical current of the body attracts the fine mist to the skin due to the particles being polarized. Historically this method is cheaper and some people swear by it and have never had a problem with it.

Others have a horror story to tell of blotching, streaking and a bright orange color. Oftentimes the tanners palms and soles of their feet turn orange but this is probably due to not wearing foot protection or using a barrier cream. One of the main benefits of this method along with being cheaper, is you can spray tan nude without being embarrassed at being without clothes in front of someone.

At a Tanning Spa find out if the technicians are NTTI (National Tanning Training Institute) trained and have been in the medical field for over a decade. The technician will apply your spray tan with a spray gun which is larger than an airbrush and is able to apply more solution in a shorter amount of time. Unarguably having a person physically apply your spray tan is the best method, since the tech can ask you questions about dry or rough spots on your skin or areas that you’ve had trouble with before.

The tech can also adjust the solution strength in percentage increments to give you the shade of tan you desire. Currently spray booths, although they do have different solution strengths, are not capable of making these small adjustments. The tech can then pay special attention to those areas, apply different percentages of solutions to different parts of your body, apply barrier creams in the right amount, and avoid spraying areas that commonly absorb too much solution thereby causing you to turn orange.

Spray solutions are made from plant products and we keep them in small bottles refrigerated until the moment they are used for your custom spray tan.  Allowing this solution to heat up would be similar to leaving a salad in your car on a hot day, it is ruined.  It is interesting to note that the spray booth solutions are in 5 gallon jugs connected to the inside of the machine.  I doubt it is refrigerated but it might be.

Can I spray tan nude?

At most Tanning Spas men are required to wear some type of garment covering the groin area.  Women have the option to spray however they would like including nude or topless.  You can also be sprayed in an old bathing suit, bra and panties, or use our disposable garments (bra/panties/hairnets) which we provide free of charge.  A good spa has both male and female spray techs to meet your level of comfort.

What is the spray tan process ?

When you make an appointment for a spray tan you will be advised to shower and exfoliate thoroughly before coming in. You will also be told to NOT apply any makeup or skin lotions since these products block the solution from penetrating to your skin and causing the tanning reaction.  Upon arrival you will be directed to a private, comfortable room and informed of the process that will take place.  You will undress and put on our disposable garments or the garments you have brought to wear.

A pH neutralizing solution will be sprayed on your body and wiped off with a soft towel.  This step gives your skin a neutral pH as close to 7 as possible so your spray tan will apply evenly and have optimal skin penetration.  Next your foot protectors will be applied which prevents the soles of your feet from absorbing solution and turning orange.  Afterwards a barrier cream will be applied to your palms, fingers, toes and lightly on your elbows and knees.  This also helps to limit excessive DHA absorption.

Next you will stand in the center of a spray stall with heat lamps to keep you warm and intake fans to limit overspray which can cause excess DHA absorption if it settles on your feet. The tech will spray you from head to toe, addressing areas that you have identified are harder to tan or that you have had problems with in the past when you spray tanned.  A full length floor mirror is in the room so you can have an unobstructed view of yourself as you receive your custom spray tan.  Once your tan is applied a fan is set up so that you can adequately dry before getting dressed and leaving the room.

What can I do to get the best and longest lasting spray tan possible?

First and foremost, exfoliate very well before coming in, don’t apply makeup or any kind of lotions.  Speak to your tech to address any areas you’re concerned about so they can make sure the right strength of solution is applied.  Make sure to bring loose fitting clothing to wear after your spray tan is applied, a pair of sweats is perfect.  Tight clothing or clothing that binds in any spots may prematurely rub off the solution in those areas.  It’s best to not wear a bra or panties after being sprayed.

Make sure your spray tan is dry before leaving, this should take about five minutes after the tech leaves your room.  Make sure not to engage in any activity which may cause sweating for the 12 hours after you are sprayed and do not shower until this time has passed.  If you were sprayed with our rapid acting DHA then you should wait 6 to 8 hours to shower.  Also, be aware that most body washes are not formulated to be used after spray tanning and they will contribute towards premature wear.

A good one is Sjolie Body Wash which is specifically formulated for using after spray tanning and will assist you in getting the longest lasting spray tan around.  Finally, buy a lotion to moisturize your skin to keep those outermost cells from sloughing off as long as possible.  Although most any skin moisturizer will work some of these products actually contain ingredients which prematurely remove your spray tan.  Sjolie Ultra Tan Extender lotion designed specifically for after spray tanning, this product is also paraben free.

What if I have streaks or I’m not dark enough after my spray tan?

The likelihood of you having streaks after being spray tanned by techs is minimal.  Oftentimes the streaking is caused by the client wearing too tight of clothing after they have been sprayed or by wiping their skin before the solution has had a chance to dry thoroughly.  However, if you do experience streaking just call us up the next day and we will direct you what to do before coming in to be resprayed free of charge.

As for not being dark enough, your consultation before being sprayed should eliminate any possibility of this happening, but if it does just let us know and we will be happy to take care of this problem for you.   Most Tanning Spas want you to be happy with our service and are extremely accommodating in making sure you are completely satisfied with your spray tan.  It may not be the cheapest spray tan around but you will definitely be happy with the results and feel you got value for your hard earned money.

How long does it take for my spray tan to develop?

The answer to this question depends on what type of solution you choose to have applied.  The regular solution in DHA strengths of 7.5%, 10% and 12% will develop completely in 12 hours.  It’s best to have this solution applied when you can go home and sleep overnight and shower the next morning.

The solution does have bronzers so you will immediately have a golden tan when you leave.  These bronzers will wash off when you shower 12 hours later but the DHA will have developed by then and you will have a nice natural looking tan underneath.  Our rapid acting DHA solution will start to develop in as little as 1 hour and completely develops in 6 hours.

If you were to shower after 2 hours you would have a light tan, after 4 hours a darker tan and after 6 hours the darkest tan.  This solution is often used by those attending a function in the evening and they come and get sprayed in the morning so they can shower and have a nice bronze tan that evening.

This solution also has bronzers and you will leave with a nice tan after being sprayed.  It is possible to adjust the DHA in our solutions to make you darker if you desire.  Sometimes those people of hispanic or mediterranean descent with an already dark complexion prefer to use a stronger strength of solution, currently machine spray booths are incapable of doing this.

Can I spray tan before my wedding?

If you have spray tanned before and know how your skin takes the solution then yes you can.  However, it is best to get it done 2 or 3 days before the date so that if there is a problem you have some time before your important event to take care of it. If you have never spray tanned before we would suggest not spray tanning within a week before your wedding date.

If it all possible try to get spray tanned long before your date to see how your skin takes the solution and how you feel you look.  That way the tan has time to wear off before your wedding if you don’t like the results.  If you do like the results, then make an appointment to come in 2 or 3 days before your wedding to get spray tanned.

Can I get a spray tan if I’m under 18 years old?

Unlike UV tanning which you have to be at least 18 to do, you can spray tan if you’re 17 or less.  Although it is not required by law, at most Tanning Spas they require your parent or adult guardian to sign a consent form for you to receive a spray tan.  Your parent is welcome to come in and visit or call the spa to ask questions.  You can also take the form home to have it filled out and take it with you when you get your spray tan.

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