Unless you’re living under a rock, you probably know that “looking tan” is the hottest accessory you can own right now.
And for good reason, just about everyone looks a lot better when then have a little color.
Right or wrong, the pale, white ‘sickly’ look is definitely out!
And because we now know that baking in the sun (or in a tanning bed) all day is REALLY bad for our skin, tons of people are turning to spray tanning to get that beautiful bronze glow.
But what exactly is spray tanning? How does it work? How much does it cost?
I’m glad you asked… let’s go over each one of those right now!
The Basics of Spray Tanning
Let’s start at the beginning.
Spray tanning is a form of self-tanning (or sunless tanning) where a fine mist is sprayed onto your body.
This mist has an ingredient in it called Dihydroxyacetone (DHA) that interacts with your own skin’s chemistry to turn it tan, or bronze. The amount of DHA in the spray tan determines how dark the tan will be. More DHA results in a dark tan. Spray tan solution is actually clear but has built in bronzers in it mainly so the technician can see where they have sprayed. The solution only penetrates the first layer of the skins epidermis and does not penetrate deeper to blood or nerves etc. When the skin naturally exfoliates itself the spray tan sitting in the skin fades and eventually goes as part of the skins natural exfoliating process.
This temporary effect generally lasts from 3-7 days and is completely safe for your skin (although it doesn’t provide any protection against the sun’s rays).
The results you can get from tanning sprays are generally very good. Many celebrities and models prefer spray tanning to just about anything else to get the color they want.
Now, the mist can be sprayed from a variety of ‘devices’.
First, you can go to a tanning or beauty salon and have it applied in a booth.
These specially-designed booths have several nozzles or jets that spray your entire body with the spray tanning solution.
Second, a spray tan can be administered with an airbrush or air gun as they’re called.
These look similar to a paint gun that painters use on your house!
They tend to be smaller and more mobile (obviously) than a booth.
Last, you can get a spray tan from a bottle.
There are lots of companies that make spray tanning products that have the same ingredients you’ll find in a salon or airbrush gun.
Pros and Cons of Spray Tanning
If you compare spray tanning to other forms of self-tanning products like lotions, creams, gels, and mousses, you’ll definitely see some differences.
But before we go over these differences, keep one thing in mind.
All forms of self-tanning and spray tanning use the exact same active ingredient, DHA. But that doesn’t mean you’ll get the same results with any old product that has DHA in it (believe me)!
That said, let’s go over some of the benefits of spray tanning.
First and foremost, spray tanning is easy.
Once you’ve prepared, you just go to a tanning salon or have someone come to your house.
The booth or technician then sprays your entire body with a fine mist. Once you blend it in a little, that’s it, you’re done!
It’s definitely a little easier and less time-consuming than spreading a lotion or gel all over your body.
Another benefit of spray tanning is the fact that it dries quicker than many self-tanning products.
That means it’s less likely to get all over your clothes, your bed, and your partner!
As for the color achieved with spray tanning, that varies from person to person.
Some people like the color and evenness you get with spray tanning, others think self-tanning lotions and gels are better.
Because everyone has slightly different skin chemistry, you’ll really need to experiment a bit to see what works best for you.
Is Spray Tanning Safe?
For the most part, spray tanning is considered fairly safe.
Back in 2010, there was a report that basically said inhaling DHA, the main ingredient in spray tan solution, hadn’t been studied by the FDA and therefore could be harmful.
It turned out the report was sponsored by the indoor tanning lobby and drew some incorrect conclusions on the minimal testing that had been done 20 years ago… in test tubes (not on humans or animals).
Although the report was bogus, the FDA does recommend minimizing inhalation of tanning solution and keeping it out of your mucous membranes (eyes and nose).
So, while spray tanning is considered safe, if you want to be absolutely sure, you should use at-home self-tanning lotions, creams and gels.
If you do decide to spray tan, make sure you close your eyes and hold your breath when getting your face spray tanned.
So How Much Does Spray Tanning Cost?
We touched on this earlier but let’s go a little more in-depth.
Right off the bat, realize that the price of spray tanning varies from location to location. Not only in your country or state, but also within your own city!
In general, a single spray tanning session at a salon costs between $25 and $50.
And if you’re going to have someone come to your house (called mobile airbrush tanning) expect to pay a little more than that.
We’ve seen mobile technicians charge anywhere from $40 up to several hundred dollars.
Although spray tanning can seem expensive, keep in mind many weoffer package deals .
If you’re going to spray tan on a regular basis (and why wouldn’t you?), these discounts can bring the per-session cost down significantly.
You just have to decide if you’re going to use it enough to justify the cost.
So overall, spray tanning at a salon is generally going to cost a lot more, per session, than using a self-tanning product at home (like a lotion or gel).
How to Prepare for Your Spray Tanning Session
If you’re reading this far you’ve probably decided to go ahead and give spray tanning a chance!
Good for you!
Before you head off to the salon, here’s a few tips you should follow to ensure that you get an even, beautiful tan.
- Make sure you shave or wax before your appointment.
A lot of people say to do it a day or two before (so your pores close) but that only applies if the solution is dark or has a bronzer in it. If it’s a clear solution, you can shave or wax the day of.
- Be sure to exfoliate your skin the day before your appointment.
Based on the way self-tanners work, it’s important to slough off as much dead and dry skin as possible before applying any self-tanner or tanning spray. Just trust us, you’ll get a better result!
- Try to remove moisturizers, makeup and deodorant before you spray tan.
These products contain ingredients like oils that can make it hard for the main ingredient in self-tanning spray to bind to your skin. This could cause your spray tan to look streaky and blotchy. You don’t want that!
- Right before application, put a little Vaseline or moisturizer on your knees, ankles, elbows, and palms. Wear a shower cap. Put some lip balm on your lips.
These are areas that can get a little darker, or weirder than the rest of your skin. You’ll have to experiment with this, but protecting these areas from absorbing too much DHA is generally a good idea. You could also wipe those areas down a bit right after the spray is applied.
- Try to keep the spray tan solution on overnight unless it’s a 2-hour express tan and don’t put on any moisturizer until the next day.
That means no showering, using soap, or any moisturizer for at least 8 hours. The color starts to develop within an hour or two and really kicks in within 3-5 hours.
Finally, tell us what you think on Facebook, Instragram or Google+. We’d love to hear your thoughts on spray tanning.