Spray tanning has been a part of my menu of services since 2010 and is a very popular beauty trend. Appointments take less than 20 minutes with developed color lasting from five to seven days.
The active ingredient in cosmetic tanning solution is dihydroxyacetone (DHA). DHA is an active ingredient made from sugar cane or sugar beets. It was discovered in the 1920s and approved by the FDA in the 1970s.
How well the color develops depends on how well a person would tan naturally.
Tanning solutions can range from 5% to 20% in DHA. That concentration determines how “tan” someone will look.
Lower level DHAs are for very faint tanning sessions, while higher concentrations of 14% or more are for melanin-rich skin tones, competition events, stage performances and quick-developing solutions.
Knowing this, it’s important to educate clients on the differences in tanning solutions to avoid having a negative tanning experience.
When an individual has a tan that is orange or golden, it happens because the DHA percentage is too high, the solution is not diluted enough, or it is mass-produced and poorly blended.
Coloring agents such as caramel, red, blue and yellow are added to solutions to color correct the developing process. A professional spray tan artist will be able to guide you through your appointment and determine a level best suited for your skin type.
Appointment: 48 to 24 hours before the event. Brides, 48 hours. This extra day gives the color time to set (after the first rinse) and will help reduce residual transferring to clothing. Spray tanning is water soluble and can be laundered out.
Before: Arrive clean, with exfoliated skin, without deodorant or face makeup. If you need to remove body hair, do so before the appointment. Waxing should be done at minimum 12 hours beforehand. If you have dry skin, moisturize with an unscented, colorless lotion. You want to feel comfortable before and after your tan.
During: Your tanning technician will instruct you with down dressing options. Keep in mind the event/outfit (to avoid tan lines). Most technicians will have disposable under pieces for clients to wear and are flexible with down dressing options. For youth who are in stage performances, check costumes and accompany them to their tanning appointment. For brides, consider the cut of your dress and potential travel plans.
Aftercare: Spray tanning can feel a little sticky. It is important to remember to wear loose comfy clothes for home as standard color needs to develop for eight to 12 hours. Fabric that is tight against skin runs the risk of demarcation. It is best to avoid extra moisture and activities that will produce perspiration during its setting stage. The first shower should be a light rinse, rinsing off the “top bronzer” and cleansing under arms and bottom as needed. Pat dry and apply lotion from head to toe, when finished. Skin might feel dry, so lotion is important to keep it looking fresh.
Nail care: The day before or the morning of to avoid
oils/scrubbing on fresh tans.
Contraindications: An allergy to DHA or any of the ingredients within the solution. Some have nuts, oils and scents. Many solutions are vegan, with organic ingredients and gluten free.
Expecting or nursing mothers: Many expecting clients have made the decision to come to my studio. It’s a lovely service for maternity photos and anyone desiring a little pickup during their pregnancy. For nursing clients, we keep the area covered and free from tanning solution. I recommend using a baby wipe to remove any extra color after the service. I have disposable bandeau style tops and barrier film to place on nursing areas should you choose to be down dressed. A mask can be worn up until the face and neck need to be tanned. As the tanning technician, I opt to wear a mask and gloves during tanning services. If you are unsure and would explore options, consult with your provider prior to scheduling your appointment.
Britni Farber is a makeup artist who works primarily in film and television. She also has a bridal business in Dubuque.