12 More Common Spray Tan Problems And How To Fix Them!

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There are already so many misconceptions about spray tanning, so let’s do our best to make sure that we are not adding to any of these harmful stereotypes! Just like with sun tanning, spray tanning is affected by the choices that you make. A sun tan can look healthy, or it can look terrible depending on what you did (stayed out in the sun too long, put on sunblock in patches); similarly, a sunless tan can be ruined by not tanning correctly, or it can look natural and beautiful.

Check out the pictures below, and learn about how each of these problems can be easily solved.

1. Uneven Fade/Patchy Skin:

Alcohol in a solution causes uneven fading because it causes the skin to dry out faster than a water-based solution. When your skin dries faster than it normally would, patches and discolorations develop in your spray tan.

This can also occur if you sprayed over an existing/old tan without properly exfoliating beforehand.

The Fix: Avoid a solution blended with alcohol and always remember to exfoliate before your next spray tan!

Fun Fact: The term “Honeymoon” originated in Viking-era Sweden and refers to a practice where, after the wedding, the bride’s family was responsible for providing alcohol to the groom and his men for one complete moon cycle. Often, this alcohol took the form of honeyed mead, thus we get the term Honeymoon!

2. Streaky/Runny results during spray tan:

Spraying too close can cause your solution to drip down the body or cause overlapping patterns on the arms, legs, and torso. A dripping spray tan will cause runs down your body once the active DHA has a chance to set, resulting in long lines of discoloration.


Using too heavy of a solution, too much solution, or a solution with too much oil blended into it can cause your solution to drip and become streaky and runny-looking. Oils make a solution heavier and wetter so that your spray will also be wetter (and thus easier to cause streaks/runs with), spraying too much solution can mimic this problem and make your tan runny, even with a lighter, water-based solution.

The Fix: If you are using a water-based solution: be mindful of how much solution you’re spraying–too much of even a less heavy solution can cause streaks and runs as you continue to “pile on” the product.

If you are using an oil-based solution: just be aware that streaks and runs are more commonplace and make sure you are using the minimum required amount when spraying to ensure the fastest drying time and the least likelihood of causing runs.

Fun Fact: As far back as 10,000 BCE, men and women in Egypt use scented oils and ointments to clean their skin and mask body odor!

3. Streaky/Runny-looking Tan after spray tan development:

What happened here is that water (tears) got on the spray tan before the DHA had time to properly set, resulting in an uneven tan and internet fame.

The Fix: Don’t get into a fight with your boyfriend after you get a spray tan! Wait at least 8-12 hours (or less if it’s a rapid tan) before engaging in hostile relationship activities!

4. Sprayed, but no tan develops:

If you sprayed and no tan appeared after waiting the correct amount of time then there was something on the skin acting as a barrier. These could be heavy soaps, PH Balancers, moisturizers, perfumes, and even exfoliant residue.

The Fix: Exfoliate prior to getting your spray tan. Work from the top of your body down so that you aren’t getting soap or residue on a part of your body that you’ve already cleaned and exfoliated. And make sure you don’t spray perfume on until after your tan has had time to set! This will improve your spray tan and your before/after selfies!

Fun Fact: The first “selfie”ever taken was in 1839 by Robert Cornelius.

5. Client touched something, accidentally rubbed off their tan, or wore skinny jeans/tight socks:

This problem is more common among oil-based solutions that take longer to dry because there is a larger window of opportunity for the tanning product to be touched and shifted by clothing, but keep in mind that this can happen to water-based solutions too.

The Fix: don’t wear tight fitting clothing, and try not to rub up against someone or itching a leg/arm while your tan is still drying. Once it has dried you should be able to wear tighter clothing, but it’s still prudent to be aware if your skin is rubbing and where–those are going to be your problem areas that will need more moisturizing to keep the tan from fading faster.

6. Face fading faster than rest of the tan:

This is a more common problem among female clients. Applying and removing makeup, and simply washing your face, can cause your tan to fade faster.

The Fix: Maintain a healthy skin care regimen and moisturize at least twice a day (morning and night!)


If this occurs then you are probably using a DHA percentage that is too strong for your skin type. Another problem that sometimes occurs is that you did use the correct percentage, or at least what you thought was the correct percentage: sometimes companies approximate their solution percentages rather than know for sure what the strength is.  

The Fix: try using the next DHA percentage level down (and please try to remove the tan!).

Tip: Trying out a new solution and don’t want to risk using too a too-strong percent? Not all companies are the same! Start with one of the lesser percentages (like an 8% or a 9%) rather than jumping right to the percentage you were using with your original company: your new company’s 8% might be equivalent to your old company’s 10%.

Fun Fact: in the early 90s Will Ferrell worked as a mall store Santa Claus

8. My spray tan looked good when I went to bed, but when I woke up I had patches:

This happens if you go to sleep with your hand on your arm, leg, or face. What will happen is that the tan will transfer from one area of skin to the other. Keep in mind that this doesn’t always happen, and most often happens if you go to sleep while the tan is still sticky or tacky feeling.

The Fix: Wait until your spray tan is not sticky or tacky feeling before going to bed. If it is still sticky/tacky and you can’t stay up any longer, sleep with loose pajamas on (some people also wear socks or mittens on their hands)

9. Flaky Tan:

Most often caused by dry skin, but can be aggravated by using a solution containing alcohols.

The Fix: Simple: Exfoliate before your spray tan and moisturize frequently. And if possible avoid a solution with alcohol in it!

10. Peeling spray tan: sunburn before spray tan:

A sunburn’s peel can greatly affect your tan! It means that the skin underneath (that is soon to be revealed when the burnt skin peels off) is going to be untanned while the rest of your body is going to have the darker spray-tanned skin. Clearly this is going to create a very patchy, VERY uneven finish.

The Fix: DONT GET A SUNBURN!!! Failing that, exfoliate (ouch!) extensively before getting your spray tan. Also: avoid spray tans with alcohol because that might sting your sensitive, burnt skin.

Fun Fact2: At a higher altitude it is easier to become burnt because there is less of the earth’s atmosphere to block the sunlight. UV exposure increases about 4% for every 1000 ft (305 m) gain in elevation!

11. My spray tan faded after working out:

This happens when you work out before your spray tan has had time to set properly.

The Fix: Wait for your tan to set before breaking a sweat. For “regular” tans this means waiting 8-12 hours before working out, and for “rapid tans” this can mean waiting for as little as 30 minutes though it is recommended to still wait that 8-12 hours because though you can wash off a rapid tan, the DHA is still developing during that time.

Fun Fact:

12. Too much tan between the fingers

This is most likely because the person had her fingers closed/held together while her hands were being sprayed.

The Fix: make a claw with your hands as if you are sizing up a grapefruit, being careful to keep your fingers separated.

Remember: If you are using a well-formulated solution and applying it using a tested technique, then the only time you should see any of these problems is on this page!

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