8 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.

Improper Technique

1. Spraying too close to the hands and feet can turn them orange because they soak up more DHA than other parts of your body

The Fix: Spray 8-12 inches away from the body, but with hands and feet use a “feathering” motion to pull back the gun and only allow a very small amount of solution to reach these more sensitive areas.

Fun Fact: The outermost layer of the epidermis consists of 25 to 30 layers of dead cells. The process by which these skin cells call off is called desquamation!


2. Uneven tan/missed spots

The Fix: have a technique that ensures that you are spraying in easy swathes instead of coloring lines across your client like you potentially could with the narrow spray of an airbrush. Also, start with one coat: this way you can adjust on the second coat to deal with any overlooked spots.


3. White lines along the knuckles, the side of the thumb, and elbows can be easily avoided

The Fix: Have your clients bend their arms to smooth out their elbows, and make a claw with their hands as if they are sizing up a grapefruit.

Fun Fact: The grapefruit is an 18th-century hybrid first bred in Barbados!


4. Very Obvious Hairline from hair caps or hair nets

The Fix: Have the client keep the cap just a little bit above their hairline, if they even want to use a hair cap at all. With a solution that doesn’t stain, there is no reason for a hair cap, but the best thing to remember is simply to keep the cap about half an inch up so that the hairline gets tanned.


5. Tanned finger and toe nails

The Fix: This is fixed in the same way that the hands and feet can be prevented from becoming saturated in DHA: simply feather away from the hands and feet as you normally would and the nails will remain unaffected.

Fun Fact: Cutting your nails after dark was once considered bad luck!


Deodorants/improper exfoliation

6. Client applied deodorant/lotion/moisturizer before their spray tan, didn’t exfoliate under the arms, or applied deodorant before the spray tan had set.

The Fix: When you rinse off on the morning before your spray tan, make sure to carefully exfoliate under your arms and remember not to apply deodorant before your spray tan or until it has set.

Fun Fact: In Ancient Egypt, women would place globs of scented wax on their heads that would slowly melt throughout the day, spreading the pleasing scent as well as masking the smell!


7. Hair hadn’t been completely cleaned of shampoo (causing it to drip onto the shoulders) or hair was cleaned after the rest of the body. Because the shampoo drips onto the shoulders it can cause a barrier between your skin and the spray tan solution and can end up looking spotted or runny.

The Fix: Shower the night before your spray tan using shampoo. Be sure to rinse your hair completely. The morning of your spray tan (Keep in mind to shower a few hours in advance rather than only an hour ahead of time!), rinse your hair again and then exfoliate your shoulders, neck, arms: basically start from the top of your body and work your way down.

Fun Fact: During the early stages of shampoo, English hair stylists boiled shaved soap in water and added herbs to give the hair shine and fragrance. Kasey Hebert was the first known maker of shampoo, and the origin is currently attributed to him.

Over Spray

8. Discoloring the top or bottom of your feet

The Fix: Check out my article about how to combat over spray for how to stop this from happening! Generally, this is caused by either using a heavy solution or the fact that your gun is allowing too much solution to flow through.


9. Barrier Creams, Gun Problems, and Client-Related Issues

The Fix: Please see my article: Top 4 reasons a spray tan does not set properly

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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