9 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.  Too much tan on face

Having too much tan develop on your face is one of the worst spray tan problems you can have. Unlike having flaky legs or uneven arms, you can’t really hide an ugly spray tan on your face. This is often caused by having too much spray tan sprayed on your face, or by using a percentage solution that is way too strong for your skin type.

Make sure you have the right percentage solution and avoid overspraying your client’s face (remember: two ounces for the ENTIRE BODY, not just for the neck up!). If the tan has already set then take a nice warm bath (with wine if needed) and exfoliate using either your best exfoliant or a DIY lemon and sugar scrub.

2. Green Underarms

Although The Incredible Hulk and The Grinch might disagree, green underarms just aren’t cool. This occurs when the coloring dyes in a spray tan react to the deodorant you are wearing, altering the instant bronzer look. The good news is that this should be temporary and usually disappears when you rinse!

The Fix: Don’t put on deodorants, or for a less stinky option: wear deodorants all day, but exfoliate under your arms before your spray tan.

3. Hands fade much faster, face fades much faster

Any spray tanner will tell you that the two areas that fade the fastest are the face and the hands. There is a very simple reason for this: hygiene. You (hopefully!) wash your face before you go to bed to remove any excess makeup and to clean your pores; you also (very hopefully!!) wash your hands after using the bathroom. Because your hands and face undergo a more rigorous hygienic routine than the rest of you, the skin cells there have a faster turnover rate.

The Fix: Simple: stop washing your hands after using the bathroom! Or you could get a tan extending moisturizer specifically designed to give back some of the tan your hands and face lost and keep your spray tan fading evenly. Personally, I recommend the second option.

4. Leaky Spray Tan Cup

A leaky cup is often the source of less-than-perfect spray tan results, and the reason why you’re swearing. A leaking spray tan cup is an indication of an imperfect air seal. Without an air seal, the air flow will be diminished. With diminished air flow, the spray tan solution will not spray properly, potentially resulting in all sorts of problems.

The Fix: There are several parts in a spray tan gun to check for quality, proper placement, cleaning, and maintenance. The best advice is to contact the company you purchased the spray tan machine from to help troubleshoot the issue, or contact me and I’ll help you out!

5. Raining on your spray tan appointment

Thankfully this spray tan problem is very easy to anticipate. What this particular photo represents is the DHA part of the tan being washed away by the rain, resulting in the streaks and uneven tan that you see. If you just got out of your spray tan appointment and you notice it’s raining, don’t be afraid to ask your spray tanner for an umbrella or an emergency parka!

The Fix: Just like why you want to avoid spilling water on yourself, excessive sweating, or going for a swim while your spray tan is developing, you’ll also want to hold off on your romp through the rain until after your tan has fully set and you’ve rinsed off the bronzers!

6. Spray Tan smells like alcohol, smells like cough syrup, or has other strong fragrances/odors

Contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as “DHA smell”, “After tan odour”, or “Spray Tan Stink”. DHA is a colorless, flavorless, odorless derivative from sugarcane or sugarbeets. The bad smells, overpowering fragrances, or strong alcohol odors that you are experiencing are from how the spray tan solution was formulated and manufactured. Oftentimes these smells are due to the oils that are used in many solutions to combat the natural drying effects of DHA. Sometimes these fragrances can take away from a client experience, or even cause an allergic reaction.

The Fix: Look for a company that offers fragrance-free solutions.

7. Shaved and your tan disappeared or shaved your beard after your tan, and now have a funny tan line

Shaving is one of the most severe forms of exfoliation you can have: you are taking a razor and dragging it across your skin. Obviously this is also going to dramatically affect your tan. In regards to beards: beards are made of thick, coarse hair and often block most or all of the tanning product being sprayed over them. Because of this the skin beneath the hairline will be significantly lighter than the skin outside the hairline (keep in mind this is also true for people shaving their heads too!)

The Fix: Do not shave immediately after your spray tan. If you are planning on shaving your beard: do it before your spray tan!

8. Lines on knees/elbows

There is a reason why you have to strike a pose while spray tanning—having your knees or elbows bent/creased while spray tan solution is being sprayed over those areas means that the parts of the skin that “fold” will gather the spray tan solution more than the parts of your skin that are flat. Your spray tan professional should have you positioning in such a way that when they spray tan you your bends and curves are not wrinkling, dimpling, or creasing to ensure that your spray tan result is natural, smooth, and flawless.

The Fix: Listen to your spray tan professional and work that pose!

9. Bad sunburn weeks earlier can affect a tan

Your skin is pretty amazing stuff! It’s very forgiving when it comes to what we do to it. We cut it, get it dirty, burn it, moisturize the heck out of it, throw fragrances on it, and color it with spray tan solution. But you have to keep in mind that, while your skin has amazing regenerative properties, it’s not instantaneous. Sometimes you can cut yourself so badly that you leave a scar, sometimes your skin is too oily from years of mistreatment. Likewise, if you get a bad sunburn your skin can take weeks to heal. This will affect your tan by causing the most serious areas of burned skin to absorb less DHA, thus creating a patchy appearance to your tan.

The Fix: Always use proper sun protection!


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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