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Starting your spray tanning business


At Aviva, we love dreamers

Dreamers are the ones who make things happen, who see an opportunity and turn it into a possibility. By choosing to start a spray tanning business you are taking the initiative and seizing the opportunity before you. With our free spray tan business guide you’ll have everything you need to start the spray tan business you’re dreaming of.

With each section of our starter guide we will provide an explanation of the most crucial factors to consider when starting a spray tan business, and why each is important. We will also give specific examples for you to gain inspiration from, and then provide you with some great questions to get you thinking about your business like a professional!

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Aviva Labs Free Starter Guide


The tallest trees have the deepest roots, but they all started as a seed.

Now it’s your turn to find your seed. This is the core of your business. Everything will grow from here. A seed is where everything starts, but before you choose a seed to plant you need to know what you want to grow. You can’t grow an apple orchard from a pumpkin seed, no matter how hard you try; likewise, you need to identify what type of business you want before you can choose which SEED is right for you.

Limited Service

If spray tanning isn’t going to be a huge part of your revenue, it’s absolutely critical that you have a great solution and a reliable machine so that you don’t have to worry about breakdowns or failures cutting into your profit margin or word-of-mouth sales. You will still have the same business needs as a full-time Mobile, Hybrid, or Salon/Spa business, but you will have to be more conscious about where you focus your time and budget to ensure the largest impact.

Specialty Service

If you already have plans to be a bridal spray tanner, a competition tanner, or one of the other special services, it’s important to research the industry and find out everything that’s required. Some fields, particularly competition tanning, can have as many guidelines for the spray tanner as they do for the person getting spray tanned! Be sure to talk to those in the industry, learn the rules and regulations, and look into special training certification classes.

Mobile Business

Mobile businesses tend to be much more flexible than a static salon/spa business. You will have lower startup costs and a lower monthly overhead cost, but will have to work harder on marketing if you want your business to really grow. Mobile businesses take many forms, from spray tan vans to out-of-home businesses or travelling for spray tan parties: consider the positives and negatives of each before choosing!

Salon or Spa

Choosing the right equipment will be one of the most important steps for you. You may need a particularly quiet machine, or you might be looking for a space-saver. You will want to pay close attention to ensuring your client has privacy, and will probably want to consider an extraction fan to ensure your room remains clean, especially if spray tanning shares the space with other services!

Hybrid Mobile and Salon/Spa

Being both mobile and having a static salon/spa location is often incredibly successful, but it can have its own pitfalls. Be sure that your two business types don’t conflict with one another, and be aware that a machine that’s fantastic in a salon might be less than ideal for use in a mobile business; likewise, a mobile machine might be great, but too loud for your quiet spa atmosphere. Choose wisely here, and remember to have clearly established guidelines in place for how to conduct yourself while spray tanning if you find yourself bringing on extra help.

Once you’ve made a decision on what type of business you’d like to pursue, it’s time to choose your SEED

This is one of the most important parts of your business. SEED is where your business idea will first start becoming a reality. Here you are choosing the Solution, Education, and Equipment that will best fit your business goals. Then, you will apply those decisions and determine a Direction, a first step to take for your business. Consider these topics carefully, and remember: you are looking for the perfect SEED for what you want to grow–don’t let someone else tell you which SEED to choose: find what’s right for you and your business.


There are so many solutions out on the market today. Instead of blending in with the crowd, you need a solution that will put you ahead of the curve. To ensure that you will be giving your clients the best experience possible, a solution must excel in each of these four criteria: Look, Feel, Smell, and Fade.


This is the easiest of the four criteria, and often the only one most companies care about. Mixing bronzers and formulating DHA to show off a beautiful tan is easy, but making sure those bronzers represent the lasting tan your client will achieve is not (this discrepancy is called “Post Shower Letdown”).

Will they still love their tan, or will they be disappointed?

Will the bronzers accurately represent their tan, or when they wash off will they look like they’ve lost 30%, 40%, or even 50% of their color?

Read reviews on different solutions, and pay close attention to what people say about how they looked AFTER they rinsed off the bronzers.


When improperly formulated, DHA is very drying. To counteract this, many companies simply throw in a bunch of oils and Aloe Vera into their solutions. Any solution laced with oils and aloe can cause the tan to stay sticky or tacky feeling for a really long time, and it can take a long time to dry too (we’re talking minutes here!), which translates into your client standing awkwardly in front of a fan, nearly buck naked, waiting for their tan to dry….yeah, no thanks!

In addition, that tackiness means that your client’s tan is more likely to rub off on seat belts, clothing, bedsheets, or any other surface they touch while the tan is developing, resulting in smudging in their tan and some embarrassing stains!


Many solutions include fragrances, but they are also the leading cause of allergic reactions like hives, contact dermatitis, acne breakouts, and blackheads–so who needs that worry? The reason these fragrances are included is to cover up the stink of bad formulation. A lot of companies can’t figure out how to properly formulate with only a handful of ingredients and resort to using 20, 30, or even 40+ ingredients in their solutions; something dermatologists universally agree is more likely to cause adverse skin reactions.


Most solutions contain alcohol to act as a drying agent to counteract all of the oils and aloe dumped into their ingredient list. Another popular choice to counteract these oils is the inclusion of Witch Hazel. If a solution contains alcohol or Witch Hazel then the tan will almost always fade more quickly AND is more likely to fade unevenly or in patches (yuck!), ruining the tan and your client’s confidence in your business.

For pretty obvious reasons, all of these factors can greatly reduce the likelihood that your client will ever come back again and, for a business that thrives on customer loyalty and word-of-mouth reviews, that can spell disaster.

Ask yourself: if you were the one getting a spray tan at your business, what kind of experience would you want to have?


Having the right spray tan training doesn’t mean just learning a great spray tan technique. True spray tan education means learning how a spray tan reacts and how to help a client achieve the best results before and after your service, why one technique is better than another, and what you can do to increase your business’s profit margin and client base.

Before signing up, always make sure to talk to someone about what is offered at the training class.

You’ll always want to speak with someone who can describe the training, and what you will receive for your class ticket. You’ll also want to look at their website and the information they provide. How helpful is the information they offer for free on their site? Does the site just seem like a sales pitch to get you to take the training, or does it actually provide useful information? Always make sure to read reviews on your training company before committing to the training too. If there are a lot of mixed or negative reviews then it’s probably best to stay away from that certification class.

Here are a few great questions you can ask about the spray tan training program:

  • Do they offer continuing support?
  • Do they only offer one type of training (only online, or only on-site), or can you find a training program that fits your needs?
  • Is the price of their spray tan training within your budget?
  • Is the price of the training for the entire spray tan certification program, or do you have to purchase additional “upgrades” to get the whole experience?
  • What else do you receive, if anything, by attending the certification program?
  • Is there a hands-on portion of the training, with live models to practice on?

What’s better: a spray tanner offering a training class, or to get training through a spray tan company?

Spray Tan training comes in all shapes and sizes and, above all else, it’s important to find the type that best fits your lifestyle. Many spray tanners do offer training classes, but it’s important to remember that what worked for one salon or mobile business might not work for you and your spray tan business. That’s one of the many benefits of working with a spray tan company: they will have trained thousands of clients from all walks of life, and will have gathered a comprehensive portfolio of pitfalls and successes that a smaller training program simply will not know about.

Because a large spray tan company has worked with spas, salons, and mobile spray tan businesses of every size, they will be far more able to help you grow your own business. Additionally, a large spray tan company will be able to provide the continual support after the training that a salon owner who offers training will not be able to: they have their own business to run and will be too busy to help you out when you need it most, whereas a large spray tan company’s sole job is to help make you as successful as possible: when you grow, they grow!

Most large spray tan company’s will also be able to offer better prices on packages and machines through financing, and the huge deals they get by ordering hundreds (or thousands!) of machines at a single time, which is something a salon trainer would not be able to help you with. Even better, if the spray tan company is also a spray tan solution manufacturer then you will be re-ordering your spray tan solutions at the best prices available rather than going through a distributor!

In the end, the choice is yours: just make sure it’s the right one for you and your business!


To date, our in-house mechanical engineer has tested hundreds of machines from dozens of manufacturers and has even written the manuals for several, but most machines simply don’t live up to our standards.

We leave machines running for weeks on end to replicate the busiest salons and spas, drive around with them in our trunks to test their durability for mobile businesses, and are regularly using the guns, dropping the cups, and yanking on the hose connections throughout testing to make sure that each machine we offer is providing flawless results, no matter the situation.

If it can’t pass our 50-point “Aviva Machine Bootcamp” then you’ll never see it on our site.

We are so rigorous with testing spray tan machines because that’s what real life in the spray tan industry requires: you can’t run a spray tan business with a machine that’s going to falter halfway through, sputter solution all over your client, or ever be anything less than perfect. We understand that you need what’s best for your business, and that’s all we offer.

There are so many different machine types out there; read up on our Machine Tier Rating System and find your perfect match:

Happy mist

Tier One

These machines are your lowest quality machines and should be avoided at all costs. They are cheap, and are cheap for a reason.

Usually manufactured in China, these machines usually break down within six months and cost between $80-$200, and are prone to clogging. Worst of all they are made with plastic parts that produce very unreliable spray patterns and break easily, including flimsy hoses which often fray or even break open. These machines often also cannot be disassembled so when they do clog, which they ALWAYS eventually do, you won’t be able to clean it and will have to buy a brand new one.


Mini Mist

Tier Two

Tier two machines are typically priced around $300-$500. They have varying reliability depending on the manufacturer, and are often a little too loud for some businesses (like spas, quiet salons, or anyone looking for a quieter, more relaxed experience), but they can be a great, affordable choice for mobile users because they are easier to carry and usually designed with travel in mind. The best tier two machines have been rigorously tested and proven to work for up to 5,000 hours of operating time!

Mighty Mist

Tier Three

This tier is when you start getting into the high quality machines that are still relatively inexpensive. Costing from $600 to $900, these machines are usually a little heavier than the Tier Two machines, but are also dramatically quieter—enough so that you can have an easy conversation with your client while spray tanning. Tier Three machines are usually built with two turbines (Tier One and Two machines are only built with one) and as such are very durable, earning their price point by outliving all other machines on the market, even when you’re doing dozens of spray tans a day.

Whisper Mist

Tier Four

Simply put, Tier Four machines are not worth the money.

These machines look very sexy, come with tons of gadgets and features you will never need or use, and are usually simply “dolled up” versions of Tier Three machines with a significantly increased price point. You can expect to pay $1,000 to even $5,000 for a Tier Four machine, with no measurable benefit beyond the bragging rights of owning one. They don’t provide a better spray pattern, don’t make tanning easier, and don’t last longer than Tier Three machines. It is for these reasons that we refuse to even sell these machines.


Just like how you can’t plan a road trip without a map; you likewise can’t plan your business without first mapping out where you want to go, and how you’re going to get there. Throughout this guide, we have explained the various options that you have to choose from in regards to deciding what is the best solution, equipment, and education for your new spray tan business, but this next part is all about you.

Take a moment to consider your business, and don’t be afraid to dream big.

Where do you want to be in two years? How many spray tans are you doing a month? How many clients do you have? Are you working alone, or have you brought on some employees? Did you just purchase your first salon, or open up your second, or maybe even your third? Are you hiring even more to expand your mobile business? Were you just interviewed for an article about independent business owners? All of these dreams can happen—thanks to the Aviva Academy, all of these dreams have happened to our trainees.

“The first step is dreaming where you want to be; the next step is formulating a plan to help get you there.”

Consider the following four questions:

  1. How do I get more people to know my business exists?
  2. How do I get more people to try a spray tan from me?
  3. What can I do to get more people to love their spray tan experience?
  4. How can I get more people to spread the word about my spray tan business?

Once you’ve decided on your solution, equipment, and education, these questions will help propel your spray tan business in the right direction, but there is no “One Size Fits all” for building a spray tan business. That’s why we’ve also created the SEED Business Building Plan to work in conjunction with our Sunless 101 Training.

The SEED Business Building Plan helps guide you towards finding your answers to these four all-important questions. It then expands on that knowledge with crucial information on how to keep your business growing and the awareness of your business spreading! With our Sunless 101 Spray Tan Certification Training and the full SEED Business Building Plan, you will have everything you need to create a streamlined, hard-hitting plan of action!

Next Steps

Aviva founded the very first spray tan academy and our Sunless 101 program has helped thousands achieve their business dreams. If you’re interested in our Sunless 101 Spray Tan Training, the SEED business modules, and would like to start mapping out the path to your business by taking an Aviva Academy certified spray tan training course, please click here to learn more about our training.

If, instead, you want to spend a little bit more time learning about spray tanning then you should check out the Free Training section of our website!

Or maybe you want to see what starter kits are available to you. Feel free to check out our Free Package Builder to figure out what’s going to work best for your business, and remember: we also offer great 0% financing to help get you started!

We are here to help, and the best way to help someone is to talk to them. Contact us. We promise that you’ll notice the Aviva Difference: 781-209-1551

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