How much space do I need to do a spray tan?

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You don’t want your client feeling cramped and uncomfortable during their tan, at the same time you want to make sure that you aren’t wasting space in your salon. If you have a mobile spray tanning business it’s important to know ahead of time if any furniture is going to have to be moved. Luckily, spray tanning doesn’t require much space at all!

A general rule that I tend to go by is this: do I have enough room to spread my arms out, and up, and could someone walk around me without bumping into anything or touching me? While this may seem like the Anti-Socialist’s Guide to Avoiding Human Contact, it is the easiest way to measure for space. If you’re the tape measuring type: aim for a space that is at least 10 feet by 12 feet.

Some things to remember

An important thing to remember is that you will need room for your backdrop.

Note: You probably noticed that I did not say tanning tent. Why? Ever gone camping in a tent for the first time? Multiply the difficulty of that by about a thousand. But then it never gets easier.

A tent is confining, preventing you from easily getting around your client, and it can stifle lighting and thus hide any areas that you didn’t reach. A backdrop, by contrast, is open, blocks no light, and looks much more professional.

Make sure you have room for your machine and hose.

It would be pretty embarrassing if you spent the entire appointment tripping over your hose, moving your spray tan machine out of the way like it’s some love-struck puppy. Make sure that you can place your spray tan machine off to the side and out of the way, but still close enough so that the hose can reach all the way around your workspace.

Also, be careful not to step on the hose!

While it is made from durable plastic, a hose can fracture if you step on the more flexible section leading from the gun to (about) halfway to the spray machine—to put it mildly: you probably wouldn’t be too happy if that happened while at a spray tanning party!

How tall is the backdrop? And how wide? And does it have to be weighted down? And how do you set it up? And…and…

Woh there, slow down! I’ll get to all that don’t worry!

The backdrop can be as short as 4 feet, and as tall as 8 and a half feet! (You know, for when you’re spraying Shaquille O’Neal). In case Shaq really wants to spread his arms wide, the backdrop can expand to a width of 10 feet.

Don’t worry about a backdrop tipping over—they only way those are falling down is if you want them to. They are mounted on tri-pods and are in fact very similar to those used at photo shoots.

Thankfully, set up of the backdrop is considerably easier than a spray tanning tent. Here is a video that will walk you through it.

Distance from other customers

No matter if you have a salon or mobile business, be aware of your surroundings. You don’t want to be accidentally spray tanning the dog or the nice woman who just wanted to get her nails done. Obviously, I’m being a bit ridiculous here but you get the idea: make sure you have enough space where your other clients aren’t going to feel like they may be getting hit with excess spray—even though there is no reason that could ever happen.

You want to make sure that your customers have privacy also. Even if it’s as simple as a second backdrop to block off the view from the rest of your clients, anything is better than nothing: after all, most of your clients will be tanning either in their undergarments or only their birthday suits.


Breathing is a good thing, or at least I think so. That’s why we always recommend that you work within a well-ventilated area. Be it an open window, a floor, wall, or ceiling vent, or a fan blowing air in through an open doorway: just make sure you have some external source of clean air, and that the air is moving. This will ensure a better client experience overall, and will help the air remain purified. For smaller spaces, this is even more important: the smaller the space, the better the ventilation should be!

Extraction Fans

Extraction fans work by sucking the spray tan solution (and anything else floating around) out of the air. This purification can often mean less cleanup time (always a plus), and can be a huge benefit to client experience.

To sum up
Unless you’re a mountain hermit, you’ve gone to a barber shop. Give yourself enough space as the barber does for haircuts and you should be okay. That being said, if you really want to make sure that your other clients don’t feel “threatened” just make sure that you are spraying away from them and there shouldn’t be any problems.

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