Part One: How Do I Get The Best Spray Tan?

Share This Post

Maybe you’ve been spray tanning for years, maybe you’re new to the industry–either way you may be undermining your work by not achieving the best results possible. I’ve talked to salon and spa professionals, mobile business owners, skincare consultants, and using that information have come up with a quick list that may help you get the very most from your spray tan.

Here are some steps to easily remember to ensure that your clients are getting the most out of their tan and that you are producing flawless results every time:

1. Pre-tan Preparation: Clients are not preparing with a proper exfoliant.

Not preparing your skin for a spray tan would be like not washing an apple before you eat it. It’s a healthy thing to have, but made less effective by the residue that’s on the surface. For apples this can mean pesticides, for spray tans this can mean anything that’s on your skin from moisturizers to soaps, shampoos, and perfumes.  

There are lots of great exfoliants, body polishes, and body scrubs on the market, and your clients very likely already have several at home. What they might not know is that not all exfoliants are the same. Almost all exfoliants clean your skin by scrubbing off dead skin cells; unfortunately, most also include an oil or a moisturizer meant to hydrate your skin.

While this would not be a bad thing, normally—it certainly is when you are getting a spray tan.

Having these oils and moisturizers on your skin can affect the length and strength of your tan. Instead, look for an exfoliant that leaves your skin as fresh and “naked” as possible.

Places that are commonly missed/overlooked/need special attention during exfoliation:

Hairline–this can create a ghastly tan line between your forehead and your hair–unless you wear hats all day, every day, you definitely want to make sure that this area is carefully treated.

Back, neck, and shoulders: If you have long hair–be sure to pin it up and scrub from the base of the neck and up so that this area is clean and fresh. Also, make sure you scrub your shoulders, neck, and back AFTER you rinse your hair–this is to make sure that any shampoo residue that rinsed off your hair is then scrubbed from your body entirely instead of simply finding a new place on your shoulders.

Around your armpits: Deodorants will leave a barrier with your tan. Think of it this way: after I put on deodorant I don’t spend the rest of the day with my arms in the air. I walk, I swing my arms back and forth, I wave—all the normal activities, or abnormal if you are doing something strange, move that deodorant around. So it may stain down farther than you expect on either your arm or your side (especially if you were wearing it while working out!) So make sure to scrub around this area carefully. I’m not saying scrub your armpits, but I am saying be aware that deodorant can “travel” to other places–and these places will need to be exfoliated.

Be careful: some deodorants can affect the color of the bronzer part of the tanning application–this will be rinsed away with your first shower, but it could look weird until then.

Knuckles: your knuckles get pretty dry, they scrape stuff, punch walls, and get generally roughed up. They also have stuff on them–think about how many times your hands touch things throughout the day. Clean these well!

Elbows and knees: backs and fronts! These are joints, and joints get much more movement and activity than say, your forearm. They also just generally dry out faster than the rest of your skin so be sure to carefully exfoliate–this will ensure that the tan lasts longer in these areas.

2. Equipment: Spray equipment needs to be cleaned.

Obviously this one is important. I mean, you’re not dumping the solution over your client’s head–or at least you shouldn’t be–you’re spraying it from the machine. If the machine isn’t working properly, the tan won’t come out properly, it’s that simple.

A High Volume, Low Pressure, or HVLP spray gun machine operates by spraying liquid through a very small opening (where the needle fits through the hole). Over time, this opening gets clogged from the buildup of sunless solution, lint, dust, etc., and it must be periodically disassembled and cleaned. I recommend doing this about once every month, unless you are spray tanning vast numbers of clients. This one minute instructional video should cover everything you need to know about disassembling, cleaning, and reassembling your spray gun.

3. Spray Technique: The spray gun is being held too close to client during spraying.

Pretty straight forward, I recommend holding the airbrush 8’-12” from the client’s skin. And remember to pull the spray gun back away from the hands and feet in a very gentle fanning motion: this is because these areas don’t need nearly as much spray to achieve the same color.

4. Spray Technique: Application is too heavy—too much solution being sprayed on clients.

On average, you should only be using about 2 oz of liquid per full body spray. If you are using more than this and your spray gun has been adjusted (see our spray gun troubleshooting article), your technique might need to be improved a bit. For this, please consider taking an in-house training course from a reputable company.

(Continued in part two)
For other helpful video tips, please visit our Video Library.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Get updates and learn from the best

More To Explore

Want to Learn More About Aviva's Spray Tanning Solutions?

drop us a line and keep in touch