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What is a Spray Tan Bronzer?

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Bronzer is the ingredient that provides that instant tan look to a client before the DHA has a chance to begin actually tanning their skin. It is a great tool that can be used on many occasions, and this article is here to help guide you through its many uses.  

Who gets bronzer-only tans?

A bronzer can be formulated for extreme muscle definition for body builders, or more subtly for dance competitors and beauty pageant queens so that you can have the tan you want, but then wash it off after you’ve won the competition. It can also be a great solution for “emergency tans” (think: clients going to their prom later that night, bridesmaids, an unexpected date).


A bronzer-only solution lets you train without fear of messing up so you can perfect your technique before you ever spray a single client—the old carpenter’s saying “measure twice, cut once” comes to mind here: train with a bronzer-only solution so that you never have to worry about losing a client. There are some things you should know about creating a spray tanning experience that go beyond simple application, but if you don’t have a good technique then it doesn’t matter how relaxing your salon is.

How long will a bronzer stay on for?

A bronzer lasts only until it is washed off in the shower. This is perfect for body-building competitors, dancers, and pageant queens who only want to be tan for the event.

Important: When spraying your clients you should always let them know that the bronzer will wash off, that way they don’t freak out when they see some color washing down their drain! It’s not their tan that’s disappearing, just the bronzer. If they are getting a bronzer-only spray you need to make absolutely sure that they know they cannot take a shower before their competition.

How fast will a bronzer dry?

The question here should really be: how fast does a well-developed spray tan solution dry? A bronzer will dry as fast as the ingredients that are in the formula will dry. If the bronzer includes oil, that drying time could be anywhere from an annoying twenty minutes of standing around with your arms outstretched to an agonizing hour. Other, properly made bronzers, dry in a matter of seconds (trust me: your arms will thank you!).  

Wait, why is there oil in a bronzer?

The easy answer here is that there shouldn’t be. Oil is not needed in a bronzer-only solution because a bronzer contains no DHA, the tanning ingredient that dries out your skin.

Is there bronzer in a spray tan solution?

Yes, if it has been made by a manufacturer that cares about making spray tanning an easy, no-stress activity. In addition to providing that instantly-tanned look during a spray tanning session, the bronzer works as a “coloring guide” on the client’s skin: if the bronzer looks good, then the tan should look good once the DHA takes effect. Having bronzer included in a spray tan solution helps prevent you from spraying too much or too little product on any one part of the body and if the client wants their tan darker they will know before even leaving your salon. This promises more satisfied customers, more referrals, and more return business.

Does bronzer smell?

No spray tanning solution of any kind should ever smell. If you find that your solution smells, or includes a fragrance blended into the formula by the manufacturer, then the DHA or bronzer-only solution was not correctly developed.

What is a bronzer made out of?

Bronzer is made from either cosmetic or food grade dyes. Food grade dyes provide a better, more individually tailored color rather than the overall coating that a cosmetic food dye offers. While there are premixed food dyes, these are generally used for things like brownie mixes and barbeque sauces; personally, I wouldn’t want to be bronzed with “Hershey’s Chocolate Number 9”. The problem with premixed dyes is that they are not specifically made for tanning solutions so they often don’t look natural. Other, more professional spray tan manufacturers, mix their own dyes so they can personalize each product to look great during cloudy days, under incandescent lights, and of course under the spotlight during a competition.

Will a bronzer stain?

A bronzer will only stain if it is poorly formulated or made with oils, which are unnecessary anyways.

As always bronzer should be allergy free—alcohol free—oil free—fragrance free: anything less is a sacrifice you should not be forced to make.

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