Types of spray tans

Spray Tanning Tips

Who better to guide you through spray tanning than the Tanning Experts®? Here, you’ll find spray tan tips and advice that’ll have you glowing from head to toe. But, first, talk with a PBT expert about the perfect tan plan tailored just for you.


Prep Your Skin

1. For best results, exfoliate before your session and focus on the driest areas — elbows, knees, hands, feet and the backs of your ankles. PBT offers a wide array of exfoliating products like this pre-session exfoliant. Try to avoid waxing or other spa treatments the day of your spray tan.

2. The day of your spray tan, don’t use moisturizers unless they are specifically formulated for sunless tanning (i.e., oil-free).

What to Wear

3. Avoid wearing perfumes, deodorant or makeup that can create a barrier for absorption. Avoid wearing tight clothing and shoes such as boots, socks or tights, which may rub off some of the spray tan and cause uneven results.

4. Wear dark, loose-fitting clothes. If possible, wear nail polish. Even if your nail polish is clear coat, it will help protect your nails from discoloration.

Tan Fact: Your spray tan develops in 4-6 hours and can last up to 7 days!


The Naked Truth

5. Once you’re set up in one of our private and secure tanning room, disrobe to your level of comfort. If you choose not to spray tan nude, wear a swimsuit or undergarment that you don’t mind possibly staining. Be sure to remove all jewelry and wear a protective hair cap. PBT also supplies disposable undergarments, if preferred.

Prep & Protect

6. Barrier cream is an important element for prepping your spray tan. Apply a light layer of the cream in areas where skin tends to be rougher — hands, fingers, feet, toes and the sides of your feet. Don’t forget to apply to your cuticles, as well. These areas tend to soak up more spray solution. For your protection and convenience, PBT provides hair caps, protective eyewear, nose filters, lip balm and cotton balls.


Wait for It . . .

7. Avoid the following for the defined time period: * Bathing or swimming: At least 4 hours. * Activities that make you sweat heavily: At least 4 hours. * Chlorine: Swimming in chlorinated pools will quickly break down your spray tan. We suggest avoiding entirely, if possible.

Keep Your Glow Longer

8. Moisturize daily with a post-sunless product like one of these. Beware: Drugstore lotions may contain oils and other ingredients that can shorten the life of your spray tan.

9. Avoid body washes that contain harsh soaps, exfoliants or oils. These ingredients can also shorten the life of your tan. We recommend using soaps that are especially formulated to extend the life of your tan — like this daily body wash.

10. Avoid using pore strips, bandages and exfoliants (until you’re ready to spray again).

If you follow these tips before, during and after spray tanning, your tan can last up to 7 days.

My First Time: Spray Tanning

You might call me pale—I prefer porcelain. I’ve never set foot near a tanning bed, and I slather myself with SPF 50 at the beach. My mom had a minor bout with skin cancer when I was a teen, and I’ve been serious about sun protection ever since.

But whenever spring rolls around, like everyone else I long for a little healthy glow.

So faced with the prospect of going to a co-worker’s wedding bare-legged for the first time since winter, I decided to try getting a spray tan. I’m too clumsy and impatient for the at-home products, which seem to require careful application and a long period of sitting still to dry. Maybe, I thought, the fake bake is best left to a professional.

RELATED: The 5 Most Dangerous Beauty Treatments

I made an appointment at A Moment’s Peace Salon & Spa in Franklin, Tenn. They use the VersaSpa Sunless Tanning System that involves standing up in an enclosed booth while you’re sprayed by tiny jets with a dihydroxyacetone (DHA) solution, which like most sunless tanners reacts with the amino acids in your skin to create the color.

Getting Prepared

The night before my first time spray tanning, I showered, exfoliated and shaved but skipped the moisturizer as the salon instructed. Once there, the attendant led me into a small room with the tanning booth attached and explained the 4-5 minute process, which involves moving through a series of 4 positions to ensure seamless coverage.

I must have been obviously anxious, because the attendant assured me that there was a cheat sheet in the booth to help me remember how to stand. He also said the spray was nontoxic, and not to worry about getting it in my eyes, nose or mouth. This was reassuring, but I didn’t plan to test it out!

We talked about how naturally fair-skinned I am and how tan I wanted to be—he suggested that out of Light, Medium or Dark, we should set the machine to Medium. Light might be so subtle that I’d feel I’d wasted my time and money, he said, but Medium would make me look “like I’d gone away for the weekend.” I agreed, he left the room and I began the preparation process.

First, I put on the hairnet the salon provided, leaving a bit of hair showing. I peeled off all my clothes—yes, all of them. Then I removed my makeup with some wet wipes provided, which I found a little abrasive. (Next time I’ll wash my face before I get there.) Finally, I put a protective barrier cream on my palms, the soles of my feet and between toes and fingers—basically anywhere that the product tends to cling and give you the dreaded orange appearance.

Inside the Booth

Now, I was ready to get inside the booth. It’s the size of a small shower, but it reminded me of those new airport scanners—circular and futuristic-looking. It’s equipped with a heat lamp to protect you from getting too cold. I positioned my feet on the line about three feet from the jets, being careful not to slip because the bottoms of my feet were slick with lotion. I assumed the first position, facing front with my arms at my sides, and pushed the start button. After a few seconds, I heard it whir into action.

The light mist wasn’t cold, and had a pleasant, fruity smell. After the 8-second spray, a female voice told me to change to the next position, which the attendant had described as the “running man”: facing the right side with my feet in mid-stride, my right arm up and bent at the elbow, and my left arm down and bent. Position 3 is the mirror image of that pose to the left, and position 4 is facing the back with your hands at your sides but bent at the wrist to keep the spray off your palms.

There wasn’t much time in between each spray to change positions, so I felt a little frantic. Then, I was instructed to turn to the back and then the front while the jets air-dried me, twice each time. I relaxed a little, knowing the tricky part was over. That was followed by a moisturizing mist; then I was dried again. Finally, the voice told me to exit the booth. I felt a little like I had just gone through an automatic carwash.

The Results

I looked in the mirror, but there was nothing to see, really: The tan develops gradually over the course of about 8 hours and typically doesn’t begin to show for at least 4. VersaSpa offers a bronze version of the mist if you want instant results, say for an event, but otherwise clear is recommended.

As I had been instructed, I used the wet wipes to go over the areas where I had put the barrier cream—again, to make sure the tanning product wasn’t too heavy there.

I was a bit reluctant to put my work clothes back on, even though the attendant said the color wouldn’t transfer because I had been dried in the booth. I have to admit, I was surprised not to see any stains or marks on my clothes when I took them off later that night.

About an hour after I left the salon, I noticed that distinctive self-tanning smell—a side effect of the chemical reaction between the product and skin cells that creates the color. I’m not crazy about it, but there’s essentially no way to avoid it. I started to notice the color develop within a few hours, and the next morning, it was like I’d been to Cancun in my dreams! The smell did linger, though, and I woke up to stained sheets several mornings after my trip to the booth. But the color washed out, no problem.

Overall, I liked the results, which lasted about a week. It looked natural, not like the orange Snooki look that you can get if you’re too zealous with the at-home tanners. And it was far more even than I ever could have achieved on my own.

On a subsequent visit, I tested out some pre- and post-tanning products by VersaSpa meant to improve the color and extend the life of the tan. I did get a darker color initially, and the tan seemed to fade more slowly and evenly. But the products are pricey, so I’d recommend them only if you plan to tan on a regular basis. The result without was still fantastic, and more than sufficient for a special occasion.

I don’t think spray tanning will be a weekly indulgence for me, but I definitely plan to pop into the booth occasionally for a pick-me-up!

Beginner’s Tips

What to Wear

You’ll be completely naked for the actual spraying process, but you can put your clothes back on almost immediately after. There’s little chance of the product getting on your clothes, but you may not want to wear your Sunday best, just in case.

Do’s and Don’ts

  • Do exfoliate well before you go.
  • Don’t moisturize the day of your appointment.
  • Do generously apply barrier cream to the areas of your body that tend to absorb more product: feet, knees, ankles, hands and elbows.
  • Don’t worry about getting the spray in your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Do feel free to shower and sweat the day after your tan.
  • Don’t shave or use abrasive products for a few days to preserve your color.
  • Do buy a darker shade of foundation or bronzer to match your tanned skintone while the color lasts.
  • Don’t swim in a chlorinated pool if you want your tan to last as long as possible—chlorine will make it fade faster.

Found in: Beauty/Skincare, Featured Article, Healthy Living

An Interview With Susie Hatton

Hatton is the founder and owner of Chocolate Sun Studio in Los Angeles.

My advice on getting a spray tan is always to err on the light side. More self-tanner doesn’t just mean a deeper tan—it’s also more likely to streak.

• Prepare yourself. The morning of your appointment, use a nonoily scrub to exfoliate your skin, particularly the knees and elbows (which tend to absorb more tanner and turn dark), as well as the neck, chest, shins, and face (where the skin is thinner and streaks show up). Coat any scabs or recent scars with Vaseline, and if you use Retin-A (or an over-the-counter retinoid) or take Accutane, talk to your doctor about going off it one week before your appointment. These can affect how the active ingredient, DHA, is absorbed, which can lead to a splotchy tan.

• Dress for the occasion. This is not the moment for your nice lingerie. Wear a thong that you don’t mind ruining (most tanners wash out, but better safe than sorry) or the paper one provided.

• Go it alone. Spray-tan booths tend to be less expensive than an application by a technician, but the color won’t be as even, and you might not catch any mistakes. If you’re using a booth, put a light layer of lotion on the soles of your feet, between your toes and fingers, and on your palms, knees, and elbows; this will ensure a smoother tan. After the tanner has been sprayed on, look for drips or pools and gently blot them—never wipe. To avoid tanning the soles of your feet, stand on a towel in the booth, and when you step out, wipe your feet on another towel.

• Look sharp. Even if a technician sprays on the tanner, it’s still a good idea to check her work and make sure there are no splotches. Once your skin is totally dry, which takes at least 20 minutes, put on loose, dark clothing, and skip the bra for the next six hours—if you can.

• Make it last. It’s best not to let your skin get wet for eight hours. Don’t exfoliate for at least a week, shave your legs as infrequently as possible, and moisturize from head to toe after you shower.

See Also

  • Insiders’ Guide: How to Self-tan Your Face

  • How to Get a Natural-Looking Self-Tan

  • All About Self-Tanning

If you’ve never got butt-naked in front of a stranger so they can spray your entire body with a cold brown liquid, don’t worry – it’s not as horrendous as you’d think. There are a few things that are very handy to know, though – like what the heck those sticky feet are for. Read on to be enlightened before you go glow…

1. It’s best to turn up foundation-free, or you can remove your makeup there, as most salons will provide face wipes. Also use them to remove any deodorant, which may act as a barrier to the fake tan formula.

2. While the therapist waits for you outside the room, get completely undressed. You can keep your knickers on if you wish, but if you do, we’d recommend opting for something minimal, like a thong, as you’ll be left with white patches underneath. Remove all jewellery and get to grips with the accessories provided.

3. Firstly, disposable pants (or a thong – in which case make sure you get it on the right way round!), which you can wear home for ease. Next, a hair net or turban – to protect your locks (keep your ears out, no matter how silly you feel.) Finally, sticky feet for you to step onto – they help to avoid getting fake tan on your soles. Easy.

4. The therapist should ask you “how deep” you want to go. This is your chance to explain what you like; you could reference a celeb or show them a picture of how you tan on holiday. It also helps for them to know the occasion your spray tan is for, i.e. if it’s a 10-day holiday you may want to go a deeper shade so it lasts longer, or if it’s for a wedding the very next day, you may want to stay lighter so it looks as natural as possible in pictures.

View this post on Instagram

Humpday goals thanks to @camillemtgnc #regram #beachlife #poolside #wishwewerehere #wanderlust

A post shared by St.Tropez (@sttropeztan) on Apr 4, 2018 at 1:09am PDT

5. When you’re in the tanning ‘tent’ (a one-person pod with an open front) the therapist will usually start by applying the formula, dispersed through a spray gun, to your face. As advised, take a deep breath and close your eyes. You’ll instantly notice, it’s frikkin’ cold.

6. Although every therapist tans differently, they’ll usually work their way down the body doing the front first and then your back when they might ask you to lean your bum out. Don’t stress – it’s just so there are no white patches in any ‘creases’! You’ll be asked to claw your hands to get between knuckle creases, too.

7. Follow instructions on how to stand. It might be a case of “left arm up, right arm forwards while you bend your knees” at some points, but while you may feel silly it’s easy to follow. Two all-over layers is pretty standard but again, this varies.

Summer Beauty Essentials

Skin Doctors InGrown Hair Solution Skin Doctors feelunique.com £12.99

Swipe this over your body after shaving and it’ll help prevent razor bumps and ingrown hairs.

St. Tropez Self Tan Purity Body Mousse St. Tropez lookfantastic.com £24.80

Arguably the best fake tan yet. Easy to apply, dreamy golden shade and zero streaks, guaranteed.

AMELIORATE Transforming Body Lotion AMELIORATE lookfantastic.com £22.50

Full of lactic acid, this smoothing body lotion minimises Keratosis Pilaris (aka dry, bumpy skin) asap.

Vichy Anti-Blemish Sunscreen SPF30 Vichy lookfantastic.com £12.35

Sick of your sun cream breaking you out? Vichy’s genius new formula won’t clog your pores.

8. All therapists seem to have an individual ‘secret’ technique. Some might buff the skin with a mitt around the wrists and ankles for perfection when they’re done, or others may dry you down with an air hose to ensure you’re fully dry. All should wipe down the palms of your hands and cleanse your nails for you so you don’t leave looking like you’ve got a bad 40-a-day fag habit.

9. When you’re dry you can get dressed. You should ideally bring loose, dark clothing and nothing that may rub the tan off, like tight ankle boots.

10. Most formulas nowadays aren’t too funky-looking before the wash-off, however the guide colour of your tan will probably appear darker than the finished result. Don’t freak out! When you go about your day you should pass for looking like you’ve upped the ante on the bronzer, not like you’ve been dipped in Ronseal.

11. You may smell a little bit like malty biscuits but it’s nothing like as potent as fake tan used to be. Apply perfume to your clothes, not your skin, if you want to disguise it.

12. As it’s your first time it’s probably best not to make big plans for the rest of the day – chances are, you’ll look totally fine but you may want to go home and hide. It depends on the brand used/your natural skin tone/how your skin ‘takes’ to a tan.

13. You can shower after 6-8 hours, or less if you have a tan with an ‘express’ formula that brands like St. Tropez offer.

14. If you’re planning on washing it off the next morning it doesn’t matter if it’s more than 8 hours later, just be prepared for a bit of a mess if you have white bed sheets. Or pile on the towels!


Related Story


Best for: Those who can’t stand the smell of fake tan.

Here at GLAMOUR HQ, we are big fans of Xen-Tan’s at-home tanning products. The brand’s signature spray tan is equally as impressive. Used by the likes of Drew Barrymore, the tan has a light texture and rather pleasant sweet vanilla fragrance. Xen-Tan’s formula is also incredibly streak-free and very moisturising, which is a pretty big deal in the tanning world.

Prices start from £25.00, available from leading salons nationwide, UK and Ireland. For stockist information visit www.xen-tan.co.uk/locator.


Best for: The girl on the go.

Jules has been tanning celebrities for years, so when the time came for him to launch his very own tanning brand, we jumped at the chance to try it.

Isle of Paradise is the first colour-correcting tan, and comes in three colours (orange, green and purple) to suit your skin tone and bronzing needs. Beauty Writer Sam tried out the ‘green’ spray tan to give her a Tahitian-glow and also counteract the redness in her chest.

Despite the colour-coding, the tan formulas apply clear, so Sam was able to head back to work, attend meetings and go about her day without anyone catching a whiff of fake tan smell, or seeing her skin turn brown before their very eyes. It was only once she was on her way home six hours later that she noticed her skin was slowly turning a beautiful shade of bronze, and that’s how it stayed once it reached the eight-hour mark and was washed off.


Best for: First-timers.

The GLAMOUR girls were lucky enough to try out the amazing spray tans by James Read at the Studio in Harvey Nichols, ahead of our GLAMOUR women of the year awards. It’s safe to say we were pretty impressed with the results. It was even our Editorial Assistant’s first time in a spray tanning booth, and the experience had her hooked for life! The uber-friendly staff will offer you two tanning options: The Destination tan and the James Read tan. We recommend the more subtle James Read tan, which can be layered up until you are happy with the shade.

For bookings and more information, call 020 7201 9606 or [email protected]


Best for: A natural looking tan.

There are several serious advantages to the Vita Liberata spray tan experience. First, the formula contains organic extracts that condition and nourish skin. Secondly, the flash dry effect that the tans have mean you can redress immediately. Last, but certainly not least, is the fact that the tan is mostly odourless, meaning you will never leave the salon smelling like biscuits (we promise).

Coming in a range of shades, the tan lasts 4-7 days and fades into a natural tan, so no blotchiness will appear. It contains no toxins or parabens, and so is beneficial to skin rather than harmful. Our Online Editor is a big fan of this natural-looking spray tan.

The tan is available at Benefit Boutiques nationwide RRP £20 (can vary per Boutique).

So THIS is how to remove fake tan streaks (and you’ve probably already got everything you need!)

Fake Tan

So THIS is how to remove fake tan streaks (and you’ve probably already got everything you need!)

Bianca London and Lottie Winter

  • Fake Tan
  • 28 Nov 2018
  • Bianca London and Lottie Winter


Best for: Those pushed for time.

Fake Bake are experts in tanning, and their spray tans are some of the best on offer. As well as the original self-tanning experience, Fake Bake now also offer a 60-minute unique option. This is uniquely activated in water when the guide colour is washed off 1-2 hours later. 6-8 hours on and your skin will have developed a natural looking tan and great glow.

What’s especially impressive about Fake Bake’s original spray tan is how quickly it is done. Just 7 minutes being sprayed and you are good to go! Just don’t be alarmed when wearing the tan overnight as it darkens (a lot!) gradually, but results in a perfect glow when the guide colour is washed off.

Many salons use Fake Bake as their preferred tanning brand. Phone 08448 56 57 58 or email [email protected] to find one near you. Prices for professional spray tans start at £15.00 but are at the discretion of the individual salon.


Best for: Beginners and tan-a-phobes.

A piece about the best spray tans would not be the same without St Tropez. The tanning experts offer a spray tan that is flawless every time, and is great for beginners. The entire process takes 15 minutes, and the spray is quick-drying, meaning no awkward waiting around naked before you can re-dress! It also features fragrance technology, which eliminates the horrible biscuit-y smell associated with tanning by a minimum of 70%.

St.Tropez is available through salons and mobile therapists all over the UK. To find your nearest therapist, simply enter your postcode at http://www.sttropeztan.co.uk/locator/. Prices start from £25.00.

Prefer to bronze at home? Check out the best fake tans here:

The ultimate fake tans to keep your skin warm and glowy through winter

The ultimate fake tans to keep your skin warm and glowy through winter

  • + 13
  • + 12
  • + 11

Everything You Need to Know About Spray Tans

Copyright 2018 Rob and Julia Campbell/Stocksy

I remember when spray tans made their big debut in my high school. It was shortly after everyone acknowledged just how dangerous tanning beds really are. The spray-tan concept seemed totally foreign, and the fear of leaving the salon completely orange and splotchy before prom night was real. I remember seeing the mishaps, too.

Since 2005, spray tans have gotten much, much better, but it’s still a category that is filled with a lot of confusion. For example, if you don’t prep your skin for a spray tan the right way, even the best spray tan won’t last very long.

From prep to after-care, I talked to two beauty professionals to get the rundown on everything you need to know about spray tans.

What’s In a Spray-Tan Formula?

If the sun’s rays aren’t doing any of the work, what is making your skin appear tanner? The main ingredient in spray-tan formulas is DHA, according Jules Von Hep, a celebrity spray tanner and co-founder of self-tanning brand Isle of Paradise. “This reacts with your amino acids to give the illusion of a tan. DHA is like milk. It can come in many different formats—think whole, skim, 1%, organic. From my experience, organic DHA gives the best results.”

Should You Moisturize Before a Spray Tan?

Be careful with body lotion before your spray tan. “You want to avoid heavy body lotions on the day of your spray tan, as this can interfere with the tan development,” says Sophie Evans, the St. Tropez skin-finishing expert. However, you should make sure that commonly dry areas, like your elbows, knees, hands, wrists, feet, and back of the heels, are well moisturized. Evans explains that this will prevent an uneven spray tan.

RELATED: Game-Changing Self-Tanning Products

Should You Remove Body Hair Before?

If you want to remove your body hair, you should do it prior to your appointment. If you wax, this should be done a full 24 hours prior, explains Evans. “This will ensure the hair follicles have settled and that you’ll get a perfect finish,” she says. You should also exfoliate a few days before your spray tan.

What happens if you forgot to shave? You can shave right before, but Von Hep says to avoid using a shaving oil, as it can form a film on the skin and the tan won’t penetrate properly. Shave and then splash the skin with cold water to calm the skin.

Can You Wear Makeup or Deodorant?

Before your spray tan, you should cleanse your skin of any makeup, fragrance, or product. This will help your spray tan apply in an even, flawless finish.

What Should You Wear to Get a Spray Tan?

Sometimes product transfer occurs right after your spray tan is applied. To avoid this, wear dark clothes. Be sure they are loose to prevent straps or tight clothes from causing indentations or streaks in the tan.

RELATED: The Best Self-Tanners for Your Face

How Do You Take Care of a Spray Tan?

How quick you can shower after depends on what type of spray tan you have received. However, according to Von Hep, the general rule is to wait four to six hours before getting in the shower. You should also avoid sweating, getting wet, or applying body product. Another key is staying hydrated—that means drinking water and regularly moisturizing. “Happy, hydrated skin won’t shed and will hold onto the color for longer,” says Von Hep. “If you’re on a long-haul flight, try to not drink alcohol as this encourages the tan to fade due to the dehydration on the skin. Avoid hot showers and baths with oils as well as chlorinated water if you can.”

You can also maintain your tan with at-home tanning products. “I maintain a glow by applying self-tan to my entire body, followed by two consecutive days of rich moisturizer. Then, I apply a hit of Isle of Paradise Happy Tan to my body to lift the color back up. Two days after, I begin the scrub process, lightly exfoliating the top coat of tan off, and then apply my next coat of self-tan,” says Von Hep.

There are a million at-home self-tan products at various price points. I like Jergens in-shower self-tanner, as well as St. Tropez Self Tan Purity Bronzing Water Mousse.

VIDEO: 6 Beauty Products Under $12 You Should Buy from the Drugstore

How Do You Avoid or Fix Streaks?

To avoid them, especially when self-tanning at home, Evans says you need to use enough product. Streaks and patches are typically caused by not using enough product and over-rubbing the skin. She recommends using enough product so the tan glides easily over your skin.

“If you need to fix a mistake fast, like dark marks or streaks, the quickest way is to apply baby oil to the darker area and leave for 10 minutes. This allows the exfoliation to be more effective,” says Evans. “Scrub the skin with an exfoliator, then use a hot, damp wash cloth to buff the skin.” She also says you can try hair removal cream. Apply it with a Q-tip on the darker area and leave on for only half of the recommended time.

How Do You Remove a Spray Tan?

For the most part, the best option is really letting it fade. If you want to expedite the process, Evans recommends using an astringent toning product or micellar water to remove the self-tan from the face. “For sensitive skin, cleanse first, lightly exfoliate with a facial scrub, then apply astringent with a cotton ball and sweep over dark areas of self-tan. Finish with your favorite moisturizer to hydrate.”

When looking to get a spray tan, you will find that there are a plethora of options available for you to choose from. Spray tanning machines need to match the purpose of their use and requirement in order to get optimal results. The various spray tan machines existing on the market today have their pros and cons, so you need to investigate the different types of spray tanning machines, and which ones match your needs.

HVLP (High Volume Low Pressure) Spray Tan Systems

The most popular spray tanning machine in the industry is the HVLP tanning machine. The HVLP machines are being commonly used in spray tanning salons and mobile businesses. The best HVLP spray tanning machines have a wattage between 400W to 700W. There are many advantages of using this type of machine:

  1. It does not waste the spray tanning solution like other spray tanning machines do. It has a deluxe gun, which does not leak or overspray since it only uses 30-50mls of the spray tanning solution.
  2. It tans an individual within 5 minutes. This means 6 people can be spray tanned within an hour.
  3. It does not overheat during usage as it has an automatic shut off system.
  4. It has an automatic heat function which assists in drying the client.

In addition, these spray tanning machines are light and portable – which makes them a perfect choice for mobile tanning businesses. There are different variations of the HVLP machines available, but they generally work in a similar manner and have the same advantages.

LVLP (Low Volume Low Pressure) Spray Tan Systems

In a LVLP spray tan machine, a turbine driven system forces out spray tanning solution through a gun that sprays out an even and quick spray tan mist. This peice of spray tan equipment differs from the HVLP system, because it operates at a lower pressure (at around 1PSI) and it is noisier when operating due to its extra fans situated in the turbine. The noise makes it unsuitable for mobile tanning businesses. Also, the quality of the spray tan created by the LVLP depends on the skill of the applier. It requires a lot precision and perfection when applying. As compared to other spray tanning machines, the LVLP machine is more expensive. The rest of the system is very similar to the HVLP system. It takes almost 10-15 minutes to apply the solution and it is very efficient. The stem does not overspray because it has a flexible spray delivery adjustment and it has a lower air pressure. It is recommended for home and spray tanning businesses.

Airbrush Spray Gun Machine

Airbrush spray tanning machines are used in many professional spray-tanning salons. There are a large variety of airbrush machines available but the most commonly used system is the airbrush tanning system with compressor. This type of airbrush system was mainly designed for fake tattooing, but it has since entered the tanning industry. The airbrush spray tanning machine is cheaper as compared to the LVLP and a lot less noisy. Such spray tana equipment is also cheaper when compared to other spray tanning systems. It works at a high pressure, which makes it deliver more spray tanning solution in less time. However, it also causes an overspray and wastage of the spray tanning solution. It also takes a longer time in spray tanning a client, with an average of around 25 to 40 minutes.

Automatic Spray Tanning Booths

An automatic spray tanning booth is an enclosed booth, very similar to a shower cubicle. Once a client stands in it, a spray tan solution is sprayed automatically as a mist from the numerous nozzles found on the sides of the booth. These nozzles spray the entire body. This type of spray tan machine has a very expensive setup cost and it requires a professional for its initial setup. The high costs are then reflected in the clients’ bill. Although this machine seems to be simple to work with, the results are not as accurate as those created by a handheld spray tan gun. Manual touchups are needed where the spray tan mist does not reach. The main advantages of this type of spray tan machine are: it takes only a minute or two to spray tan a client; and it is considered as the most private method of tanning the body. This machine is best suited for upscale spray tanning salons.

Photo: Katie Friedman

Oh, summer… Just thinking about the stretch of endless sunny days and ocean swims ahead of us gives me a childlike rush of excitement. But ever since I grew out of being that child, there’s also been a bit of dread that comes with bathing suit season. I can go to the gym to get my body ready, but there’s nothing I can do to keep from blinding people on the beach with my oh-so-pale skin—at least, that’s what I always thought.

Related: Get Glowing: 12 of Our Favorite Self Tanners

I am a believer in doing everything you can to feel comfortable in your own skin—and for me, that cliché is to be taken literally. My skin is white, milky, and some have even said sexy (see, this is me trying to own being pale). But as much as it’s nice to look good in the moonlight, it’s not that easy being the pasty girl in the sunlight. When I was in middle school and laying out became a thing, I didn’t want to accept my fate. In rebellion against the whiteness, I joined my bronzed friends sprawled out on their beach towels without a drop of sunblock on. I am sure you can figure out how this story ends: with a burn so painful and embarrassing, and a realization that I was doomed to be either white or lobster red.

Years later, on my first trip to the Hamptons after moving to New York, my brother’s then-girlfriend (blessed with beautiful olive skin), gave me a look that registered somewhere between disgusted and confused when I came out to the pool. “Why don’t you do something about your skin?” she asked. As if my pale girl complex wasn’t bad enough. But even though she blatantly pointed out that I could do something about it, I still never considered faking n’ baking. I thought I would feel guilty if I did it. It’s that keep-it-natural attitude I brought with me from Northern California, or more so, keep it looking natural. If I didn’t think spray tans turned out so obviously fake, I would have been game.

Since then, I have become a beauty editor and seen spray tans and self-tanners that don’t make people look streaky and orange. So I finally went for it. I am now back to my pale self, but that taste of the tan life has me wanting more—even with a few bumps (i.e blotches) on the road. Read on pale girls: See what I learned on my journey to the dark side and how I’m going to make it better next time—yes, there will be a next time.

The Preparation

Before my SunFX spray tan at the Oasis Day Spa in Manhattan, I asked their director of skincare, Christie Lavigne, for some first-time tanner tips. The day of the service I followed her directions and shaved as I normally do, as well as exfoliated my body and my face with a scrub so the tan would absorb evenly. I was iffy about letting them spray my face in fear of it turning the dreaded orange, but I decided to go for it. I mean, what’s worse: an orange face or a pale face with an orange body? After I showered, I didn’t use any lotions or perfume as instructed, and wore dark, loose clothing. I did cheat by putting on deodorant. Sorry, I had to spend the whole day in a very snug office situation beforehand.

The Spray

When I arrived at the spa it was calming and lovely. Then an Oompa Loompa vision popped into my head and suddenly I wished I was just getting a massage. My heart pulsed as the receptionist led me to the locker room and gave me a bathrobe and a pair of slippers. But what about the disposable spray tan undies I was told I would get? “Will the technician give them to me?” I asked in a panic. Somehow those paper panties were a matter of life or death. “I don’t know, I’ve never gotten a spray tan,” she said. ME NEITHER! Okay, deep breaths. If it turned out bad it would just be seven to 10 days. Seven to 10 days! That seemed like an eternity.

Related: Elle’s Annual Swimsuit Guide

The technician came and brought me into the room with the spray machine, and I proceeded to tell her nervously that this was my first time and I didn’t want anything too drastic. I made her repeat the directions twice. Take off your clothes, put on the panties (I got them!), and rub lotion on your hands and in-between your toes and around your toenails. It is supposed to be where you don’t want to get tan. And as for those panties I was so worried about, next time I’ll go without or bring my own. The thong part was such a strange shape that when I put on my actual bathing suit, it didn’t cover my (fake) tan lines.

The spray box felt like one of those airport scanners where you lift your hands above your head, only I was naked with a little (and very tan) blonde woman spraying a cold mist all over my body (at least it wasn’t a security pat down). It all took about five minutes, then she blow dried me off with a vacuum cleaner-esque contraption.

The Initial Terror

Both Lavigne and the technician told me that what was on my skin now was not the tan: It was just bronzer so they could see where they were spraying. After you waited the recommended few hours to let the tan set in (the longer you wait the tanner you get), it will wash off in the shower. Note: Always book your spray tan in the evening or when you can go straight home after. But even with their warning, when I went back to the locker room and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror I panicked. I was brown, not tan—brown. On the subway home I felt eyes on me—they knew, I was an impostor. I deserved my tan gone wrong.

Though I felt sticky all over, I went to bed without washing my face as I was told. When I woke up in the morning I immediately took a selfie: It was worse than the night before! Still brown, but now blotchy, like someone had thrown a pile of dirt in my face. So into the shower I went. I used two exfoliating wipes on my face and washed it three times. When I toweled off it was gone, and I was very tan from head to toe (so much for my subtle glow. I guess that’s what happens when you sleep with it on.) It looked even and not Oompa Loompa at all, except for my feet: They had that orange streakiness I was so scared of. But whatever, I was tan! Next time, I’ll make sure they do not spray my feet and cover them with lotion.

The Big Debut

After my initial dread washed away down the shower drain, I got dressed in a crisp white outfit (what else do you do when you’re THIS tan?) and a pair of mules that covered my orange feet. I’ll admit, I’m that girl who checks herself out in the reflections of windows on the street. On the way to the subway I was doing it triple time, a little shocked but amazed at what I saw.

On the train I looked up from my book and there was a girl I know only vaguely, but well enough that it would be rude to not say hi. Of course. I felt self-conscious about looking so unlike me. “Hey! Good to see you. You look so tan!” she exclaimed. I immediately spilled my “It’s fake” secret, to which she replied that it looked so natural. Score! This proceeded to happen twice more over the course of the day, and by the evening I was riding high on the compliments.

The Maintenance

Normally I moisturize my body with coconut oil in the morning after I shower, but this week I followed Lavigne’s instructions and used lotion (no oils allowed) in the morning and at night with the hopes of prolonging my tan. I did slack off with the upkeep a little in the end. That’s probably why it didn’t last as long as it could have.

The Fade-Away

I was getting used to being bronzed. Against all rationality, by day three, I was thinking that it would stay and I would just be a tan girl forever more. But in reality and five days in, when I saw my friends over the weekend, no one said a thing. Not one “Oh, you look so tan” at dinner. Granted they would’ve noticed if I was in a bathing suit, but at night, I was the same pale girl I always had been. And in seven days, it was gone.

The Take-Away

Well, you can see the results for yourself. My colleagues were unanimously pro-tan, while my boyfriend and my mom preferred me with my natural skin color. They have to say that, right? Though I don’t think I’ll be hitting up the tanning booth on the regular, before my next beach trip, it’s now a must. It made me look and feel ready for summer (and a little skinnier, too).

Ironically (or maybe just poor planning on my part), a few days later I was on vacation in Rio de Janeiro, pale as the ghost of my pre-tan past. As I looked around at the most gorgeously bronzed people I’ve ever seen, I was content and happy. I am used to being the pale girl on the beach and would never let it ruin my experience. But if I still had my tan, I would have felt less self-conscious for sticking out and more comfortable running around in a bathing suit. It’s taken me years to embrace my paleness and I don’t want to be a traitor to my natural self, but I felt good being tan. That’s all that really matters, right?

Megan Cahn Beauty Editor Megan Cahn covers all things beauty for ELLE.com.

You don’t need me to remind you that you should be wearing sunscreen every single day, right? That’s because any darkening of your skin is a sign of sun damage. Thankfully, there’s a way to get a summer glow sans damage: spray tanning. No, it won’t make you look like an Oompa Loompa—so long as you follow a few key steps before and after you get your spray tan.

Sinead Norenius, founder of the self-tanning brand Beautisol, spills the secrets you need to know to get a believable bronze—and make it last.

1. Pick a well-ventilated salon.

Since inhaling spray tan product can pose safety concerns, you’ll want to pick your salon with that in mind. Norenius suggests choosing an airy salon with equipment that has a ventilation fan designed to suck away any overspray immediately. Pay attention to the room you’ll be in, too: If there’s spray tan formula on the walls and things just look generally dirty, that’s a sign that the salon is poorly maintained—and poorly ventilated.

Make sure to ask your technician for an LVLP machine (that stands for low volume, low pressure, and it means you’re less likely to get overspray that you could inhale). Finally, always request protective nose pieces and eyewear.

2. …And find one that goes alcohol-free (on the ingredient list).

3 Ways To Practice Safe Sun

Alcohol is a common ingredient in many spray tans. It acts as a thinning agent, allowing the tan to flow into the fine mist necessary for application. But Norenius warns that alcohol is actually really damaging to your spray tan, because it can result in a crackling effect, making your skin look crazy-dry.

While it’s hard to find a spray tan that’s totally alcohol-free, Norenius recommends checking the ingredient list (or asking your spray tan salon for it) to verify that alcohol’s not the first or second ingredient mentioned, as that’s a dead giveaway that the tan has a lot of alcohol in it.

3. Book your spray tan two days before your big event.

Everybody’s tan lasts a slightly different length of time, and it usually has nothing to do with the product. The speed at which your cells turn over has a huge effect on how long your tan will last. The younger you are, the faster your cells turn over, which causes your tan to fade more quickly, says Norenius.

The bad news: There’s nothing you can do about the speed at which your cells regenerate. The good news: Keeping the amount of water your skin is exposed to to a minimum can help prolong the life of your tan.

So when should you get your spray tan? Pros recommend getting the tan about two days before a big event or vacation. That way the tan has time to settle in and fully develop. It also gives you time to fix any mishaps (more on that below).

4. Prep with the right scrub.

You’ll definitely want to exfoliate pre-spray tan to get an even glow; sloughing off old skin cells creates an even base for the tan to adhere to. But if you don’t choose the right scrub, it may cause your tan to streak. Norenius says that the oils in popular sugar scrubs coat the skin and cause the tan to run right off. Instead, use an exfoliating mitt and skip applying lotion afterward; spray tan formulas stick best to dry skin.

EcoTools Bath & Shower Gloves walgreens.com $3.99

5. Shave at least 12 hours beforehand.

It may seem like common sense to shave before a spray tan, but shaving immediately prior to your appointment can cause the product to irritate your skin. Shaving is a mild exfoliant that exposes new skin cells, which are extra sensitive.

DHA (the darkening agent in spray tans) reacts with those sensitive cells and can cause some serious redness and discomfort. Norenius says there should be a 12- to 24-hour window between shaving and your appointment.

6. Wear dark clothes to your appointment.

No matter how careful you are, the clothes you wear to your spray tan will end up with some slight discoloration. Although it should wash out easily, to avoid unintentionally staining your outfit orange, stick with dark clothing.It’s also important to wear loose-fitting pieces after your tan. When you’re freshly sprayed, the tan can be easily altered, so tight leggings, sleeves, and even your bra can mess with the finished results. A black sundress or loose sweatpants and a T-shirt will do the trick. And if you can, go braless for at least the first few hours afterward.

7. Keep using sunscreen afterward.

The concept of getting a “base tan” to prevent sunburn is bogus to begin with—but you should definitely know that a spray tan has no effect on your body’s melanin, which is what causes your skin to tan naturally.

“Just because you look tan doesn’t mean you’re not going to burn,” says Norenius. She recommends using a lightweight sunscreen to protect your skin and your faux-glow.

8. Limit your exposure to chlorine post-spray tan.

While taking a quick dip in the pool won’t ruin your tan, spending hours on-end in chlorinated water will. Chlorine, which is a kind of bleach, will take the tan right off your skin, says Norenius. As such, she recommends limiting your swim time after you’ve gotten a spray tan and patting dry right when you get out of the water.

9. Resist the urge to pile on body butter.

Some salons may recommend keeping the skin highly moisturized to prolong the length of your spray tan, but Norenius says that’s not the best advice since the moisture in heavy lotions and body butters will work away at your glow, causing it to fade faster. Norenius recommends using a lightweight lotion instead and only moisturizing when absolutely necessary.

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Body Gel Cream ulta.com

10. Def don’t layer spray tans.

It would be great if you could keep up your spray tan maintained the way you do your eyebrows or roots, but unfortunately, faux tans don’t work that way. If you spray a new tan on top of an old tan, it will look patchy—darker in areas where the old tan remains, and lighter in areas where it’s already worn off.

Norenius recommends enjoying your tan for about one and a half weeks, then removing it with a tan-removing mitt and starting fresh.

St. Tropez Tan Build Up Remover Mitt ulta.com $6.50

11. Have a backup plan if you need to fix a bad spray tan.

If the worst happens and you look more like an orange than a bronzed goddess, don’t worry: At-home removal is super-easy, says Norenius.

Water breaks down the ingredients in your spray tan and loosens it from the skin, so run a warm bath with a little shower gel mixed in. Soak in it for at least a half an hour, then exfoliate with a loofah or mitt. The tan will rinse away with the water, leaving you with a clean slate. Some brands also make tan removers, which contain exfoliating acids, like glycolic acid, to slough off the top layer of your skin and the tan with it.

. Isle Of Paradise Over It Magic Self-Tan Eraser sephora.com Maddie Aberman Beauty Editor Maddie Aberman is the beauty editor at Women’s Health and has been covering skincare, makeup, hair, and wellness for more than five years.

About the author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *