Spray Tan Advice & Tips

The Top 10 Tan Commandments; The spray tanning tips you need to read.

As experienced spray tan technicians, we want to tell you what to do before, during and after a spray tan appointment.

1. Spray Tan Shade Options

Choosing the correct colour at the spray tan salon is essential to how you feel and look post-session. Usually, the colour options range from Extra light to extra dark (or double dark).

Depending on your skin tone, it is advised that you ask your therapist what colour is best in their professional opinion. For example, spray tans usually last over a week, so picking a lighter colour won’t mean it will fade quicker.

Here are our recommendations if you need a bit of help deciding:

Fair-skinned (Red hair or Blond): extra light, light or our light to medium mix

Olive-skinned (Blonde or brunette): light to medium blend or medium

Tanned skin (Good Base Colour already): light to medium mix, medium, medium to dark mix

This is our advice, but it’s your decision.

2. How long do spray tans take to develop?

You pick your shade, wait 9 hours for it to develop then you can wash it off. It can be left on longer than 9 hours and won’t get darker than the shade you picked.

If you choose “express spray tan”, you wash it off depending on how dark you want it to be. For example, shower at 1 hour for light, 2 hours for medium, and three hours+ for dark. This type of tan will turn out the same as the 9-hour developing tan.

3. Spray tan shades

Are you wondering how different spray tans look on different skin tones? Sometimes spray tans look a lot darker or lighter on certain people. As a rough estimate, a golden spray tan would be between 1-3 times darker than your natural skin tone. For example, a medium spray tan looks 3-4 times darker, and a dark spray tan could go 4-7 times darker than your original colour.

How dark spray tans develop depends on a few factors, such as the brand of spray tan used and how dry your skin is.

4. The brand

How dark you go with a spray tan can depend on the brand used. For example, Sienna x in 14% (dark) would go about 2-3 times darker than the St. Tropez dark.

5. Dry skin or well moisturised? 

Maybe you have noticed that your elbows, knees and knuckles go much darker than your body when you apply a fake tan. The reason is that this type of skin is thicker and drier, absorbing more tan than the other areas of your body. The same logic applies to how dry your entire body is. If your skin is dry, you will go darker, but if you moisturise, your tan will be lighter but more likely to last longer.

6. How to prepare for a spray tan

Preparing your skin for a spray tan is the most important thing to do before your appointment. It allows the spray tan to last longer and applies more evenly.

To exfoliate your skin correctly, ditch the loofa and sponge. The best way to exfoliate is 1-2 days before your spray tan after a 10-15 min bath (or a very long shower if you don’t have a bath) with a facecloth or ‘tan eraser’ mitt. Pay extra attention to your neck, knees, ankles, underarms and elbows.

Please do not have the following on your skin EVEN IF YOU PUT IT ON HOURS AGO:

  • oils
  • moisturisers
  • deodorants
  • make-up
  • perfumes

The products listed above will act as a barrier to the spray tan. This means the product will not absorb well in those areas because it is blocking it. However, certain moisturisers and deodorants can go green even if you put them on hours ago. 

7. What do I wear to a spray tan appointment?

Girls in the spray tan bronzie post tan

What to wear: Please DO NOT wear the following after your spray tan:

  • jeans
  • leggings
  • tights
  • bras
  • Sports bras
  • tight tops
  • Please note that although specific clothing is loose, it may be hard to get on, so test it before you arrive.

These items will rub against your legs and body the entire journey home! It feels a lot better to put loose clothing on after your tan as your tan will not rub at all and will be even while it develops.

It is best to wear the following:

  • baggy button-up shirt
  • over-sized t-shirt
  • jogging bottoms
  • maxi skirt
  • dress
  • playsuit
  • Bringing your pyjamas is better than nothing!
  • Please don’t feel embarrassed when you leave; most of our customers go in PJs or jogging.
  • Bring an umbrella or a good raincoat.
  • Loose trainers, flip-flop thong sandals or ballet shoes are usually good options.

8. What happens when I arrive for my appointment?

Once you’ve arrived at the salon, you’ll be taken into the studio, and your therapist will start your consultation. You’ll be asked if you have done the proper skin preparation (See below), if your skin has any dry areas and what shade you wish to achieve.

Your therapist will leave the room and allow you to change in private. A dressing gown and protection for your feet and hair will be provided, and once you have put them on, your therapist will come into the room.

Your therapist will tell you what positions to enter so the tan hits every area of your body. You will then stand in the booth for a few minutes, and your tan will dry enough to put your clothes back on comfortably and hit the shops without feeling sticky!

How long does a spray tan take?

A spray tan appointment should last around 30 minutes. This time includes the consultation with the client, undressing, drying and changing.

9. After the spray tan

If you’re wondering what to do after a spray tan appointment, you can carry on your everyday activities, but there are some things you can’t do.

  • avoid exercise or anything that will make you sweat
  • sleep in light, long-sleeved pyjamas that go down to your ankle
  • avoid water (that one should be obvious)

10. I’m too embarrassed to get a spray tan

Standing in the booth entirely or partially undressed can be difficult for some people; however, please be assured that your beauty therapist will have seen thousands of different body types.

If you are too embarrassed to get a spray tan, sometimes it can help to ease the pressure by telling your therapist of your fears, and no doubt she will reassure you that there will be no judgement when it comes to your body.

In our years of working as beauty therapists, we have encountered clients concerned about body weight, cellulite, breast size or removal, tattoos, body hair, being transgender and so on. Still, please rest assured that this is our job, and it always pains us to hear that our client worries about our judgement.

If you’re still feeling too self-conscious to get a spray tan, try wearing a swimsuit or shorts or go to an automated spray booth instead. 

Some clients will get their legs spray-tanned or décolletage, for example. However, spray tanning only in certain areas is usually carried out because the client is too brown elsewhere, or perhaps their outfit only shows specific areas of their body.

11. What is the “Rapid”, “Express”, or “1 Hour” Spray Tan?

You can wash this tan off on the same day.

You will get more tanned as the hours pass and will be developed entirely in 9 hours

This tan is the same brand as our normal one and lasts just as well

1-2 hours for a light tan

2-3 hours for a medium tan

3-4 hours for a dark tan 

Read more: Click here

12. Spray tanning and tattoos

Tattoos will appear darker after fake tanning and UV tanning. However, fake tanning is much better for your tattoos than tanning in the sun, as UV tanning can cause tattoo ink to fade faster.