What Is Spray Tanning? And Is It Right For Me?

Spray TanningUnless you’re living under a rock, you probably know that “looking tan” is the hottest accessory you can own right now.

And for good reason, just about everyone looks a lot better when then have a little color.

Right or wrong, the pale, white ‘sickly’ look is definitely out!

And because we now know that baking in the sun all day is really bad for our skin, tons of people are turning to spray tanning to get that beautiful bronze glow.

But what exactly is spray tanning?   How does it work?   How much does it cost?   And where do I get it done?

I’m glad you asked… let’s go over each one of those right now!

The Basics of Spray Tanning

Let’s start at the beginning.

Spray tanning is a form of self tanning (or sunless tanning) where a fine mist is sprayed onto your body.

This mist has an ingredient in it called Dihydroxyacetone (DHA) that interacts with your own skin’s chemistry to turn it tan, or bronze.

This temporary effect generally lasts from 3-7 days and is completely safe for your skin (although it doesn’t provide any protection against the sun’s rays).

The results you can get from tanning sprays are generally very good.  Many celebrities and models prefer spray tanning to just about anything else to get the color they want.

Now, the mist can be sprayed from a variety of ‘devices’.

First, you can go to a tanning or beauty salon and have it applied in a booth.

These specially-designed booths have several nozzles or jets that spray your entire body with the spray tanning solution.

Second, a spray tan can be administered with a airbrush or airgun as they’re called.

These look similar to a paint gun that painters use on your house!

They tend to be smaller and more mobile (obviously) than a booth.

Last, you can get a spray tan from a bottle.

There are lots of companies that make spray tanning products that have the same ingredients you’ll find in a salon or airbrush gun.

Pros and Cons of Spray Tanning

If you compare spray tanning to other forms of self tanning products like lotions, creams, gels, and mousses, you’ll definitely see some differences.

But before we go over these differences, keep one thing in mind.

All forms of self tanning and spray tanning use the exact same active ingredient, DHA.  But that doesn’t mean you’ll get the same results with any old product that has DHA in it (believe me)!

That said, let’s go over some of the benefits of spray tanning.

First and foremost, spray tanning is easy.

Once you’ve prepared, you just go to a tanning salon or have someone come to your house.

The booth or technician then sprays your entire body with a fine mist.  Once you blend it in a little, that’s it, you’re done!

It’s definitely easier and less time-consuming than spreading a lotion or gel all over your body.  Plus you or whoever’s applying the spray tend to have more control over where it goes.

Another benefit of spray tanning is the fact that it dries quicker than other self tanning products.

That means it’s less likely to get all over your clothes, your bed, and your partner!

As for the color achieved with spray tanning, that varies from person to person.

Some people like the color and evenness you get with spray tanning, others think self tanning lotions and gels are better.

Because everyone has slightly different skin chemistry, you’ll really need to experiment a bit to see what works best for you.

Ok those are what people like about spray tanning. Here’s what they don’t…

The biggest drawback to getting a spray tan is the cost.

One session can cost anywhere from $25 to $50, and even higher.

That’s quite a bit more expensive, per tan, than using self tanning lotions and creams at home.

One of the other things people don’t like about spray tanning is the inconvenience of either going to a tanning salon or scheduling an appointment for someone to come to your house.

It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but driving to a salon every week or few days can be a pain!

And when you’re done you have to put back on your clothes and get in a car, all with that tanning solution all over your body.

It’s not a deal killer, but it is something to keep in mind.

Is Spray Tanning Safe?

For the most part, spray tanning is considered fairly safe.

Back in 2010, there was a report that basically said inhaling DHA, the main ingredient in spray tan solution, hadn’t been studied by the FDA and therefore could be harmful.

It turned out the report was sponsored by the indoor tanning lobby and drew some incorrect conclusions on minimal testing that had been done 20 years ago… in test tubes (not on humans or animals).

Although the report was bogus, the FDA does recommend minimizing inhalation of tanning solution and keeping it out of your mucous membranes (eyes and nose).

So while spray tanning is considered safe, if you want to be absolutely sure, opt for self tanning lotions, creams and gels.

If you do decide to spray tan, make sure you wear a nose clip and cover your face :)

So How Much Does Spray Tanning Cost?

We touched on this earlier but let’s go a little more in-depth.

Right off the bat, realize that the price of spray tanning varies from location to location.  Not only in your country or state, but also within your own city!

In general, a single spray tanning session at a salon costs between $25 and $50.

And if you’re going to have someone come to your house (called mobile airbrush tanning) expect to pay a little more than that.

We’ve seen mobile technicians charge anywhere from $40 up to several hundred dollars.

Although spray tanning can be expensive, keep in mind many of these sources offer package deals and monthly memberships.

If you’re going to spray tan on a regular basis (and why wouldn’t you?), these discounts can bring the per-session cost down significantly.

You just have to decide if you’re going to use it enough to justify the cost.

So overall, spray tanning at a salon is generally going to cost a lot more, per session, than using a self tanning product at home (like a lotion or gel).

How To Prepare For Your Spray Tanning Session

If you’re reading this far you’ve probably decided to go ahead and give spray tanning a chance!

Good for you!

Before you head off to the salon, here’s a few tips you should follow to ensure that you get am even, beautiful tan.

1.  Make sure you shave or wax before your appointment.

A lot of people say to do it a day or two before (so your pores close) but that only applies if the solution is dark or has a bronzer in it.  If it’s a clear solution, you can shave or wax the day of.

2.  Be sure to exfoliate your skin the day before your appointment.

Based on the way self tanners work, it’s important to slough off as much dead and dry skin as possible before applying any self tanner or tanning spray.  Just trust us, you’ll get a better result!

3.  Try to remove moisturizers, makeup and deodorant before you spray tan.

These products contain ingredients like oils that can make it hard for the main ingredient in self tanning spray to bind to your skin. This could cause your spray tan to look streaky and blotchy.  You don’t want that!

4.  Right before application, put a little vaseline or moisturizer on your knees, ankles, elbows, and palms.  Wear a shower cap.  Put some lip balm on your lips.

These are areas that can get a little darker, or weirder than the rest of your skin.  You’ll have to experiment with this, but protecting these areas from absorbing too much DHA is generally a good idea.  You could also wipe those areas down a bit right after the spray is applied.

5.  Try to keep the spray tan solution on overnight and don’t put on any moisturizer until the next day.

That means no showering, using soap, or any moisturizer for at least 8 hours.  You could shrink that time down a little, but you won’t get the best results if you do.  The color starts to develop within an hour or two and really kicks in within 3-5 hours.

Before we move on, we created a “checklist” of safety guidelines you should follow if you go to a tanning salon to get your spray tan.  Click here to check it out.

How Do I Find A Place/Person To Get This Done?

The easiest way to find a tanning salon or technician that does spray tanning is to do a search on Google, Yahoo, or Bing.

That will generally pull up tons of places that offer spray tanning.

You can then visit their website and check what they offer, prices and any special discounts they may be offering.

The good news is, most cities have tons of places that offer quality spray tanning!

You might just have to experiment a little to find the one that works best for you.

Whatever you decide, spray tanning can be a great way to get a beautiful, lasting tan.

If you want to see some great alternatives to spray tanning, check out our list of the best self tanners you can use at home.  These will give you the same, or better results, at a significantly lower cost.

Finally, tell us what you think on Facebook, Twitter or Google+.  We’d love to hear your thoughts on spray tanning.  And other readers would like to know the best tanning salons to go to to get spray tanning!