Your Sunless Tanning Handbook!
The Solution: There are three types of bronzers that are used in sunless spray solution. A cosmetic bronzer is visible immediately after being sprayed but will wash off after the first shower. A DHA bronzer initially has no visible effect but will begin to react with the skin in 2-4 hours and develop color. Erythrulose is a slow-reacting bronzer and is similar to DHA.
The tan that is produced is water resistant and diminished only as the dead cells of the stratum corneum (first layer of the skin) flake off.
It is also important that the tan is superficial and does not provide any UV protection from the sun.
Cosmetic Bronzers: Not all solutions contain a cosmetic bronzer. However, ones that do will give an immediate color to the tanner. It is not permanent and will wash off in the first rinse.
DHA: Dihydroxyacetone. The most commonly used ingredient in sunless tanners is DHA, a color additive that darkens the skin by reacting with amino acids in the skin’s surface. DHA is a colorless sugar that makes self tanning occur. DHA reacts with the skin proteins/amino acids, in the outermost layer of skin. The reaction develops brown skin coloring that looks similar to a natural tan.
It takes about 2-4 hours for the skin to change color and the sunless tan can last anywhere from 5-7 days depending on the skin type, the way the skin was prepared prior to the tan, and the DHA concentration in the solution/lotion. The tan “fades” as the dead layers of skin slough off.
Erythrulose: Erythrulose is very similar chemically to DHA and works synergistically with it to give a more natural looking tan. The reason Erythrulose works with DHA is because together they balance out the tone one’s skin will create when using self-tanners and the Erythrulose also helps reduce the dryness associated with DHA. While DHA changes the color of the skin within 24 hours, Erythrulose needs about 2-3 days for the skin to show a color change, this also may help lengthen a sunless tan by a day or two.
Skin: Since the skin goes through a natural exfoliation/shedding process, it is imperative to exfoliate prior to an airbrush tan to receive optimal results
Preparation For The Client: Exfoliating with an oil free scrub or other appropriate product is recommended the day before your sunless tan. Using a loofa or exfoliating mitt is recommended. Removing the loose, dead, dry skin cells that prevent even application of a sunless tan will greatly improve and extend tanning results.
- Skin should be clean and dry without lotion or other residue prior to your appointment.
- Deodorant and perfumes should not be used prior to tanning.
- It is recommended you shave the day before the tan and do any waxing 24-36 hours prior to the tan.
- It is recommended that one remove all makeup prior to tanning. It may be left on but the color won’t take to the skin perfectly.
- Remove any jewelry prior to the tan. Jewelry that will rub on the skin should not be put back on immediately following the tan.
- If you have extremely pale skin, are going through anything hormonal, on or around your period, taking antibiotics, etc. then you should have a pH balancer applied to your skin to balance pH levels. An imbalance in pH can have a negative affect on the tan and the tan may wash completely off during the first or second shower, not give off an optimal tan color, etc.
- Apply barrier cream to areas of dry skin prior to receiving the tan–apply to the palms of the hands, lightly to the tops of the hands and tops of the feet, nails and cuticles. After the spray tan, with a wipe, gently wipe off the tops of the hands, bottom of the feet, nails, and lightly feather over the tops of the hands and tops of the feet.
It is important to wait a minimum of 8 hours to shower, sweat, or get wet after being sprayed. It is also imperative to put on dark, loose clothing, after the spray tan. Wearing flip flops is also ideal. The DHA needs time to react on the skin’s surface and showering or getting wet any sooner than 8 hours can give poor tan results. Similarly, putting on clothing that is tight and will rub on the skin will also affect the tan’s outcome. Both of these things can cause the tan to not fully take to one’s skin and/or leave white lines/streaks.
Sunless-Tan Maintenance: It is recommended not to exfoliate or use any abrasive cleansers for at least 5-6 days following the tanning session. A light, non-abrasive moisturizing cleanser is suggested for keeping your skin hydrated and moisturized.
Inform the client that during their first shower, it is suggested to only rinse with warm water and not to use any soap or shower gels. It is also suggested to not use lotion right after the first shower. Soap and lotion stop the DHA from developing, therefore, for optimal color, it is best to wait until the second shower to use soap/body wash followed with oil free lotion.
After every shower, it is recommend to use an approved post-sunless moisturizer. Approved daily post-sunless moisturizers contain hints of the active ingredient DHA, which will prolong and protect the life of your sunless tan.
Airbrush tanning is a new experience for many people. They may have previously had a poor experience or heard negative things in regards to airbrush tanning. You want to make the client feel relaxed and comfortable. First explain how the system works. Explain to the client what spray tanning is, what it is actually doing to the skin, etc. Then, ask the client what they are tanning for and how much color they are looking to get. Make them aware that they are receiving a customized experience. No two clients will look the same after their spray tan so it is important to personalize the whole experience for your client and give them what they are looking for and will be comfortable with.
Going over your client’s daily skin care regimen with them is very important. You want to ask if they exfoliated prior to their tanning session or if they have on any lotion. Make sure they have dark loose clothes to put on after the tan and also make sure they are able to wait the allotted 8 hours to shower post tanning. When asking the client what they are tanning for, you will want to note that if they are tanning for an event more than 2-3 days from the day of their appointment that they may want to come back later in the week. If that isn’t an option for them then be sure to inform them of aftercare products and how to best take care of their tan.
Once you are done prepping the client, you may inform them that they may go nude, wear a thong, a bikini, disposables, etc… whatever they are most comfortable with. (Or whatever your salon protocol may be.) You may step out of the room to let them get situated or stay in the room and turn your back to them and mix their solution while they get undressed. Again, use your protocol here. Both ways work.
You will then have your client step in into/onto the spraying area. Have them face you first while you give them a hairnet for their hair and any other protection they desire (ie nose plugs, eyewear, lip balm) Then you will give them barrier cream and give them detailed instruction as to how to apply it. Once the client is done applying the barrier cream, have them carefully turn around so their back is facing you and have them stand in position one. (You may refer to the “Training Manual-How to Spray”.)
Engage in conversation the entire time you are spraying your client. This will truly help them feel more comfortable while standing in front of you naked. Most forget they are in the nude! You may have general conversation about what they are tanning for, where they’re from, etc… and/or use this time to tell the client how to take care of their tan, how to prep for another, tell them the package and retail specials you are offering.
It is very important that you dry the customer in between tanning passes as well as at the end of their spray session. You want the client to feel comfortable and not wet. They may stand in the room for a minute or two before getting dressed but should feel “dry” after the spray session.
You will want to remind your client that the cosmetic bronzing color they see immediately after you spray them will wash off with their first shower. The DHA will begin to activate in 2-4 hours and will replace the cosmetic color lost when they shower. Full results will develop in 24-36 hours so that’s when they’ll have their optimal color. Their natural looking sunless tan should last at least 4-5 day with proper care before it begins to fade.