Airbrush spray tans are a great alternative to sunbathing. Harmful rays from the sun can cause damage to your skin including premature aging and certain types of skin cancer. With proper care, airbrush tans can last up to two weeks. Learn how to prep your skin before the tan and take care of it after the tan for best results.
How Spray Tans Work
In order to properly care for your tan, learn how spray tans work. Many people mistakenly think that an airbrush tan stains the skin. While some tanning solutions have a bronzer that does temporarily stain your skin, they work by reacting with the outermost layer of skin to create the tan.
Dihydroxyacetone, also called DHA, is the active ingredient in sunless tanning products. This product reacts with the dead skin cells on the surface of the skin to produce a natural glow. This means the tan will be natural just like tanning in the sun, but without harmful UV rays. Most sunless tanning solutions are made from organic ingredients, so there is a very low risk of harming the body.
It takes several hours for the tan to develop. Results can be seen in a few hours, but it can take up to 12 hours for the skin to reach its darkest shade. If the tanning solution contains a bronzer, this will temporarily darken the skin while the natural tan develops, and the bronzer will wash off in a shower.
Before Getting A Spray Tan
Since the DHA reacts with the dead skin cells, it's essential to exfoliate the entire body before a tan. Failure to exfoliate means these tanned skin cells will fall off shortly after the tan, so the tan will not last as long or the skin will tan unevenly. Look for a gentle exfoliator made for the entire body. For sensitive skin, look for a formula made especially for sensitive skin. Here is a list of scrubs: Body Scrubs at Beauty.com.
For best results, exfoliate as close to the appointment as possible. Since you won't be able to shower for several hours after the tan, it is best to do this in the shower. Wash with your regular soap, and use an gentle scrub all over your body in the shower. Be sure to scrub elbows, knees ankles and other patches of thicker skin.
At the salon, use a gentle lotion on knees, ankles, palms of the hand and elbows. This helps dilute the tanning solution so less gets applied to these areas. Do not use any other type of lotion before the tan or the tan could streak. The salon should provide you with this. Otherwise, or just in case, bring your favorite general lotion from home.
During The Tan
Spray tans are usually done in a salon with an airbrush or a spray tanning machine. If you are modest, seek out a machine tan or an airbrush tan by a member of the same sex. With either method, it is advisable to use a gloved hand to smooth the solution evenly over your body. If you do not use a glove, your palms will get very tan.
The salon should provide foot wear for tanning patrons. These special slippers are sticky, so they stick to the bottom of the foot without straps. If the salon does not provide these, be careful walking in the overspray as the bottoms of the foot can become overly dark.
After The Tan
It's important to let the tanning solution dry completely before dressing. Avoid sitting or lying down until the solution is dry. Dressing or sitting down too soon can result in blotchy or uneven tanning.
Do not exfoliate your skin or use an exfoliating mask on your face. These will remove the dead skin cells that are tan and cause your tan to fade prematurely.
When the tan does start to fade, it may fade unevenly. If this happens, use an exfoliator as needed to even the tan.
Do not shower or take a bath for at least 12 hours after the tan. If you want a subtle tan, however, ask the airbrush technician when to shower to stop the reaction.
Looking for self tanning? Take a look at this list of tanners at Beauty.com.