Airbrush Spray Tanning

Spray tanning with an airbrush is applied by a qualified technician through a compression unit. Like other forms of spray tanning, it’s important to exfoliate the entire body prior to an airbrush session. While common skin care promotes using lotion on your body to moisturize, it’s important to skip the lotion on any day when you’re considering airbrush tanning. The lotion will cause the solution to not adhere or sink in to your body as well, limiting the effectiveness of the tan.

The biggest benefit of an airbrush tan is that the tan can be completely customized for your body… and airbrush professionals are trained in how to properly tan difficult areas, such as hands, feet, hairlines, etc.

Problems

Airbrush tanning should always be administered through a qualified salon with trained and experienced technicians. A custom airbrush application usually has to be scheduled with the tanning professional in advance, and is generally more expensive than other methods.

The quality of the equipment, solutions, and technician can have a tremendous impact on the final quality of your airbrush spray tan. Please see other sections of this website for full details of what to look for, and what to watch out for.

Preparations & Precautions

It is critical that the airbrush tanning solution not be interfered with by water, so refrain from showering, swimming, or sweating for at least 6 hours. If water interferes with the tan, it might streak and turn out uneven. An airbrush tan will tend to last between 3 and 6 days, with the best color on the first and second day. This form of tanning is ideal for anyone attending a major event, such as a fitness competition, beauty pageant, or wedding day.

Bottom Line

Realism High (with qualified technician, equipment, & solutions).
Safety Very safe. Make sure nose/eyes/lips are protected.
Cost Medium to High: $35-60 on average.
Frequency Once every five days if you plan to maintain. Recommended that you have done the day before your event.
Duration Lasts 3-6 days.
Other Factors Stay away from water for a few hours after application.

 


Tanning Beds

The tanning bed has the most history in the tanning industry for producing effective results. As the tanning bed technology has evolved, there are now more choices for the consumer, including stand up beds. Tanning beds work similarly to the sun, although the user sits under a very bright light for a short period of time to absorb the rays (typically 7-12 minutes). Tanning salons now require minor users to have the approval of their parents before using tanning beds and it’s required that protective eyewear is used.

Problems & Precautions

Tanning beds and increased sun exposure, however, are still associated with a higher risk of skin cancer (including malignant melanoma) and caution is advised. Additionally, if you are fair-skinned, it is recommended that you user a lower wattage bulb or the shortest time available on your first try in order to see how your skin reacts to the tanning bulbs. It is possible that you may burn and have sensitive skin for a few days after the initial tanning experience.

Compared to other methods of tanning, the tanning bed is an extremely effective and fast way to obtain color. If you’re planning a big vacation to a warm location with a lot of sunlight, the tanning bed can help your skin “prepare” so that you are less likely to suffer a severe burn while on vacation. Since a tanning bed most closely mirrors direct sunlight, the look can appear very natural. Also like the sun, however, are the dangers associated with increased skin exposure. The use of tanning beds should be kept to a minimum.

Further research for parents considering allowing their children to tan is recommended. Using a tanning bad is comparatively inexpensive, typically costing several dollars for one session or a fee for a monthly membership that allows use of different beds. Recent regulations have impacted the way tanning beds can be used. Fingerprints are required as well as proper identification, and there are limits about how long certain tanning beds can be used and how often they may be used.

Bottom Line

Realism High.
Safety Low. Many research studies have proven the link to skin cancer.
Cost Low. $5-15.
Frequency Once a week to gradually build the tan.
Duration Lasts 4-7 days.
Other Factors Requires use of eyewear. Caution advised for fair skin and those with a family history of skin cancer. Tanning beds are a bad idea, generally speaking.

Tanning Lotions

If you prefer to build up your tan at home, one way to avoid the tanning salon is to use lotions. With the rising concern about the safety of tanning beds, and with most minors being required to have parents consent to their use them, lotions are a safe way to maintain a glow at home. Lotions also come in a foam format with instructions for use on the bottle. The bottles are of different color solutions, so it’s best to try to attempt matching your skin tone with the color advertised on the bottle.

Problems & Precautions

While lotions provide an easy, “do it yourself” benefit for busy people, there are many challenges associated with using a lotion to tan. To begin with, the lotions are applied with the hands, which present a challenge for the color that the hands will turn out. It is not uncommon to achieve a nice glow on the legs only to discover a day later that the tanning solution has soaked into the hands used to apply the lotion. It is very difficult to remove this color from the hands and is unfortunately is a clue to other people that you’ve been experimenting with at-home tanning solutions.

Another common complaint for lotions is that their color is not as natural as the color that can be achieved from a spray or airbrush tan. Many users have complained that the at-home lotions have an orange tint, which does not achieve the desired color once the solution has soaked in and begins to show on the skin. One way to test this is by trying the solution on a small area of the body a few days in advance to see how your skin takes to the lotion. Wearing gloves, although this may affect the overall application, can battle the “orange hand” scenario. If the solution doesn’t provide the color or texture you were hoping for, unfortunately you have wasted your money. The downside of this is that if you were for some reason to have an issue with a spray tan in a salon, they are likely to refund your money or offer you another option.

Bottom Line

Realism Low. any complain of orange undertones
Safety Safe
Cost Low. $5-25.
Frequency Many lotions build up over time, requiring daily application.
Duration Lasts 2-4 days.
Other Factors Many users complain of strong scent.

Misting

Misting is a form of spray tan that is not applied by a person but rather a “misting booth.” The booth uses nozzles and a tube of liquid solution to spray the person’s entire body at one time. Booths are extremely quick for application… and compared to airbrush tanning, are usually cheaper. Some tanning salons will even offer a monthly “unlimited” membership.

Problems

The main problems with misting have to do with lack of ability to customize the tan, and lack of precision. Each person who enters the booth with get the exact same formula as everyone else—without regard to skin tones, existing tans, etc. Misting booth operators will try to control the darkness level of the tan by controlling the amount of solution applied—more solution for a darker tan, less for a lighter tan. This is a poor way to proceed: the amount of DHA in the solution SHOULD be the major factor, not the thickness of the solution applied. By way of example, if you are frosting a cake, adding additional layers of frosting will not make the cake shade darker; changing the amount of coloring in the frosting would. In addition, because of the nature of misting, it is impossible to get a precise tan in hard-to-tan areas (around eyes, fingernails, hairlines, etc.). The results may not yield the tan you were hoping for.

Preparations & Precautions

Like airbrush tanning, the skin should be fully exfoliated in advance and no lotion should be applied prior to the spray tan. It’s recommended that tanners shower and exfoliate and then proceed to the booth. Since the solution is applied by a nozzle in a booth rather than another person, following the instructions is critical. In order to protect areas of dry skin and reduce the likelihood of errors on hands and feet, most spray tan booths will advocate adding a cream that reduces the effectiveness of the solution on these areas. All makeup should be removed prior to the spray tan application.

The spray tan booths will generally have a video that you can view prior to trying it for the first time so that you feel more comfortable with the process. Most booths also have audio prompts to tell you where and how to stand. It’s very important to follow the directions because the tan will not appear for up to 8 hours after application. If you maintain the spray tan with proper moisturizing, the tan can last for up to 7 days. Prior to getting another spray tan, exfoliate the remains of the old tan away.

The spray tan may need reapplication every 5-7 days, but the process is very easy and doesn’t usually require an appointment. Like an airbrush tan, the easiest way to apply the solution is to tan in the evening and wear loose fitting clothes to go to bed. In the morning, the spray tan should be evenly applied.

Bottom Line

Realism Low to Medium.
Precision Low
Safety Very safe if nose/eyes/lips are protected
Cost Low. $20-30 on average.
Frequency Once every 5-7 days.
Duration Lasts 3-7 days.
Other Factors Allow tan to fully dry before dressing again.

Tanning Pills

Tanning pills utilize a chemical called canthaxanthin, which is naturally found in animals and plants. With enough of this chemical, the skin will start to turn a brown color that is similar to a tan. Canthaxanthin is also used by food manufacturers, so it is found within barbecue, salad dressings, fruit drinks, and tomato sauces. It is a very common ingredient listed on foods that are orange, yellow or red in appearance. The reason that tanning pills help to change the pigment of the skin is that canthaxanthin dissolves easily in lipids, which is what the fatty layer underneath the top layer of skin is made of.

Problems & Precautions

IIt’s important to remember that while the FDA has approved canthaxanthin for use in food products, the chemical has not yet been approved for massive dosages. There are side effects associated with an increased intake of this material. Previous research demonstrates a link between increased intake and problems with eyesight. Other people have reported stomach cramps and other nausea-related disturbances. It will take up to two weeks for enough of the chemical to be in your system as to make a change in the skin color. It is possible that the side effects will appear right away or take some time. The dye may also appear orange in your skin, which could cause a problem since the dye takes about two weeks to fade away from your skin.

Overall, while tanning pills might initially seem like a safe alternative to a tanning bed, they are rather dangerous when compared with more safe options like spray tanning. The side effects from tanning pills can be severe and may take up to two weeks to disappear from your system.

Bottom Line

Realism Low. May appear orange.
Safety Low. Many side effects and long-term problems are noted.
Cost Medium. $20-50.
Frequency Pills taken daily for two weeks.
Duration Up to two weeks after you stop taking the pills.
Other Factors Tanning pills have not been around long enough to be fully evaluated, so proceed with caution.