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Spray Tan 101: Q&A Session

Spray tanning is the safest way to achieve a natural looking tan but even if you are a spray tan veteran you may still have some questions about spray tanning.  We broke down the most common questions people have when thinking about getting a spray tan.


How does spray tanning work?

Sunless tanning, often referred to as spray tanning, is a personalized service performed by a professional airbrush technician. The result is an instant tan that looks natural. The active ingredient that creates this appearance is Dihydroxyacetone (DHA). DHA is derived from natural sugar cane which interacts with the amino acids on the outermost layer of the skin to produce a brown color. If the you properly prepare and care for your sunless tan it can last from 7 to 10 days.

 

Are there any risks with spray tanning?

While airbrush tanning has been reported as the safer way to obtain a tan, the FDA offers recommended guidelines for clients that wish to get a spray tan such as: use nose filters, seal the lips with lip balm, wear protective eyewear and protective undergarments. Some people have reported allergic reactions to the Dihydroxyacetone (DHA). If you are concerned about allergies, have your technician conduct a patch test before your session.

 

Why should I try airbrush tanning?

A sunless tan will give you the exact color you are looking in minutes. A spray tan will give you color that would normally take days in the sun or give you color you never thought you could have. In addition, you’ll get all the benefits of sun-kissed tan, without the harmful side effects from traditional tanning (i.e. skin cancer, early skin aging).

 

If I am pregnant, can I still receive an airbrush tan?

Dihydroxyacetone (DHA) is FDA approved and considered safe as it only penetrates the outermost layer of the skin. There is no evidence that DHA is harmful. However, we do recommend that pregnant women always consult with their physician first.

 

Will an airbrush tan affect my tattoo?

Airbrush solution will not hurt tattoos. However, it may darken the color during the life of your sunless tan. If you are concerned about this, ask your technician for a recommended barrier cream to cover your tattoo before your spray tan session.

 

How deep a tan can I get from an airbrush session?

Many people think that the darker the tan the better. However, if the color is too dark for your natural skin tone the fading will appear more prominent resulting in a patchy look. Our goal at Sol Potion® is to provide a natural looking tan that is specific your skin tone. Your airbrush technician will suggest the shade that will best suit your needs.

 

How do I prepare for my airbrush session?

There are a few things that you should do to prepare for your airbrush tan treatment:

  • Shower, shave and exfoliate at least 3 hours before the airbrush session. It is important to give the amino acids on your skin time to rebuild in order to accept the sunless tan.
  • Do not use lotions, depilatories, oil-based exfoliating scrubs or moisturizing shave creams prior to the session. Sol Potion’s Blue Seas Exfoliating Sunless Body Prep is moisturizer free and perfect for preparing the skin for the airbrush session.
  • Apply clear nail polish to nail beds to prevent staining. If you do not wear nail polish apply a very light amount of barrier cream to your nail beds.
  • Do not wear makeup, perfume or deodorant to the session.
  • Wear dark loose clothing to the session. The solution will wash out of most fabrics, but we recommend cotton.
  • Bring an umbrella if there is rain in the forecast.

 

What products I should avoid before my sunless session?

It is recommended that you do not use any lotions, depilatories, oil-based exfoliating scrubs or moisturizing body washes or creams before your session. Do not wear perfume, deodorant or makeup.

 

How do I protect my fingernails and toenails from staining?

Painted fingers and toes will protect your nail beds from staining. If you do not wear polish, apply a clear base coat before your airbrush or use a barrier cream on the nail beds.

 

What should I wear to my spray tan session?

Wear dark loose clothing. Cotton is recommended. Avoid wearing a bra, socks or other restrictive clothing immediately after your session. The spray tan solution can permanently stain leather and silk.

 

Will the airbrush solution strain my clothing?

Most sunless tanning solutions contain bronzers. This is so you can see color immediately while the DHA develops. Bronzers are a temporary color that will wash off during your first shower. The bronzer can leave color on clothing and/or sheets. The solution is water soluble and will wash out of cotton. Silk, leather and other materials may stain.

 

How long will it take to develop?

DHA takes up to 12 hours to fully develop. Early exposure to moisture stops DHA development. However if absolutely necessary you can shower 8 hours after your airbrush session.

 

When can I shower after my session?

It is recommended that you avoid moisture (i.e. swimming, showering, sweating, and hot tubs) for at least 12 hours after your session. Early exposure to moisture can stop the DHA’s development process.

 

Can I use lotion after my session?

Our solutions have moisturizers that will keep your skin hydrated until your first shower. You should lotion every day after your first shower to prolong the life of your tan. Make sure not use any lotion that contains petroleum or mineral oil as this will cause early fading and streaking. Sol Potion Lotion is the perfect complement to your sunless tan.

 

How long will my airbrush tan last?

The average sunless tan can last from 5 to 10 days. If you are active or do not properly care for your tan it can fade more quickly.  Ask your spray tan technician for instructions to keep your tan looking fresh.

 

Are there ways to extend the life of my tan?

YES!  In addition to proper care of your sunless tan, you can use Sol Potion Ritual tan extending lotion to keep your color looking fresh. This product contain DHA that will freshen your tan in between sessions.

 

Can I swim or go in tubs with my airbrush tan?

If you participate in water related activities, you will not get the longevity out of your tan. AVOID the hot tub at all costs, unless you want to completely remove the sunless tan.


Will my airbrush tan protect my skin from the sun or UV tanning?

NO! Sunless tanning solutions do not have sunscreen protection, and will not protect you from damaging effects from UV exposure. Whenever you go into the sun you should always apply a sunscreen. Make sure it is a spray application sunscreen.  The lotion SPFs will strip off the tan.

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How to Avoid Patchy Fading Sunless Tans

If you are new to spray tanning or even a seasoned sunless tanner you may from time to time see that your tan fades in a patchy manner. People refer to it as “Alligator Skin”. Skin preparation and application technique will determine the end result. To help prevent patchy fading do the following:

  1. Properly prepare for your spray tan treatment. The purpose of exfoliating prior to a sunless session is to remove the loose dead skin cells that naturally shed from the body. If solution is applied over these loose cells, the sunless tan will shed off pre-maturely in those areas leaving a patchy result. 

How to properly exfoliate: Keep it simple. We recommend using a regular-ole washcloth and bar soap to exfoliate the skin. The fibers found in most washcloths are perfect to loosen and gently remove tired, dry skin. Choose a soap that does not leave a residue (we recommend Dove).

A note about scrubs & poufs: Scrubs generally contain moisturizers that leave a film residue. This may prevent the solution from penetrating. In addition, the granules found in many scrubs can damage healthy skin. Shower poufs, while they seem like they are exfoliating the skin are not. They are made with plastic webbing that whiles it feel like it is exfoliating the skin, is not doing it evenly.

  1. Keep your skin well hydrated. A lack of moisture in the skin due to skin conditions or dry air (generally found in the winter months) can cause uneven shedding of the skin. To minimize this natural occurrence, moisturize the skin with the recommended moisturizer. Your favorite lotion may not be the remedy. Just because a lotion is free from mineral or petroleum oil based ingredients doesn’t mean that it’s the right moisturizing system to maintain a sunless tan. Make sure to use a moisturizer that’s purpose is to be used with sunless tans.
  2. Don’t spray tan over an old spray tan. You should never get a spray tan to cover over an existing sunless tan. The skin must be clean
    and free from previous sunless residue. Leftover airbrush from previous sessions will have noticeably darker patches, resulting in uneven fading.
  3. Don’t choose a color too dark for your natural skin tone. Skin cells shed at different times. If the color is too dark for your natural skin tone the fading will be more prominent. The fading will appear patchy. Always choose a color that compliments your skin tone.

Some other notable reasons for patchy fading can be; the use of deodorant, makeup, perfume, lotions and powders prior to or a sunless application will prevent the solution from absorbing evenly. Exfoliating, sweating, rubbing or excessive exposure to liquids (i.e. swimming, exercising, etc.) may also result in patchy fading.

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Safely Removing Sunless Tans

It’s a scenario we see all too often; you got a little overzealous with a self-tanner or get spray tanned so often that you have buildup from previous sessions.  As a result, we often hear the question we dread answering: “How do I remove a sunless tan?”

Our research has uncovered the most insane suggestions for sunless tan removal.  We have seen every home remedy from lemon juice, baking soda, rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide to window cleaner. While these may work, we do not recommend because it is harsh on the skin.

In addition to home remedies, there are several products on the market that claim to remove tans.  They usually require the user to scrub their skin with an abrasive exfoliant.  While these may work to a degree, the damage it causes to the healthy skin is not a desired outcome.

It’s important to keep in mind that there is no miracle ingredient that will remove a sunless tan.  DHA adheres to the outer layers of the epidermis.  As the skin cells shed so does the DHA attached to it.  At the end of the day, time is the only thing that will remove a sunless tan.  However, there are some things that we can recommend to safely remove dead skin cells and the sunless tan attached to it.

  1. In a circular motion gently rub the skin using a loofa mitt or washcloth. Harsh exfoliation can cause more of a patchy fade.
  2. Tans can be removed by taking a soak in a hot tub/Jacuzzi.  Hot tubs seem to have the right temperature, chemicals and amount of friction from the jets to remove the dead skins cells gently and effectively.
  3. If there isn’t a hot tub near by, slather on baby oil.  Allow the baby oil to sit on the skin for several minutes. Then soak in a very hot bath (as hot as you can handle) that also contains additional baby oil.  Use a washcloth to gently wipe off the tan (be careful not to slip getting out the tub).  Because baby oil contains mineral oil, you should wait 48 to 72 hours before receiving your next sunless tan.

TIP: You may have some areas that stubbornly hold onto the tan.  These are usually around the armpits, ankles and elbows.  If this happens, use a baby wipe to gently remove the remaining tan.

If you keep your skin healthy, your sunless tan will look better, last longer and fade more evenly.

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Is Spray Tanning A “Tippable” Service?

Tipping is a customary way of showing appreciation to the person who provided a service that made Spray Tan Tipyour experience enjoyable. We tip for lots services; dining out, spa treatments, valet service, etc. but since spray tanning is a relatively new service, we often hear the question, “Do I tip you?”. The answer is yes. You would tip your spray tan technician just as you would your hair stylist, nail technician or spa provider. Believe us, your technician is grateful to receive it.

The question of “how much do I tip?” can be tricky to navigate. What is the etiquette for tipping?

The beauty industry standard is 20%. During our research we found that the percentage did vary a bit depending on what type of service you receive. Below is a list of services and standard percentage based on our experiences and industry recommendations.

– Spray Tans 20%
– Pedicure – 22%
– Mani/Pedi – 25%
– Hair Stylist 20%
– Spa Services – 25%
– Makeup Artist – 15% to 20%
– Waxing 20%
– Discounted or Complimentary Services – Tip based on what the bill would have been.

Of course tipping is always based on your discretion. If you are unsure on whether you should tip ask yourself these questions: 1. Did my technician make my service enjoyable? 2. Did I like the result of my service? 3. Would I come back here again for this service?

If the answer is yes then you should consider leaving a tip. Keep cash on hand for tips as some businesses do not accept tips on credit cards.

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Moisture Maintenance: A Year-Round Requirement

Whether it is summer or winter our skin is thirsty! In the winter the heat from our homes, cars, offices, etc. is drying out our skin by the minute.  The summer tricks us because of the heat and humidity. Even with the muggy temperatures, our skin is dry (even if you don’t think it is). No matter what time of year if you spray tan your skin must stay hydrated in order to get the longest wear possible.SprayLotions Drinking lots of water is a good idea but it won’t be enough. You have to apply lotion.

Both moisturing lotions and spray lotions keep skin feeling silky and smooth. Stay away from lotions that contain Petroleum and Mineral oils if you have a spray tan.  Many of the spray lotions are oil-free which is good for a sunless tan and have no sticky residue. Check out our favorites: Twin Labs Na-PCA, Burt’s Bees Sheer Body Lotion, Avon Sun+ Cooling After Sun Spray Lotion and Sol Potion Hydrate.

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Keep Your Glow All Winter Long

As the crisp air of winter rolls in, you may be wondering, “Do I really need a sunless tan?” Flip-flops and bathing suits may be seasonal accessories but beautiful skin is a year round necessity.Sol Potion

Cool Weather Color:

Just like fashion and cosmetics, your sunless tan should also be seasonally appropriate.  Depending on where you live, a deep Miami tan may look out of place on a ski slope. Make sure that you discuss your color with your spray tan technician to decide what shade will look best on you.

Winter Skincare:

We all know that as winter approaches, the dryness from the heat in our homes, and the bite from the outdoors can really do a number on our skin. In colder climates it’s important that you keep your skin moisturized, particularly if you plan to get spray tanned. The color may vary in dry areas if you have parched skin.

Don’t sacrifice having beautiful skin just because it’s winter. Proper skin care and a hint of color will keep you looking radiant and heads turning!

Fun Holiday Fact:

“Bah Humbug” is a phrase often associated with Ebeneezer Scrooge, however in 1751 this term meant a hoax or jest. P.T. Barnum (Barnum and Bailey Circus) was considered the master of humbug. He created marvelous fake exhibitions and created public sensations. Today, the term is used to describe nonsense or gibberish.

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Spooky Looks For Halloween

We LOVE Halloween! Even though many people get spray tanned for their Jeannie, Belly Dancer or Sexy Nurse costumes we prefer to go a little on the “dead” side of color for our costumes. Using a little white body paint in our spray tanHalloween-looks guns and some smokey eye shadows we can turn ourselves into a Deadly Corpse, Ice Queen or even Lurch.

First, apply the body paint. Using your airbrush gun apply short bursts of the white body paint until you have an eerie dead look. Then with dark gray or black eye shadow shade the hollow points on your neck and cheekbones. With a powder brush dust your shoulders and arms with the dark gray eye shadow. Use a lighter gray eye shadow to darken your eyes. Apply some red lipstick and false lashes and your face is done. You can then apply wounds or anything else to complete your costume. The key to getting that “dead look” is to keep the makeup imperfect. The more messy the makeup application, the better the end result.

Scare up some cool Halloween looks using your spray tan gun for more that just that sun kissed glow.

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Sunless Tanning Myths

There are several urban legends of sunless tanning. We are sure that you have heard a lot of them! In the past some of these were true. Even though the sunless industry has grown and developed much more sophisticated methods of creating and implementing airbrush
tans, these legends still linger. Since we continually hear these questions, we thought we should break down and dispel the most
common myths.Sol Potion Sunless

Myth #7 – Having a sunless tan protects the skin from the sun exposure.

The theory behind this statement is that if you build a base tan your skin is less likely to burn when exposed to the sun. While this may or may not be true, a sunless tan is a cosmetic coloring of the skin, NOT a real tan. It will no more protect you from then sun, than if you sprayed on perfume just before going the beach.   You would fry crispy.   You should always wear a good protective sunscreen when exposing your skin to UV rays.

Myth #6 – Sunless tans don’t last.
The reality is that all tans fade, whether it’s a sunless or traditional tan. Sunless tans last about seven days, but with proper care can last as long as ten days. Traditional tans last only slightly longer. The sunless tan will afford you the same tanned appearance without the UV side effects (i.e. peeling or damaged skin, premature aging and cancer).

Myth #5 – The color I see immediately after the session is the final color.
Many sunless solutions contain bronzers. This is a temporary color that gives a tanned appearence while the DHA develops, but it is not representative of the final result. The final color depends on what level of solution is used and how long its left it on before getting wet.

Myth #4 – The chemicals in the solution are more harmful than UV exposure.
Sunless tans are safer than traditional UV tans for the obvious reasons (i.e. skin damage, premature aging and cancer). Many of theStinky
same ingredients that are used in your shampoos, cosmetics, hairsprays and lotions are also used to create sunless solutions and considered to be safe.  If you are concerned about the composition of your solution, ask your technician for a list of ingredients.

Myth #3 – Spray tan solution makes you stinky.
Anyone who has gone to a spray tan booth or has used self-tanners in the past may have experienced the starchy smell that DHA produces. At one time it was a very prominent smell that was difficult to mask even with perfume or scented lotions. The sunless industry has made tremendous leaps with the development of spray tan solutions. Solutions are now created with a host of pleasant fragrances and neutralizers that do not leave you smelling like an old potato.

Myth #2 – Using any lotion will keep a sunless tan looking fresh.

The key to a lasting sunless tan is moisture maintenance. However, if you use a lotion containing petroleum, mineral, coconut and sesame oils or containing Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) they will most definitely destroy their sunless tan. About 98% of the lotions on the market contain one or more of ingredients that don’t play fair with a sunless tan. Make sure to read your lotion bottles before using or ask your Technician for a recommendation. There are lotions on the market, like Sol Potion Lotion, that are designed to work well
sunless tans.

Myth #1 – Spray tanning turns you orange.BadSpray

Spray tanning will NOT turn you orange. Why won’t this urban legend die? One only needs to look at photographs of Snooki and Lindsey Lohan, or watch the famous episode of “Friends” where Ross turns himself orange in a spray booth. Even worse, you get a glimpse of a poor gal you pass on the street that looks like she drank three gallons of carrot juice. It is not the solution that created the orange appearance. It’s the spray tan technician. These are classic cases where the technician has used way too dark a color or has sprayed too heavily. Just because you want to be dark doesn’t mean your skin tone can handle the depth. If you go for the lighter shade, you won’t be orange.

While there are several more crazy myths that we could tackle these are the best of the best. If you have a myth you want us to dispel let us know. We’ll keep you posted on new myths and the true answers.

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Sunless Tans – Dark or Natural?

As the summer continues we get more requests from our clients that they want to receive the darkest possible sunless tan.  Even though it’s August, this sends shivers down our spines.  We always want to accommodate our customers but know that applying a darker shade will not necessarily give the desired result.

Remember the goal of a sunless tan is to look pretty and natural.  We always try to advise our clients that a darker level of solution may not look natural on certain skin tones.Woman-half-tanned

So what exactly is DHA and why do I care?

The primary ingredient in all sunless solutions is DHA (Dihydroxyacetone).  DHA reacts with the naturally occurring amino acids on the epidermis causing a bronzed color to appear.  In other words, DHA adheres to the dead skin cells and turns them brown.  As the cells begin to shed so does the coloring attached to it.

All sunless solutions contain a certain percentage of DHA.  A higher percentage of DHA will produce a deeper result.  In addition, the more DHA concentration in the solution the more the color changes from a golden brown to a red brown. Using too high a percent of DHA on lighter skin will produce an unnatural color and have patchy fading.

When you get a sunless tan no matter what color is used, you WILL look tan. The key is to choose a shade that will look best for your skin tone and fade in natural looking way.