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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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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.