Ever yearned to just stroll into a magic machine and emerge a few minutes later glowing with a perfect golden tan? You can. It may sound futuristic, but something akin to magical-tanning machines, known generically as spray-tan booths, have been here for decades.
Although some consider spray tans as something like “spray-paint” tans, that’s not quite accurate. Spray-tan formulas initiate a chemical process in your skin that creates a tanned appearance. Actually, the tanning isn’t instantaneous, although many tanning-booth systems offer a simultaneous bronzing spray, so in fact you can walk out of the booth sporting an instant tanned look. The bronzing makeup will wash off in your next shower, but by then your permanent spray-tan color will have fully emerged.
It usually takes about three to five hours for your new tanned color to begin appearing, phasing in gradually like a Polaroid photo. Spray tans can require up to 24 hours to fully develop. (One upscale Manhattan, New York City salon, however, offers an “Express” tan that’s complete in just one to four hours, as you choose.)
Before Your Appointment
Tanning professionals broadly recommend that tanners exfoliate to prepare their skins to absorb the spray solution for a longer-last tan. Don’t use a drying exfoliation, however, on the same day as your appointment. Do shave before your tanning session. But don’t apply any kind of oil, deodorant, or makeup to your skin before your tanning. Bare skin best receives the tanning formula. Do apply lip balm to shelter your lips from the tanning spray.
What to Expect at your Spray-Tan Session
For the most even tan, some salons give you a buffering lotion to shield certain areas such as your knees and between your toes – those body areas that tend to absorb too much tanning solution or some highly trained technicians will tan you without the cream, as they know just how to apply without the fuss of creams or salves. According to recommendations from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), spray-tan booth operators can provide customers with protective gear that shields their eyes and mucous membranes from direct contact with spray tans’ active ingredient, dihydroxyacetone (DHA). DHA is a simple sugar that can be formulated from natural sugars such as sugarcane. If you are concerned about inhalation or ingestions, always ask you tech for a safety kit.
Spray-tan booths usually offer at least three shades, or darkness, levels. Tanning professionals most often recommend that tanners start with a lighter shade on their first visit.
The actual spray tanning application occurs quickly, in as little as 15 minutes. You will be instructed on what positions to take. This counseling may take the form of printed instructions, an automated voice, or a human tech.
Afterwards, you’ll need to dry. Fans may be provided to speed this up. When you dress to go home, tanning specialists recommend that you put on loose-fitting clothing that creates as little friction as possible. The tanning tech will advise you how long to wait before rinsing off their particular solution. It’s beneficial, however, to wait at least eight and up to 24 hours before washing. Avoid any contact with water before then, including sweating a lot.
Typically, spray tans endure about five to nine days, gradually fading quite like a natural sun-created tan would. Your spray tan’s longevity will depend on the particular tanning-spray formulation, your maintenance care, and your own body’s unique biology. Since the spray-tan coloring occurs in the top layer of your skin, it fades away as that layer is shed.
To preserve your new tan, professionals advise that you keep your skin moisturized. Dodge anything that exfoliates your skin, since your spray tan will shed along with your skin.