How Does Spray Tanning Work?

Spray tanning involves applying DHA, or dihydroxyacetone, to the skin using an air mist delivery system. DHA interacts with amino acids on the skin to produce the golden brown color.

Most spray tanning solutions contain a bronzer that gives instant color once it is applied to the skin. The bronzer will wash away after your first rinse and will have no effect on your tan. The amount of DHA in a solution is what creates a darker tan, not the amount of bronzer.

The darker you tan naturally in the sun, the darker you will tan with a spray tan. Since each tanning solution contains different strengths of DHA, your skin tone will determine which strength of DHA should be used and how long it should be kept on before rinsing. Brassy or orange tans are typically the result of applying too strong of a DHA percentage or keeping the tanning solution on past the recommended rinse time.

Although results will vary by skin type, spray tans can last anywhere from 5-10 days. The results will also depend on how well the recommended pre and post tan care is followed. Your skin will naturally start to shed old skin cells and your spray tan will begin to fade. You can delay this process by using a spray tan friendly body wash and moisturizer that are free from sulfates, mineral oil and petroleum/petrolatum.

Existing sun damage can sometimes appear amplified and darker with a spray tan. Some clients will notice that sun spots and freckles that aren’t super apparent normally can darken with a spray tan and they can stay dark for several weeks after a spray tan has faded. If you just have a few spots, we can apply a barrier cream to those areas to prevent them from gaining color.

DHA-based sunless tanning has been recommended by the Skin Care Foundation, American Academy of Dermatology Association, Canadian Dermatology Association and the American Medical Association as a safer alternative to sun bathing. The FDA permanently added DHA to their list of approved cosmetic ingredients in the 1970’s restricting it to external application only.

‘Organic Spray Tans’ have been a hot topic in the industry in the last several years. Due to the way the DHA chemical is formulated, there is currently no such thing as an organic spray tan. Tanning solutions can have natural and organic ingredients added to them but none of the solutions will be 100% organic.

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