A guide to spray tanning. All of your spray tan questions answered!

A guide to spray tanning. All of your spray tan questions answered!

It is not a secret that we, British, absolutely love to look tan. Our weather, however, is not conducive to acquiring a summertime glow – and what’s even more important is that we are getting more and more aware of the dangers that come with excessive sunbathing. Gone are also the days when tanning beds were considered “a healthy alternative”. Today we know well that any tanning techniques that involve exposure to UV rays are damaging to our skin. This is why so many people turn to spray tanning, which allows you to get that lovely golden hue without risking premature ageing or skin cancer.

As the days are getting warmer and warmer and we are showing more and more skin, you may want to give spray tanning a go. It’s a wonderful way to start the summer season and give yourself an instant boost of confidence! We’ve prepared a handy guide, answering all spray tan questions that you may have – without any further ado, let’s go running to healthy tanning! ☀️

What is a spray tan?

It’s best to start with some basics. Spray tanning is a technique used for developing an artificial tan that involves spraying your body with a solution containing a chemical known as DHA (more about it in a minute).

Spray tan booths allow you to get the tan quickly and hassle-free, thanks to the strategically placed nozzles that ensure that the spray tanning solution is distributed evenly. Such booths are operated by professionals and the effect is fully customizable – you can ask for a very subtle hue or more visible tan.

Alternatively, you can go for a manual spray tanning. Tanning specialists that offer mobile services use spray guns and airbrush guns to distribute tanning spray all over your body. This is a great alternative if you do not feel comfortable going to a tan booth or do not have the time to do so. Again, you can ask the specialist for a particular effect.

How does a spray tan work and is it safe?

As mentioned earlier, spray tan uses a chemical called Dihydroxyacetone (DHA). It is completely colourless, however, once it starts interacting with amino acids in our skin cells, it turns them a few shades darker. This means that the tan you develop is actually a chemical reaction of your body and not a stain created by the formula.

Is it safe, then? As long as you are not allergic to DHA (which is quite rare), it’s perfectly fine to spray tan. DHA comes with no known health risks, has been on the market for ages and most importantly, involves no damaging UV rays (as opposed to tanning beds). Basically, if you love the glowy look but do not want to harm your skin, spray tanning is your best bet.

How can I prepare for a spray tan?

Many first-timers wonder what to do before a spray tan to make sure everything goes well. Overall, spray tan prep is not difficult and shouldn’t cause you any problems.

Spray tan preparation should involve:

  • Taking a shower – make sure you are using lukewarm water (warm water will open your hair follicles too much which may lead to uneven colour, especially on arms and legs)
  • Gentle exfoliation – it helps to get rid of dead skin cells, leaving fresh skin exposed (which absorbs the formula more evenly and ensures better longevity)
  • Shaving (of course, only if it’s something you do regularly) – shaving exfoliates the skin, which will fade the tan faster if done afterwards.

What should I avoid when prepping for a spray tan?

  • Do not apply any lotions, moisturisers, creams or balms to your body. They create a barrier between the skin and the tanning solution, which can negatively affect the intensity or lead to uneven application
  • Do not wear makeup or perfume as they also create an unnecessary barrier that disturbs the absorption. However, it is advised to use a lip balm, as it stops the formula from getting into your mouth.

What should I wear after a spray tan?

It’s important to choose proper clothing when going to your appointment. It would be best if you opted for something loose-fitting and preferably dark in colour, as the formula can stain your clothes. Avoid unnecessary layers. If you decide to tan without a bra, do not wear one right after the treatment either, if possible – tight-fitting underwear can wear off a freshly applied spray.

What should a spray tan aftercare involve?

A proper spray tan aftercare is crucial if you want the effect to be good-looking and long-lasting.

  • Wear as little as possible – mind also your shoes and undergarments
  • Wait at least 6-8 hours before taking the shower. The colour should develop during this time, but it really depends on the formula.
  • If you need to sleep before taking the shower, make sure you are wearing a loose pyjama or sweatpants that cover your entire body – otherwise, you can ruin your sheets
  • When taking the shower, use a gentle soap, rinse your body thoroughly and carefully pat it dry with a gentle towel or a sponge (to avoid streaks created by water droplets)
  • Treat your skin gently, avoiding scrubs and applying lotions after each shower
  • Avoid activities that make you sweat a lot (like going to the gym, running or exercising) for the first 12 hours

Can I shave after a spray tan?

As mentioned earlier, shaving works as an exfoliation, so it’s better to do it before you spray tan. Doing it afterwards will probably decrease the longevity of the tan. However, if that does not bother you, there are no other contraindications.

How long after a spray tan can you shower?

Again, it’s best to wait around 6-8 hours (some tan specialists insist on up to 12). It’s best to ask the specialists who provide you with the service when you can shower after spray tan – they have the experience and know their formula the best. Some people are so afraid of washing off their spray tan that they go 24 hours without taking a shower, but it’s absolutely unnecessary!

Can you have a spray tan when pregnant?

DHA is a non-toxic chemical that stays on the top layer of the skin and does not enter the bloodstream. Sometimes pregnancy makes the skin more sensitive and some spray tan formulas can irritate it, although it’s quite a rare occurrence. This is why there are no particular contraindications to getting a spray tan while pregnant. However, for maximum protection, consult your doctor before proceeding with the treatment.

How long does a spray tan take to develop?

You should see the final result after around 8-12 hours.

How long does a spray tan last?

You will be able to enjoy your golden glow for about 7-10 days, so a week, up to a week and a half. Mind that it is a scenario in which you take care of your tan – if you shower too soon and keep scrubbing your body afterwards, it will fade much faster.

Can a spray tan go wrong?

If you are getting a professional spray tan at a reputable tanning salon, took preparations and are ready to commit to aftercare, then it’s very unlikely. Patchy tan is usually a result of wetting your skin too soon, failing to exfoliate before the appointment or wearing tight-fitting clothes that rub against your skin.

Another important aspect is choosing the right spray tan shade – if you are pale, it’s better to opt for a light spray tan which will give you a natural golden glow without looking fake and orange. Medium spray tan and deeper shades look better on darker, olive skin tones. Talk with your tanning specialist beforehand to discuss your goal and keep an open mind to their suggestions – they know what they are doing!

Are there any benefits to spray tan?

The most obvious one is getting a beautiful, slightly darker and warmer shade that will make you feel summery right off the bat! You also avoid all the risks that come with natural tanning or using a tan bed. Many bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts appreciate spray tanning for emphasizing their impressive muscle work, and it is a well-known fact that a slight tan makes blemishes on the skin less visible.

Some spray tan formulations leave the skin softer and better moisturised, but other than that, the ingredients are completely neutral to our body.

How much does a spray tan cost?

Spray tan cost is rather low, though you have to keep in mind that the effect will last around a week, so if you want it to stay with you longer, you need to visit the salon frequently. So, how much is a full-body spray tan in the UK? The prices start at £15 and can go up to anything around £90 for a premium service. On average, you will need to pay around £25 for a full-body service.

Where can I get the best spray tan results in the UK?

There are many fabulous tanning salons in your neighbourhood just waiting for you to discover them – all you need to do is check the Booksy platform or download the handy Booksy app. Here you simply enter your preferred address (or turn on localisation services), choose the preferred date and time of the appointment and then can search through all the tanning salons in your area that fits your criteria. You can check their pricing, see before and after photos and read the reviews – and once you’ve made your decision, book an appointment online in a few seconds. Have fun with your tan! ☀️

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