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Airbrush Tanning

What is a sunless tan?

A sunless tanner contains the ingredient DHA (dihydroxyacetone) that reacts with the outer layer of the skin turning it a brownish tan color. When dissolved in water, DHA produces a colorless solution. Many self tanners have bronzers added so that the product goes on with a tan shade. The addition of color also makes application easier, since applied and un-applied areas are distinct.

In contrast, a sun tan involves ultraviolet rays penetrating multiple layers of the skin which stimulates the production of melanin, a pigmented substance that both produces a tan appearance and provides additional UV protection.

Since the sunless tan is on the outer layers of skin, it lasts until these skin cells shed in the normal exfoliating cycle. A fully developed sunless tan will typically take 4 to 8 hours depending on formulation. Consult your product instructions for details.

What is airbrush tanning?

Tanning occurs when the skin produces pigment to protect itself from UV rays and permanent skin damage. In airbrush tanning, the tanning solution is applied by a technician using a compressor and airbrush. These tanning solutions contain the active ingredient DHA that reacts with the outer layer of skin to produce a bronzing effect, similar to what a traditional tan does. It must be emphasized that the pigments resulting from an airbrush tan do not provide UV protection. For most solutions, the color of the skin will continue to darken after the initial application, and the maximum color is reached within about a 12 hour period (exactly what to expect from a particular tanning solution will be specified on the website and/or the solution directions). Typical solutions also have a bronzer that provides an immediate tan effect and helps the technician to distinguish areas of the skin that have solution already applied. The majority of this bronzer will be washed off when showering after application.

How long does a spray tan last?

A typical tan lasts from a 4-10 day period depending on the aftercare attention and the general nature of a specific person’s skin. It is recommended to only get a tan on average about once per week. The sunless tan develops on the outer layers of the skin and lasts until these slough off in the natural cell renewal process. Proper exfoliation and cleansing before the sunless tanner is applied ensures the removal of dead cells ready to shed and the best contact of product and skin. This can lengthen the sunless tan. The application of a moisturizer after the sunless tan can extend the tan also. For maximum results, a tan extender containing a small amount of DHA can renew the sunless tan. The strength of the sunless formula is also a factor — if appropriate to your skin type, a stronger formula can produce a more long lasting faux tan.

How long does it take to apply?

With practice, a single application can take as little as 12 minutes or so. Factor in the drying time of about 10 minutes, and you can average a total time of about 25 minutes for an airbrush session.

Why do hands and feet sometimes over-absorb sunless tanner and how do I avoid it?

Rough patches of skin can behave like “mini-sponges”, soaking up too much tanning solution and becoming overdeveloped and unsightly. An effective method to prevent this is to apply less — by increasing the distance of the spray gun from the skin or to spend less time on these areas. A moisturizer applied to rough patches of skin will also limit absorption. A barrier cream can be applied to the palms of the hand to limit absorption.

Since the spray will tend to settle towards the feet, some tanning solution may be on them before you apply any directly. Save these for last — a light application may be all that is needed. Standing in tanning solution will result in unsightly soles — provide a towel to stand on or supply “sticky feet”, popular disposable sandals that adhere to the soles.

While the skin in a sunless tan is brown, this is not due to melanin pigmentation. Melanin does protect the skin from UV damage. The production of melanin is stimulated by UV exposure received in a sun tan or tanning bed. The sunless tan is developed without UV exposure. Furthermore it is rare (and not advisable in our view) for an SPF additive to be included in a sunless formula. SPF cane applied after the initial shower to wash off residual bronzer.

Is it safe to spray tan when pregnant?

In general it is best to seek your physicians advice before proceeding with a spray tan while pregnant. We know of no significant health risk from DHA. DHA, the tanning agent in spray tans, is a simple 3 carbon sugar with minimal side effects. Still, why not proceed with an abundance of caution during this special time? May we suggest that you pursue a minimal cosmetic regimen during your pregnancy. We’ll be glad to welcome you back as a customer with a healthy baby in tow!