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Everything You Need to Know About Offering Sunless Tanning Services in Your Esthetics Practice

Although there are several varieties of self-tanner sprays and lotions that your clients can buy from beauty supply stores or even the drug store, it can be very difficult to apply self-tanner spray on their own.

This is where you come in. With your esthetician’s knowledge and expertise about skin care, you’ll be able to recommend the best products for your client’s skin type, whether they’re interested in having their skin bronzed or getting a spray tan done.

Bronzing adds a glow to skin without the need for messy sprays, while getting a spray tan might be preferred by clients who want their skin to be a shade darker for an event or a night out. Whatever your client’s needs are, your role as an esthetician is to recommend the best possible products to help them leave the salon with a healthy glow.

What You Need to Know About Offering Spray Tanning Services

Spray tanning is a quick and popular way to look like you’ve been hard at work perfecting your tan on the beach. Perfect for special events like proms, weddings or graduations, spray tanning gives your skin a darker appearance.

How Does Spray Tanning Work?

Spray tanning is applied with an airbrush tool which distributes a fine mist onto your client’s body. The mist’s active ingredient, dihydroxyacetone (DHA), reacts with the amino acids in the cells on the top layer of the skin in order to darken it in color. As your skin cells die and are replaced by new cells, however, the color wears off.

Enter Zip:

Spray tanning usually lasts from three-seven days, so it’s normally sought after to darken skin for an event or a weekend. The color isn’t meant to be a permanent change. However, some clients may return to the salon every two weeks to freshen their color and maintain the bronze look.

Spray tanning often achieves a smoother, more natural look than bronzing cream because of its method of application. The airbrush tool allows the mist to adhere equally to every section of the body.

What Type of System Should I Use?

There are two types of spray tan systems that you might choose from:

  • Traditional airbrush system
  • HVLP system

The traditional airbrush system has been used by estheticians for years. A tried and true method, it involves an air hose attached to an electric compressor. You’ll plug in bottles of the spray tan solution and use the airbrush to apply the solution to the client. The compressor mixes the bottle of the solution with air, which causes the product to apply in a high-pressure mist onto the client’s skin.

The HVLP system stands for high volume, low pressure. A newer model of the sunless tanning system, the HVLP works with a turbine motor and the result is a high volume, low pressure airstream that distributes the sunless tanning product evenly on the skin. Many estheticians prefer this new model for the time that it saves. Because the HVLP system distributes the mist so evenly, it is often faster to use than the traditional airbrush method.

Either method is comfortable for the client and effective in saturating skin with the solution; it’s more a matter of your preference as a stylist.

You can purchase sunless spray tanning kits from:

  • Amazon
  • Sally Hansen
  • The Tanning Store
  • Airbrush Guru
  • The Sunless Store

Steps to a Flawless Spray Tan

Before beginning to airbrush your client, you’ll want to apply lotion to the rougher patches of skin: the knees, ankles, and elbows. If you don’t apply lotion, the tanning mist could cling unevenly to those areas. You should also recommend that your clients exfoliate their skin with a scrub the day before the appointment.

When your client is ready to be airbrushed, be sure that they’ve removed any makeup on their face, especially foundation, and that they’ve removed all deodorant. Foundation and deodorant can block the mist from reaching the skin, and will leave patches that don’t bronze like the rest of the skin. You can have your client secure their hair under a hair net or shower cap, which is the best way to prevent flyaways getting misted by the tan.

After applying the spray tan, caution your client to avoid showering, swimming, working out, or any moisture for the next six-eight hours. They’ll need to give the mist time to adhere to the skin and dry, or it could streak and cause dark lines on the skin. It’s also a good idea to warn them that when they do shower, some of the color will rub off, but the skin will still maintain its bronze glow for about a week.

Everything You Need to Know About Offering Skin Bronzing

Sunless bronzer works by placing the color additive dihydroxyacetone (DHA) onto the top layer of skin cells. It reacts with the skin cells to temporarily darken the skin, and wears off in about a week. Because the color wears off so quickly, bronzing is often offered in two or three applications.

The days of fair skin and sun parasols are long gone. The latest look involves sun-bronzed skin, and getting bronzed in the salon is a quick, easy way to look like you’ve been laying out on the beach all summer long.

Not only will bronzing give your clients’ skin that beautiful sun-kissed glow, but it can also hide blemishes, birthmarks, and acne, making your client’s skin appear smoother and clearer. Bronzing is also a good way to avoid sunburns, tan lines, and damage that the sun can cause, including sun spots and skin cancer.

The Best Bronzers on the Market

Part of the appeal of offering salon bronzing when your clients could purchase over-the-counter bronzer and apply it at home is that you’ll be able to offer the best products on the market.

Cheap, over-the-counter bronzers can tint the skin or orange or leave streaks on the skin. To avoid this fashion faux pas, make sure you’re only offering the highest-quality brands:

  • Tarte Braziliance Self Tanner
  • Whish Self Tanner
  • Vita Liberata Fabulous Self-Tanning Lotion
  • Xen Tan Dark Lotion
  • Tanceuticals CC Cream
  • Tropez Mousse
  • Josie Maran Argan Liquid Gold Tanning Oil

As you become more practiced in performing bronzing treatments for clients, you might find that you prefer a mousse self-tanner over a lotion, or an oil over a mousse. Your client may also have a preference: oil tends to leave the skin with a glowing appearance, while lotion may achieve a darker overall color.

Steps to Flawless Skin Bronzing Applications

For best result, a bronzing treatment will start with a full-body exfoliation. The exfoliation is vital to the application of the bronzer—without the exfoliation, the bronzer may apply unevenly to the skin, which creates unsightly darker and lighter patches.

A salon-quality bronzer will also be able to deliver a more natural color than an off-the-shelf bronzer which is meant for self-application. You’ll also choose a bronzer based on your client’s skin type and color. While a very fair-skinned client may want to start with a very dark tinted bronzer, this won’t look very natural on the skin, and it’s better to start with a bronzer that’s tinted only a shade or two darker than your client’s natural color.

To exfoliate your client’s skin, you’ll use a body scrub. Body scrubs are made with a sugar or salt base and created with other natural ingredients such as lemon, honey, or essential oils. The scrub is then applied to the skin and removed in firm, circular motions. The friction of the sugar or salt removes the top layer of dead skin cells, preparing the skin for bronzing by making it even.

After exfoliating, the skin will need to be cleansed with a steam shower or hot towels to remove all traces of oil from the skin. If the skin remains oily, the bronzer won’t adhere to the skin.

Next, you’ll apply the bronzer cream evenly over the entire body to ensure that the skin’s color is consistent. You’ll need to caution your clients to wear loose-fitting clothes for several hours after the application and to avoid working out, showering, or swimming for eight hours after the treatment. Any kind of moisture can cause the color to stain surfaces and to create streaks on the skin before the bronzer is completely dry.

Advanced Training and Certification in Sunless Tanning

Your clients will rely on your professional expertise to distribute sunless tanning products evenly and select the right color for their skin.

Most standard esthetician programs won’t cover how to perform skin bronzing and spray tanning, so you may choose to complete courses on your own after becoming licensed. You can become certified in bronzing and sunless tanning through the National Tanning and Training Institute or through the American Tanning Institute.

Both certifications will help you learn about sunless airbrushing, types of lotions, proper skincare, skin typing, and FDA regulations that govern the practice of bronzing and sunless tanning.

Through either national certification, you’ll learn:

  • How to select the right formula for your client’s skin
  • The anatomy and physiology of skin
  • Sunless airbrushing techniques

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