If you want a spray on tan for yourself, your best friend, or hundreds of people a day. It doesn’t matter how many. It doesn’t matter how often. You’ve found the right place.
The Sunless Spray Tan Process in a Nutshell
The ‘who’, ‘where’ and ‘why’ determine the kind of equipment you’ll look at.
Products compete for your attention. If you don’t know what you’re looking for it’s a confusing mess. And when you’re starting out how can you possibly know what you should be looking for?
Before you can decide how you’re going to deliver a spray on tan you really should know what kind of spray on tan you wish to give.
To aid you in this decision let me introduce the project triangle.
You can only choose up to two options.
This means that you can give…
Think about your goals. Different people want different things. It’s okay to focus on cheap, or quality, or speed, but know what your focus is so that you can do it.
Me? I always choose quality. My projects, articles, and endeavors can be really slow, really expensive, somewhere in-between, but always the best I can write.
By now, you should already have your equipment and a place to spray. Here is how to airbrush someone.
But it can't be that easy! Right?! Well, it's not 'quite' that easy. There are a few more steps in between and knowledge generally transforms okay tans into good tans. Add practice and and a dose of really good knowledge and transform your good tans into great tans!
Spray tanning is the easiest thing you can do with an airbrush. You won't use their full capability, you don't need their full capability. Easy to do, doesn't mean easy to make look natural. You'll have to practice a lot to spray a "natural looking" tan.
If you're tanning someone you'll want to be fully clothed, preferably with a washable smock of some kind. You'll also need your dust mask. Unless you have amazing ventilation, WEAR YOUR DUST MASK!
If you're being tanned it's time to strip down and put on the hair cover. Whatever you've got left on will determine where your tan lines are. This is also the time to exfoliate unless you've already done that at home.
Get the air moving, but remember there's a naked or semi-naked person there too. You don't want your ventilation blowing on them. You want your ventilation to pull the fumes out.
If you've got a cloud of tanning fumes then you'll need turn down your air pressure and increase the amount of air flowing through the room.
It's always best to have your compressor in a different room since tanning solution has a nasty habit of shortening the compressor's lifespan. Just a word of wisdom from someone who's seen almost everything...
You'll also want to make sure the pressure is between 15 and 25 while the airbrush is spraying. You're always trying to spray people with the lowest pressure possible while avoiding clogging problems and grainy spray.
Spray some water or cleaning solution through the airbrush first.
I'm the paranoid repair technician who used to deal with your problems over the phone with that naked person in the next room. In fact, it's actually better to do this step before the person even walks into the room. You want to look professional right?
What you're doing here is making sure the equipment functions properly BEFORE you actually try using it.
Heavier tans and bigger people will need more solution than lighter tans on smaller people. 2oz is a good round number to figure on until you've got more experience.
There might actually be a few more steps here depending on the brand of solution you use. I know some manufacturers have you mix it up on the spot or add the bronzer in or whatever. This is the time to follow their directions for any kind of additives or solution mixing instructions.
Whichever you choose, stick to that method for the entire tan.
Airbrush spray shouldn't look slick, nor should it glisten. It should look dry, maybe a little glisteny the very moment it hits the person, but you don't want it to stay that way. The person should be dry to the touch--but you don't want to touch them--that'll ruin their new finish!
If you spray dry you'll never have to worry about runs.
"But, but, but, what about actually telling me how to do it?" you ask.
Oh! You want me expound upon this process hmm? Well, I scoured the web for a good airbrush tanning demonstration video. They are using a big spray gun so they can move faster.
DO NOT WAIT, rinse your airbrush now! Tanning solution is sticky, gunky stuff. It clogs airbrushes without hesitation. If you develop this habit you probably won't have to ever worry about deep cleaning your airbrush more than once every year or two.
The day you forget this and leave solution in your airbrush overnight is the day you will have to deep clean your airbrush.
The client needs to dry off a bit and then wear loose clothing. No showers or hard exercise for the solution manufacturer's recommended amount of time (usually 6-8 hours)
Above guide is basically a written spray tanning for beginners guide. I found a brief training video that shows excellent spray tanning technique.
Notice these things as you watch.
Voila! You've done it! It's really not hard, but with some practice you'll become an expert capable of varying the degrees of darkness someone wants and even making the tan slightly uneven to make it appear more natural. You've gotta have something to work towards after all!
Delivering a quality spray on tan requires both knowledge and experience.
For the most part, spray on tans are safe. Many authorities will tell you 100% safe. I choose the over protective route.
Don’t breathe the sprayed solution
Avoid certain areas of the body
For a more in-depth answer check out the article How Safe Is Airbrush Tanning?
Everybody, every service, every product has its own share of problems, screw ups, and general weirdness. The three big areas are…
I hope you learned something from this airbrush tanning guide.