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What is a Spray Tan?

By J. Beam
Updated: Jan 28, 2024

A spray tan is essentially an artificial tan achieved with dyes meant for use on the skin. There are several ways to obtain a spray tan, both professionally and at home. A spray tan is an alternative to obtaining a tan with either natural or artificial ultraviolet lights, which are proven to be harmful to the skin. Though many people object to a spray tan, arguing that it does not look natural, it is a much safer alternative to ultraviolet tans, and with proper application, it can look just as natural.

Professionally, a spray tan can be achieved at a salon inside of a booth. There are many different names given to the application and the products used, but essentially, it's all the same. The advantages of visiting a salon for a spray tan are centered around the professional assistance you get. Any salon with spray tan services should have someone employed who is trained in the use of their product. They will be able to help you select a tone and application amount that suits your skin tone and creates a natural look.

The application process in most professional salons is similar to a shower. There is a booth, not unlike a shower stall, where patrons stand beneath a nozzle that emits a mist of tanning spray. A technician will ensure the proper settings before the patron enters, and the rest of the application is as simple as pressing a button. Depending on your skin tone and the desired spray tan tone you want to maintain, you will have to schedule repeat visits at certain intervals. Your technician will help you decide how often you should return.

You can also achieve a spray tan at home with self-tanning products available in stores. While some of these work according to manufacturer claims, others create an orange-like tint that is tell-tale of a spray tan. Choosing the right color for your skin tone is extremely important when selecting self-tanning sprays or lotions. Trying to achieve a color too dark for your skin tone will result in an orange color that is extremely unnatural in appearance.

A store-bought spray tan should be used only to create a healthy glow or light bronzing, not to darken the skin tone. If you are trying to achieve an summer tan look, consult a professional salon with a trained technician to get the best results.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By ayurve — On Oct 17, 2016

A spray tan is the best solution if you are planning for instant tans. After 10 years, it is most cost effective, comes with different shades, is safe and if you don't like it, take it off.

Tanning beds can harm your skin over time, and once tanned you cannot remove the tan.

By jbell1978 — On Feb 09, 2013

Salon spray tanning is an obvious way to get a healthful, stunning and bronze tan, but it also costs you a lot. I did that but now get a the same quality spray tan for way less money with an in-home tanning system.

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