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Common Spray Tan Q&As

Monday, April 23, 2012
by John Doe

Spray tanning or self tanning is without doubt the best way to get your tan! Without the harming effects of the sun’s UV rays, this tanning method is becoming increasingly popular all around the world. If you’re interested in learning more about spray tanning solutions, here are some of the most common questions and answers.

Q1. How do tanning solutions work?A: The critical tanning ingredient in tanning solutions is known as Dihydroxyacetone (DHA). Rather than increasing the skin’s melanin levels like a UV sun tan, DHA creates a chemical reaction with the outer skin cells, turning the very top layer of skin brown.

Q2. What is Dihydroxyacetone and is it dangerous?A: DHA is a tanning ingredient that is usually derived from sugar cane. It is a colourless 3-carbon sugar that when applied to the skin causes a chemical reaction with amino acids in the surface cells of the skin producing a darkening effect. It is currently the most popular method of sunless tanning, mainly because it has been approved by the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) as safe for consumer use.  There appear to be no long term side effects from this ingredient, affecting only the very outermost layer of skin.

Q3. How should I prepare for my sunless tan?A: If you wish to have an even tan, it is important that you remove dead skin cells before you start applying the solution. The best way to remove these cells is using a natural enzyme exfoliant, or otherwise an exfoliating glove with natural soap.  The main thing is, you should try to avoid using harsh exfoliants or soaps that may dry your skin out! Having removed the dead skin cells, you will then need to moisturise your skin. Repeating this 2-step process a few times for the week leading up to your tan is the best way to prepare your skin.

Q4. When is it best to exfoliate?A: Exfoliate the day before your tanning session, leaving at least 8 hours between exfoliation and application of the tan. Exfoliation will open your pores up, which may result in your tanning solution being absorbed unevenly.  It is important that your skin settles and the pores close before you start spraying.

Q5. Will I end up with spray tan on my clothes?A: You should be aware that it is very likely for some of the fake tan colour to end up on your clothes and bed sheets. After you have had a spray tan, you are not meant to shower for 8hours, and therefore during that time the tanning solution can easily discolour the clothes you are wearing. For this reason, we recommend that you wear dark, loose fitting clothes, and avoid wearing anything too special. That said, the solutions are water-soluble and will generally wash out of fabric.

Q6. How long does it take for a spray tan to dry?A: Within 10-15 minutes tanning solutions should have dried enough to get dressed.  If you are in a hurry, you can use a fan to speed up the drying process!

Q7. Once I have applied my tan, how long do I need to wait to shower?A: Unless you are applying a speed tan, you should generally shower approximately 8 hours after applying any tanning solutions. If the solution needs less time that this, it will instruct you on the bottle. Always read the instructions if you are unsure.

Q8. Roughly how many days will my sunless tan last for?A: Sunless tans generally last for anywhere up to 10 days depending on your skin type and how well you care for your tan.

Q9. How can I get the most out of my tan and help it to last well?A: To increase the life of your tan you should moisturise regularly, avoid too longer showers, avoid exercise or sweat-inducing activities, and try not to swim in salt water or chlorine.  You can also use a tan extending lotion to increase the duration of your tan.

Q10. How can I avoid my tan wearing off unevenly?A: To avoid your tan from wearing off in uneven patches, it is best to use a tan extender.  For the first 48 hours at least, you should avoid chlorine and salt water, as well as heavy exercise.   Once you are reaching the end of your tan, it is best to gently exfoliate using a glove and natural soap, followed by a rich moisturiser.

Q11. How do I make sure my feet and hands don’t turn too dark?A: When spraying feet and hands, it is important to apply less tanning product than the other body areas.  This goes for the wrists, ankles and other thin skinned areas.  A great way to ensure these areas receive less tan is to increase the distance between the spray gun and skin.

Q12. Will I smell from tanning solutions?A: Depending on which tanning solution you use, you may notice a slight odour after tanning. Most tanning solutions are designed to leave a pleasant smell, fairly similar to any other beauty products. That said, the smell should only last while the solution is fresh on the skin and should disappear after the first shower. There are tanning solutions available which are odour-less, so if the smell upsets you, then you can always try these products instead.

Q13. If I get tanning solution in my hair, will it stain?A: It is extremely unlikely that your hair will change colour from tanning solutions. The cosmetic bronzers in the solution may discolour light coloured hair initially, however this should always wash out. If you are concerned, you can always spray with a shower cap over your hair to be extra careful!

Q14. Is it likely that I will turn orange from using sunless tanning methods?A: Any tanning products that we sell at Adore Tanning, are high quality and designed to give a golden glow. Different skin types can take to the tanning solution differently, and therefore some people will develop a darker tan than others using the same solution. There is however no chance that you will turn an orange colour. If you have a pale skin tone or are concerned about turning too dark, make sure you gradually build up the tan with one layer at a time until you are used to the solution.

Q15. Can I swim in the pool or ocean after applying tanning solutions?A: We recommend that you avoid swimming for at least the first 48 hours of applying your tan. The chlorine and salt water can have an exfoliating effect on the skin, causing the tan to wear off more quickly, which can also result in an uneven tan.

Q16.  If I have extremely sensitive skin, can I still use sunless tanning methods?A: While everyone skin is different and we cannot give a certain answer, there are multiple types of tanning solutions available these days given the popularity of sunless tanning. Certain solutions have been designed for sensitive skin, containing no perfumes or skin-irritating ingredients. If you have sensitive skin, it is best to apply a small amount to test for a reaction, before applying to the whole body.

Q17. Is sunless tanning bad for my long term health?A: Dihydroxyacetone (DHA) tanning agent has been approved by the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). There are no signs indicating that DHA-based spray tanning solutions have negative long term effects. The solutions are designed for external use only, and therefore you should be careful not to ingest the spray.

Q18. Will tanning solutions give me more freckles?A: The spray tan will not increase your freckles, as it does not increase the skin’s melanin levels like a UV sun tan. When the spray has first been applied, it can dry into small droplets on the hair follicles, appearing as though you have lots of freckles. This washes away with the first shower!  Note – spray tanning will not cover up your freckles either!

Q19. Do tanning solutions protect me from the sun?A: This is an extremely important question. The answer is no! Despite the new tanned appearance, your skin will still be just as sensitive to burning from the sun! Continue to slip, slop and slap the SPF lotions before going in the sun.

Q20. How many coats of tanning solution should I apply?A: This varies from person to person depending on the skin type as well as the tanning solutions being used. Fairer skin types should be careful to build up their tan gradually, applying only one or two light coloured coats at first, while darker skin types can afford to wear a few coats of a darker solution.  This will also vary depending on how darker tan you wish to have, so trying various coats over time is the best way to know!

With all this knowledge, we know what you’re now thinking. Who would choose any other tanning method?