For the ideal sunless tanning experience, make sure your tanners follow these five spray tan prep instructions.

A solid spray tan prep is crucial for getting the best sunless tanning results. Prepping the skin will help ensure that your client gets a flawless tan, and that it lasts as long as possible. When I got my very first spray tan, no provided with spray tan prep instructions. I had to do my own research on the internet. As spray tan technicians, most of us have our pre- and post-tan tips clearly outlined on your websites. In addition to to having these tips online, ever sunless tanning pro should give clients an overview on proper spray tan prep.

Spray Tan Prep Tips are Your Responsibility

Spray tan technicians, don’t leave it up to your tanners to find out this info. Many will not. This will cause you issues in the long run, such as dealing with complaints resulting from improper prep. Also, the last thing you want is a new client walking in without the proper clothes. (Hello, skinny jeans and tight yoga pants!) This is something that you should not overlook. Most of the time when a spray tan develops with issues it is because of poor preparation.

In addition to your pre- and post-tan instructions, here are five basic spray tan prep tips you should go over with tanners:

1. Pre-Tan Exfoliator

For a successful spray tan, clients must exfoliate the day before, not the day of their session. (Doing this a few days leading up to the spray tan is also recommended.) For best results, I recommend that they use exfoliating gloves rather than a washcloth or loofah. They can buy them at nearly any dollar store, drug store, or supermarket. Have tanners refrain from a scrub that contains oils unless it is more than a day before the appointment. Oils can leave a film on the skin that creates a barrier that blocks spray tan absorption in areas where it remains. (This results in a streaky or patchy tan.)

Exfoliation is important so the skin can be a clean, even canvas. I always compare it to painting an object. If you are going to paint a piece of wood, you always sand it to remove any rough or uneven areas so that the paint will look nice and even. So with spray tanning, if the solution is applied on uneven skin, older dead skin cells come off first. This causes the tan to look blotchy and fade poorly.

2. Avoid Spray Tan Solution Buildup

The client should NOT have on any existing self tanner or remnants from an old spray tan. This is a huge no no, but I see it all too often. It’s like going in for a manicure and the nail technician just puts new polish over an existing, chipped manicure. It might look good the first day or from afar, but when you get close up, it looks horrible and messy. (I’m sure if a nail tech did that, we would all be livid!) Well, a spray tan is no exception. When you mix different grades of DHA and two different spray tan solutions, you cannot guarantee what color the end product will be.

3. No Waxing or Shaving

Tell tanners not to wax or shave at least 24 hours before their spray tan. Usually, when a client complains about streaky legs, I ask them when they shaved. Would you believe that 99 percent of the time, tanners tell me that the shaved right before their appointment? It’s true! And remember, no oils, lotions, perfumes, or deodorant the day of the tan. These things act as a skin barrier that causes streaking, green areas, and prevents color from being absorbed.

4. Spray Tans for Special Occasions

Is this spray tan for a special occasion? Be sure to ask your tanner this at the time of booking their appointment. Most clients, especially brides, do not realize that they need to get their manicure, pedicure, and other beauty treatments before their spray tan session! This is especially important if they are first time tanners.

Many brides have massages or water activities scheduled for a day or two after the tan. (These are usually part of their pre-wedding festivities.) Make sure they know that it’s harmful for their tan, and advise not to participate. I have had so many clients thank me for mentioning this to them because it allowed them to rearrange their appointments. You will, too.

5. Sunless Tanning and Showering

Many people think that they should shower to get clean right before the appointment. I highly recommend they do not do this! When they shower, the steam will open the pores, which allows the skin to get very hydrated. This prevents total absorption of the spray tan solution, which results in a lighter tan and beading on the skin.

When I get a client that is beading while I am spraying them, they usually tell me that they showered right before their session. It is ok for them to shower in the morning – if they have an evening appointment – but otherwise, tell them not to do it. If the client insists that they must rinse that day, I recommend at least four hours before, and using just a light water-only rinse without any soap or body wash.

Post-Spray Tan Tips: Don’t Forget!

Post-spray tan instructions are as important as spray tan prep tips. It all starts with the initial, post-tan rinse. Advise clients on the time frame that they should do this. Make sure you they know that waiting longer or starting earlier will negatively affect the quality of their sunless tans. Share this info on your website, flyers, and emails, and don’t be afraid to go over it verbally with your clients.

Share these 10 post-spray tan tips with your tanners:

  1. For your first shower, only rinse with water. Make sure face and ears are rinsed as well.
  2. During first rinse, do not scrub or use loofahs or washcloths during first rinse.
  3. You may see color wash off during your first shower. This is normal. It’s just cosmetic bronzer washing off.
  4. After your rinse, color can take up to  eight hours to develop.
  5. Apply recommended body lotion or tan extender after shower. Twice daily is recommended for optimal results. Use proper aftercare products.
  6. Use soap for showers and baths taken eight hours after your spray tan. Avoid Dove products, which can cause fading.
  7. Don’t use moisturizers or creams until after your shower.
  8. Avoid activities that cause sweating as well as swimming.
  9. Don’t let your pet to lick or jump on you immediately after your spray tan.
  10. Avoid massage, facials, and pedicures immediately after spray tan.

Happy Spray Tan Prep!

Most spray tan technicians already provide a list of pre- and post-tan instructions. This is an absolute must. In addition to that, you should also make sure to go over these five spray tan prep tips with your clients. It’s worth the extra effort to make sure our tanners are properly educated. Remember, a happy spray tan client is a repeat tanner!