Airbrush Tanning Procedure Video Guide

A step-by-step video guide to giving a great airbrush tan

Here, we provide step by step instructions, with videos included, for those who are unfamiliar and inexperienced with airbrush tanning. Keep in mind that these videos are just guidance for learning techniques, the best methods are individually found through practice and experience and should be comfortable to both the technician and the customer. You may find the procedures shown here are only partially applicable to your success with a tanning session, but we encourage attentive studying of these guides, as well as others, for confident spray tanning skills.

Procedure Preparation

At a bare minimum, a tanning setup calls for a large towel for the client to stand on and the spraying session should be done in a room meeting ventilation requirements. Ideally, the client should have previously exfoliated and applied any barrier/blending cream to their palms, and other rough skin areas. Preparation, as well as aftercare maintanance, are often overlooked, important steps to the overall tanning result and we recommend reading and relaying to your clients the information written in our Exfoliation and Moisturization page.

The products used for our video session are: the GP-70 Turbo-Speed Airbrush, ColorMyst Attache Compressor, Bionaire Galileo® True HEPA Air Purifier for Large Rooms, Japanese Shoji Screen with cherry finish, Barrier/Blending Cream, Ocean Tanning Solution and a terry cloth towel.

The "Circluar Motion" Airbrush Technique

We utilize this "circular motion" technique throughout these videos as it is a very common method in airbrush tanning. This pattern is not necessary for detailing or contouring, but is a generally useful technique for spraying a uniformed background pattern such as the strokes used in spray tanning. This technique is described as moving the tip of the airbrush in a circular motion using the hand and fingers, as the body of the airbrush is moved in a general direction with the movement of the arm. This circular pattern matched with the straight stroke produces a wider, more consistent spray than an airbrush just being moved in a straight line motion. Depending on the airbrush being used and the size of the spray pattern it can produce, you may find that the circular stroke may not be quite as useful -- the TurboSpeed airbrush demonstrates this in this video.

Airbrush Tanning Video Guide

Unless specified, these steps are all implying the utilization of the circular motion technique as described above.

Front Torso

  • Have the client stand naturally with arms to the sides as shown in the picture. Using the circular airbrush technique, fill in the abdomen horizontally starting from the swimsuit bottom and ending at the bottom of the swimsuit top, if present. Slightly overlap the horizontal strokes as this will ensure complete coverage of the area being sprayed.
  • If a top is present, fill in the cleavage area. Continue horizontal strokes, slightly overlapping them while moving up to the the tops of the shoulders and beneath the base of the neck.
  • Cross Hatch Pattern: If spraying a second front torso coat, consider using vertical strokes instead of horizontal. Utilizing a cross hatch pattern can better prevent missed spots.


  • Have the client raise their arm to allow access to their side. Using vertical airbrush strokes, spray the side starting from the swimsuit bottom to the base of the arm.
  • Have the client turn around and repeat this step for the other side.
  • Alternate Procedure Note: It is also possible to spray the underside of the arm while the client is in this position.

Back Torso

  • Have the client stand naturally with their arms to the sides. Starting at the top of the swimsuit bottom, use the circular motion technique to spray horizontal strokes up to the tops of the shoulders. Remember to maintain a slight overlap with the strokes to cover the entiretly of the back.
  • Have the client hold up their hair draping over the back of the neck if a hair cover or ponytail holder is not being used. Continue with horizontal strokes and spray the back of the neck.
  • Cross Hatch Pattern: If subsequentially applying a second coat to the back, again consider using vertical strokes to better prevent missed spots.
  • If the client has dangling strings from the swimsuit, such as our model shown, lift the strings and spray lightly over the pale "shadows" left behind when spraying the torso. (This is not shown in the video.)

Arms & Hands

  • Have the client raise their arm vertically towards the ceiling to expose the underside of the arm. Spray the arm using vertical strokes, and when reaching the wrist release the trigger and pull away using a circular motion.
  • Have the client hold thier arm out horizontally with the thumb towards the chest, exposing the side of the arm with the elbow out. Spray the arm with one spray stroke.
  • Have the client lower thier arm diagonally downward and hold their fingers in a claw-like position to stretch out the creases in the knuckles. Use the circular motion technique to spray the top side of the arm down to the wrist. Come back with a light stroke for the hand as they tend to exhibit excessive absorption of tanning solution.
  • Have the client bend their arm with their thumb towards their chest to expose and flex the skin of the elbow. Use a circular motion to cover the elbow.
  • Repeat these steps for the other arm.


  • Have the client step slightly forward and turn their inner ankle outward to expose the inside of the leg. Spray the inside leg using the circular motion technique.
  • Have the client stand naturally. Spray the front of the leg.
  • Move around to face the side of the leg and spray down the length of the leg until it is covered.
  • Move around to face the back to the leg and spray down the length of the leg until it is covered. If necessary, the client may need to bend slightly forward to stretch any creases where the leg meets the buttocks.
  • Spray the knee cap area lightly. The knee might have "dimples" or crease lines where spray solution may not penetrate. It is suggested to have a box or prop for the client to rest their foot to stretch out these lines while spraying.
  • Repeat these steps for the other leg.
  • Note: For brevity, the video only shows edited portions of the opposite leg.


  • Have the client hold their breath and close their eyes to attempt not to inhale solution. Spray using the circular motion method from the jawline to the forhead. Have the client breathe normally for a few seconds, and again ask them to hold their breath and spray the other side of the face. It is suggested to have a predetermined signal to use if the client becomes uneasy or uncomfortable while being sprayed.
  • Have the client tilt their head back slightly and spray underneath the chin and the front and sides of the neck.

During the entire time of the tanning session, always remember to keep comfort of the client your highest priority. Remind them the importance of moisturization and maintenance to the life of their tan, and possibly offer a choice of post-sunless products already stocked at your tanning location. Keep in mind that experience, practice and overall knowledge of sunless tanning all contribute to your success as a tanning technician.