Spray Tan Before and After

What you should do "before" and "after" a spray tan for long lasting, best results.

This page describes the 3-step process of spray tanning with emphasis on two often overlooked steps. Going beyond the actual spray tanning procedure, we describe and explain the importance of proper exfoliation before the tan and essential moisturization after the tan. From a salon or tanning service prospective, including these steps as an important part of your spray tanning service can also offer additional revenue opportunities through the resale of individual products to your clients.


A sunless spray tan is produced on the outer layer of the skin's epidermis, subjecting the life of the tan to the natural skin shedding cycle. At any given time, dead cells from this exposed layer may be ready to shed off while younger cells may be freshly renewed. The use of an exfoliation product provides a consistent, fresh layer of skin to serve as the base of a sunless spray tan allowing even, maximum DHA absorption. Exfoliation should be performed the night before or the morning of the spray tanning session, preferably using an Exfoliator or Pre-Sunless tanning product with a formulation specifically designed for skin renewal. Shaving and waxing should also be done at this time as these can contribute to uneven color development and fading if done soon after tanning.

However, the tanning technician can't always rely on the client to properly prepare for their session and walk-ins are potential customers that can't be ignored. Fortunately, pre-tan preparation products extend beyond the bathroom setting and exfoliation can be achieved through Pre-Spray spritzes and wipes. These products balance the skin's pH, remove excess oils, perfumes and deodorants, and enhance the ability of the DHA to penetrate the epidermis. Ideally, if possible and schedule timing permits, exfoliation using a body wash or scrub at home along with the use of a spritz or wipe at the salon should be performed as all these together will ensure the best possible skin preparation for the sunless spray tan.

Spray Tanning

Since the airbrush tanning procedure is rather lengthy when outlined step by step, we have devoted an informational/instructional page in this manual and provided videos for the explanation of the process. Essentially, the tanning technician uses an airbrush or spray gun to apply a specially made sunless spray tanning solution containing an ingredient called DHA (more about DHA can be found here), which reacts chemically with the outer layer of skin cells to produce a tan. In most situations 8-12 hours is allotted for the tan to fully develop and it is recommended to wait until after 12 hours to take a shower. However, there is a wide array of specialty solutions to choose from, and we suggest looking over all your different solution options, and consider buying a small quantities or samples before wholeheartedly committing to a brand or solution type. We have a helpful Solution Buying Guide page outlining the basics of the tanning solutions we sell here at The Tanning Store. The actual spray tanning process, excluding the time it takes for the color to develop on the skin, usually takes 10 minutes or less.


Maintenance is crucial to the longevity and even fading of a spray tan. Proper moisturization offsets the drying effect of DHA and prolongs the skin renewal cycle. Two categories of post-sunless moisturizers exist - products with DHA and products without DHA. Both provide critical hydration to skin, but "tan extenders" utilize, on average, less than 3% DHA to deepen a tan's color and/or prolong the tan life. Both types of products can also be used together for optimal performance, one in the morning to add a glow to skin and one in the evening to rehydrate before bed.