How Does a Spray Tan Work?

A spray tan, also known as sunless tanning or self-tanning, is a cosmetic procedure that gives the skin a temporary tan appearance without the need for exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. Spray tans work by using special products that contain an active ingredient called dihydroxyacetone (DHA).

A lady floating on the swimming pool.

Here's how a spray tan works:

  1. Preparation: Before getting a spray tan, it's important to prepare your skin. This typically involves exfoliating to remove dead skin cells, ensuring an even application of the tanning solution.

  2. Application: The process usually involves standing in a tanning booth and having a technician apply the tanning solution to your skin using an airbrush or spray gun.

  3. DHA Reaction: The active ingredient in the tanning solution is DHA, a colourless sugar that interacts with the amino acids in the top layer of your skin. When DHA comes into contact with the skin, a chemical reaction occurs, resulting in the formation of melanoidins. These melanoidins give the skin a brownish or tan colour.

  4. Development Time: After the tanning solution is applied, you need to wait for a specified period (usually 6-8 hours or as directed) to allow the DHA to fully react with your skin. During this time, you may notice a temporary, bronzy colour developing on your skin.

  5. Showering and Rinsing: After the development time has passed, you can shower to remove the excess tanning solution. During the initial shower, you'll notice that some of the colour washes away. This is normal and simply removes the excess solution from the surface of your skin.

  6. Tan Darkening: The tan will continue to darken over the next 12-24 hours as the DHA reaction progresses. This is when the tan reaches its optimal colour.

  7. Maintenance: To maintain the tan, you should moisturise your skin regularly, avoid activities that cause excessive sweating, and be cautious with products containing retinol or alpha hydroxy acids, which can accelerate exfoliation.

It's important to note that a spray tan is temporary, and it will gradually fade as your skin naturally sheds dead skin cells. The longevity of a spray tan can vary depending on factors like the quality of the tanning solution, your skin type, and how well you care for the tan. To maintain the tan, you may need to schedule touch-up appointments as the tan naturally fades.


Related Posts:

Spray Tan FAQ's: Everything You Want To Know

Get That Sun-Kissed Glow: The Ultimate Guide to Achieving a Natural Spray Tan

How Long Does a Spray Tan Last?

Spray Tan Before And After

What is Self Tanning and How To Self Tan at Home?

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