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Airbrush Tanning – Guide to Airbrush Tanning Systems

airbrush tanning


A flawlessly tanned body stands for summer, sun, holiday feeling, attractiveness, self-confidence, health, and good mood. Unfortunately, however, in connection with sun-tanned skin, one must always think about the harmful effects of UV radiation. A healthy solution is tanning from the airbrush gun, the so-called spray tanning. Until recently, this method was reserved for Hollywood stars only, but now it is possible for everyone. Whether in special tanning studios, specialized beauty salons, or even by means of affordable tanning sets for home use – with spray tanning everyone can conjure up a little holiday tan on their skin with our guide to the best airbrush tanning solutions.




What is Airbrush Tanning?

The term airbrush tanning allows the assumption that with this technique the tanning of the skin is achieved by applying brown paint. The body is therefore painted similar to body painting. But this is not the case.

In spray tanning, a self-tanning lotion is evenly applied to the skin by means of a fine spray mist. This beauty treatment is also known as spray tanning or tanning shower.

A special airbrush device and a professional tanning lotion are used for this.

Spray tanning is carried out in specialized cosmetic studios or tanning studios. But also at home, you can achieve very acceptable results with a portable airbrush device, the right color, and a little practice.



How does Spray Tanning work?

In order to understand the principle of airbrush tanning it is useful to first deal with the structure of the skin and the natural tanning process in its basic features:

Our skin consists of several layers. The uppermost layer is the horny layer. It is the first protection threshold for penetrating UV radiation. When UV radiation hits the skin, the top layer of the skin thickens and absorbs part of the UV radiation. The UV(B) radiation penetrating into the deeper skin layers triggers the formation of melanin in the lower layers.

This pigment is a further protective mechanism of the skin against solar radiation. The melanin can absorb further UV radiation. But only to a certain extent. If the skin is exposed to radiation without protection, this has negative effects. An accelerated skin aging process and in the worst case also skin cancer are the consequences.

By using spray tanning, only the uppermost layer of the skin, the horny layer, is tanned. Tanning is achieved by a reaction of the sugar contained in the color with the proteins and amino acids of the skin. Only in the horny layer does this reaction produce natural tanning substances, the melanoids.

The tan is therefore not painted on, as already mentioned. Instead, a high-quality self-tanner is sprayed evenly onto the skin and thus an optimal tanning result of the upper skin layer is achieved.

The airbrush tan is visible after 8 hours and cannot be washed off. Only through cell renewal of the horny layer does the complexion fade. An injury of the lower skin layers with its negative consequences is excluded by this process. The effect of a one-off airbrush tan is approximately the same as 3 to 5 visits to a solarium.


airbrush tan



Pros and cons of spray tanning




  • Quick tanning
  • No health risk
  • Colour shade individually selectable
  • Seamless tan possible
  • No staining if handled professionally and all preparations are observed



  • Good preparation of the skin with peeling and shaving necessary
  • Frequent showers, heavy sweating, and above all intensive full baths cause the color to fade quickly
  • Clothing that is too tight or rubbing quickly leaves light-colored stains
  • Very costly in the long run


Airbrush Tanning at home: The best airbrush set

Whether full-body tanning or just a light tan on the décolleté and face with your airbrush machine. The Bronze Babe Spray Tan Kit from MineTan is the optimal tool to carry out spray tanning at home in the long run at a reasonable price. Included in delivery is the very easy to use airbrush machine and a 50ml pack of professional MineTan tanning lotion.


Product recommendation follows


The tanning lotion is ready to spray and is simply filled into the container provided. Just connect the unit to the power supply and you can start spraying.

With the 8 different levels, you vary the intensity of the color application and thus the tanning. Beginners should make their first attempts with levels 2 or 3.




  • simple service
  • very light and easy to transport
  • 8 different ink delivery levels adjustable
  • Even application of the tanning lotion possible
  • The tanning lotion is vegan, free from parabens and was developed without animal testing


Although the Bronze Babe Spray Tan Kit produces very little overspray, it is recommended for the first attempts to tan in the bathroom or shower


Airbrush Spray Tan Colour

The tanning lotion used for an airbrush tanning kit is based on a natural substance that causes the self-tanning of the skin. The substance is called dihydroxyacetone (DHA). DHA is a sugar that is extracted from vegetables and plants. The higher the DHA content in the tanning lotion, the darker the skin can be colored.

In addition, most tan colors contain alcohol. This serves to dilute the ink and improves its sprayability. However, too much alcohol can have a negative effect on the tanning result. The spray pattern then often looks cracked.


airbrush tanning solution



Airbrush tanning paint by SUNTANA with chocolate scent

The Suntana Spray Tan “Chocolate” with its 12% DHA is suitable for medium to dark skin types. The spray produces a natural, intensive tan with a darker undertone.

The Suntana Spray Tan is long-lasting and fades very evenly. The chocolaty scent is an extra bonus, for all users who do not like the typical smell of tanning lotions.

The tanning lotion was developed without animal testing, is paraben-free, and contains only substances that are safe for vegans.


Product recommendation follows 



Airbrush Self Tanner from NORVELL: Spray Tanning Lotion – Venetian Plus

The American family business Norvell has been producing first-class self-tanning and spray tanning products since 1983. Norvell products are developed without animal testing and contain high-quality vegetable ingredients.


Product recommendation follows


With the various products from Norvell, the user can obtain an individual tanning result tailored to his or her specific skin type.

This minimizes the orange effect that often occurs with other products. Furthermore, Norvell Spray Tanning products do not have the typical smell of tanning lotion. Also, a sticky feeling after application does not occur.

In addition, Norvell’s micro-nutrient technology uses a special combination of vitamins and antioxidants to give the skin a special glow after application.

The Spray Tanning Premium Handheld Solution in the VENETIAN PLUS version produces a very rich dark brown tone. The Cosmo light, Clear and Original versions produce a much softer tanning effect.




Instructions for Airbrush Tanning


You should consider this before tanning



Before an airbrush tanning is applied your skin should be free of dead skin cells. For this, it is necessary to perform a whole-body peeling. It is best to use a peeling glove.


Creams avoided

After the peeling and especially on the day of the tanning session you should not apply any cream. Airbrush tan adheres best to dry skin. Therefore, also pay attention to the composition of your peeling. Peelings containing oil are rather useless for the preparation for spray tanning.



Your skin should also be well shaved. Peeling and shaving should be done the day before the tanning session. You can avoid skin irritation.


Performing the Airbrush Tanning

If you have carried out the preparations of your skin correctly, nothing stands in the way of an appointment at the beauty salon:

  • Bring an old bikini or underwear that is as dark as possible and that you can wear during the treatment. Alternatively, seamless tanning is of course also possible.
  • Long hair should be put up because the tanning lotion also colors hair.
  • The toenails and fingernails are protected from the airbrush paint with a special cream. Knees and elbows are also often protected with a cream against too much color absorption. If you wish, you can also protect the soles of your feet from unwanted paint application.
  • The paint is sprayed from a distance of approx. 15 to 20 cm and takes approx. 15 to 30 minutes. The tanning paint does not have to dry after application.


airbrush tanning machine


What to consider after airbrush tanning

  • After the tanning treatment, the color should be left to work for about 8 hours before it becomes stable against abrasion. During this time, wear loose clothing to avoid unnecessary friction and do not take a shower. Only after the application time, you can remove the remains of the paint in the shower.
  • If the tanning color is correctly drawn in, there is nothing to be said against a bath, a shower, or even a cooling off in the pool. However, you should avoid prolonged contact with chlorinated water, as chlorine acts as a bleach, and therefore the intensity of your tan decreases more quickly. You should also avoid peeling, this would make the tan fade just as quickly.
  • Skin tanned by spray tanning also needs care. However, avoid too fatty or heavy care products such as body butter. In order to optimally care for the skin and prevent fading, light body milk is recommended.
  • Spray tanning should be worn for about 1 to 1.5 weeks before it is completely removed and reapplied. Pay particular attention to removing the old paint thoroughly by peeling, otherwise unsightly stains may occur.




Airbrush tanning costs

The costs of a tanning treatment in a professional beauty salon are very variable.

On the one hand, they depend on the desired tanning level and on the other hand on the body part to be tanned. Furthermore, the costs are also related to whether a permanent tan is desired – whereby tanning must be repeated approximately every 7 to 10 days – or whether spray tanning is tried out for a one-off occasion.

A full-body tan ranges between 30$ and 60$ depending on the desired tanning intensity. You can have your face and décolleté beautified for as little as 15$ to 20$. The legs for about 15 €. If you want to integrate additional effects such as glitter, scent, or tattoos into the tanning, the surcharges range between 2$ and 10$.

Many beauty salons offer customers who come regularly for airbrush tanning a kind of bonus card, subscription or other discounted conditions.



Frequently asked questions and answers


How long does a spray tan last with Spray Tanning?

The durability of spray tanning does not necessarily depend on the paint used. Especially the speed with which your skin cells renew themselves influences the durability of the tan. The faster your cells regenerate, the shorter the tanning effect lasts.

Furthermore, the preparation of the skin for spray tanning as well as the care and behavior after tanning have a strong influence on the durability of the airbrush tan. For example, frequent showering and sweating will cause the tan to fade more quickly.


Is airbrush tanning dangerous for the skin?

The tanning itself is completely safe for your skin. However, the beautifully tanned skin often leads the wearer to believe that they are protected from sunburn. But that is not the case! Spray tanning is not sun protection!

The skin dyed with spray tanning has not produced melanin and is therefore not a bit more protected from sunburn than your natural skin. Sunscreen must be applied as with your untreated skin using a suitable sunscreen product.


How to avoid stains in tanning?

  • By preparing the skin well for tanning, you can greatly reduce stains. This includes a careful peeling, a good shave, or even waxing, as well as the omission of body lotion, creams, and perfumes. Any oily or creamy residue on your skin increases the risk of spots. Pay attention to your peeling in this context. It should be largely oil-free.
  • After the specified exposure time of the tanning lotion (in most cases 8 hours) you should thoroughly remove the remains of the tanning lotion. Residues that remain on the skin for too long can cause an undesirable darkening.
  • Avoid sports and heavy sweating on the day of treatment to prevent stains.
  • Before new tanning is applied, the old tanning must be thoroughly removed. The best way to do this is again a gentle peeling to loosen the old skin scales of the horny layer.
airbrush tanning solution


How can I mitigate tanning accidents?

As already mentioned, the paint needs about 8 hours to become abrasion-resistant. During this time it is still water-soluble. If your tanning result is completely unacceptable to you, you can make it disappear again within the first few hours.

To do this, lie down in warm water for at least half an hour and then carefully scrub the paint with a gentle washing glove or sponge and shower gel. The sooner you start to repair the tanning accident the less the optical damage will be.

If the tanning seems only a nuance too dark to you, but the time of the first shower or bath on the time around 6 hours after the treatment, you will not lose the tan completely but only lighten it.


Other health risks of spray tanning

Again and again one finds discussions about the harmfulness of the fine spray mist that is created during airbrush tan. To be on the safe side, it is advisable to choose a beauty salon that has good ventilation or an extraction system.

Some studios already work with an LVLP machine (low volume low pressure) to reduce the spray mist significantly.

If you work at home with an airbrush tanning device, air this room extensively. It is best to wear protection for the nose and mouth when treating the body.


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