What’s the safest way to get bronzed?
Skip the sunshine and the sunbeds.
You need to spray tan.
And yes, you can do sunless tanning at home.
All you need is the best spray tan solution and a spray gun.
The Advantages of a Spray Tan
What are the advantages of a spray tan versus other kinds of sunless tanning products?
First, a spray tan airbrushes sunless tanning solution over your body. There’s no rubbing or scrubbing.
The controlled mist ensures perfect coverage and saturation.
Second, a professional spray tan solution is formulated to give you the ideal color without streaking or turning you orange.
And third, pro spray tans last longer, up to a week or longer if you put in the effort to maintain them.
How Does a Spray Tan Work?
Whether you go to a salon or do a spray tan at home, the same steps apply.
You’ll need to shave and exfoliate ahead of time.
But don’t moisturize, use makeup, perfume, or even deodorant.
Then, right before you spray tan, apply a thin layer of lotion over places that tend to turn too dark. This includes elbows and knees and around the ankles. Protect the area around your nail beds, and in between your toes and fingers too (1).
Remember to protect yourself against breathing in the fumes. You can use nose filters if you wish or hold your breath.
Also, don’t get the spray tan solution on your mucous membranes in your private area, in your mouth, your eyes, or your nose. Lip balm is helpful.
If you use a spray tan solution with bronzer, it makes it easier to see where you’ve applied it. The bronzer is only cosmetic and will wash off in the shower.
Once you’ve finished spraying, let the liquid dry completely before you dress
Be sure to wear loose clothing and try to avoid sweating for the first few hours.
The longer you go without showering, the deeper your tan will go. Generally, it takes twelve to sixteen hours for DHA to fully develop your color.
Spray tans will gently fade away, never peel.
Finally, if you avoid oily moisturizers, exfoliants, harsh soaps, and swimming, your tan will last five to seven days or longer.
Is Spray Tanning Safe?
Happily, spray tanning is much safer than tanning outdoors or indoors in a sunbed.
The main active chemical in spray tan solution is DHA (dihydroxyacetone). It comes from sugarcane, sugar beets, or fermenting glycerin.
It was discovered a century ago by accident (2).
Scientists found that DHA turns the skin brown by interacting with amino acids in the top layer of the skin. The process is non-toxic.
It’s basically the same reaction as when you cut open an apple and leave the slices exposed to the air.
The FDA has approved DHA for sunless tanning products. They only warn that these products should not be applied to mucous membranes or inhaled (3).
The other thing that you need to remember is to apply sunscreen when you go outdoors with a spray tan. It’s not a true tan, so your skin isn’t protected from sunburn.
Preparation Before Spray Tanning
Make sure that your spray tan is flawless by preparing your skin ahead of time. Shave and scrub off dead skin with a loofah and an exfoliating wash.
Norvell Ultra Vivid Color Collection Pre Self-Tanning REVIVE Skin Refining Body Scrub
Norvell is one of the best-known manufacturers of spray tan solution. They also offer accessories to prepare for spray tanning and also maintain your bronze afterward.
The Revive Scrub has plant-based micro-scrubby beads plus fruit extracts and vitamins. It’s free of parabens and sulfates and 100% vegan.
Norvell Pro Blending/DHA Barrier Cream
Next, use the DHA Barrier Cream to prevent over-darkening your cuticles, elbows, knuckles, and so forth.
A thick layer will completely prevent tanning, while a thin layer will keep the color light.
The nourishing formula has cocoa butter, Vitamins C and E, plus aloe and tomato fruit extract.
Norvell Pre-Sunless Tanning XLATAN pH Balancing Spray
Your skin is naturally acidic, and that fact helps when you fake bake. But you can boost the acid levels with the spray so that your tan takes on a richer color.
Additionally, this primer strengthens the skin and moisturizes it.
Spray Tan Solutions
Now it’s time to look at the top spray tan solutions.
You can choose from solutions with or without cosmetic bronzers. You also need to decide how dark the color you desire and how quickly you need that to develop.
Norvell Premium Sunless Tanning Solution – One Hour Rapid
Norvell’s One Hour Rapid solution allows you to take a shower as soon as one hour after you spray tan.
Waiting one hour will give you a light bronze. But two hours provides medium bronze, and three hours or longer will give you the deepest color possible.
The pleasant raspberry almond fragrance wards off the sunless tanning odor so you don’t need to be in a hurry to rinse it off.
No matter how long you leave it on, you can expect your tan to last for five to seven days. It will fade away gracefully as your skin exfoliates naturally.
SJOLIE Ultra One – One Hour Spray Tan Solution
SJOLIE’s one-hour spray tan solution will give you a light bronze after one or two hours. Then you can wash. But if you wait four hours, you’ll have a much darker color.
The formula is organic and vegan and free of artificial fragrances and parabens. The cosmetic bronzers are based on caramel and walnut extract.
This liquid is compatible with all HVLP and airbrush spray tanning systems.
MineTan Spray Tan Solution with Coconut Water – Salon Professional 1-Hour Express Tan
MineTan is a popular spray tan brand in Australia. It’s guaranteed not to turn you orange or make you smell like fake tan.
The express formula contains coconut water for intense rehydration of your skin. There are no parabens, and all ingredients are vegan-friendly.
Fair-skinned people can wash one hour after application and end up with a natural, golden bronze.
Spray Tan Solution – SJOLIE No. 6 – Light Blend for Fair Skin
SJOLIE’s light blend solution develops a beautiful golden tan within eight hours after you apply it. It’s just right for first-time spray tanners and those with pale skin and pink undertones.
If you prep your skin properly, the bronze will last up to 12 days before it completely fades.
Some of the key ingredients include walnut extract, aloe vera, and Vitamin C. The walnut adds a little bit of color to help you see where you’ve applied the solution.
Meanwhile, aloe rejuvenates your skin, and Vitamin C prevents premature aging.
Like all of SJOLIE’s spray tan solutions, this one is free of parabens and artificial fragrances.
MineTan Spray Tan Solution – Olive Pro Spray Mist
If you have fair skin and you’re in a hurry, try the MineTan Olive Mist. It has a green base to match your natural undertones. That way it provides a beautiful bronze without looking orange or streaking.
You only need to leave it on for one hour before you shower to deepen your color.
Norvell Premium Sunless Tanning Professional Spray Tan Solution – Clear Plus
Norvell’s Clear Plus doesn’t have any instant bronzers in it.
Without bronzers, it may be harder for you to see where you’ve sprayed. But the benefits may outweigh this one fact.
With a clear solution, you never need to worry about the cosmetic bronzers rubbing off on your clothes. And you don’t need to worry about rinsing off the color.
You won’t smell like you’ve spray-tanned as the formula has a pleasant raspberry almond scent. Then, your tan will fully develop within 18 to 24 hours.
SJOLIE Spray Tan Solution – No. 9 – Clear/No Bronzers
SJOLIE also makes a clear spray tan solution. The lack of bronzers means that you can apply it, then get on with your day without worrying about looking unnaturally dark.
Wait at least eight hours before you shower for best results.
Norvell Professional Sunless Self-Tanning Solution with Bronzer
If you’re not sure where to start, the basic Norvell self-tan liquid is effective and easy to use. It comes with cosmetic bronzers that give you instant color.
On the downside, the bronzers will rub off on clothing and sheets. But they will rinse off easily in the shower.
The natural-looking tan takes about eight hours to develop.
On the bright side, the formula has a delicious coconut scent. It nourishes the skin with antioxidants and firms it with caffeine.
Norvell Premium Sunless Tanning Solution – Dark
Go darker with Norvell’s Dark solution. It has a high concentration of DHA that reaches maximum color within 18 to 24 hours.
The formula is free of parabens, sulfates, artificial fragrances, and petrochemicals. Instead, the pleasant raspberry almond fragrance comes from natural extracts.
Norvell Premium Sunless Tanning Solution – Venetian One
What sets the Venetian solution apart from the rest? It has violet and brown bronzers that mimic a Mediterranean tan.
If you want to look like you’ve been catching rays on the Riviera, spray tan with this.
Avoid bathing and sweating for at least eight hours after you apply it. Then maintain your color by avoiding chlorinated pools for a day afterward.
Norvell Premium Sunless Tanning Solution – Venetian Plus
Get super dark with the Venetian Plus solution. It has violet and brown bronzers plus a high amount of DHA.
One of the other highlights is the Paradise Breeze fragrance. It doesn’t just disguise the fake bake odor. It stops the problem at the source.
The solution is compatible with all HVLP and airbrush systems.
Norvell Premium Sunless Tanning Solution – Competition Black Out
Competition Black Out is the ideal tanning solution when you need to look absolutely fantastic.
This isn’t a rapid tanning spray. Instead, it’s designed to deepen your skin’s color for competitions and the stage. As such, it takes time and multiple applications to create the ideal shade.
Norvell suggests the following schedule. Imagine that you want to be bronzed for Saturday. You’ll begin on Wednesday with the first application. Don’t shower until Thursday right before you apply the second coat. Then on Friday, do one more application.
Norvell Ultra Vivid Color Collection ‘Cosmo’ Professional Spray Tan Solution
For ultra-rich color, try the Cosmo blend of Venetian and Dark solutions.
It’s made with organic and naturally-derived ingredients like aloe, cranberry, and tomato extracts.
Even the alcohol in it is derived from sugarcane.
SJOLIE Icon Reserve : Tier One – Fast Drying Spray Tan Solution
SJOLIE knows that spray tanning can be messy. That’s why they created the fast-drying solution. You can dress just one minute after applying it. It doesn’t feel tacky or sticky.
Even though it dries ten times faster than competing brands, it ensures that you get a base tan within the normal timeframe.
Furthermore, it’s free of erythrulose and parabens.
Maintain Your Bronze after Spray Tanning
Just like with a suntan, you can make your spray tan last longer by moisturizing and not exfoliating.
Instead of using oils, stick with water-based lotions.
Besides that, don’t soak in the bathtub for at least a day after you spray tan. Keep your showers short and don’t exfoliate.
Also, you can touch up your tan with a lotion that has DHA in it.
Norvell Post Sunless pH-Balancing Cleanser
Norvell helps you extend your tan by preserving the natural acidity of your skin.
Regular soap wrecks your pH balance and fades your spray tan.
Shower with this cleanser instead and enjoy the soft vanilla fragrance.
Norvell Prolong Sunless Tanning Color Extender Moisturizing Lotion
Norvell’s lotion hydrates your skin and maintains your tan. It has a gentle amount of DHA to prolong your color.
Enjoy a gorgeous tan without the risk of sunburn or skin cancer. Use one of the best spray tan solutions to develop a beautiful bronze.
Modern sunless tan solutions are effective and safe when you follow the directions. You’ll look sun-kissed for about as long as you would after tanning outdoors.
If you have a favorite brand of sunless tanner, let me know in the comments below.
1. https://www.elle.com/beauty/makeup-skin-care/news/a14938/pale-girls-guide-to-spray-tan/ by Megan Cahn, published June 5, 2014, accessed September 16, 2019
2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dihydroxyacetone accessed September 16, 2019
3. https://www.skincancer.org/blog/sunless-tanning-explained/ by Ali Venosa, accessed September 16, 2019