Airbrush tanning increasingly is the go-to choice for those seeking a quick tan with a natural, sun-kissed appearance but without the risk of sunburn or permanent sun damage like wrinkles or age spots. Unlike bronzing makeup that washes off in the next shower, airbrush tanning typically lasts about five to nine days, gradually fading as the skin sheds its top layer.
Airbrush tans applied by a professional in a salon, spa, or studio offer other perks, such as body contouring. Skilled technicians control the airbrush to shade some areas darker to minimize problem areas or to accentuate muscle definition. Airbrush technology compresses air to generate a fine mist of tiny droplets that enables soft, seamless blending. It’s the same airbrush technology once used on fashion photos to blur out models’ “defects.”
Since the mist is applied by hand, technicians also control the spray so less of it reaches body parts that absorb more color, such as knees, to craft an even tan.
Today’s airbrush tanning also provides a wider, customized palette of tanning shades to better complement a client’s natural coloring. Fortunately, the “orange” results so common to vintage self-tanning now can be avoidable with professional applications of improved tanning formulas – but choose your products and services wisely.
Another improvement: instead of choosing between the privacy of self-tanning at home and a professional tanning, you may be able to enjoy a mobile airbrush-tanning visit to your house. The tech brings in a pop-up tent or similar structure to spray the tan without making a mess.
Prepping for Your Appointment & Post Care
It’s a good idea to exfoliate your skin before the tanning session to prep it to absorb the tanning solution, but not on the same day of the appointment since it may dry out your skin. Do shave as usual before your appointment. However, on the day of your appointment don’t use oil-based shaving cream. Don’t wear antiperspirant or makeup except for lip balm to shield your lips. In short, don’t put anything on your skin that will come between it and the tanning solution. Some salons do sell a primer to apply beforehand to enhance absorption of the solution.
When dressing after your appointment, don’t put on constrictive clothing or shoes that might rub your skin and disturb the application. Consider wearing dark, loose-fitting clothes that cover as much skin as possible since the solution, even when dry, can come off and discolor your furniture.
After application, it usually takes three to four hours or more for your tan to develop. Expect your tanning professional to counsel you not to shower or bathe for four to 24 hours as your tan continues to develop. During this period, don’t let any water contact your skin. Wear waterproof gloves when washing dishes. Avoid anything that causes you to sweat a lot. Swimming in a chlorinated pool during the tan-activation period is the biggest no-no. The chlorine will start fading the tan color that’s already developed as well as stopping the remaining tanning process by rinsing off the solution. When you do wash the first time, be kind to your new tan and take a warm, quick shower rather than a hot, long bath.
To preserve your airbrush tan as long as possible, keep your skin moisturized because when dry, the outer layer of skin sloughs off faster. Ask your tanning tech to recommend the best moisturizers. Remember, anything that has a drying or an exfoliating effect on your skin will shorten the life of your tan.