Do Spray Tans Work?

Do Spray Tans Work

For many people, having a sun-kissed glow is desirable to boost their confidence and enhance their appearance. However, with the well-known risks associated with sun exposure, it’s no surprise that more and more people are turning to spray tans as a safer alternative. But do spray tans work? 

Despite their growing popularity, there’s still some debate around the effectiveness of spray tans. In this article, we’ll explore how spray tans work, their pros and cons, and offer tips for getting the best results. By the end, you’ll better understand whether spray tans can help you achieve your desired natural tan.

What Are Spray Tans?

Spray tans are a cosmetic treatment that provides the appearance of a natural, sun-kissed tan without the need for UV exposure. Using a spray gun or other spray application methods, they use a chemical solution on the skin. 

Different types of spray tans are available, such as airbrush tans, booth tans, and handheld spray tans, and each has its unique application method. Airbrush tans involve a technician spraying the solution onto the skin using an airbrush gun, while booth tans involve stepping into a booth that sprays the solution from different angles. Handheld spray tans affect a portable spray gun that can apply the answer to the skin.

How Do Spray Tans Work?

Have you ever wondered how a simple chemical reaction can turn your skin from pale to golden in hours? Well, that’s precisely what happens when you get a spray tan. The magic ingredient in spray tans is dihydroxyacetone (DHA). This colorless sugar reacts with the proteins and amino acids in the top layer of your skin to create a brown pigment known as melanoidin.

This process is known as the Maillard reaction, which occurs when you cook food at high temperatures. In the case of spray tans, DHA reacts with the amino acids and proteins in the outermost layer of your skin to create melanoidin, a brown pigment that gives your skin a natural-looking tan.

The depth of the tan depends on the concentration of DHA in the spray tan solution and the amount of time the answer is left on the skin. Typically, spray tans take several hours to develop fully, with the final color becoming apparent within 24 hours. Depending on the solution’s concentration and the individual’s skin type, the color may continue to develop for up to 48 hours after application.

The Effectiveness of Spray Tans

When it comes to the effectiveness of spray tans, there are a few key factors to consider.

Quality of Spray Tan Solution

The quality of the spray tan solution is crucial in determining how well the tan develops and how long it lasts. The concentration of dihydroxyacetone (DHA), the active ingredient in most spray tan solutions, can vary between brands and formulations. A higher concentration of DHA typically results in a darker and longer-lasting tan. In addition to DHA, the quality of the other ingredients, such as moisturizers or antioxidants, can also impact the effectiveness of the spray tan.

Application Method and Technique

The application method and technique used by the technician can significantly impact the final result of the spray tan. Factors such as the spray nozzle’s angle, the distance between the nozzle and the skin, and the amount of solution used can all affect the tan’s appearance and longevity. The technician’s skill and experience are also critical in ensuring a smooth and even application.

Individual’s Skin Type and Condition

The individual’s skin type and condition can impact the longevity and appearance of the spray tan. Dry skin, for example, can cause the tan to fade more quickly. Skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis can also affect the spray tan’s appearance and longevity. In addition, individuals with naturally oily skin may find that the spray tan fades more quickly or appears uneven.

Skin Preparation

Preparing the skin before the spray tan can also impact the tan’s effectiveness. Exfoliating the skin before the spray tan is recommended to remove any dead skin cells that may interfere with the solution’s absorption. Shaving or waxing should also be done before the spray tan to prevent patchiness or uneven fading.

Post-Tan Care

After the spray tan, taking care of the skin is essential to extend the tan’s longevity and prevent uneven fading. Moisturizing the skin regularly can help to keep it hydrated and prevent the tan from fading prematurely. Avoiding activities that cause sweating, such as intense exercise, can also help maintain the tan’s appearance. Finally, avoiding prolonged exposure to water, such as swimming or bathing, can also help to extend the tan’s longevity.

Are Spray Tans Safe?

Spray tans have become an increasingly popular alternative to traditional tanning methods. However, many people may wonder whether spray tans are safe and what potential risks or side effects may be associated with this cosmetic treatment. While spray tans are generally considered safe, there are several factors to consider regarding the safety and effectiveness of this treatment.

  1. Chemical Composition of Spray Tan Solutions: While the active ingredient in most spray tan solutions, dihydroxyacetone (DHA), is generally considered safe, some individuals may experience adverse reactions. For example, some people may be allergic to DHA, which can cause itching, redness, and swelling. In addition, other ingredients in the spray tan solution, such as fragrances or preservatives, may cause skin irritation or allergic reactions.
  2. Inhalation of Spray Tan Solution: When spray tans are applied, some of the solutions can become airborne and may be inhaled. While the amount of spray tan solution inhaled is generally considered safe, some people may experience respiratory symptoms, such as coughing or wheezing, after exposure to the solution. It is recommended to wear a mask or other protective gear during the spray tan application process to reduce the risk of inhalation.
  3. Eye and Mucous Membrane Exposure: Spray tans can also risk the eyes and mucous membranes. If the solution comes into contact with the eyes, it can cause irritation or redness. 
  4. Sun Sensitivity: DHA can cause increased sensitivity to sunlight, so individuals who have recently had a spray tan should avoid prolonged sun exposure or tanning beds. Wear sunscreen as much as you can. 

Do Spray Tans Work?

If you’ve been skeptical about the effectiveness of spray tans, it’s time to try them and see the results for yourself! While spray tanning may seem simple, the science behind it is fascinating.  

With the right spray tan solution and application technique, you can achieve a beautiful and natural-looking tan lasting for days. So if you’re looking for a safe and effective way to get that summer glow all year round, why not try a spray tan today? You may be surprised at how well they do work! Contact Thrive Aesthetics and Wellness to learn more about our services today!

Leigh Wolf

Licensed Master Esthetician

Leigh is a Master Esthetician with over 25 years of experience in the skin-care industry. She specializes in the clinical treatment of aging and problem skin, and offers an extensive list of aesthetic services. Leigh graduated from the Tennessee Academy of Cosmetology in 1995 and has since obtained additional certifications, training, and education. She holds a diploma in Advanced Skincare from Georgia Career Institute and has obtained certifications for both lash extensions and microblading. Leigh has not allowed the skin care and aesthetics industry to advance without her over the last 25 years. She is known for the enthusiasm she has for her career and her willingness to pursue advancements made in the industry. Leigh loves helping each client achieve what they are looking for and ensures they leave happy with their results.

Leigh has three children and she currently lives in Monroe, GA. She loves spending time with her family, learning about the latest and greatest in the beauty industry, and shopping.

Deanna Glenn

Office Manager

Deanna is our wonderful office manager and right-hand (wo)man. She ensures the smooth operation of our office and has over 8 years of experience in Healthcare Administration. Deanna graduated from The University of Phoenix in 2014, with a Bachelor’s in Healthcare Administration. After graduating, she worked as the Practice Manager for a cosmetic surgery practice. While most of her work is done behind the scenes, Deanna is a crucial member of the Thrive team. Deanna explains everything in a way that is understandable and her friendly demeanor always makes people feel valued. She is dedicated to ensuring that our client’s experience outside the treatment room is as satisfying as during their treatment.

Deanna currently lives in Jefferson, GA with her husband and two kids. Deanna loves to travel, read a good book and spend quality time with family and friends.

Caitlin Briscoe


Caitlin is a registered nurse with over 8 years of experience in the cosmetics industry. She is a nurse injector and senior cosmetic laser practitioner.

Caitlin graduated from Piedmont College in 2014 with a degree in Nursing. After graduating, she worked in the operating room as a circulating nurse for cosmetic surgeries. Caitlin began performing cosmetic injections in 2016 and has since obtained training and certifications in various other cosmetic and aesthetic services; such as microneedling, chemical peels, and various laser treatments. Caitlin takes the time to form relationships with her clients to gain an understanding of their personal goals and address their individual concerns.

Caitlin currently lives in Good Hope, Georgia with her husband and two daughters. Caitlin enjoys shopping, traveling, and spending time with her family and friends.

Lindsey Whitehurst



Lindsey is a Certified Nurse Midwife with over 4 years of experience in cosmetics, wellness, and women’s health.

Lindsey attended Augusta University for her undergraduate degree where she graduated in 2017 with her Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing. She later obtained a Master’s of Science from Emory University in 2018 where she specialized in Nurse-Midwifery. Before transitioning into the cosmetics and wellness industry; Lindsey worked in women’s health, treating both Obstetric and Gynecology patients. Lindsey has a warm and personal approach to her clients, she is known for partnering with her patients to create tailored treatment plans that address their individual cosmetic and wellness goals. She takes the time to listen to patient concerns and answer questions while providing evidence-based care and maintaining patient safety. Lindsey is dedicated to ensuring each patient understands and is comfortable prior to providing their treatments and services.

Lindsey has lived in Monroe for 15 years with her four children. She enjoys spending time with her family, interior decorating, watching UGA football, and loves fall weather and being outdoors.

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