Monday, November 25, 2013

Why does my skin look bad in the winter?

I don’t know about you, but when I think about the oncoming winter I think about my skin drying out from the wind and the cold. I think about how terrible my skin looks at the supermarket, at restaurants, and at work. So I started wondering: why does my skin look so bad in the winter? The answer surprised me.

At first, I thought that my skin looked so bad because it had dried out.

Moisturizers are great at keeping your skin healthy in the winter. My feet dry out the fastest, and quickly become a “danger zone”. My heels crack and split, and it can be painful to walk. My elbows, arms, and face, thankfully, do not reach this same level, but they can get so dry that my skin becomes very patchy. To counteract this, I use moisturizers. But even though I keep my skin clean and healthy, I still look patchy and uneven while I’m out and about.

The visible spectrum of sunlight
If the secret isn’t in keeping my skin hydrated, then what’s wrong?

Believe it or not, the answer is in the lighting. In the winter we are forced to live with considerably less sunshine (It’s pitch black when I’m leaving work); to counteract this we have this nifty invention called the light bulb. Unfortunately there is a very large discrepancy between natural light and the artificial light that comes out of our lamps.

Visible spectrum of artificial light

Sunlight contains the full spectrum of the rainbow (remember Roy G. Biv?), artificial light contains three colors (blue, green, and red). Okay, so what does that mean for your skin?

What it means is that any naturally-occurring blemishes on your skin are going to appear magnified. Why? Because with only three colors to transition through your skin has to blend one extreme color with another extreme color instead of picking and choosing through a large selection.

So my clients’ skin looks uneven because of artificial light; what does this mean for me and my spray tanning business?

This is actually great news for you!

With a spray tan, your skin will look smoother, even under artificial light. Because of this, you can sell a subtle, extremely light spray tan as a product with a focus on “evening out skin tone” rather than “getting a tan”. This can help clear up hyper-pigmentation, acne, and makes your skin look healthy all winter long. 

Given that the "slow season" is starting up again soon, this would be a great idea for salons: just remember that it should be marketed less as “a tan” and more about keeping your skin tone even and healthy looking, and as always, remind your clients to maintain a rigid moisturizing regimen.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Why is my spray tan business always slow in the winter?

Your business is great in the spring and summer. Around November it starts slowing down. December, January? Forget about it.

While a healthy tan undoubtedly looks great in the summer, when the winter rolls around people just don’t want that “fresh off the beach” look because it does not look natural. They don’t want to walk into work and have their coworkers wink and say, “hey, nice fake tan you got there.” Nobody wants that—the purpose of a fake tan is that it looks as natural as a sun tan.

There is a common misconception that there are only one or two types of spray tan solution. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Just as there are products that develop faster, or tan you more deeply, there are also products that are perfect for providing subtle color for the winter months, weddings, and holiday family portraits.

Instead of trying to figure out how much of that “universal solution” to spray, wouldn’t it be easier just to find a solution that is formulated for gentler use? It would certainly take the worry off my mind.

Following that idea, how easily do you tan in the winter?

The quick answer is not easily at all. Nobody can just walk outside and tan in the winter, and many people believe that any tan they get in the winter would look unnatural. I am happy to tell you that this is absolutely untrue.

A spray tan can achieve any color that you could naturally get from sun tanning.

A wedding by Attagirl Spray Tan using Aviva Labs

This means that a spray tan can get you as dark as your darkest summer tan, but it can also give you just a hint of color in the winter. You don’t have to always look like you just came in from the beach; in fact, there are many people who get tans and nobody is the wiser. 

How is this possible?

By knowing what you want from your solution.

Look for a solution that is client-specific, not general-purpose. I only shop “One size fits all” when I’m buying sweatpants, or some other cheap thing that isn’t really worth my time. A spray tan should never fall into this category—a spray tan should be refined for the individual like a tailored suit or a carefully fitted dress. If your clients knew they had a choice between suffering with their winter pale and enjoying a hint of color that would help make their skin even and blemish-free, which do you think they would choose? Pretty loaded question right? Then why are you losing business in the winter??

How can I sell a winter spray tan to my clients?

Really, it shouldn’t be all that hard. Your clients are already coming to you because they love your product, and love how they look after being spray tanned.

Explain that a more subtle tan can take out any irregularities in their skin while keeping a natural look—this is great because in the winter our skin really takes a beating and a little help goes a long way!

Remind them to think about the holidays—and what about family portraits and gatherings? How many times has old Aunt Bethany said that you need more sun, or need to lose some weight? A spray tan can help you look healthier and more toned.

Offer your clients discounts for sharing the gift of a spray tan with their friends (for a secret Santa present or just as a holiday gift). This could be great because they feel like they are getting a gift too while drumming up new business for you!

Don’t Forget New Years! Everyone wants to look their best heading into the new year. Suggest a pamper party to gear up for a fun night. Nails, massages, spray tan, some drinks—anything you (and/or maybe a coworker) can do to make their evening unforgettable.

These are just a few of the holiday ideas that could turn your slowest time of the year into some of your busiest. Don’t forget that during the winter, any excuse to do something fun will be more than appreciated by your clients!

Want to share some winter tips you've found? Let us know on Facebook, and we can help spread the word!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Part Two: How Do I Get The Best Spray Tan?

5. Spray Technique

Based on years of experience teaching other professionals, and with working with our vast, international clientele of salons and spas, we have found that spraying horizontally produces more even results and is less time consuming than any other method. We have tried each and every technique for spraying, and the results are always the same: side to side is best.

6. Using 10% DHA solution on a client who should be getting sprayed with 8% DHA (or 12% on a 10% client, etc). 

You can’t use the same solution on every single client. Before you spray tan anyone, you need to know how they fair in the sun. If they burn easily, then they will likewise tan easily. If you use a high percentage DHA solution on a client who burns very easily, there is a greater risk that their skin will absorb too much—just as if they had stayed out in the sun too long. So make sure you talk to your client's before you tan them!

7. Post-tan Care: Moisturizing of the Skin.

The sunless tan only colors the outer layer of skin cells, and your tan will fade as evenly as your skin cells die. This means that you need to make sure you are moisturizing your body, and paying particular care to those areas that are drier (elbows, knuckles, and anywhere that sweat collects like cleavage or inner elbows).

Much like the problem with exfoliants, there are moisturizers out there that will actually degrade your tan by drying your skin out faster. This is caused in one of two ways: 1. Putting the moisturizer on before your tan can block the DHA from properly setting into your skin. 2. If the moisturizer includes certain oils it can dry your skin out, thus causing your tan to fade faster.

8. Outside factors:

There are always outside factors that can have an effect on the spray tan, and there are far too many to write down in one guide; eczema, acne, psoriasis, certain diets, medications, hormones, other skin conditions and skincare products all have the potential to change a tan. The best way to combat this is by doing research on whichever problems arise for you.

One example I can quickly provide is that if you wash your skin with soaps that contain oil or AHA (Alpha Hydroxy Acid), you can greatly accelerate the fading of the tan.

The last and most important thing that I want to tell you is not to be frightened: we have thousands of thrilled salons & spas worldwide who spray tan every day without any problems—these are just to help you IF you ever experience anything similar.

For other helpful video tips, please visit our Video Library.

Part One: How Do I Get The Best Spray Tan?

Maybe you've been spray tanning for years, maybe you're new to the industry--either way you may be undermining your work by not achieving the best results possible. I've talked to salon and spa professionals, mobile business owners, skincare consultants, and using that information have come up with a quick list that may help you get the very most from your spray tan. 
A wedding by Aviva Labs and Attagirl Spray Tans

Here are some steps to easily remember to ensure that your clients are getting the most out of their tan and that you are producing flawless results every time:

1. Pre-tan Preparation: Clients are not preparing with a proper exfoliant.

Not preparing your skin for a spray tan would be like not washing an apple before you eat it. It's a healthy thing to have, but made less effective by the residue that's on the surface. For apples this can mean pesticides, for spray tans this can mean anything that's on your skin from moisturizers to soaps, shampoos, and perfumes.  

There are lots of great exfoliants, body polishes, and body scrubs on the market, and your clients very likely already have several at home. What they might not know is that not all exfoliants are the same. Almost all exfoliants clean your skin by scrubbing off dead skin cells; unfortunately, most also include an oil or a moisturizer meant to hydrate your skin. 

While this would not be a bad thing, normally—it certainly is when you are getting a spray tan. 

Having these oils and moisturizers on your skin can affect the length and strength of your tan. Instead, look for an exfoliant that leaves your skin as fresh and “naked” as possible

Places that are commonly missed/overlooked/need special attention during exfoliation: 

Hairline--this can create a ghastly tan line between your forehead and your hair--unless you wear hats all day, every day, you definitely want to make sure that this area is carefully treated. 

Back, neck, and shoulders: If you have long hair--be sure to pin it up and scrub from the base of the neck and up so that this area is clean and fresh. Also, make sure you scrub your shoulders, neck, and back AFTER you rinse your hair--this is to make sure that any shampoo residue that rinsed off your hair is then scrubbed from your body entirely instead of simply finding a new place on your shoulders. 

Around your armpits: Deodorants will leave a barrier with your tan. Think of it this way: after I put on deodorant I don't spend the rest of the day with my arms in the air. I walk, I swing my arms back and forth, I wave---all the normal activities, or abnormal if you are doing something strange, move that deodorant around. So it may stain down farther than you expect on either your arm or your side (especially if you were wearing it while working out!) So make sure to scrub around this area carefully. I'm not saying scrub your armpits, but I am saying be aware that deodorant can "travel" to other places--and these places will need to be exfoliated. 

Be careful: some deodorants can affect the color of the bronzer part of the tanning application--this will be rinsed away with your first shower, but it could look weird until then. 

Knuckles: your knuckles get pretty dry, they scrape stuff, punch walls, and get generally roughed up. They also have stuff on them--think about how many times your hands touch things throughout the day. Clean these well!

Elbows and knees: backs and fronts! These are joints, and joints get much more movement and activity than say, your forearm. They also just generally dry out faster than the rest of your skin so be sure to carefully exfoliate--this will ensure that the tan lasts longer in these areas.

2. Equipment: Spray equipment needs to be cleaned. 

Perfect Glow creating a great day with Aviva Labs
Obviously this one is important. I mean, you're not dumping the solution over your client's head--or at least you shouldn't be--you're spraying it from the machine. If the machine isn't working properly, the tan won't come out properly, it's that simple.

A High Volume, Low Pressure, or HVLP spray gun machine operates by spraying liquid through a very small opening (where the needle fits through the hole). Over time, this opening gets clogged from the buildup of sunless solution, lint, dust, etc., and it must be periodically disassembled and cleaned. I recommend doing this about once every month, unless you are spray tanning vast numbers of clients. This one minute instructional video should cover everything you need to know about disassembling, cleaning, and reassembling your spray gun.

3. Spray Technique: The spray gun is being held too close to client during spraying. 

Pretty straight forward, I recommend holding the airbrush 8’-12” from the client’s skin. And remember to pull the spray gun back away from the hands and feet in a very gentle fanning motion: this is because these areas don’t need nearly as much spray to achieve the same color.

4. Spray Technique: Application is too heavy—too much solution being sprayed on clients.

On average, you should only be using about 2 oz of liquid per full body spray. If you are using more than this and your spray gun has been adjusted (see our spray gun troubleshooting article), your technique might need to be improved a bit. For this, please consider taking an in-house training course from a reputable company.

(Continued in part two)

For other helpful video tips, please visit our Video Library.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

How do I set up a spray tan tent?

The Co-founder of our company, Mitch Bloom, challenged me to set up and take down a spray tent, “Just so I could have the experience.” I’ve heard they were difficult to deal with, but was sure that I could handle it: I nearly lost an eye (and my temper). I’ve decided to put together a short article about my adventure.

Moving it to my “set up” spot

I had two spray tents that I tried out. One was the kind that you can easily find on Youtube, the other was similar, but with a sturdier built frame and with poles made from the stuff high-tension deep sea fishing rods are made from (it was also a much more expensive tent).

I decided to try to move the tent in two ways:

1. In its round carrying case

2. Folded up into thirds so it lies flat, but not “rolled up”. I decided to do this because recently a spray tan consultant confided that this is how she transports hers, rather than stuffing it back into its bag.

The round carrying case is nice, a little awkward to put into the trunk of a small car like mine. Other than that it wasn’t a problem—I began to think that maybe this wouldn’t be that hard after all.

I nearly knocked over a lamp when moving the folded tent and had to set the thing on the ground to open up the door. I can easily see how this could be annoying and unprofessional for anyone with their own mobile spray tan business—instead of looking like I was boxing with a bear, I would want to look like I know what I’m doing, like I have everything under control. 


Set up was pretty easy—both the tents popped right open, and after a little bit of a struggle I figured out that you have to pull the tent out of itself so that it stands upright. This was pretty confusing at first because it doesn’t really look like it should bend that way.

When it was set up, I wrote up a quick article about how I felt the spray tan tent compared to backdrops, which was to say that there is really no comparison.

Fold up instructions:

Take down

If you enjoy something that feels like fighting an angry bear every time you want to spray tan, then a spray tent is the product for you! I felt like an idiot when I was trying to fold the tents back down—even after our president, Mitch Bloom, showed me how it was still a challenge.

For one thing I was terrified that I was going to break the darn thing—its thin, slippery plastic and some tent rods. I mean come on: my dog has torn through a tent like that and not even realized it had walked through something.

The over-complicated nature of this process just makes this a poor choice, especially for mobile businesses. And why bother go through all the hassle if you have easier alternatives anyways?

Walk Away

The last, easiest, and by far most satisfying part of this entire project!

--Good luck to anyone out there with one of these! Feel free to write to me and describe your experiences.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Part Three: Easy-fix solutions to spray gun problems, Other Issues

Other issues

None of the above seem to be the issue? Below are some more tips that may help you solve that problem.

If your gun seems to be sputtering or spitting like my grandfather used to whenever he forgot to put in his dentures: This is most often caused by a clog in the nozzle (see image above: item 3).

Think of it this way: when you’re watering your garden, have you ever put your thumb over the hose to spray farther? Have you noticed that some water squirts around your thumb and maybe gets you wet as well? That’s essentially what is happening to the nozzle. Something as small as a hair can potentially cause a clog and send the solution spraying in a different direction.

This can affect your tanning by allowing the bronzer (a thinner liquid) to “shoot” out of the spray gun while the DHA (a thicker liquid) is more easily clogged. What this means is that your clients will appear to have a tan, but then it will wash off (because it is only the bronzer that they actually got sprayed with). Obviously, this is a problem you want fixed as soon as possible!

To fix: Fixing this problem is easy. Simply disassemble the gun and run water through the nozzle piece. Lift the nozzle up to a light and look through the tiny hole. If you can see anything in there then it needs to be rinsed out more.

If your gun is shooting solution off to one side what is probably happening is one of two things:

1. The hole at the tip of your gun has been gunked up, in which case please refer to: Cleaning your spray gun


2. The needle may be damaged in some way.

If you have a steel needle and have not been using your spray gun as a hammer then there should be no way that it has become pitted or gouged; however, if you have a plastic needle then you may have some problems.

Plastic needles can become gouged, scratched, bent, chipped, scraped, or even broken off. Given that the solution is being sprayed out from such a small hole, even a small change in the needle can drastically affect the difference in how the spray gun is operating.

Unfortunately, if your needle has been damaged in some way there is only one cure: Replacement.

If it seems like it may just be coated or need to be cleaned: rinse it under hot water—do not scrub it as this may damage a needle if it’s plastic.

If the solution isn’t spraying at all, you may want to first ensure that the gun is clean and the nozzle hole is not blocked by anything. Secondly, check to make sure the dip tube is free from blockage and, third, that the air hose is properly connected to both the spray gun and the air compressor.

Hopefully, your problems have been solved. If, for whatever reason, your spray gun still does not seem to be fixed after reading these three articles--or you are confused about any part--please call Aviva Labs and we will help you sort it out. 

Part Two: Easy-fix solutions to spray gun problems, Over spray


Overspray—The dreaded “Fog”: nobody wants to feel like they are getting a spray tan from a sneezing giant so you should be doing your best to ensure that your gun is spraying a fine, gentle mist.

One of the causes of over spray is that your spray gun’s trigger is set to allow too much solution to pass through when the gun is “fired”. What this does is allow the needle at the tip of your gun to pull back too far and thus let more solution shoot out.

To fix: try adjusting how far back the trigger can be pulled. To do this, adjust the nob at the back of your spray gun (located just beneath the connection with the air hose) and tighten it until the trigger cannot be pulled at all (Remember: righty tighty, lefty loosey).

Each gun has a different trigger sensitivity, but the following method works for every spray gun we produce:

1. With no cup of spray tan solution in the gun, turn the machine on and begin “shooting” air through the spray gun. Note: because the nob has been completely tightened, no solution would be able to get through if the cup was in place.

2. Begin loosening the nob, all the while still gently pulling the trigger (don’t pull too hard that you have to struggle against yourself to unscrew the nob). 

3. As soon as any give occurs in the trigger, stop unscrewing the nob! Now, you can unscrew the nob a tiny bit more, but to be safe try the gun out in this position first. 

4. At this point, your gun should not cause any more over spray (unless the needle needs to be cleaned).

The easiest way to demonstrate how to clean your spray gun is with a direct link to our video: Cleaning my spray gun.

This will cover everything you need to know and should fix your over spray problem if resetting the trigger has not.

Hopefully, your problems have been solved. If, for whatever reason, your spray gun still does not seem to be fixed after reading these three articles--or you are confused about any part--please call Aviva Labs and we will help you sort it out.

Part One: Easy-fix solutions to spray gun problems, Leaking Cup

If you’re reading this then you may have been swearing a few minutes ago. Maybe you’re swearing now. This article will pinpoint what the $%*& is wrong with your &*%$ing spray gun and teach you how to quickly fix it.

Leaking Cup

This is the issue we get most of our calls about. Almost 90% of the time the cup is simply cross-threaded or not on tight enough. The other 10% includes the Dip Tube being loose, the gun needing to be cleaned, and one perpetually unlucky cat named Whiskers.

1. You may be missing a piece: before going any further, first check to make sure you have all the required pieces. A leaking cup can sometimes be caused when the white gasket is not in place (see: Item 15 in the diagram). Also, be sure that the gasket is set firmly into the recess of the spray gun—making sure that it is flat, even, and snug. If you have lost or misplaced the gasket, your spray gun will continue to bubble and drip  —Please, don’t hesitate to call Aviva for a replacement.

2. The cup is cross-threaded: A leaking cup can occur when the cup is not tightened into the gun properly. The cup is somewhat easy to incorrectly thread and this will result in spray tan solution leaking from the seam between the cup and the spray gun.

To fix: try taking the cup back off, cleaning the threads, and screwing it back in—taking care to check that the threads are aligned properly. (Hint: I would suggest screwing the cup in a little, then unscrewing it half a turn back just to make sure that the threads are aligned. Then repeat this process until the cup is tightened completely.) 

3. The cup may not be tight enough: because it is a pressurized air gun, the cup needs to be fit snugly into the gun.

To fix: Make sure that the cup has been sealed tightly (only hand-tight), but do not try to over-tighten. If the cup still does not seem tight enough, check to make sure you haven’t cross-threaded the cup. 

4. The straw (or Dip Tube) that goes from your cup to the gun may be loose: This is the piece that brings the air to the solution, and because it is nestled in the middle of the cup, it can become dislodged and cause your spray gun to drool.

To fix: Pull the straw entirely out of the spray gun and reinsert it by firmly pushing it back into the hole of the gun until you feel a little “pop” and the ridge on the straw is locked securely in the gun.

Hopefully, your problems have been solved. If, for whatever reason, your spray gun still does not seem to be fixed after reading these three articles--or you are confused about any part--please call Aviva Labs and we will help you sort it out.

Friday, November 15, 2013

How quiet should my spray tan machine be?

Close your eyes. Imagine you’ve just walked into a room. It’s warm. You’re welcomed by a smiling consultant. You are lead into a quiet room, and asked to make yourself comfortable. There is soft music, something you might easily fall asleep to. Your consultant returns, smiling, wielding a roaring, snarling chainsaw. Okay, now open your eyes; I have two questions for you:

1. Would you find something as loud as a chainsaw relaxing when you are being beautified?

2. How did you read any of that with your eyes closed? Were you peaking?

Obviously, nobody wants to listen to a weed whacker when they are getting a massage. No one enjoys listening to construction when they are driving home from work. So why have such a loud noise in your spray tan salon or mobile business?

There are several things to consider when looking for a quiet spray tan machine:

Decibel level

Sound boxes


Decibel Level 

This is pretty straight forward. You don’t want to deafen your clients. If your spray tan machine has ever been mistaken for a jet at takeoff: it’s probably time to get a new one. If your spray tan machine has ever set off a car alarm, or been so loud that you couldn’t hear your client talking: it’s probably time to get a new one.

Luckily, spray tan machines can now be made quieter than a vacuum cleaner. While there will always be a little sound (it is a small air compressor after all), it should never be something you should have to scream over.

I’ve included a chart to give you an idea of how many decibels are in common noises we are surrounded by every day. To give you an even more in-depth idea: our smaller machine, the T100X HVLP (High volume low pressure), is 71 decibels, and the Mighty Mist is only 60 decibels. This is not a typo, the larger is quieter.

To give you an idea of what you don't want: the threshold of pain is 130 decibels. 

Sound Boxes 

Sound boxes can be a great addition to a salon or spa professional who wants to make the quietest atmosphere possible. Before you go running off this page to buy one though, you should be careful what you purchase.

If you’re seriously considering this option I would caution you against getting anything too big. What happens if halfway through a spray tan you find out that you are not going to be able to reach all the way around your client? Pretty embarrassing right? Now you have to go all “Arnold Schwarzenegger” on that box, lift it up, and move it to where you need it (and then say to your client in your best impersonation: “I lift things up, and put them down”).

You can get sound boxes on wheels, and this will negate that worry and the need for terrible voice acting, but then you should make sure that you aren’t trying to push it across any carpeted areas or anything that the wheels could get caught up on (wires, cords).

Make sure that whichever box you choose, it comes with intake and exhaust holes—wouldn’t want to overheat your machine and leave someone half-tanned now would we?

In the end it’s a box. So don’t go too crazy when you buy one, alright? It’s not like you’re buying a new car or something…it’s a box. If you are paying 200 dollars for a box, then there is nothing I can do to help you.


Reviews for spray tan machines should be from actual customers. I would love to tell you to buy the Mini Mist, and why not buy 100 liters of solution while you’re at it? But more than that, I want to tell you to do your own independent research and find out for yourself which is best for your company. In the end what matters is if it’s a right fit for you.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Part Two of: Where can I find organic spray tan solution? Organic checklist

Not sure what you should be looking for in an organic spray tan solution? Below is a checklist to help you out:

√   Hypoallergenic—Over half of all Americans have allergies. It’s your choice: risk an allergic reaction or avoid worrying altogether. I don’t know about you, but I sure know what I would prefer if I had a choice between suffering an allergic reaction and getting a spray tan that was healthy and natural.

√   FDA approval—Simply put: if the FDA says it’s healthy enough to eat, then it’s definitely healthy enough to tan with. Personally I wouldn’t encourage you to drink any spray tan solution because people will look at you like you’re slightly crazy, but nothing will happen if you do accidentally get some in your mouth.
√   Vegan—This is more for peace of mind of your client: they want to feel good about their product. There is no reason whatsoever for animal products to be used in a spray tan, and besides: animal testing is just mean (although I imagine an English bulldog would look adorable with a tan). 

Complete this checklist and you may have found a product that is tested to be safe, and remember: by keeping a product simple (as in: it does not include unnecessary oils, fragrances, and alcohols), you are also choosing a solution that is healthy, natural, and safe!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Part One of: Where can I find organic spray tan solution? Allergens to avoid

Let’s face it, your clients aren’t coming to you for a spray tan because it’s the most convenient way to get a tan; they are coming to you because they want a healthy, natural-looking alternative to getting a tan from the sun. Your clients are trusting you with their well-being; you want to be sure to return the favor by providing them with a healthy, clean, and, most importantly, allergy-free solution.

It's an unfortunate truth that no spray tan solution in the world can be 100% organic, or certified organic through the USDA, but there are plenty of things to look out for when deciding what spray tan solution to use.

There are several things to be on the lookout for:

Walnuts, peanuts, cashews, hazelnuts—nut allergies in general--

I’m not going to insult your intelligence by naming more nuts, but feel free to send me Pistachios at any time.

Why are there nuts in my solution?

In England alone, 4,000 people are diagnosed with a peanut allergy every year; in America, 55% of the population has allergies. How much are you willing to bet that none of your clients have allergies? I’ll take whatever odds you’re giving.

Nuts are usually used for their oil. See what happens is this: a company produces a spray tanning formula with DHA, which both tans and dries out the skin. This same company then chooses the less expensive nut oils to use as a moisturizer instead of water (which is of course natural, healthy, and safe). By choosing the oils over a water-based moisturizer this company is announcing three things: they would rather make a cheap solution than a good one, they don’t know much about skincare (or they would know that oil is bad for your skin), and, worst of all, that they would rather risk your life than simply make a better solution.

This same company also needs to cover up the smell of poorly treated DHA. (DHA only smells bad, and only needs to be “covered up with a scent”, if it has not been properly formulated). Companies like this hide their mistakes by offering you solutions that smell like coconut, lavender, strawberries, and things like that. What they can’t hide is that:

If a solution has any added fragrance then it most likely also contains nuts and other allergens.

Alcohols—used to counteract the sticky, tacky feel that an oil-based moisturizer leaves on your skin, alcohol is introduced into a badly made formula as a “quick fix”. Only problem is that this “quick fix” dries out your skin faster than salt on a slug. I don’t recommend treating your customers like slugs and really don’t recommend drying their skin out with alcohol.

Gluten and other grain allergies—As many Americans suffer from Celiac’s disease as there are people in Houston, Texas. Think about that for a second or two: Houston is the fourth-largest city in the United States!

Even if the product you are using includes none of these—it may still include other allergens: be careful what you buy.


Monday, November 11, 2013

What’s better for my spray tan business: a spray tent or a backdrop?

This question is really less about what’s better and more about what’s more convenient. Really, you have to ask yourself which would be easier for you to set up and take down, which would work better for your business, and which would be more comfortable for your client. 

I won’t lie: I’ve heard some horror stories about the set up and take down of spray tan tents, as I’m sure you have as well, but not every tent is the same. Some may be easier to take down, some may be harder—that being said, there are some things I’ve discovered about spray tan tents that need to be mentioned. 

It’s claustrophobic: It’s an enclosed tent with the only real opening being blocked by the spray tan consultant. Even though they aren’t trying to trap you in the tent, it still makes you feel imprisoned and uncomfortable. 

When I stood inside, I felt like I was trapped in one of those conversations where the person was standing too close. 

Because it’s an enclosed space with poor ventilation, it’s easy to understand how a client would feel suffocated or like they are forced to inhale the solution (which is not dangerous in any way, but it’s still an unpleasant feeling). Worse yet, if your client accidentally comes into contact with the side of the tent it could wipe away part of their tan! 

I found that I could not turn around, or do much of anything in the tent without hitting a side—and I couldn’t spread my arms at all! Now I know how caged birds feel.

Cleaning is a pain: Okay—cleaning this thing takes more patience than I have. 

You could wipe it down with cleaning cloths—an exercise that will cost you at least an hour or more of your day--or you can drag it outside and hose it off. In the winter months you then have to drag the tent back inside and find someplace to put it so that it doesn’t freeze (and then tear). So then you have to find a place where it can dry that: 

1. Won’t be in the way 

2. Won’t drip on electronics 

3. Won’t create a puddle for you to conveniently slip and break your neck 

Worse still, now that it’s drying you have to wait before you can use it again. 

Dark/bad lighting: When you’re spray tanning, you need the most light possible. You absolutely do not want to miss a spot, or worse: over spray a spot. 

Most tents are open-topped so you can have a light shining down on your client, but often this casts shadows that could distort how much—or how little—you are tanning. 
Transportation: This more frequently effects mobile businesses rather than salon-run spray tanning (for obvious reasons). Because taking down a spray tan tent can be pretty frustrating at times, it can make getting in and out of a client’s home that much more awkward.

Taking into account that there are easier ways out there—who would choose a more difficult product?

Why suffer through all the trouble? 

There are other options out there. You aren’t stuck with just one choice, and in the end what matters is if your equipment is holding you back, or helping you move forward. 

I recommend looking into purchasing a backdrop, or creating one of your own design (as long as it looks professional). But no matter what you choose to use, the major points you want to remember are: 

No claustrophobia: make sure it’s open, and that your clientele feels as comfortable as possible. They are going to be at least partially nude remember—they are going to want something that puts them at ease. 

No obstruction of light to hide what you are doing. The last thing you want is for your client to tell all his or her friends about a bad experience. So why risk it? If you go with something that doesn’t obstruct your light, this won’t ever be an issue and you’ll have the peace of mind to know your providing an even tan all the time, every time. 

Easy to clean: With a cloth backdrop, cleaning is as simple as doing your laundry. No leaking, no dripping, and it only has to be cleaned once every few months—how easy is that? 

Easy to move and maneuver around: You do not want to fight with your equipment. It should be lightweight and easy to set up, take down, and move about. And it should never get in your way when you’re spray tanning. 

In the end, the choice is yours. Maybe a tent works for you—maybe you have found some secret trick that nobody else has heard of. Whatever the case may be: use your best judgment, and choose which piece of equipment would work best for you, your clients, and your business. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

What is DHA?

DHA, or Dihydroxyacetone (that’s a mouthful!), is a substance refined from beets and sugar cane into a fine, white powder. This powder is then mixed into a super-secret formula!

Seriously though, this formula is designed to counteract the DHA’s natural drying effects while also controlling how much it tans your skin. Think of it this way: if I made a mixture of DHA and water and you dunked a finger into it, that finger would pretty much instantly become orange. While funny, that doesn’t make for a natural-looking tan: so the challenge is to find that perfect balance of color while also making a solution that produces a natural, even, clean tan.

Is DHA safe?

Yes, DHA has been placed on the United States Food and Drug Administration’s permanent list of acceptable cosmetic ingredients.

How does DHA tan my skin?

DHA is not a dye or a spray on paint; it is your skin’s natural reaction.
Similarly to how you tan in the sun, DHA reacts with the amino acids in the top layer of your skin to cause a chemical reaction; this causes your skin to darken, or become tan, and gives you that color you love.

I like to think of it this way: DHA tricks your skin into thinking it’s getting a tan from the sun without exposing it to any ultraviolet rays.

Will DHA dry out my skin?

Yes, DHA will dry out your skin if not treated with a moisturizer. I would never do this, but if I poured a mixture of DHA and water (with no moisturizer included) over myself, my skin would begin to pucker and tighten like I was being wrapped in plastic wrap.

To counteract the drying effects of the DHA, some companies use oil-based moisturizers, but these only make your skin feel tacky (like you were spray painted instead of spray tanned) and cause your tan to fade in ugly patches.

Better companies use water-based moisturizers to ensure that your skin feels just the same as it did before your spray tan, if not more moisturized. Also, a water-based moisturizer doesn’t ruin your tan, but leaves it looking healthy, even, and more natural.

What does DHA smell like?

As it is derived from refined sugar cane and sugar beets, DHA (unsurprisingly) smells sweet. When it is treated and prepared for use in a spray tanning formula, DHA will still keep a fresh, clean, natural smell.

DHA only smells bad if it is treated incorrectly.

Poorly developed spray tan solutions will generally use fragrance oils to cover up the reek of their bad science, but a cover up can only hide so much: underneath a scent that you didn’t want to smell like anyways, there will still end up smelling like French Fries.

A carefully engineered spray tan solution avoids this problem altogether. A good solution smells like water; a far sight better than French Fries, that’s for sure.

Is DHA that stuff in baby food?
Nope, guess again. That DHA is Docosahexaenoic acid (oh joy, another tongue twister), and can be found in mother’s milk or fish oil.

Rest assured: a professional, dependable manufacturer will never make this mistake; there is a mountain of safety documents, certificates, and assessments that should be completed even before the first step of formulating a product is taken. These safety measures are to prevent simple mistakes like this from happening.

You should look for a manufacturer who has conducted the work in their own lab, and of course who also operates their own production facility. After all, who would you rather buy from:

Some guy who buys his stuff from a producer without really knowing anything about the ingredients being used and yet still passes it off as the best on the market

The chemist who created the formula, knows the process by heart, and developed his solution with the best possible ingredients.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

What is a spray tan Bronzer?

Bronzer is the ingredient that provides that instant tan look to a client before the DHA has a chance to begin actually tanning their skin. It is a great tool that can be used on many occasions, and this article is here to help guide you through its many uses.  

Who gets bronzer-only tans?
A bronzer can be formulated for extreme muscle definition for body builders, or more subtly for dance competitors and beauty pageant queens so that you can have the tan you want, but then wash it off after you’ve won the competition. It can also be a great solution for “emergency tans” (think: clients going to their prom later that night, bridesmaids, an unexpected date).

A bronzer-only solution lets you train without fear of messing up so you can perfect your technique before you ever spray a single client—the old carpenter’s saying “measure twice, cut once” comes to mind here: train with a bronzer-only solution so that you never have to worry about losing a client. There are some things you should know about creating a spray tanning experience that go beyond simple application, but if you don’t have a good technique then it doesn’t matter how relaxing your salon is.

How long will a bronzer stay on for?
A bronzer lasts only until it is washed off in the shower. This is perfect for body-building competitors, dancers, and pageant queens who only want to be tan for the event.

Important: When spraying your clients you should always let them know that the bronzer will wash off, that way they don’t freak out when they see some color washing down their drain! It’s not their tan that’s disappearing, just the bronzer. If they are getting a bronzer-only spray you need to make absolutely sure that they know they cannot take a shower before their competition.

How fast will a bronzer dry?
The question here should really be: how fast does a well-developed spray tan solution dry? A bronzer will dry as fast as the ingredients that are in the formula will dry. If the bronzer includes oil, that drying time could be anywhere from an annoying twenty minutes of standing around with your arms outstretched to an agonizing hour. Other, properly made bronzers, dry in a matter of seconds (trust me: your arms will thank you!).  

Wait, why is there oil in a bronzer?

The easy answer here is that there shouldn’t be. Oil is not needed in a bronzer-only solution because a bronzer contains no DHA, the tanning ingredient that dries out your skin.

Is there bronzer in a spray tan solution?
Yes, if it has been made by a manufacturer that cares about making spray tanning an easy, no-stress activity. In addition to providing that instantly-tanned look during a spray tanning session, the bronzer works as a “coloring guide” on the client’s skin: if the bronzer looks good, then the tan should look good once the DHA takes effect. Having bronzer included in a spray tan solution helps prevent you from spraying too much or too little product on any one part of the body and if the client wants their tan darker they will know before even leaving your salon. This promises more satisfied customers, more referrals, and more return business.

Does bronzer smell?
No spray tanning solution of any kind should ever smell. If you find that your solution smells, or includes a fragrance blended into the formula by the manufacturer, then the DHA or bronzer-only solution was not correctly developed.

What is a bronzer made out of?

Bronzer is made from either cosmetic or food grade dyes. Food grade dyes provide a better, more individually tailored color rather than the overall coating that a cosmetic food dye offers. While there are premixed food dyes, these are generally used for things like brownie mixes and barbeque sauces; personally, I wouldn’t want to be bronzed with “Hershey’s Chocolate Number 9”. The problem with premixed dyes is that they are not specifically made for tanning solutions so they often don’t look natural. Other, more professional spray tan manufacturers, mix their own dyes so they can personalize each product to look great during cloudy days, under incandescent lights, and of course under the spotlight during a competition.

Will a bronzer stain?
A bronzer will only stain if it is poorly formulated or made with oils, which are unnecessary anyways.

As always bronzer should be allergy free—alcohol free—oil free—fragrance free: anything less is a sacrifice you should not be forced to make. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

How much space do I need to do a spray tan?

You don’t want your client feeling cramped and uncomfortable during their tan, at the same time you want to make sure that you aren’t wasting space in your salon. If you have a mobile spray tanning business it’s important to know ahead of time if any furniture is going to have to be moved. Luckily, spray tanning doesn’t require much space at all!

A general rule that I tend to go by is this: do I have enough room to spread my arms out, and up, and could someone walk around me without bumping into anything or touching me? While this may seem like the Anti-Socialist’s Guide to Avoiding Human Contact, it is the easiest way to measure for space. If you're the tape measuring type: aim for a space that is at least 10 feet by 12 feet. 

Some things to remember
An important thing to remember is that you will need room for your backdrop.
Note: You probably noticed that I did not say tanning tent. Why? Ever gone camping in a tent for the first time? Multiply the difficulty of that by about a thousand. But then it never gets easier.
A tent is confining, preventing you from easily getting around your client, and it can stifle lighting and thus hide any areas that you didn’t reach. A backdrop, by contrast, is open, blocks no light, and looks much more professional.

Make sure you have room for your machine and hose.
It would be pretty embarrassing if you spent the entire appointment tripping over your hose, moving your spray tan machine out of the way like it’s some love-struck puppy. Make sure that you can place your spray tan machine off to the side and out of the way, but still close enough so that the hose can reach all the way around your workspace.

Also, be careful not to step on the hose!
While it is made from durable plastic, a hose can fracture if you step on the more flexible section leading from the gun to (about) halfway to the spray machine—to put it mildly: you probably wouldn’t be too happy if that happened while at a spray tanning party!

How tall is the backdrop? And how wide? And does it have to be weighted down? And how do you set it up? And…and…

Woh there, slow down! I’ll get to all that don’t worry!

The backdrop can be as short as 4 feet, and as tall as 8 and a half feet! (You know, for when you’re spraying Shaquille O’Neal). In case Shaq really wants to spread his arms wide, the backdrop can expand to a width of 10 feet.

Don’t worry about a backdrop tipping over—they only way those are falling down is if you want them to. They are mounted on tri-pods and are in fact very similar to those used at photo shoots.
Thankfully, set up of the backdrop is considerably easier than a spray tanning tent. Here is a video that will walk you through it.

Distance from other customers
No matter if you have a salon or mobile business, be aware of your surroundings. You don’t want to be accidentally spray tanning the dog or the nice woman who just wanted to get her nails done. Obviously, I’m being a bit ridiculous here but you get the idea: make sure you have enough space where your other clients aren’t going to feel like they may be getting hit with excess spray—even though there is no reason that could ever happen.

You want to make sure that your customers have privacy also. Even if it’s as simple as a second backdrop to block off the view from the rest of your clients, anything is better than nothing: after all, most of your clients will be tanning either in their undergarments or only their birthday suits.

Breathing is a good thing, or at least I think so. That's why we always recommend that you work within a well-ventilated area. Be it an open window, a floor, wall, or ceiling vent, or a fan blowing air in through an open doorway: just make sure you have some external source of clean air, and that the air is moving. This will ensure a better client experience overall, and will help the air remain purified. For smaller spaces, this is even more important: the smaller the space, the better the ventilation should be!

Extraction Fans
Extraction fans work by sucking the spray tan solution (and anything else floating around) out of the air. This purification can often mean less cleanup time (always a plus), and can be a huge benefit to client experience.

To sum up

Unless you’re a mountain hermit, you've gone to a barber shop. Give yourself enough space as the barber does for haircuts and you should be okay. That being said, if you really want to make sure that your other clients don’t feel “threatened” just make sure that you are spraying away from them and there shouldn't be any problems. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Do I need an extraction fan for spray tanning?

An extraction fan can be a great weapon in your arsenal. As the name suggests, the fan’s purpose is to collect any excess spray tan particles and purify the air as you work. This not only provides that extra level of professionalism to your business, but also provides a nice atmosphere for you and your client to work together in.

Why should I get an extraction fan?
No matter the business, if you are working in a confined space you should make sure to have proper air flow because it is always important to maintain a clean, well-ventilated environment. That’s just basic, common sense. Another great benefit of an extraction fan is that it purifies the air; the fan pulls particles away from you and your client and into a filter, keeping it away from your eyes and your mouth.

If you are already working with an extraction fan, make sure that the filters you are using have a high MERV rating. The MERV rating system rates filters on a scale of 1 (meaning: “what filter? We don’t need no stinking filter”) to 16, which is even stronger than what hospitals use in their fans.
Generally anything greater than a MERV rating of 10 is a good filter to get for your extraction fans.

What to look for in an extraction fan
A good fan is not the same as a good extraction fan. Think about it: you’re not trying to blow the particles around like Dorothy and her tornado, you’re trying to collect them so they don’t circulate around while your spray tanning.

Obviously your extraction fan should have a filter, but don’t get fooled into buying some over-priced system meant for industrial sandblasting (if you do need a fan that powerful please stop spray tanning your customers before they have no skin left to tan!). What you want is a fan that gently pulls falling air particles into the filter without pushing them back up into your client’s face.  

Likewise, you don’t need something that could double as a hovercraft fan. A fan should be subtly providing a gentle breeze and a clean work environment while not disturbing your client’s experience in any way.

How to use an extraction fan
You don’t want the fan blowing on your or your client.

If the fan were to be blowing at your client while you were spray tanning then the solution could potentially miss your client entirely or coat unevenly. The fan is not intended to “quick dry” your client or anything like that—all that it is meant to do is purify the air and collect any spray tan particles that are floating down to the ground.

What you want to do is set the fan up a few feet away from your work space (so that you aren’t tripping over it while your spray tanning) and point it away from your client so that the breeze is blowing away from them.

How often/How to replace a filter in an extraction fan

A filter does not really need to be changed very frequently. A general rule of thumb I tend to go by is to replace it after about 100 spray tans. Again, this is just my own preference: you may find that your filter lasts 90 spray tans or 110.

I know a salon owner whose rule is, “if I have to think about when I last changed my filter, it’s probably time to change it.” It’s not an exact science, so just change it according to how well you think it’s filtering.

Replacing a filter
Replacing a filter on an extraction fan should not be a job for a brain surgeon. Make sure you find a fan that’s easy to figure out—when I’m cleaning the window screens in my house I don’t want to have to solve some puzzle just to do what should be a simple chore—the easier it is for you, the less stressful your day will be.

Basically, you should just be able to snap open the back of the fan and exchange the filters. Simple as that. If the fan you are looking at is more complicated than that—pass it by. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Part Two of: What's the Best Spray Tan solution?

Look for FDA approval

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is your friend. They keep you from digesting poison, and that’s good in my book. If the solution you are looking at does not have FDA approval, it could mean that there are ingredients in that solution that you don’t want to tango with. Sure, you may be fine if you use it, but why bother taking the risk? Wouldn’t it be better just to have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that the solution you’re using has been approved by a trusted, scientific organization?

Look at it this way: you have two cars to choose from. One has been extensively tested and is proven both reliable and safe, the other hasn’t. Which one would you choose? If you chose the one that hasn’t been tested, remind me never to go on a road trip with you.

Less is more

If I’m going to make a healthy dinner for my family, I’m going to want to find ingredients that don’t have a lot of extra “stuff” in them. Likewise, I try to find juice that is actually made from berries, not 5% juice and 95% high fructose corn syrup—the same should be said about spray tan solution: the fewer ingredients that are in the solution, the healthier it is for you.

A lot of companies out there cut corners by putting in cheap chemicals and synthetic oils, but you’ll do fine if you just remember this: use a solution that contains the smallest ingredient list, and always always always choose a solution that is all natural (FDA approved)—if it’s all natural then it’s all healthy.

Does this tan make my butt look orange?

I hope you never hear this from a client. The point of a sunless tan is to provide a healthy alternative to the damaging ultraviolet rays of the sun (and tanning beds) while not sacrificing that beautiful, natural look. When you go to the beach to tan, do you turn orange? Maybe if you have scurvy, in which case you should eat some fruit! Orange is not natural, neither is gold for that matter—your solution should not be coloring your clients, it should be tanning them.

A scientifically crafted solution is made with the client in mind. DHA, the “stuff” that tans skin, requires very specific amounts for each skin type. Too much and your client is orange, too little and they aren’t tanned at all. Bad solution easily tans skin orange, or gold, or any other color that doesn’t look natural; good solutions are expertly crafted to ensure that your clients look like they received a natural tan.

Where did my tan go?

When you get a tan, do you want it to fade out naturally or in big patches? The answer should be painfully obvious. But that’s the point I’m trying to make: if the answer is so obvious, why would you want to go with a solution that gives you anything less than the best tan with the most even fade possible?

Fading is influenced by what you put into your solution. Some companies put oil and alcohol into their products; these work as a powerhouse to dry out your skin and cause acne breakouts. Simply put, when your skin becomes too dry it flakes off in patches and leaves any tan fading irregularly.

Your clients don’t want to look like a piece of modern art, they want to look natural—part of looking natural includes a naturally fading tan. A great spray tan solution fades naturally because it doesn’t include alcohol or oils.

Your clients shouldn’t have to sacrifice anything to get a great tan
Your clients are coming to you because they want the best experience for their money. They don’t want to be inconvenienced by their spray tan, and you want them completely satisfied and coming back for more (hopefully with friends in tow!). The worst thing that can happen is that your client can have a sticky, smelly tan that takes FOREVER to dry and ends up clogging their pores and making them breakout.

To avoid this, look for a solution that is fast-drying. This is just a convenience factor for your client, but it will make a world of difference. If they have a party to go to later in the day they aren’t going to want to worry about ruining their tan by spilling a drink on it or having to be the one person not in the pool. That’s not convenient, that’s stressful. Instead you should choose a solution that gives them a worry-free tan that looks natural and is made with natural ingredients so their skin stays clean, vibrant, and smooth.

Part Two of: Important tips for starting your spray tanning business

How much space do I need?
The greatest thing is that if you work at or own a salon or spa, then you already have virtually everything you need to begin spray tanning! Spray tanning only requires a space large enough for your client to spread their arms, and the space only has to be dedicated to spray tanning for as long as the client is present—set up and take down is only a matter of minutes!

To give you an idea of how much space you will need:
--Could you give your client a haircut in the area provided?
--Can you stretch your arms above your head without punching a hole through the ceiling?
--Is the area well ventilated? (Even though the solution is all natural, air is still best to breathe)

Refuse to settle for equipment that’s “good enough”

The next step is finding the best equipment. While it can be called airbrush tanning, I do not recommend spraying your clients with the same device used to put a new coat on a car. Some spray guns work better than others—simply put, you want the best equipment and the best product to ensure that your clients have the best experience, and knowing which sprayers work and which don’t is fundamental in this industry.
A good spray gun will release a mist of spray tanning solution, not a fog. A good spray gun will coat your client’s skin evenly, not cover it with droplets like they were caught out in a tanning rainstorm. A good spray gun will gently tan your client, not sand their skin off like you’re preparing them for a new paintjob.


A great,scientifically-developed solution means the promise of a perfect, healthy, even tan. You want your clients satisfied with their experience, delighted with their tan and, of course, coming back for more. There are several things that can detract from your clients’ experience; luckily, these are easily avoided as long as you know what shouldn’t go into a spray tan solution.

What you and your clients don’t want is a tan that will leave them feeling sticky, like they just sat on a newly painted bench, or smelling like they either just bathed in a vat of French Fries or took a shower in cheap perfume (not much of a choice between the two). So what should you look for in a tanning solution? One that creates a beautiful, natural, realistic tan without having to detract from any part of a client’s experience. Some things to consider when choosing your solution are:

--Make sure your solution doesn’t contain oils or Aloe Vera because, if it does, then you are coating your client in oil. Your client isn’t a French Fry and shouldn’t be treated like one.

--Use that same guideline when it comes to alcohol: there is no reason that you should be spraying alcohol onto your client, unless it’s Mardi Gras.

--Try to stay away from solutions that have fragrances added into them. Your client has their deodorants and perfume; let them decide how they want to smell.

Note: Fragrance oils are also one of the leading causes of allergic reactions in clients

--Make sure your spray tan solution is healthy and hypoallergenic because you never know who is going to walk through your door.

                Look for: Solutions made with nuts (peanuts, walnuts, cashews, pecans), fragrance oils.

Most importantly

Most importantly, you should be looking for a spray solution that creates a natural, realistic tan, after all that is the point isn’t it? Would you settle for a tan that “almost looks real”? No? Then why should your client? Choose the solution that you feel will provide your client with the best experience, the best tan possible, and the solution that creates the tan that they simply can’t live without.

One of the most attractive things about spray tanning is the small start-up cost. A few bottles of tanning solution, a backdrop cloth, and the spray equipment and you’re in business! Well, you might want to learn how to spray tan also.

More than choosing your location or business style, more than deciding which equipment or product to use, the single most important thing you can do is research. For the sake of the client and your business, look into what goes into these tanning solutions, talk to your clients about what they want to get out of their tan and if you have any questions please feel free to contact our specially trained team