Be sunkissed without being sun harmed: Spray tanning

Gone are the days of streaked, orangey tans. Today’s tanning is often done by a spray in a quick and frequently odorless procedure.

Whether you seek a sexy look for an upcoming event or just want to sport a healthy glow year round, spray tanning is here to save you – and your skin.

“You can receive anything from a sunkissed glow, where someone just says ‘Wow, you look great’ or ‘You look really healthy,’ to ‘Oh, gosh, did you go to the beach this weekend?’ or ‘Did you just get back from the Bahamas?’” Heather Gerber, owner of Orange County’s line of Tan-talizing mobile airbrush tanning salons, explained.

Some color on your skin can conceal cellulite, cover varicose veins – and, yes, make you look skinnier.

“I have so many clients that say if you can’t tone it, tan it,” Gerber disclosed. “Anything tanned, you look slimmer, and you can also contour. I can apply more solutions in certain areas to apply a contouring look. It just overall gives women confidence.”

A number of Gerber’s clients also want to even out their skin tones.

“I have women who are joggers or garden, and they will get these horrible tan lines and come fill them out so that they can wear a strapless dress,” Gerber said, reporting most women like to get sprayed while nude for best results.

Spray tanning has evolved over the years. New formulas and ingredients have eliminated the orangey hue and strong odor that formerly accompanied the procedure. The latest invention is rapid tanning. Previously, you would have to leave a solution on for 12 hours to get decent color. Now it only takes two to six hours.

And spray tanning, hands down, is healthier than using tanning beds or lying out in the sun. Exposure to the sun can lead to wrinkles, age spots and, of course, skin cancer. Gerber asserts 30 to 40 percent of her clients have personally had a brush with skin cancer and now realize they need to stay out of the sun.

“I think people are definitely becoming more conscious of their skin and wanting to keep their skin healthy,” Gerber remarked.

Sunlight is basically radiation, which over time can mutate your skin cells, causing cancer.

Tanning beds, Gerber says, are so dangerous that she believes they will one day be outlawed. The California Senate recently approved SB 746, which, if made law, will prohibit minors from using tanning beds. Other states have passed similar measures.
Spray tanning, on the other hand, can even be chemical free. Over the years, Gerber developed her own solution that she now sells internationally.

The formula she uses is 100-percent organic and plant-based. The active ingredient, DHA, is a sugar derived from sugarcane and the bronzer is made from natural ingredients such as walnut, green tea and banana extracts. It is safe enough for even pregnant women to use.

The concentration of DHA, or dihydroxyacetone, determines how dark the tan will be; the solution may contain 5 percent to 11.5 percent DHA.

When applied, DHA causes a reaction with the amino acids in the skin. This reaction produces the color. Originally used to treat diabetes, the sugar was discovered as a tanning solution when a doctor administered it to an infant. The baby vomited on the doctor’s skin, causing a brown staining reaction.

Gerber offers seven different shades – for different skin tones and ethnicities – and one is sure to be right for the look you want. After a quick consultation, Gerber will pick the right solution for you and then apply the color with a hand-held spray tanning gun – highlighting areas appropriately as lighter or darker. The process takes only five minutes, plus drying time.

While everyone’s skin is different, your new healthy tan should last about a week.

“We naturally exfoliate our skin cells every 5 to 10 days,” Gerber explained. “So as soon as we lose that layer of skin, the tan is lost.” She recommends moisturizing and staying out of the water to keep the color longer, and even sells tan extender lotion, a moisturizer with a hint of color.

You may also want to spray yourself with “tan in a can” to boost your color, which will give just as dark results as paying to get the procedure done – plus it boasts even-spray technology so you don’t streak yourself.

But there are definite advantages to getting it done by a professional.

“People like the airbrush tanning so much (because) applying these creams on your skin, usually one, they smell and two, you stain your palms,” Gerber revealed. “A lot of times you streak it because you are rubbing it into the skin. All those things are eliminated when you get airbrushed.”

Spray booths have a strong smell, which can linger on skin even after a shower. Gerber believes that her formula’s lack of odor is one of the reasons why customers keep coming back.
“They don’t smell for a week,” she said.

She predicts that one day people will have their own machines at home. Indeed, a great deal of people already own spray guns.

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