Spray Tanning Basics

At-home Tanning: Shake Well, Ready, Aim, Spray

Walk down the tanning aisle in any drugstore, discount store or supermarket and you'll probably see a confusing array of self-tanning products. There are creams and roll-ons as well as sprays, but sprays generally make it easier to reach everywhere you want to tan without streaks and uneven splotches.

When choosing a spray, be sure to read the ingredients and instructions. Make sure that DHA is the main ingredient. You may also want the spray to contain moisturizers or botanicals, and you may want a temporary dye to start the tanning process faster. The instructions will probably tell you that you should not inhale the spray or get it into your eyes, nose or mouth. So when spraying your face, you'll need to close your eyes, hold your breath and keep your mouth shut. The instructions will likely also tell you to shake the can well before spraying and apply the spray with smooth, even strokes.

One main advantage to do-it-yourself spray tanning is that, unlike professional machines that spray an overall mist, hand-held spray tanning products have been approved for use by the FDA [source: U.S. FDA]. If you follow the directions, there's much less chance that you'll inhale the spray. The other main advantage is that buying a can of spray for a few dollars costs less than paying for a professional session.

The disadvantages start with how messy the process can be. You'll need to spray yourself in the shower or tub, or even outside. You may want to cover floors and nearby areas with towels. The spray can permanently stain flooring, walls or furniture.

Another problem is that it can be hard to spray your back and other hard-to-see or hard-to-reach places. Tanning with a friend can be a good solution. It's important to apply the spray evenly. Carelessness can result in dark splotches, streaks and even that dreaded orange color.

Whether you spray yourself or pay someone else to spray you, there are some things to keep in mind. Read on for some spray-tanning tips.