Professional Edition: Trouble Shooting Spray Tans Part 1

Even the most seasoned veteran can experience problems with their application techniques, resulting in client complaints.  Diagnosing your technique can be difficult if you don’t know what to look for.  Even more difficult, a technician may be required to delicately deduce the mistakes made by the client.    

What am I doing wrong?

Understanding why the problems are happening is half the battle.  Below are some of the most common issues our technicians encountered and how to troubleshoot them. 

Issue 1:  Why are my clients feeling tacky after their session? 

All solutions will have a slight tack immediately following an airbrush application.  This should dissipate within an hour.  If the client feels very tacky or the tackiness persists for longer than an hour, then your technique may be the issue.   

  1. Check the PSI setting on your applicator. PSI stands for “Pounds per Square Inch”.  It regulates the amount of solution that comes out of your gun.  If not set properly, your applicator will release too much solution during the session.  Not only will you waste solution, you will over saturate the client’s skin, resulting in the extended tackiness.
  2. Don’t confuse the depth of the bronzer with the final outcome. Many times technicians feel that they must airbrush their client until the cosmetic bronzer looks deep and rich.  Again, this will over saturate the skin.  Cosmetic bronzers will not deepen the tan, using a solution with the correct level of DHA for your client’s skin tone will.  

Issue 2:  Why is the solution "pooling" on my client’s skin?

Pooling is when an spray tan gun over saturates skin with solution leaving it wet or even dripping. This can happen for any number of reasons.  Keep in mind that the client’s skin should glisten not look wet when applying the solution.  

  1. Too much solution is coming out of the gun. If the PSI setting on the applicator is too high, you will over spray your client.  This will result in pooling. Check the setting on your gun before you begin your application.
  2. The application is too slow. Each stroke should be applied with medium speed and a steady movement.  If your stroke is slow, you will apply too much solution.  
  3. An applicator engaged must be in motion. Do not point the applicator and then engage the trigger.  You will most definitely cause pooling at your start point.  Always engage the trigger before you begin spraying your client.
  4. Your client did not prepare properly for the session. A client who has used lotion, perfume, deodorant, moisturizing shave creams, body washes or depilatories the day of their session will have a leftover film that acts as a barrier.  This will not allow the solution to penetrate causing it to pool on the skin. 

Issue 3: My client called the day after her session to tell me she is too light.

There are a couple of technician errors that can cause this to happen.   

  1. Proximity of applicator to skin. If the applicator is too far from the skin then a smaller amount of solution will cover the skin, hence a lighter result.  Make sure you are no farther than six inches from the area you are airbrushing.
  2. Speed of application. While a slow-motion application can cause pooling (see issue above), moving too quickly can result in too light a sunless tan.  Your stroke pace should be at a steady medium speed.  Anything faster may result in less solution landing on the skin resulting in a lighter color. 

Stay tuned for Trouble Shooting Spray Tans Part 2 where we will discuss the numerous things that your client can unknowingly do to themselves that caused a problem with their tan.

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