How do airbrush tan, spray tan booth and self tanning methods compare?

Whether you get a tan using airbrush tan, spray tanning booth or self tanning method is a matter or personal preference. There are advantages and disadvantages to all.

Airbrush tan

Airbrush tan compressor

1. This method involves the solution being applied by a technician with a spray tan gun. The client strips down to either swimming costume, thong or, if comfortable (for both the client and the technician), strips off completely.

2. The airbrush tan can be administered either at the spray tan salon, or at home (this is a big advantage of airbrush tanning - it can come to you). If it is done in the spray tan salon, they will have a special booth often with an exhaust fan: at home it is best done in a shower cubicle, as there can be some mess involved. Most airbrush tan experts carry their own folding tent, so that the mess is contained. With the new HVLP (Hight Volume Low Pressure) airbrush spray tanning units, there is hardly any overspray, so the mess is almost non existent.

3. The quality of your airbrush tan will depend not only on the condition of your skin, the solution that the technician will use, but also on technician's skill. There are many very good technicians, who will give you a great tan, but there are also many not so good ones. Use the one that has been recommended.

4. Airbrush tan is generally cheaper than booth spray tan, because it uses much less solution, but as with most things, you get what you pay for, and good airbrush technician will charge appropriately for their services.

5. After spray tanning, you will have to stand still in front of a fan for about 20 minutes, waiting for the solution to dry. Your tan will be instant, as the solution generally contains a lot of bronzer to let the technician see if they missed any spots. The whole process takes between 20min -1/2hour.

6. After you are dry (about 20 minutes), you can get dressed, but make sure the clothes are loose and dark, as the bronzer will stain everything. It washes easily out of most fabrics though. Keep cool, because if you sweat, the tan will streak. If you go to bed without showering, you will have to wash sheets in the morning.

Avoid white towels for few days. Even though most of the bronzer washes off in the shower, it will now be coming out of your pores, so you still will stain white things.

7. On the day of your airbrush tan, the color will be getting darker and darker. At the end of the day it might be so intense, it will be scary. Your skin is developing its own color, with a bronzer on top of it. Better take the rest of the day off, the chance of turning unnatural orange as the tan deepens, is high.

8. You can shower in about 5 hours. Be warned. when you shower, the water will run red-brown. You might think you are bleeding to death, but it's only the bronzer being washed off. What you should be left with is a great, natural looking tan that your own skin developed underneath the bronzer.

9.A great advantage of a hand held airbrush spray unit is that you don't have to spray tan your whole body. You can have your legs done, or just your face. However don't expect anybody to come to your house with all the equipment, and do your face only! Go to a spray tan salon. (I just found out that Magic Tan company has developed a booth called VersaSpa where you can do parts of, as well as your whole body.)

10. Another great advantage of airbrush spray tan is that if you get a good technician, she can "reshape" your body by applying extra color on eg. your hips, to create an illusion that they are slimmer. If you have swimming costume tan lines, she can also fill in the white patches thus creating an even, full body tan. That can't be done in a spray tan booth, where everything gets darker, so that tan lines are still visible, although they blend in better.

Learn How To Spray Tan

Spray Tan Booth

Spray tan booth

1. The spray tan booth is fully automatic, there is no technician in the room with you, and you can wear as little as you wish. Most people just go nude.

2. You cannot have the spray tan done in your home, as the spray tan booth is permanently installed in a salon.

The machine always does perfect, exact job of delivering spray tanning solution, so quality of the tan depends only on the quality of solution and on your skin condition. A lot of salons with a spray tan booth are bound by contract to use only the highest quality solution that manufacturers of those (extremely) expensive spray tan booths recommend.

4. The booth spray tan is generally more expensive than airbrushed spray tan, because much more solution is used, but you are virtually assured that the coverage will be perfect (unless you do something like clenching your thighs together during spraying cycle etc.)

5. When you leave the spray tan booth, you towel yourself dry, wipe your palms, fingernails and toenails with wet wipes, get dressed, and go. The whole process with preparation and getting dressed afterwards generally takes less than 10 minutes (about 1 minute in the spray tan booth itself).

6. The booth spray tan is often lighter, more natural looking than airbrushed one. Because of this, there is less chance of going orange.

7. Most spray tanning booth salons will use solution with much less bronzer or without any bronzer at all. That ensures there are less streaks and stains, and the tan does not go unnatural brown/orange at the time when it develops.

8. You can shower in about 5 hours, and if the spray tanning solution had a lot of bronzer, the look of your shower water will still be unpleasant, and it will stain your clothes and sheets. If the spray tanning solution was clear, you will not have any of those dramas.

Incidentally, I know that Mystic Tan booths are really popular in US. I tried both Mystic and MagicTan, and I can only conclude that the reason Mystic is more popular is that they have better marketing people. In Australia we have really great James Hay at MagicTan, so MagicTan seems to be more popular.

Both Mystic and MagicTan produce very similar tans, but the comfort of tanning is much better in MagicTan.
(If you want to see a spray tan booths comparison, click here.)
Their booths are clear, so you don't walk into a big black box and with new VersaSpa there is no door at all!

So, try MagicTan, they are great.

For a spray tan salon near you CLICK HERE.

Find out how to prepare before airbrush tan or booth spray tan.

Self tanners

This method is probably the most popular method of fake tanning in the world!

Not necessarily because its the best, but it is definitely can be the cheapest.

You might have to do a bit of experimenting, possibly go through few mild disasters until you find the best product for your skin and perfect the application method. When you do your homework however, you will be rewarded with beautiful golden skin whenever you want it, UV free and it will cost only few dollars per application.

I have experimented with a multitude of fake tanners, and finally found one that has given me constantly great results, and it is so easy to apply that after some practice it takes no more than 10 minutes to do a whole body. It's called Safe Tan and you can read more about it here.

My Favorite Method

I just love the booth. That is why when we had spray tan salon, I tried an airbrush tan but decided to install spray tan booth.

Number on for me is that the spray tan booth is totally private. I, personally don't like to stand in front of anybody naked, while they spray me with an airbrush.

Second, not all technicians are equally good with the airbrush tan gun. Additionally we all have good and bad days (you would not want to get even a good technician on a bad day if you are going to your own wedding, true?). I wanted my clients to have that consistent quality.

And thirdly, my pet hate is the bronzer! Most problems with spray tanning come from that dark brown dye that is added to the solution. It streaks, it runs, it leaves dark stains on your hands and feet, it gets into pores on your face, and gives you the look of multitude of blackheads.

If you spray tan after waxing or shaving your legs, it gets into pores there giving you "spotty" look.

Airbrushing with a spray gun requires the bronzer in the solution, to give the technician the ability to spray tan you evenly- they have to see if there are any spots they missed. With a spray tanning booth, you have the luxury of having a bronzer free tan, as the machine will not miss any spots.

Did you get turned off the bronzer yet? Let me remind you that it stains your clothes, towels and there is really no way that you should get into bed if you have not showered beforehand. If you do, everything will finish with brown stains.

Needless to say, in our spray tan booth we used solution without any bronzer whatsoever. After I explained benefits to my clients, I did not have one complaint, on the contrary, my regulars begged me not to go back to solution with a bronzer.

Not many people mind waiting 5 hours for the tan to develop, especially if they can put on their best white clothes straight away, and go out partying confident, that they will not get streaky and orange brown as the tan develops.

For me, spray tanning booth is a next step in the evolution of spray tanning. However I did meet people who prefer the airbrush (usually, because they liked a real deep tan), so don't take my word for it. It is really a matter of preference.

Self tanners are my second choice, and would possibly be my first since I discovered Safe Tan, except that I am really lazy, and as far as I'm concerned nothing beats 1minute in a booth. So, I will use Safe Tan when its inconvenient for me to get to a booth, or when I am in a money saving mood.

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