15 Common Spray Tan Problems and How to Solve Them

15 Common Spray Tan Problems and How to Solve Them

Spray tanning is among the most popular sunless tanning methods available on the market. And for several good reasons: it is very effective, it is extremely affordable, pretty quick and somewhat easy to execute. However, inexperienced technicians may encounter a number of spray tan problems that can result in not so flawless spray tanning jobs that are extremely bad for business.

In order to avoid this unwanted scenario, here are 15 most common spray tan problems according to Artesian Tan.

15 Spray Tan Problems and Solutions

1. Patchy Skin and Uneven Tan Fade

In some cases, the tanned skin may end up being patchy as the spray tan starts to fade unevenly on some areas of the customer’s skin. This is most typically due to the presence of alcohol in the tanning solution you’ve been using.

The alcohol tends to cause the unevenness in tan fading as it makes the skin dry out at a faster rate when compared to solutions that are water-based. It is because of this faster drying process that the uneven discolorations and visible patches appear.

Another common scenario for this type of spray tan problems is the customer may have had an existing spray tan layer that hasn’t been removed and exfoliated properly beforehand, and you’ve sprayed over it.

To avoid this kind of issue in the future, make sure the solution you are using is water-based, instead of solutions that are blended with alcohol. Also, be sure to check if the customer exfoliated their skin before the session.

2. The Appearance of Lines on Customer’s Elbows and Knees

In most cases, the appearance of lines after a seemingly successful spray tanning session is a result of bad positioning of the client during the service.

When spray tanning knees and elbows (or other joints for that matter), it is crucial to put your customer’s arms and legs in a position in which they are bent as much as possible in order to prevent the skin on their elbows and knees to wrinkle up, and therefore, block the spray tan solution from reaching the entire surface of the skin.

3. Face Tan Fades Much Faster than the Rest of Tanned Body

This one is closely related to the previous one. The thing is that the face tends to fade faster than the rest of the body as this area is much more frequently exposed to outside elements like

  1. Rain
  2. Snow
  3. Wind
  4. Dirt

While it is also exposed to numerous daily routines that include cleansers, makeup (both application and removal), moisturizers, etc. Potential solutions to this problem include regular use of tan extenders or using a stronger product for your face.

4. Patchy Spray Tan Appears the Morning After

If the tan was flawless right after the spray tanning session, but then when the customer woke up the day after they had visible patches, it probably means they were sleeping with either their arm, hand, leg, or face on some other part of their body. In this scenario, the tan transfers from one skin area to the other and the unevenness and the pattern-like patches develop.

This usually happens when a person goes to bed too early after the spraying session so the tan is still fresh and sticky.

The simple solution for this issue is to tell your customer to wait until their spray tan doesn’t feel tacky and sticky, and only then go to sleep. If, however, the person has to go to bed while the tan is still fresh, tell them to put on some loose pajamas and sleep in those. Wearing mittens and/or socks is also an option.

5. Visible Knuckle Lines

Much like it was the case with elbow and knee lines, you might be struggling to achieve perfect coverage of your client’s knuckles and thumbs. If this is the case, tell your customer to make a claw as if they are holding an invisible orange while spray tanning the outer surface of their hands. This way the skin on their knuckle joints won’t wrinkle, and you will be able to evenly cover this area with ease.

6. Customer’s Armpits Turned Green

If your client’s armpits turn greenish in color instead of tan and bronze, it is likely that they haven’t removed the deodorant residue before they came to the spray tanning session. The “green armpit” problem occurs because the bronzers in the spray tanning products react with various chemicals found in common deodorants, which results in this type of discoloration.

7. Runny and/or Streaky Spray Tan (After Tan Has Developed)

If you are positive that you performed your part the way it was intended, without any streaks and runs prior to the initial rinse off, but your customer says they notice visible streaks later on -- after they’ve performed their own rinsing -- it probably means they didn’t wait long enough. It can also mean that water and/or sweat, unfortunately, came into contact with the spray tanning layer.

This is why it is vital to make it clear to your clients that they must avoid the following:

  • Showering
  • Rain
  • Sweating
  • Swimming
  • Or any other form of contact with water or other types of liquid

…while the tan is still developing, which can be anywhere from 8 to 12 hours.

8. Runny and/or Streaky Tan (During the Session)

If you notice that the tanning solution you are using is producing runs and streaks down your client’s body while you are spraying, it probably means that you are using too much spray tanning solution. This is one of the most common spray tan problems among beginners, especially if you are using tanning solutions that don’t contain oils.

The optimal amount of solution is approximately two ounces of spray tanning solution per one full-body session.

If you know you are using the right amount of solution, the problem may be in the closeness of your spray tan machine to the skin of your customer. At Artesian Tan, we recommend spraying at a minimum of six inches distance.

The maximum would be one foot, otherwise, your effort will result in an extremely light tan, and that is not an optimal deployment of your assets. Of course, spraying at closer than 6 inches almost always results in runs, streaks, and a tan that is too dark.

9. Tan Lines Caused by Hair Caps/Nets

It is not unusual for a client to insist on wearing a hair net or a cap during the spray tanning session, and though this habit is quite common when it comes to spray tanning booths, these are not really necessary during personalized hand-held spray tan gun sessions. Especially when the session is conducted by a certified professional.

If, however, the customer is being rather persistent with this type of demand, make sure to have them pull the hair cap or net back in such a way so the tanning solution reaches the hairline and the tan blends in seamlessly with it.

10. Spray Tan Peels Off

If you notice the spray tan is easily peeling off, even though the session went well, it probably means the customer had sunburns prior to getting a spray tanning session.

This is a common problem as sunburns tend to peel quite a lot and this inevitably affects the results of a spray tanning session. What happens is that the dead skin layer that has been burn falls and peels off, and with it, the spray tan layer.

Of course, the young skin underneath hasn’t been affected by the tanner, which means it is going to be untanned, while the skin that hasn’t been burnt will retain the darker complexion, resulting in uneven patches.

The simple fix is rather simple: avoid getting a sunburn before the spray tanning session, or any other time for that matter.

Bonus tip: If you have a sunburn, please make sure to avoid alcohol-based solutions as they will almost certainly burn and sting these sensitive skin areas even further.

11. Too Strong a Tan

If your customer ends up developing too much color, it probably means the solution you are using contains a high DHA percentage, that is most likely much too strong for their type of skin. There’s also the scenario in which you thought you had used the solution with the appropriate DHA percentage, but it was still too strong. Namely, certain manufacturers tend to approximate this percentage on the label of their products.

This is why you should always use tanning solutions from companies that have a good reputation and do not put false information on their products, or – just to be on the safe side – go with the solution with lower DHS percentage than recommended.

12. Discolored Toenails and/or Fingernails

This may go without saying, but you’ll be surprised how many times this emerges as one of the most frequent spray tan problems among rookie customers. Of course, our toenails and fingernails shouldn’t be subjected to spray tanning, however, they do end up covered with spray tan solution sprayed on them as collateral damage of sorts.

This should not be something to be alarmed about as this color is very easily rubbed off when your tanning session is over.

13. Tan Ends up being too flaky

Flaky tans are a common occurrence in the world of spray tanning and typically occur due to dry skin. The scenario is usually that the customer’s skin hasn’t been exfoliated and moisturized in a long time and the solution you are spraying on the client comes off easily along with the dead skin.

This flaking is triggered by alcohols that tanning solution contains, while the fix for this issue would be proper exfoliation and regular moisturizing.

14. Spray Tan on Customer’s Body and Face Don’t Match

It is not unusual that a client ends up with a much darker spray tan on their face, resulting in them looking like a person from that TV show “Jersey Shore,” and we don’t want that now, do we? This can happen due to 2 possible reasons: you have either used too much spray tan solution on their face, or the product contains too high a DHA percentage for their skin type.

15. Spray Tan Has Unusual Smell

It is not uncommon for spray tanning solution to smells like the following things:

  • Cough medicine
  • Alcohol
  • Certain fruit (like coconut or black cherry)
  • Other strong odors

If this is the case with your spray tanning efforts, it probably means that the tanning solution you are using was made with DHA (dihydroxyacetone) of lesser quality DHA.

High-quality DHA is formulated in such a way that it is completely odorless. This, however, means that a lot of spray tanning lotions that are available on the marker are made using low-quality DHA in order to cut their costs, which results in them searching for various chemistry-related workarounds for this problem. These workarounds most often include flooding their products with fragrances in order to mask the smell of low-quality DHA.

Fun fact: badly formulated DHS smells like burnt French fries.

The best way to avoid facing this type of spray tan problems is to check if the solution you are planning to buy smells like any of the aforementioned fragrances or has any fragrance at all. If it does have a fragrance, it most likely means that the product has been made using badly formulated DHA.

What are some of the most common and annoying spray tan problems that you feel we missed to mention in this article? Feel free to mention them in the comment section below. And for some great deals on spray tanning equipment and products, visit Artesian Tan website

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