How to Start a Sunless Tanning Business on a Budget

How to Start a Sunless Tanning Business on a Budget

From an outsider’s perspective, starting a spray tanning business might seem like an unachievable goal. Many people expect that their limited entrepreneurial and/or industry knowledge will prevent them from running a successful business. They also anticipate a high amount of risk being involved and a number of unexpected hurdles that will prevent them from starting. We can tell you, however, that starting your own successful spray tanning business can be done with a little hard work, a small investment, and some help from your friends at Artesian Tan!

Machine Cost

The first step to starting a spray tan business, and your largest initial investment, is purchasing a spray tanning machine. You will be relying upon this machine to perform all of your services in the future, so it is incredibly important to select the one that best fits your needs. We have compiled a guide for new spray tan business owners that weighs the pros and cons of each!

If you’re on a tight budget, we recommend going with our most affordable option - the Norvell Sunless Mobile M1000 HVLP Handheld Spray System with M-Gun. Listed at $279.00, the M1000 one of our bestselling spray tan machines. You can expect quality and consistency from this product at light to medium use, making it a great option for anyone that is just starting a career as a spray tan artist.

Another smart option to consider is one of our Start-Up packages, which includes all the products you will need to get your business started at a great value. Our staff has hand-picked 3 different options at varying price points to allow you to find one that is perfect for your budget. The lowest cost option is listed at $629.00 and includes a Fuji Spray 2100 miniTAN PLATINUM™ M-Model, 1 Liter (34oz bottle) of Sunless Tanning Solution, 34 ounces of Sunless Tanning Training Solution, 8 ounces Kahuna Bay pH Balance Spray, 100 tanning hairnets/caps, 100 Pink Gloves, and 25 Pairs Sticky Feet. If purchased separately these products would cost $626.96, saving you the time and shipping it costs to purchase all the sunless tanning essentials separately.


An important choice when first establishing your spray tan business, finding a solution that you and your clients like takes a bit of trial and error. There is a sea of different brands that each offer solutions with unique properties, but luckily we can offer our experience to help narrow the choices. Our top 3 selling brands are Kahuna Bay, Norvell, and St. Tropez, making them a good place to start. These solutions vary from anywhere between 8 ounces to 128 ounce bottles. Although the larger quantities offer better value, we suggest sampling smaller quantities before deciding on the ones that you prefer. These 8 oz bottles can range from about $15 to $30 in price, depending on the features being offered. We suggest trying the Kahuna Bay sample pack, which consists of five 8oz bottles of their best-selling solutions at a price of $69.99 ($15 savings). Each bottle can do approximately four spray tans - a total of 20 spray tans for a cost of $3.50 per client.

Marketing Your Business

Purchasing the right tools and perfecting your spraying skills doesn’t guarantee your business will be a success. Finding ways to put your business and its services in front of and on the mind of your potential customers is what marketing is all about. Businesses can survive through word of mouth sales but bringing more customers in through easy efforts like creating active social media pages and a website can improve your odds of success even further. The importance of good marketing efforts, even if you simply focus on cost-free options can not be overstated. We created a guide with simple yet proven marketing efforts.

Overall Costs

If you’re looking to start your spray tanning business with the bare minimum investment, here are the essential products that you must purchase: a spray tanning machine, training solution, active solution, a disposables kit, and latex exam gloves. This will allow you to have a couple practice runs with a 0% DHA solution, while also being able to offer the minimum services that customers expect from a spray tan technician. If you purchase the cheapest available product for all of these categories, your initial investment will look something like this:

Product Price
Norvell Sunless Mobile M1000 HVLP Handheld Spray System with M-Gun $279.00
Kahuna Bay Tan Training Solution $19.99
8 oz Norvell Venetian Plus Sunless Spray Tan Solution $14.42
Kahuna Bay Tan Spray Tan Disposables Kit $29.00
Generation Pink Latex Free Synthetic Exam Gloves / 100pk $17.99
TOTAL $360.40

Expected Earnings

Earnings between spray tanning businesses vary greatly depending on the location of your business, the number of potential customers in your area, and the competitive environment. You will first have to decide upon a price of your services.The easiest way of doing this to research the prices points of your competition. If there is no competition within the market, then you will have to do some research into your target market and find out what they are willing to pay for your service. Airbrush sunless tans usually cost anywhere from $35 to $80, which will depend on the quality of your tools, your skills, and, again, your location. If you are just starting out within the industry, then it is probably safe to assume that your price point will be on the lower end of the spectrum relative to your experience. It is also important to note in your calculations that we estimate about 2 ounces of solution are used per spray tan. So, if you charged $40 per service and worked 5 days per week, your monthly earnings as an inexperienced technician might look something like this.

Clients Per Day Earnings
2 Clients per day $1,600
3 Clients per day $2,400
4 Clients per day $3,200
5 Clients per day $4,000


Clients Per Day Solution Required Cost of Solution (avg. 128oz bottle) Disposables (Pack of 24) Gloves (Pack of 100) Total Costs
2 Clients per day (40 per month) 80 ounces $140 $58 $17.99 $215.99
3 Clients per day (60 per month) 120 ounces $140 $87 $17.99 $244.99
4 Clients per day (80 per month) 160 ounces $280 $116 $17.99 $413.99
5 Clients per day (100 per month) 200 ounces $280 $145 $17.99 $442.99


Clients Per Day Profit
2 Clients per day $1384.01
3 Clients per day $2155.01
4 Clients per day $2786.01
5 Clients per day $3557.01

Additional Tools to Improve Your Business

In addition to improvements in your skillfulness as a spray tan technician, the numbers quoted above can also be improved through the addition of high-quality tools that allow you to raise the rate you charge for your service. Though there have been no studies conducted that point to spray tans causing harmful health effects, many customers might still have concerns about the service. These concerns can be alleviated with a disposable product like Kahuna Bay’s Foam Sunless Nose Plug Filters or through more a more substantial investment like extraction booths and fans.

These booths can vary in price depending on the type of spray tanning business you run and the features that you desire. If your business is mobile then Norvell’s Jumbo Mobile Spray Room Pop-Up Tent & Fan Bundle is an excellent option for only $180.00. Kahuna Bay Tan’s PRO Lite Sunless Over-spray Extraction Booth offers something more permanent and is one of our better value booths for a price of $1,799.00.

Other options that you might offer to your clients include pre and aftercare products that can help to improve the longevity and richness of your their tans, such as Kahuna Bay Tan’s pH Balancing Sunless Prep Spray, Kahuna Bay Tan’s Premium DHA Barrier Cream, or Norvell’s Sunless HydroFirm Moisturizing Spray.

Getting your sunless tanning business started isn’t difficult and can be done with minimum investment. We have compiled invaluable guides and blogs from our years in the industry to help entrepreneurs succeed. We carry an unbeatable variety of sunless tanning products from some of the most renowned brands in the industry, allowing you to reduce costs. We also offer exclusive wholesale pricing to spray tan businesses – verify your business online for unbeatable discounts and free shipping on most products!

Visit our website to discover our exceptional selection of sunless and spray tan products, which is trusted by spray tan businesses throughout the country. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram for some of the best sunless tanning-related content around!

Back to blog

Leave a comment