Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Professional Tanning Services: Adding the Perfect Spray Tan to your Menu.

By: Rebeca Cardenas
with Contributing Editorial from Vicki Mayhew and

According to an October 2006 Mintel Report, sales of sunless tanners have experienced growth of 429% from 2001 to 2006.

With this kind of growth, it is no wonder that every year more and more Day Spas, Dermatology Clinics and beauty related businesses are adding sunless tanning products and services to their menus. It seems that sun bathing beach bodies are throwing in their towels for a faux glow and the spa industry is taking notice.

Every year women are spending more on professional procedures to reverse the signs of aging. Lasers, injectables, peels and resurfacing treatments are the anti-aging arsenal of services available. With all the money consumers are investing in reversing sun and age damage, it seems only natural that sunless tanning would be an ideal option for obtaining a "wrinkle free" tan.

The value of adding sunless tanning to your business is obvious and you probably want to know where to go from here. If you have been to any beauty related tradeshows you have likely seen that there are dozens of companies all touting they have got the best sunless system for your business. It can be quite confusing, and they all sound great, but what is the right choice? Companies selling systems at trade shows can range from $300 - $24,000+. We can help you sort through some of the different systems available.

Custom Airbrush Tanning Equipment

Pros and Cons of different Equipment Options - these are generalizations - and some variation can be expected within different brands and product lines. This is a general guide to help you chose what fits your business best.

Airbrush and Compressor (no air tank): (Professional Type)

  • Little overspray/mess in the air with proper PSI (air pressure) adjustments
  • Good for mobile situations
  • Good for lower ventilation areas, though ventilation should still be provided
  • Good for small spray areas
  • Silent systems available, which may be better suited in a Spa or Dr’s Office
  • Slower sessions can contribute to a pampering effect
  • Small compressors are very mobile
  • Good for detail work, like filling in tan lines
  • Small footprint, for easy storage
  • May look less industrial in a spa setting
  • Easiest to use for self spraying
  • Slower spray can make it easier for beginners

  • Typical session will take 25 to 35 min
  • Smaller compressors, though mobile, can be quite noisy and vibrate
  • Some small compressors can become very hot to the touch
  • Brushes require frequent through cleanings
  • Don’t get an underpowered unit, or you will be disappointed
  • Not all airbrushes work well with all solutions
  • Cheap hobby brushes usually spray poorly and unevenly
  • Because of the more tedious application, can also be more difficult for beginners
  • Brush must be held level during use, with minimal tipping to the side

More Info:
Airbrush and compressor systems were the original application medium for Airbrush Tanning. They have been used successfully for a few years, with a large following. I n recent years techs have started trading in their airbrushes for the speedier Spray guns, LVLPs (Low Volume Low Pressure) and HVLP (High Volume Low Pressure) systems. The airbrushes have the advantage of small size, low cost entry level systems, and less mess with proper adjustments and technique. Many people start with an airbrush, and advance to a speeder "gun" system as their resources permit. Typically those who have learned to use a "Tanning Grade" Gun system, with proper adjustments and technique, don't go back to an airbrush.

Spray Guns, AKA "Body Guns" with Compatible Air Compressor:

  • Faster applications, 10 to 15 minutes per application, Sprays about 10 PSI at tip
  • Silent compressor options available (not portable)
  • Faster cleanup then an airbrush
  • Minimal clogging
  • Can be paired with some brands of smaller compressors for mobility
  • Can be paired with large silent compressor
  • Larger width spray pattern than an airbrush
  • Works well for large areas of body spraying
  • Technique and adjustments can minimize overspray

  • Will only work with a limited number of compressors
  • Smaller tank compressors, will need to "refill" with air more often with a spray gun, a larger tank eliminates this problem.
  • Proper gun adjustments are important. Adjusting the flow regulator on the gun can generally improve transfer efficiency.

More Info:
A spray gun, like the models by Iwata and Paasche are the bridge between an airbrush and an HVLP gun. They spray more volume of product then an airbrush, but less then an HVLP. They do not blow air as you go, like an HVLP or LVLP gun will do. These are smaller than most HVLP guns. Think of them as an airbrush with the ability to spray much more product at once.

Side Note:
  • Some companies sell Spray guns, that they also call LVLP or HVLP systems. There is much controversy on whether these are truly an LVLP or HVLP gun.
  • Technically a spray gun has a tip PSI of 10 or greater.
  • HVLP and LVLP must have a tip PSI of less then 10.
  • Most HVLP guns have a tip PSI of 4 to 7 - though Apollo has an HVLP model with 1 PSI at the tip.
  • LVLP guns have a tip PSI of 1 PSI.

Because of the larger air volume requirements - HVLP and LVLP systems are paired with a small turbine, or a very large compressor (no pressure loss from waiting on tank to fill, as one may get with a smaller tanked compressor).

For ultra precision, some techs prefer to use a spray gun for the body and an airbrush for details smaller areas (feet, hands and). Both can certainly be used for all body areas with very good results.

HVLP: High Volume Low Pressure Spray gun

  • Quick Drying
  • Fast application - 3 to 5 minutes, most units 4 to 7 PSI at tip, Apollo version is 1 PSI at tip.
  • Versions with a lower tip PSI create a finer mist atomization for better transfer efficiency on to skin. Good for high volume spray facilities
  • Air drying while you work

  • Hardware store versions created to spray thicker products, and with heavier motors -can create to fast a solution flow, more mess and more product waste
  • Spray guns are heavier, and can be awkward for self spraying or those with hand fatigue or wrist and hand injuries issues (Carpel tunnel, Repetitive stress injuries)
  • Bulky spray gun can be difficult for self sprayers, or use in tight shower stalls
  • Product sprays very fast, can be difficult for a beginner at first, adjustments on equipment, and proper technique will help
  • Must be paired with a noisy turbine

More Info:
An HVLP is a larger bore device then a standard spray gun or an LVLP, with a large air hose, and large inner passages. This creates a large amount of air volume, and a very fast spray application. Because of the air volume requirements, a Turbine is the standard air delivery device. To be classified as an HVLP, the tip PSI must be around 4 to 7 PSI. Apollo Spray Systems have an HVLP brush line for spray tanning with the larger HVLP size, but the lower tip pressure of 1 PSI.

Compressors with Air Tank: (paired with airbrush, spray gun)

  • Low cost
  • Small footprint models available
  • Small very portable units available
  • Readily available

  • Powerful models are generally heavy, less mobile
  • Tank models will need to refill often with a spray gun, unless a larger tank is used - short spray bursts will work best at lessening rapid air depletion.

More Info:
For spray guns - a small compressor will need to run continually to provide consistent airflow for an airbrush or spray gun. Smalls compressors will not provide enough airflow for a spray gun to effectively spray solution, and can also cause fast system burnout.

A compressor with storage tank, often has and "Auto On-Off" feature. This allows the compressor to shut off when tank is full of air then cycling on again only to refill the tank as needed.

Turbines: (paired HVLP Gun/Mist Applicator)

  • Lighter weight then many similar powered compressors, more power less weight
  • Lots of power, for larger bored HVLP spray guns

  • Loud unless paired with a quiet box housing, or Rheostat device
  • Sound muffling boxes can be bulky, look for wheeled versions, which are easy to maneuver
  • Can produce a lot overspray. An overspray booth is recommended.
  • Will not work with an airbrush without modifications

General Considerations:

If noise is a concern...
  • Look for a silent compressor with an airbrush or spray gun.
  • Or a Turbine with an HVLP quiet box
  • You can also place a Turbine in a closet or behind a partition with an extra long hose reaching into spray area

  • Though no air application method is completely mess free a properly adjusted airbrush will have the least overspray
  • A spray gun and HVLP can also provide lower overspray options, but equipment and technique must be correct.
  • HVLP guns with the lower tip PSI have the best transfer efficiency onto the skin’s surface. This can also create less overspray.
  • If gun is to far from body, or solution volume spray is off, you will have more mess and waste - Review the instructions for your product
  • Hardware store varieties will produce more mess
  • Good and properly set up ventilation options should be addressed

Why buy "Professional" grade instead of that cheap unit at Harbor Freight, Home Depot, or Wal-Mart?

Obviously the first consideration is - "How often will you be using your equipment?" If you are simply servicing a few people a week - a $2,000 HVLP system is probably a lot more equipment then you need, or will ever utilize. For low client volume, an inexpensive small compressor and airbrush is probably your best choice.

If you have a high volume of clients, a small compressor and airbrush system could hold you back. You may burn it the equipment out fast, and then have excess down-time while you wait for warranty repairs. This may mean lost customers, who may now go find your competition to maintain the great tan you gave them.

So take some time to assess your situation and your goals both long and short term. Ask yourself how much effort your business plans on advertising and marketing your new service.

A poor quality unit, with a good warranty is still a poor buy - if you have to send it in for repairs or replacement every two months. A cheap system with no after sales support can be a real nightmare if you have any difficulties.

Rather, look at the products involved, the quality, the services offered, the after sales support, the training or resources available. And find out what other pros, who are in the business, like or hate and why?

Other Factors Contributing to your Sunless Tanning Success:

The Technician
Your technician should be well practiced in his/her technique and well educated in the Do's and Don'ts of Airbrush tanning. Technicians are responsible for properly educating your clientele on how to effectively prepare and care for their sunless spray tan so that they remain happy, loyal clients. You can use the best tanning solution in the world, but if your technician is not well practiced and educated, your spray tanning business could be in jeopardy.

The Client
What a client does before or after a spray tan can be critical to its final results. Not properly preparing for their sunless service or improperly maintaining their sunless tan after their appointment can cause poor results. Offer your clients retail products that were specifically developed to keep their sunless tan looking beautiful and bright. Daily moisturization and occasional gentle exfoliation are essential to keeping an airbrushed tan looking flawless.

The Formula
Pure Sunless® uses only the finest grade of DHA & Erythrulose in our premier formulations. In combination with our exceptional array of effective anti-oxidants, extracts and moisturizers, Pure Sunless® can outperform solutions that state the same active percentages in their products simply because our formulations, ingredients and quality far exceed industry standards.


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- Daniel

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Anonymous said...

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