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Trinity Tan - Our Mission
The Trinity Tan mission is to bring together the very best sunless spray tanning brands, equipment, products and practices in the world and make them available to you, the spray tanning professional. Our anchor brand for hand-held equipment is Tanning Essentials, a brand with worldwide reach. Naked Sun - the antioxidant sunless tanning brand, is unique in the marketplace for its natural ingredients, its formulation to protect against free radicals, and its emphasis on skin friendly sunless tanning.
A Short Course in Airbrush and Spray Tanning
How to Get Started in Sunless Tanning
The FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) on this site are a good place to start for an introduction to spray tanning. Provided below is a high level overview of spray tanning. We also have a complete online manual that goes into greater detail. But we also have experienced technicians and consultants available with a simple phone call. We also have pre-configured kits that are the equivalent of a "spray tanning kit in a box" that greatly simplify the buying decisions. Why don't you get started today!
DHA - How the Sunless Tan Works
Sunless tanning is made possible by the ingredient DHA (Dihydroxyacetone). When applied to the skin, DHA interacts with the outermost layer of the skin to produce a sunless tan. The sunless tan should last 7-10 days under normal care, but may last longer with the aid of tan extenders. DHA is a simple carbohydrate made from glycerol (glycerin). It is an organic molecule in a strict chemistry sense but can be made from synthetic means. But, in the sense that "Organic" is used in cosmetics, it may not qualify. DHA that is ECO-CERT DHA is certified as Organic for cosmetic purposes. See our online manual for a complete discussion of this topic. Airbrush and hand held spray tanning solutions commonly contain from 8-12% of DHA. Over the counter sunless products may contain 5-7%. Tan extenders, meant for ongoing maintenance of a sunless tan, may contain 0-3%. UV tanning Lotions that advertise bronzers are likely 0-3% as well, although none state the percentage. Spray Tanning solution is typically applied in one of three set-ups: an airbrush tanning system, a hand-held spray tanning system, or a spray booth.
Airbrush tanning provides a great deal of control but tends to offer slower application than spray tanning equipment. This is primarily due to the larger spray pattern used by spray tanning guns. Air brush systems that employ large format air brushes in a spray gun configuration such as the Iwata G6 are competitive in application speed, but somewhat expensive. The typical airbrush tanning equipment setup consists of the airbrush, hose, and an oil-less airbrush compressor.
Spray Tanning - Hand Held
Spray gun tanning systems have tended to supplant airbrush tanning systems since spray guns using a fan pattern can cover a broad swath, up to about 8 inches, of the body on a pass. This provides rapid application, enabling you to handle more clients. So called HVLP (High Volume Low Pressure) systems using a turbine (think vacuum cleaner running in reverse) are economical to own and make efficient use of material, so they are economical to operate too. Typically the spray gun, hose, and turbine in such a system come from the same manufacturer as part of a single package. Such systems range in price from about $300.00 to about $1000.00. The more expensive system typically have better spray guns, a longer life, and may provide some sound baffling as well, since turbine units can be loud and shrill versus an airbrush set-up.
Some spray tanning systems, typically higher end kits, are offered with HVLP conversion guns. This type of gun runs off compressors rather than turbines, but requires higher flow rate compressors than those used in airbrush tanning. Even the most efficient touch up conversion gun, which would be appropriate for airbrush tanning, would require at least a 2 cfm (cubic feet per minute) air flow rate. HVLP conversion guns are used in auto painting and other professional paint applications where a fine finish is required. Brands such as SATA and Iwata are the leaders in this arena.
A complete hand held spray tanning setup includes more than just the basic spray tan system. Air should be filtered and overspray captured. The simplest set-up combines an extraction fan and a pop-up tanning tent or back-drop. Pop-up tanning tents are popular in mobile applications since they stow away and set up quickly. Most pop-up tents include a built-in floor and a back flap for inserting an extraction fan. The spray technician sprays the client through the front door opening which usually opens for the full height of a client. Springy metal struts form the structure of the tents, with the outer shell made of polyester and the floor typically made of plastic. The simplest, and most affordable extraction fan consists of an air filter ,and air filter holder integrated onto a box air fan. The filters can be inexpensive household filters, but we recommend those with a higher filtration (MERV) rating.
For a professional salon setting, a filtration tower is recommended. Such towers consist of 2-3 built in fans, and removable filters, built into an attractive, professional frame. Typically these units have a "V" configuration with the extraction components at the point of the "V" and side panels extending out into the salon space. This provides and open, air setting while corralling in any errant spray particles.
Spray Tanning Booth
At the high end of spray tanning sits the automated spray booth. While spray tanning booths are quite expensive upfront, they can be cost effective in a short time, since personnel costs are not as high. Saving the cost of a full time employee may result in a payback of as little as a single season. So you will want to consider a system as automated as possible. Material costs may be quite important too. Some systems use a substantial amount of tanning solution. The solution may appear quite a bit cheaper than hand held solutions on a per unit basis, but the solution may have a diluted DHA per cent since more is being applied. Tanning Booths with low solution usage are typically the best value. Polarized systems that turn the solution into tiny magnets that attract to the client's body can have much lower usage rates than hand held devices, saving you more money. So, when evaluating whether a booth is affordable for your situation, calculate the labor savings and the material savings versus the lower initial handheld system cost.
Now that the principal product and equipment requirements for a spray tan have been discussed, lets discuss the companion products and practices to apply before during and after the spray tan.
Since the sunless tan develops on the outer layers of skin, cleansing the skin and removing dead skin cells that are in the process of sloughing off will ensure that the tan comes in intimate contact with clean skin that is in the renewal part of the skin growth cycle. This will result in a long lasting faux tan. A number of products are offered on the market targeting this pre-sunless need.
Retail Exfoliants may be used by the client at home, prior to the spray tan appointment and are an additional profit point for the salon. For the last minute customer, a number of approaches are available. Some salons apply a pre-spray that removes excess oils and perspiration. Some claim to adjust the pH of the skin, although this feature should not be weighted heavily since the skin tends to self-balance afterwards. The pre-spray need not be applied with the tanning equipment, a spritz bottle may be used. Some type of towel will be needed to wipe off the pre-spray. More convenient than the pre-spray are disposable wipes that have a gentle cleanser and optionally an embedded physical exfoliant such as finely ground nut shells. The disposable wipes are currently the most popular option. An option gaining popularity is to provide a makeup remover or makeup remover wipes to prepare the most troublesome spots for the sunless tan.
Most salons also stock disposables for clients that don't supply their own clothing, say a dark swimsuit. Some clients will feel comfortable having the tan applied in varied states of nudity, others will be more modest. Disposable Bras, panties, thongs or g-strings, and hair caps are available to offer. Be aware that most of these products are rather sheer however. To protect the feet from overspray that has settled, which if it comes in contact with the rough skin of the soles of the feet will over-absorb and become unsightly, a foot towel can be provided to stand on. The most popular option is to offer disposable "sticky feet", self adhering disposable sandals that cling to the soles of the feet.
Applying the Spray
Tan The discussion will be limited to hand-held airbrush and spray tanning, since booth tanning will ship with specified procedures, some of them automated for the client. Some vendors over-hype application time, focusing on such comments as a "2-minute tan". This metric is largely irrelevant. Nearly all spray gun based systems can apply a tan in a short time if they can produce a 4 to 8 inch spray pattern. HVLP turbine and HVLP conversion guns should not have any issue. For airbrush systems this can be an issue unless you are using a large format gun such as the Iwata G5 or G6, which produce good results in a reasonable time.
A round spray pattern is standard in spray guns and airbrushes. But the most desirable pattern for spray tanning is an oval shaped "fan pattern" since it can create more coverage in a single pass. All hvlp spray guns and large format airbrushes such as the G5 or G6 can produce this pattern. The fan pattern is produced by two air channels on opposite sides of the spray gun that "flatten" the circular pattern to a fan. On the front of the spray gun is an "air cap" that can be rotated. On each side of the air cap there is a "ridge" that extends forward, essentially forming a line across the spray gun tip. If this ridge is rotated to the vertical, the spray pattern is horizontal. If this ridge is rotated to the horizontal, the spray pattern is vertical. A simple rule of thumb is this: if you are spraying in a horizontal direction, make sure the ridge is pointed to the horizontal. If you are spraying in a vertical direction, have the ridge pointed vertically. This will ensure that the wide part, not the narrow part, of the fan pattern is covering the most body area in the direction of motion.
Spray tanning solutions typically are offered in percentages in the 8 - 12% DHA concentration. Some solutions do not reveal their formulations, but typically fall in this range. If too much DHA is applied for a given skin type, an undesirable off-color may be achieved. For a fair skin type, an 8-9% solution is appropriate. But for very fair skin, a 5-7% solution may be desirable, although these formulations are becoming uncommon. For a medium skin type, a 10% solution would be appropriate. For darker skin types a 12% solution would be called for. Inevitably clients will want a stronger solution than their skin type warrants. If you stick to the typical recommended application amount - 2 Ounces, you may have some leeway. However, if you typical spray closer to 4 ounces, you should be especially wary. Remember, the possibility of an off-color is a often the result of over-application -- which results both from the percentage and the amount applied.
Sunless tanning solution typically has a bronzer added, both to serve as a color guide for easy application and to provide an immediate cosmetic effect. However, much of this bronzer will wear off in the first shower. The client should not shower until 8-12 hours after the procedure, unless an accelerated solution is used. In this case follow the recommendations of the solution label. While not as popular, clear tanning solution is available without bronzer. This is especially desirable for those cases where you want to avoid any issues with bronzer wearing off on clothing -- such as in a wedding party.
Post Sunless Guidelines
Tan Extenders are retail lotions that range from just moisturizers to moisturizers containing up to 3% DHA. In many cases the manufacturer will not state the DHA per cent. If you recommend daily maintenance with a tan extender, a 3% DHA extender may be a little strong for light or medium skin types. However such a formulation should be fine for a touch up regimen. A full-fledged sunless product purchased at retail will probably be around 5% DHA, so the more robust tan extenders are close to encroaching on these single application products.