While the public’s perception of sunless spray tanning used to include the words “orange” and “streaky,” reality television shows like ABC’s “Dancing With The Stars” and the E! Entertainment channel’s “Sunset Tan” have completely redefined that view. Now, people are flocking to tanning salons across the country to get sprayed, and salon owners are more than happy to oblige—especially during the slow season. For those who haven’t taken the plunge or are looking to expand their spray-tan offerings, here is some general information on the two forms of professional sunless tan application—spray booths and airbrush—as well as a look at some hot new developments in the spray-tan world.
Airbrush spray tans are applied by professional technicians using specialized equipment designed for applying self-tanning sprays, such as an airbrush or HVLP/turbine spraygun. The technician will spray the client from head to toe with the tanning solution and can adjust the color and intensity to make the tan look more realistic. The difference between the two sprayguns is that the airbrush version utilizes very small compressor equipment. This causes the stream of solution emitted from the spraygun to be thinner and less powerful than the HVLP (high volume, low pressure) system, which offers a faster and easier application process. Each method takes time—as in 15 to 25 minutes—for a thorough spray. The benefit is that the technician has access to hard-to-tan areas and can give greater attention to detail where needed.
The Automated Booth
Spray-tan booths are another option in sunless tanning. Most booths are enclosed standups and feature an automated spray which mists the sunless tanning solution over the entire body. During this quick process (which ranges from a few seconds to a few minutes), the person being sprayed moves in a slow circle and poses in various positions to ensure that all exposed skin is covered by the tanning solution. The biggest benefits of standups are the quick process and the fact that a technician usually is not needed—which means clients have greater privacy and salon employees are free to do other duties.
Of the two types of application, both airbrush and spray-booth tans continue to develop for about 24 hours after the session and last about seven to 10 days, fading according to the body’s natural exfoliation process.
Price-wise, handheld airbrush units are a cost-effective sunless option in a salon—especially in one that is simply looking to see if sunless catches on in their area before committing to the investment of an automated standup. A technician can get started with a small mobile airbrush and compressor for as little as a few hundred dollars, while higher-end equipment can cost up to a few thousand dollars. For a spray-tan booth, prices have dropped significantly in the last few years—options range from the affordably priced, basic standups to the more costly, state-of-the-art units—which allows any salon to find a spray booth that fits its needs and budget.
In addition, when you consider that each client will pay you an average of $20 to $30 per spray-tan session, the initial investment is well worth it. Even better, the opportunities for additional revenue continue to grow. Many sunless manufacturers now offer a variety of before- and after-care items that you can upsell to sunless clients (flip to page 30 to see LF’s suggestions). In addition, some manufacturers have created a variety of skincare treatments that can be added to sunless solutions (in both booth and spraygun mediums) for an extra charge. Finally, the latest and greatest developments in spray-tanning—mobile tanning and body contouring—provide salon owners the ability to diversify and expand their sunless offerings.
In today’s society, on-the-go people are always looking for ways to make their lives easier. Mobile spray tanning provides a great way for clients to bring the salon to them, thus saving time and travel. If you are thinking about going mobile, there are few things to consider:
Service. Great service is very important to your mobile tanning success. If you book an appointment at 2 p.m., make sure that you are there and ready to spray at 2 p.m. That includes being set up and informing the client(s) of the process ahead of time.
Price. Many people who offer mobile spray-tanning services have both individual and party rates. This is beneficial because prices can be discounted based on the number of people sprayed at one location. Salon owners like it because they are getting more done at one time, which is less hassle for them; clients like it because it offers the opportunity to host “spray parties” for their friends.
Extras. You want to have everything clients will need before, during and after their tanning session with you. This is not like being in your salon, where you can quickly run to the back and grab a product. Planning ahead and keeping an updated inventory of add-on products is key.
Cleanup. You must be prepared to clean up after yourself. Some people choose to carry pop-up tents specifically designed for spray tanning so that spray is contained. Others spray clients in the shower for an easy rinse-away cleanup. Whatever method you choose, containing overspray is an important part of mobile tanning—you certainly don’t want customers threatening to bill you for any stains left in their home.
Insurance. Before you even think about adding mobile tanning to your list of services, make sure your insurance carrier will provide coverage for airbrush tanning both inside and outside the salon. In addition, Jenny Bortman, account executive for Phoenix-based Universal Insurance, recommends that you address the following with your agent prior to beginning mobile tanning services: professional liability exposures, offsite value of your equipment, off-premise theft and money coverage, general liability coverage in the event of injury in someone’s residence, privacy issues and appropriate clothing for those being sprayed, the type of vehicle that will be used to transport the technician and equipment (work or personal), client age (will you offer services to minors?) and gender (will a female technician be allowed to spray a male client? vice-versa?).
This special technique involves a person being airbrushed to accentuate muscle or minimize cellulite—overall, the process creates the perception of a more toned physique. This is done with an airbrush spraygun—which allows the technician to be very detailed in the contouring process—using two different shades of solution. Basically, the technician shades and outlines certain areas (generally the abs, legs, chest and arms) to fake the look of muscle tone and hide imperfections. This works because the lighter areas appear to stand out more, while the darker areas—which are not as easily picked up by the eye—seem to fade away. In fact, many airbrush technicians say that a good body-contouring session can leave the client looking 10 to 15 pounds lighter. For those who are thinking about offering contour services, there are a few things to keep in mind:
Location. Where your salon is located can have a serious impact on how successful this service will be. Case in point: Los Angeles-based Sunset Tan. Devin Haman, CEO and co-founder of the salon, says body contouring is a popular service among Sunset Tan’s appearance-conscious clientele as well as the large actor/actress/model demographic in the L.A. area. This would probably be the case in other metropolitan areas as well; however, in a smaller, rural setting, body contouring might not be as desirable.
Training. Body contouring requires training beyond that of regular airbrushing because the technician is working with two different shades of solution and must be very detailed during the application process. Infinity Sun, a sunless equipment and product manufacturer, trains all of the sunless airbrush technicians at Sunset Tan; in fact, Haman says that his technicians attend weekly training sessions to ensure they are constantly learning new techniques.
Price. Body contouring, just like regular spray tans, can be sold on an individual or package basis. The average price for a single session usually ranges from $65 to $100. Bonus: Body contouring is a popular mobile-tanning service, as well—which means the price is even higher per session. Cha-ching!
All in all, it seems that it’s all about sunless. Everyone loves it—from celebrities to the girl (or boy) next door. It’s the perfect sales tool to get people who can’t or won’t tan indoors into your salon, and it’s a great way to stay on top of sales this summer. So, forget slow season ... just think sunless.
DHA: Did You Know?
DHA, or dihydroxyacetone, was officially discovered to have skin-coloring properties in 1920 by a group of German scientists working with X-ray machines. The scientists noted that the substance, when spilled on skin, appeared to turn the area it touched a brownish shade.
Cocktail: HP tanning session followed by a spray-tanning session.
Blowdry: Spray-tanning session followed by a standup HP tanning session. (Note: An HP session “sets” the spray solution—keep it short to avoid sweating or streaking.)
Mini-Spa: Hydration Station followed by a spray-tanning session. (Note: The Prolong Program preps skin for DHA absorption and helps extend the life of the spray tan.)
Before & After: Hydration Station followed by a spray-tanning session followed by an HP tanning session.