3.5 Tan application 101

By now, you will understand all of the factors that contribute to the perfect spray tan – the skin, the sunless tanning process, the impacts of colour theory, contraindications that may restrict services and contra-actions which may occur during or after the tan application. In this lesson, we will look at the tanning application process in more detail through each phase of the process.

Pre-tanning considerations

Skin preparation before the tan is just as important as the tan application itself! The aim of pre-tanning preparation is not to get everyone’s skin to a ‘normal’ skin type, as that would be impossible; it is more about working with the skin type your client already has and ensuring they have the best possible canvas for the tanning solution to absorb, develop and ultimately bronze the skin evenly.

When a client books an appointment with you, it is critical that you inform them of all the steps they must take prior to the appointment to prepare their skin. If you have a website or social media, it can also be useful to have this information readily available for your client, and you may even want to email them a set of instructions! The table below outlines a range of pre-tanning requirements to be aware of:

ExfoliateExfoliating the skin prior to the tanning appointment helps to unclog pores, clean the skin, reduces breakout and remove dead skin cells. If you exfoliate prior to shaving and waxing, this also helps with the hair removal process as it can help to expose hair follicles and can also prevent pesky ingrown hairs! Exfoliating before the tanning procedure helps to ensure the skin has an excellent base for the tanning solution, which helps to ensure the solution is applied evenly, which will help the tan last longer. Clients should pay particular attention to the dry areas of the body when exfoliating, such as ankles, heels, elbows, knuckles and knees. These areas of the body tend to lose skin cells very quickly, so extra attention in these areas is a must! It is also important that you explain to clients that they should not over-exfoliate or use any harsh exfoliants prior to the appointment. Over exfoliation can cause irritated skin, little scratches, and excessive dryness, which may cause those areas to darken during the development process which will make the tan look patchy. Clients can exfoliate using their preferred methods but should avoid any harsh chemical exfoliators. Dry brushing, exfoliation gloves and exfoliation scrubs specific for pre-tanning can be excellent options.
MoisturiseSkin hydration is a must. As you have already learned, dry skin tends to be more alkaline, and the pH range can be a culprit for tans turning an orange hue! Clients should moisturise 24 hours before a tan but should avoid applying too much. Just like over-exfoliating, too much moisturiser will impact the way the tanning solution absorbs and develops. If your clients have really dry areas, they can apply more moisturiser to dry areas like the ankles, heels, elbows, knuckles and knees. There are also heaps of tanning primers available on the market which help to add additional moisture to the skin to combat the drying effects of DHA, and also to balance pH levels. Many spray tanning technicians jump right into the tan application, but we suggest using primers to help balance out your canvas as this will contribute to better results for your clients.
Hair removalRemoving any unwanted hair at least 24 hours prior to the appointment (ideally 48 hours) is essential. If you think about the process of shaving, you are not only removing hairs, but you are removing dead skin cells. If a client shaves directly after the tan application, they will be removing the skin cells that the tanning solution is trying to absorb into! The products associated with shaving, such as gels and creams, can also compromise the tan solution development, so removing all hair prior to the appointment is a must. If your client has had a wax on the day of their appointment and still wants a tan, you will need to explain that the wax actually opens up pores which means the solution will seep in and may leave blotchy spots or cause irritation. For clients who have laser hair removal, the process may leave dry spots, which will cause the tan to go patchy.
pH levelsIn addition to your client’s natural pH levels, using any products on the skin prior to the tan application can also alter their pH. Many soaps are very alkaline, and the skin doesn’t set itself back to its natural pH level immediately; it takes a while for it to balance. As such, clients should avoid using bar soaps, high pH shower products, oil-based products or in-shower moisturisers as these can form a barrier that may prevent the tanning solutions development.

Of course, when you are explaining the pre-tan requirements to your clients, you want to make it as simple as possible for them. A lot of people are time-poor, so sometimes it’s better to have a simple ‘Do’s and Don’ts’ list to help get your message across.

As an example, consider including a table like the one below when crafting your information packs for your clients:

Pre-tan Do’sPre-tan Don’ts
At least 24 hours before your appointment, do:
– Remove hair
– Exfoliate your skin
– Cleanse and moisturise your skin

On the day of your appointment, do:
– Ensure your skin is clean and dry before your appointment
– Wear dark, loose-fitting clothes to your appointment and slip off shoes
– Arrive without deodorant, makeup, lotions or perfumes
– Remove your jewellery
On the day of your appointment, don’t:
– Use self-tanner
– Take a hot shower
– Wax, shave or get laser treatments
– Get a facial
– Wear deodorant containing aluminium
– Use other products which will impact your pH levels
– Wear makeup or perfume
– Over-exfoliate your skin
– Get lash extensions

Your clients may tell you that they prepared their skin, but sometimes they don’t. While clients should follow all pre-tanning processes, the most important step they must complete is exfoliation. As a professional spray tanning technician, it is your role to educate your client on the benefits of skin preparation and the consequences of not preparing the skin. As mentioned previously, using a skin primer can be a great way to balance the skin prior to application and always have barrier creams and/or moisturisers on hand to apply to any super dry parts of the body!

If you would like to learn more about skin preparation requirements, access the resources linked:

When your client arrives

When the client arrives at the appointment, you will need to confirm they have completed their skin preparation and ensure the client consultation is completed. You may have already done the client consultation or part of it when they booked the appointment, but it is a good idea to double-check nothing has changed and that the details are correct.

Many of us want a deep dark tan, but for some of us, this just won’t be possible. A good example is thinking about someone who has jet black hair and wants to go platinum blonde. Any experienced hairdresser will tell you that this cannot be achieved in one sitting – the risk of your hair falling out is just not worth it! In turn, hairdressers use their expertise to explain the full process required to achieve the desired look. Unfortunately, there is no magic wand that can achieve every client’s hair goals, which is true for your clients’ tan goals! If your client has really dry skin, oily skin or a pigmentation disorder, it is unlikely you will be able to make her look like Kim Kardashian on your first attempt.

Effective consultation with your client is the most crucial part of determining which tanning solutions and products will be the best for them in terms of the look they are trying to achieve and the practicalities underpinning this decision. Using the knowledge you have learned in this module, you will now be more equipped to confidently explain why you recommend a particular tanning solution, colour and products. When determining the most tanning solution and products, at a minimum, you need to consider:

  • The client’s skin type and tone
  • pH values of the client’s skin and your solutions
  • The desired look and any events they are tanning for
  • Lifestyle factors (Do they swim? Sweat a lot? or are they in the sun often?
  • The clients budget
  • Contra-actions and contraindications
  • Ongoing commitment to tan maintenance

You must use your expertise and experience to help guide your client into selecting a realistic option. There are many ways that we can achieve gorgeous outcomes without compromising the overall look for our clients. Managing your clients’ expectations in the initial consultation will prevent any disappointment and will also ensure that you maintain your professional integrity. Going against what is realistic and practical to appease your client may hurt them and your reputation in the long run! For example, if you have a client who is a first-time bride, a high percentage DHA solution with a strong cosmetic bronzer may not be the best option. Your clients will be guided by you in terms of which tanning solution to use (unless they specify exactly what they want), so you will need to use your professional judgement.

As you build your client base and use a range of tanning solutions for different skin types, skin tones and events, it is an excellent idea to take before and after photos as a point of reference for you and to create a portfolio of examples for clients. As you have learned in this module, there are so many components to sunless tanning, and this can sometimes be difficult to explain to clients verbally. Having visual examples to reference, even including a comparison similar to the different outcomes for different skin types, can help you work with your client to determine and explain which outcome will be most realistic.

You will learn more about how to conduct effective client consultations at the end of this course. For now, you may like to download the client consultation form to get a basic understanding of the sort of information you will need to determine the most suitable tan application for your client.

Once you have completed the consultation, you can begin your service and start creating the magic! You should ensure that your treatment area is set up and then select the applicable products and equipment needed to complete the tan (we will look at these in more detail in the coming modules). Once your area is set up, you can begin with the tanning process.

The first part of the tanning process is to ensure that your client is comfortable. Many of your clients will not feel very comfortable having to strip off and get into unfamiliar body positions in front of a complete stranger! The best way to do this is to ensure that you are friendly, warm, welcoming and professional. When we work so closely with people, we can’t outwardly be having a bad day. Could you imagine how weird it would feel having an angry or upset person spraying your naked body? Yeah, not nice! So, once you have your own self in a good mood and ready to go, you can also incorporate the following factors to increase comfort levels:

Always make sure your treatment area is clean! Untidy and/or disorganised treatment areas are not a good look and will not leave a good impression.
Keep the temperature in your tanning room comfortable – not too cold and not too warm.
Make casual conversation with your client and explain the process, so they know what steps you will be taking, especially if this is their first tan.
Ask your client if they have any questions before you begin – this will help them to relax and gives them an opportunity to discuss any concerns they have.
Think about the décor of your room. Some nice furnishings can create a nice ambience and can help your clients to feel more comfortable.
Have the client disposables (hair net, G-string, sticky feet etc.) and modesty screen (if applicable) available and explain to the client that they can tan without clothes, with their underwear or wearing the disposables.

Every client will be different, and clients who have had many spray tans before will usually know what they need to do. Even if your client has had a spray tan before, if it is their first time having an appointment with you, be sure to clearly explain your process and what needs to be done for the service to commence. Never assume they know what to do!

Tan application

The first part of the tan application process is to prepare your client’s skin. Hopefully, your client has followed all of your pre-tan instructions, but if they haven’t, be sure to explain some likely outcomes so they are forewarned and not disappointed once the tan is applied.

Prior to applying a spray tan, it is highly recommended to apply a coat of your supplied CocoTan pH Balancing Primer. This product has been specially formulated to balance the skin’s natural pH level (optimally a pH of 5.5 for tanning) in order to help achieve a flawless and longer-lasting tan. CocoTan’s pH Balancing Primer also has the added benefit of containing natural coconut extract, which acts to restore hydration and revitalise the skin.

Once the skin is prepared, you are ready to start applying! When it comes to the tanning application, there are two important factors:

1. Your client’s stance or positioning; and

2. Most importantly, your application technique! In order to achieve an even application of product, and therefore a consistent tan across all parts of the body, it is important to remember the three C’s:

  1. Constant speed: move your gun across the surface of the skin at a constant speed;
  2. Constant distance: move your gun around the body at a constant distance from the surface of the skin; and
  3. Constant direction: ensure the spray emitting from your spray gun is always perpendicular (or at 90 degrees) to the surface of the skin. This will be achieved by moving your gun up and down the body and keeping the spray pointed directly at the skin. DO NOT tilt your gun up and down to spray the body, as this will apply more tanning product when pointed straight at the skin, and less when pointed at an angle to the skin.

The below step-by-step guide provides the correct sequence for applying any product to the skin with a spray tanning machine/gun. It is important to note that this technique applies to your primer, pro tanning solution, and your event tanning top coat solution.

Tan application process

Step 1: Hidden areas

Prior to commencing a spray tan, it is imperative that you to identify any areas of the skin that will not be sprayed without your client using their hands to hold something ‘up’. This is generally the case with breasts that rest on the torso (or stomach), or excessive fat rolls around the torso. The reason we need to apply tan to these areas first is because your client will need to use their hands to hold these parts of the body up while you spray the hidden areas of skin. If you were to apply tan prior to them doing this, they would get tanning product on the palms of their hands, which, as we know, we want to avoid at all costs.

Once these areas are identified, advise your client that you need to spray the ‘hidden areas’ first and that you need their help to do this. Ask them to use their hands and lift the particular part of the body. Do not be apologetic when doing this, as this will only add to your client’s discomfort or embarrassment. Be casual yet assertive.

Once exposed, apply an even coat to the area of skin that is revealed.

Step 2: Front of body

The first step in the spray tan application is the front of the body. Have your client face you with their chin slightly raised to remove any creases in the skin on the neck, their arms raised just enough to avoid skin to skin contact under the arms, and their legs spread apart just enough so that there is no skin to skin contact of the thighs.

Avoid the face at this stage and commence your first stroke at the top of the neck, and work your way down the full length of the body and leg. Remember, the key to an even coverage is to maintain a constant speed, distance from the body, and direction (or angle) of spray. To do this, you will need to move the gun up and down the body, and not tilt the gun up and down. There is no need to spray the tops of the feet as we will blend in the product that falls onto them throughout the course of the tan with our blending brush at the completion of the process.

Step 3: Inside of legs and crotch

Once you have an even coverage of the front of the body, have your client turn each leg outwards so that you can tan the inside of the lower leg, thighs and the crotch region. Ensure you achieve full coverage in this upper thigh region, even if it means asking your client to turn their leg out further. This is not the time to be overly polite or modest, as your client will be expecting full coverage in all areas.

Step 4: Underside of arms and arm pits

Next, while still facing toward you, have your client raise both of their arms above their head and tan the underside of each arm, as well as the arm pits. Remember, your client cannot have any deodorant on at all, as this will react with the tanning product and turn this region a green colour that is irreversible.

Step 5: Inside of arms

After the underside of each arm is sprayed, ask your client to lower their arms, bend them at 90 degrees by their sides and slightly turn them in. This will allow you to spray the top and inside of the upper arms.

Step 6: Top of arms and hands

Next, have your client hold their arms straight out in front of them with fingers outstretched and palms facing down. Using one continuous stroke, spray from the top of the arm down to the fingers. We will use a blending brush to blend the product into the top of the hands in a moment.

Step 7: Outside of body

After the top of the arms and hands have been sprayed, have your client turn 90 degrees side on, and raise one arm straight above their head. Commencing at the wrist, apply an even coat down the outside of the arm and then the body, finishing at the ankle. Complete the coverage of the outside of the leg and torso on the way back up, finishing just below the armpit. Then, have your client turn 180 degrees and repeat this process on the other side.

Step 8: Rear of arms and body

Next, have your client turn so that they are facing away from you and have them bend their arms at 90 degrees by their sides. Starting at the top of the arm and working your way down to the wrist, spray the rear of each arm, avoiding the palms.

Once the rear of the arms have been sprayed, commence at the shoulder and in one continuous stroke, spray down the back of the torso and then the rear of the leg, down to the ankle. Come back up the back of the leg and then the back. After this, cover the centre of the back, before repeating the process and spraying the other side of the back and rear of the other leg.

Step 9: Bum crease

Once the rear of the body and legs have been sprayed, ask your client to bend their knees until the crease under the buttocks disappears, and apply product to this area.

Step 10: Face

If you are spraying the face, have your client then turn around and face you once again, and let them know you are about to spray tan their face. At this point, check that their hair net is sitting just above the hairline and above the ears. Ask them to turn to one side, close their eyes and take a deep breath, and then verbally count down 3, 2, 1 before applying product in one continuous stroke from top to bottom. Repeat this on the other side of the face, and then the front.

Remember, the pores of the face are larger than those on the remainder of the body, and therefore product will absorb twice as fast. To avoid an overdeveloped face, apply half as much product as the rest of the body. The easiest way to achieve this is to increase your distance with your spray gun so that you are spraying the face from twice the distance than you have used for the rest of the body.

Step 11: Blend

Finally, using your blending brush, stroke down through the fingers and blend any excess product from the top of the hands down onto the fingers. Similarly, finish the tan by blending in any excess product on the top of the feet.

Your application technique

Now that you have more of an understanding of the positions you will need to ask your client to get into, we can now move onto your application technique. Just like the rotation and stance of your client, the way you apply the tanning solution comes down to preference. In the early days of spray tanning, many technicians would spray horizontally; however, this can cause overspray and waste product! As such, long vertical strokes (as we have used in the above examples) can help to ensure the solution is sprayed evenly without too much wastage. Because all of your clients will have different body shapes and sizes, you may need to use a combination of horizontal and vertical strokes depending on which area you are tanning.

The videos below provide examples of the difference between horizontal and vertical application:

As we mentioned in the previous part of this lesson, if you stick to the three C’s you will be well on your way to applying an even application of product from your first attempt. Once again, these are:

  1. Constant speed: move your gun across the surface of the skin at a constant speed;
  2. Constant distance: move your gun around the body at a constant distance from the surface of the skin; and
  3. Constant direction: ensure the spray emitting from your spray gun is always perpendicular (or at 90 degrees) to the surface of the skin. This will be achieved by moving your gun up and down the body and keeping the spray pointed directly at the skin. DO NOT tilt your gun up and down to spray the body, as this will apply more tanning product when pointed straight at the skin, and less when pointed at an angle to the skin.

As you will have seen in the images for the client’s position, there are guideline arrows to show you which direction to spray. It is important that you practice your technique and follow your own system to ensure the tanning solution is applied evenly. Think of it like mowing a lawn – you don’t start in one area, move to the opposite area and then decide to spray in the middle!

When tanning clients hands and feet, you need to be extra careful not to apply too much solution. A natural tan on the hands and feet will usually only be present on the very tops, and the bottom half of the sides will remain untanned. When applying a tanning solution, try and mimic this natural process, ensuring there are no harsh lines between the outer parts of the hands and feet and the palms and soles. The feet can also catch overspray or solution settling in the air, so always remember that less is more and spraying further away is a good way to not oversaturate. It will look silly if your client has super dark feet in comparison to other parts of the body!

Additionally, always try and be eye level to where you are spraying – this will mean bending down when spraying lower sections of the body. Getting eye level to the area you are spraying will help you to see what you are doing while maintaining a consistent distance from the client’s skin.

Did you know: Sometimes your armpits can turn green after a spray tan application? Some people believe it is because there are still traces of deodorants, and others believe it has something to do with DHA.

The more you practice your technique, the better you will become. As mentioned earlier, there are products on the market that are DHA free and are designed as training products. You should ensure that you have your rotation and application sorted before applying DHA solutions to clients. For clients with light hair, it is super important to ensure all of their hairs are in the cap you provide; otherwise, you can stain their hair! In a later module, our expert will show you best practice tan application techniques.

For now, if you would like to learn more about spray tanning techniques and would like to see how other technicians apply spray tans, access the resources linked:

During the tanning application process, always be on the lookout for any contra-actions. You might not see any reactions, but asking your client questions during the appointment is a good way to identify any issues. During the appointment, ask:

  • How are you feeling?
  • Does the solution feel ok?

Of course, if there happen to be any contra-actions during the application, stop immediately and follow the advice provided on the tanning solution SDS. For contra-actions after the appointment, be sure to document them on the client’s record and advise the client to see a medical professional. Reactions are very rare, but if you have conducted a patch test prior to the appointment, the likelihood is reduced even further!


As part of your kit, you will have a blending brush to use to help you blend out any crease lines or if there happens to be any drips, drops or speckles of tanning solution. It is important that once your tan is applied, you really check over each area to make sure everything is applied evenly.

If the tan develops and it is really patchy, streaky, or your client turns orange, there are a range of tanning correctors that you can use to remove the tan. But remember, these will only be effective to remove cosmetic bronzers and dyes, not the DHA reaction!

When you are starting out, even if you are super careful, there will be times when you make mistakes. Likewise, you may have clients that forget your post-care advice and may destroy their own tan by going swimming, for a hot bath or through hair removal.

Mistakes happen, and each situation will be different. Rigorous or harsh exfoliation can actually make the tan look worse, so sometimes this is not the best option. Depending on the situation, you may need to:

  • Advise your client to gently exfoliate at home
  • Apply a tanning corrector product
  • Apply another light coat to try and correct issues and even out the tan
  • Provide your client with an at-home gradual developer tanning product
  • Recommend the client uses a makeup bronzer to help even out skin tone until desquamation has occurred
  • Recommend the client has a soak in the hot bath

Some people swear by lemon juice and baking soda concoctions as a natural lifter. The best way to learn how to best correct tans is to try them on yourself! When you are starting out, apply some tanner to your own skin and test out a few options for tan removal. Obviously, if the tanning solution you used had a lower percentage of DHA, any issues you will encounter will be easier to fix than a product with more DHA. Less is always more, as it is always easier to add more tanning solution than it is to remove.

If you like to learn more about fixing tanning fails, access the resources linked:

Of course, to avoid tanning fails, prevention is always better than cure! When you are apply tanning solution to your clients, be methodical, take your time and try and fix any issues as they happen rather than waiting. The following are some final Dos and Don’ts for application:

Tan application Do’sTan application Don’ts
– Make sure your client is comfortable and ensure they are protected with hairnets, disposable clothing, masks, nose filters or whatever they require for the service

– Properly prepare the clients skin with primers, blending creams and barrier creams
Select the correct tanning solution in accordance with your client’s skin tone and pH levels

– Be systematic in the way you apply the tan and follow the same rotation for each client

– Double-check that you have not missed any parts and apply a second or third coat if needed

– Use your blending brush to blend any creases, spots, speckles or drips

– Maintaining the same distance from the body to facilitate an even application, moving further away from the hands, feet and knees

– Less is more!
– Oversaturate the skin

– Spray too close to the skin or too far away

– Use high-level DHA products for clients with fair skin who want a natural tan

– Spray from head to toe in one swoop – apply in sections

– Apply tanning solutions to lower sections unless you are eye-level as it can be difficult to maintain a consistent distance and see what you are doing

– Apply too much solution to the face, feet, hands and knees

– Touch the client without asking – if you need to tan under skin folds (stomach or breasts usually), then direct the client to lift as needed

– Continue the application if your client is experiencing any contra-actions

– Use low quality tanning solutions or equipment

– Rush!

Provide post service advice

As you learned earlier, a spray tan will last approximately 5 to 10 days, depending on your client’s daily skincare regime, lifestyle, and skin type. Before the client leaves the appointment, it is critical that you give the client throughout aftercare advice. Clients who know how to look after their tans will not only feel like bronzed beauties for longer, but it will also help with your reputation as a spray tanning technician. If all of your clients end up with patchy or streaky tans after 3 days because you have skipped this step, it will be a fast way to destroy your business.

Making a tan last longer is, for the most part, is very simple – hydration, hydration, hydration! It is recommended that clients moisturise twice a day to increase the longevity of their tan. In addition to moisturising, here are ten general aftercare tips for your clients:

Moisturise twice a day to keep the skin soft and supple and to prolong the tan
Wear loose dark clothing until the tan has processed, and be careful with silk, satin and lycra fabrics
Your tan should develop fully within 6-8 hours (or whatever the processing time is for the solution), so they must not shower or bathe before this time
Try not to touch your skin during development time or rub the skin, as the tanning solution can transfer to your hands and/or it may impact the development
Do not perform vigorous exercise while the tan is processing as the sweat may cause the tan to streak
The first shower after the tan is a ‘rinse’, and they should use lukewarm water, no products, and it should be no more than one minute!
After the first shower and subsequent showers, your client should pat the skin dry rather than rubbing
Gentle exfoliation should occur 5 days after the tan to encourage even fading
Avoid swimming because chlorine and salts can make tan fade quicker
Remember to wear sunscreen because a sunless tan does not have SPF!

Because hydration is key, you should also discuss the importance of drinking lots of water to help them hydrated from the inside our which will maintain their bronzed glow for longer. The face, hands and feet will usually be the first places to fade. So, you might also recommend a gradual tan or tan extending products to be used to prolong their tan.

Gradual tans have a weaker affective DHA level, so they can be a great way to maintain tans between each spray tan appointment. At-home products for the face will usually not contain bronzers or dyes because:

  • A clear face tanner can be used on a daily or regular basis underneath face moisturiser, skincare or makeup, and they will still develop
  • They are not messy and can be used on the go to top up the colour without staining clothes, bathrooms or homewares at the time of application

The secret to professionally applied spray tan products (applied by professional spray tanning technicians) is that they are more concentrated than self-tan products clients can apply from home (such as self-tan foams, mousses and gels). If you have ever wondered if you can take a bottle of your favourite ‘self-tan foam’ you would use at home and pour it into a spray tan machine and then spray it on your skin for the same result, the answer is no! The products are fundamentally different. Although you will notice similarities in development, home-style self-tan products are products that are created for short term wear; they contain ‘foaming agents’ and diluted formulas which do not absorb as deeply, do not last as long and have inconsistencies in development. For this reason, you can never beat a professional spray tan!

A professional spray tan is a more concentrated version of spray tan liquid; it absorbs deeper, lasts longer and looks more natural. Although it is possible to achieve a great initial result with a ‘home apply ‘ product, it will never wear as well or have the customisation you can achieve with a professional tan. That said, self-tan products are great products to suggest as an add on or ‘top-up’ product. Some at-home self-tan foams and products do vary from a ‘gradual tan’ because they do not offer the hydration benefits. They simply add colour faster and darker for short term wear.

A great example of when you would sell an at-home product to a client is if they are tanning for an occasion or event coming up closely after the standard 5 to the 7-day mark. In this instance, the tan itself will still be on their skin, and it will be hard or unadvisable for them to remove the product from their skin. So, applying a self-tanning product at home the day before their event would be a great way to top up their fading colour. When you are recommending at-home products, the best way your client can apply them is by using a self-apply tanning mitt. Even though at home mitts, they cannot give the same result as a professional spray tan machine because they do not break the product down into fine particles for ultimate absorption to the skin’s epidermis; they will ensure even coverage.

Some clients won’t be bothered with maintaining their tan, and others will show more of an interest. You will need to gauge each client and their level of interest so that you can provide tailored aftercare advice. Just like the pre-appointment skin preparation, it can be useful to have the post-care advice in a written format that you can hand to your client, email to them or have available on your website. With any sort of communication to clients, try and keep it simple to ensure they actually read and absorb what you are telling them! Asking any of the following leading questions can be an excellent way to gauge your client’s interest in tan maintenance and may also present an opportunity for you to sell them additional products:

  • Do you ever find that your tan comes off in some places before others?
  • Do you spray tan your face? And if so, do you find that the colour on your face doesn’t last quite as long?
  • Do you struggle to ever remove tan from any part of your body more than others?
  • In addition to [any special occasions uncovered in the consultation], do you have any more events coming up in the next 5 to 10 days that you will need a bronzed glow for?

All of the questions above will lead to you being able to provide tailored advice and to offer products to your clients to assist them with their tanning goals. When selecting an appropriate product, always think about what your client needs, their budget and what is easy to use. If you overcomplicate any part of the tanning process, most clients won’t do it! Most clients will want to ensure the tan on their face does not fade too quickly, so if you have a ‘spritz’ style application product in your product range, this could be a convenient solution for your client to top up that daily glow and can easily work into their existing skincare routines. Clients should always leave their appointments with all of the information they need and, if they want to prolong their tan, a range of products and tips to meet their individual needs.

If you are interested in learning more about aftercare, access the resources linked:

The last step in the tan application process is to update details of the tan on your client’s service plan, file notes or client card. At a minimum, you should ensure the following is recorded:

  • Patch test location, reaction (if any), date and time
  • Any contraindications
  • The solution used (colour, DHA) and number of coats applied
  • Any contra-actions
  • Other feedback or useful information about the client’s skin

Having this information will not only save you time in future appointments, but it is also important to have a record in case something goes wrong or if the client was unhappy with their tan for any reason. On your client’s next visit, you can recap what was applied in the previous appointment and then discuss whether or not they would like the same, darker or lighter depending on how the tan developed and maintained.

Every client’s skin will be different, and the same solution can produce a different outcome, depending on all of the variables of their natural skin, the pre-appointment preparation and the skin preparation you do. Ensuring you have detailed notes will help you to troubleshoot any issues and continually improve your services. When you are tanning multiple clients in a day, you can easily forget which solutions you used on who and the various differences between clients, so always write it down!

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