3.6 Event tanning

Many of your clients will come to you for special events, so you will need to really consider their needs and what they are trying to achieve. Remember, DHA will react and develop as it does from light to dark, so this is where your knowledge of ‘base colours’ or the cosmetic bronzers and dyes will really come into force.

Weddings are a common event that will have the bridal party and guests coming to you to help them achieve a bronzed glow. There is no bride on the planet that wants to look like an orange unless it is a Willy Wonka themed wedding, of course! For special events, it is all in the preparation and planning. If you need to customise colours and achieve specific looks, it is always best to have a trial appointment first. This will help to ensure your client is happy and will allow you time to iron out any issues..

No two clients are the same, and what one person considers natural is different to another. If you think about a brides makeup, you will have brides who will opt for a full-blown smoky eye and then others who want a barely-there look. The same goes for tanning. If your client is a sunless tanning pro, they will likely want a deeper tan for their wedding and others may want just a Sunkissed look. For events such as fitness competitions and dance competitions, your client will likely be graded on their overall appearance, and you would not want them to lose points due to an uneven tan! Likewise, when tanning clients for photo shoots, the camera will see all, so you need to ensure that you absolutely nail your application. Let’s take a look at a range of events in more detail.


Bridal tanning applications will likely be your bread and butter business! Everyone wants to look like their best selves on their wedding day, and a gorgeous spray tan can help your clients achieve this. A well-applied tan can help your client live their bronzed goddess goals, can make their teeth appear whiter, and some say that tans actually make you look thinner!

A persons wedding can be one of the biggest days of their lives, and a tanning fail could have lasting psychological impacts on someone. You absolutely do not want to be the reason someone thinks back on their big day and shudders, nor do you want your client to look back on their expensive wedding photos in years to come and be full of regret. When tanning a bride or bridal party, always insist that they have a trial tan a few weeks before so that they can test out the colour before their big day. You also need to consider the honeymoon. You do not want the bride or groom experiencing patchy, streaky or irritating tans when they are supposed to be enjoying their honeymoon!

In terms of bridal spray tanning, at-home skin preparation is an absolute must and you need to express this to your client. You are not a magician, so if your client fails to prepare their skin properly, then the overall outcome is literally out of your hands. The same pre-care and post-care requirements are the same for any spray tan, and they do not change for event tanning. However, due to the level of importance of significant life events in contrast to a night on the town, you must stress the importance of skincare.

For anyone wearing white at a wedding, the impact of colour transfer must also be considered. As you have already learned, many tanning solutions use bronzers and dyes that will last a few days, which means there is a high potential for colour transfer. Where possible, it is always best to use tanning solutions that are clear or completely free of colourings and dyes. Most of the do’s and don’ts for bridal tanning are the same as a normal tan application, with a few differences. For instance, a trial appointment is always a must, and your choice of tanning solution is critical. As a general guide, consider the following tips:

Bridal Do’sBridal Don’ts
Have an in-depth discussion with your client about the look they are trying to achieve

Have a trial appointment a few weeks before the wedding and the actual appointment 2 days prior to the wedding

Use solutions that are clear or completely free of colourings and dyes

Stress the importance of preparation and aftercare

Properly prepare the clients skin with primers, blending creams and barrier creams

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

Recommend aftercare
Use solutions with strong cosmetic bronzers and dyes

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

Continue the application if your client is experiencing any contra-actions Use low quality tanning solutions or equipment

Oversaturate the skin

Spray too close to the skin or too far away

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

Forget to tell your client to protect their skin with sunscreen


When you are tanning brides especially, you should always try and persuade them toward a more natural look. The reason for this, is trends change all the time and in fifty years, we might be painting ourselves red for fashion purposes! A more subtle and natural look will help to ensure that their photos look timeless, and it will also reduce any potential colouration issues. However, if your client is having a destination wedding somewhere in the Pacific islands, they may want a deeper tan, so in this instance, that would be appropriate.

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

Fitness competitions

Bronzed glows are an absolute staple for fitness competitions. The reason most fitness and bodybuilding competitors will have a false tan is that it can emphasise the definition of their muscles. Clients who are coming to you for competition tans have been working around the clock to get their body into tip-top shape to compete, and a failed tan could cost them the win! There are specific tanning solutions on the market for fitness competitions that have a high concentration of bronzers and dyes to achieve a dark brown hue. These are often referred to as a ‘top coat’ or ‘apply and wear’ solutions.

CocoTan Stage Finish is such a product, and is provided in your training kit. Later in the course in module 6, you will get the opportunity to experiment with apply and wear tans!

Fitness competition tan application technique

Utilising the tanning application technique you learned in the previous lesson (Lesson 3.5 Tan application 101), apply three (3) coats of CocoTan Stage Finish to achieve a deep brown tan that will not get washed out in the bright stage lights of a fitness competition.

In addition to the general spray application, your client might also need you to sculpt and contour to emphasise parts of their body. Usually, your client will be more worried about the day of the event rather than the longevity after the event, so using solutions with appropriate base colours and dyes will be the way to go. Just like bridal, it can be useful for you to have a trial tan to test out your chosen solutions and practice your contouring. Contouring that is not done appropriately will just look like random dark lines, so you will need to practice this skill!

Did you know: A good tan can help your clients place higher in a competition, and, perhaps even more so, a bad tan can negatively affect their placing. In fact, judges often comment on the tan quality when they offer competitors feedback, so it’s a legitimate part of the competition process.

You also need to consider the impact of stage lights. The lights they use at the competition are super bright, and this can impact how the tan looks on stage. This is why most competition clients will want a super dark tan to ensure the colour is not muted on stage.

If you are interested in learning more about competition tanning and what sorts of looks your clients will want to achieve, access the resources linked:

Dance competitions, pageants and cheerleading competitions

Dance competitions, pageants and cheerleading competitions are also popular events that require sunless tanning. An important consideration for these types of events is the treatment of minors. Many children and young adults use spray tans as part of their aesthetics for these events, and much like fitness competitions, the overall look of the spray tan can influence the overall score for your client. When it comes to spray tanning minors, you must ensure that they have informed parent or guardian consent, and the parent/guardian must be present at all times during the appointment.

Did you know: Newborns have relatively high pH levels all over the skin. As babies get older, their pH levels rapidly decline. The average newborn has a skin pH of about 7. This is compared to the average adult skin pH of 5.7.

As a spray tanning technician, you can decide the age limits you feel comfortable with in terms of who you will tan. There are no specific laws in Australia at this stage that explicitly set out an age limit, but you should use your own professional judgement when working with these clients. Some people have moral and ethical reasons for not spray tanning children under certain ages, and that is completely up to you. For example, if someone wanted to spray tan a young child (under 5 years old) or a baby, we would recommend you refuse the service. There really isn’t any good reason to ever apply spray tan to a baby, and the same can be said for children under 5 years old. However, if you have ever seen an episode of ‘Toddlers and Tiara’s’, you will know that some parents want to win at all costs and will tan their infant children.

Watch the videos below to see some pageant tanning in action:

As you can see in both videos, tanning children presents a whole host of issues. There are not many 6 year old’s that can stand still and get into all the correct stances required for an even application. Also, in the first video, did you see the technician was actually using a paint roller to blend the tan – what the? Never use a paint roller on your clients! To blend the tan, use your blending brush or a mitt. Much like bridal tans, when you are applying spray tans to minors, less is always more.

As a spray tanning technician, you decide whether or not you feel comfortable tanning minors. Many people think it can have psychological impacts on children as it can distort their self-esteem and view of their own unique beauty. In addition to this, children can have specific skin sensitivities, which could be quite traumatic for them if they were to have a reaction. As mentioned previously, if you do agree to spray tan a minor, documented permission is a must!

If you would like to learn more about spray tanning minors for competitive events, access the resources linked:

In terms of product selection and application technique, generally, entrants in dance competitions, beauty pageants and cheerleading competitions will opt for a same-day, apply and wear tan.

Dance competition, beauty pageant and cheerleading competition tan application technique

Utilising the tanning application technique you learned in the previous lesson (Lesson 3.5 Tan application 101), apply one (1) to two (2) coats of CocoTan Stage Finish to achieve a dark yet natural looking tan.

Runway and photoshoot

Similar to competition tanning, the lighting will be a huge consideration when deciding which tanning solution will be best to meet your client’s needs or the creative brief for a fashion show. Usually, spray tanning for the runway will be used to achieve a healthy all-over glow and to even out skin tones. A healthy bronzed glow can also be achieved by makeup artists, but some designers may want their models to be spray tanned to have a bronzed palette to work with.

Did you know: Spray tans can make you look thinner and more toned. A common testament among spray tan enthusiasts is getting compliments that they look as though they’ve lost weight. In a recent survey conducted by Sienna X on tanning trends, 86% of women said that they instantly felt more confident about their bodies just by having a spray tan, and almost 2/3 of survey respondents said that not only did they feel slimmer with a spray tan, but they also felt more toned.

In terms of photoshoots, lighting can have a huge impact, and so will the photographer. A flash camera can bounce off colours, so what you will see in an image will usually be different to real life. A good way to think about this is to consider the models of Instagram! To get the perfect selfie, you will usually apply heavy makeup that photographs well, but in person, it looks really cakey. The same applies to tanning. You may need to apply a darker colour, so it shows up in photos.

Runway and photoshoot tan application technique

Utilising the tanning application technique you learned in the previous lesson (Lesson 3.5 Tan application 101), apply one (1) coat of CocoTan Stage Finish to achieve a natural looking tan.

If you would like to learn more about runway and photoshoot tanning, access the resources linked:

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