Great question and one that I hope you are asking ME or any spray tan technician! Especially if you are getting a spray tan for the first time! There is a magical process that goes back 100+ years but fast forward to today, you are choosing the safest + healthiest way to give a natural tan to your skin and I am here to help educate + understand what all happens after I spray you!
There are two parts to the spray tanning process that you should know:
PART 1: BRONZER
Think of the bronzer as the top layer, like the makeup bronzer and what I consider the illusion or that instant gratification that you and I both get after I spray you. It is more so for me to ensure that there is an even spray application and there are no missed areas. Keep in mind, this top layer is what washes off but don't be alarmed! The processing of your desired color is just beginning!
PART 2: DHA (Dihydroxyacetone)
This is the MAIN ingredient and what I like to call the secret sauce of the spray tanning solution. It should be understood that DHA is in fact a chemical even though it comes in different forms. So, to be absolutely fair, there is really no such thing as an "organic" spray tan! So let's learn some SCIENCE here: the amino acids in the dead layer of our skin's surface react with the DHA, thus causing the Maillard effect that causes the appearance of the tan. And remember, DHA gives no protection from the sun!
So how do you get a lighter vs darker tan? It's all in the amount of DHA that is in the solution used by your spray technician. The same goes for your self-tanning lotions, just check the percentage of DHA and know that if the DHA % is in the teens, you are most likely to get a darker or possibly an overdeveloped look. I always suggest going with what will look natural and healthy-looking.
My job isn't to change your appearance so that no one recognizes you. While I want each client to get what they asked for, it is still my job to educate + inform each client that the goal is to bring out that inner glow without your outward appearance hindering your true beauty from within. A natural-looking glow is what I want for you and why I have a newfound passion for spray tanning.
Last but not least, always make sure you are applying SPF on a daily! Even for my Alaskan peeps! If you are getting outdoors to go skiing or snowboarding and you have the sun shining on you, you need to still make sure you are wearing SPF and a good lip balm!