Myth #1: A Spray Tan Looks Unnatural
This is by far the most pervasive myth about spray tanning, and the worst part about it is that it was once true—making it that much harder to put this myth to bed. Because a spray tan solution needs to be formulated correctly to give a realistic looking tan, and because solutions can be applied by people who are less than unqualified, there are a lot of varying results.
As the saying goes, “One bad egg can spoil the bunch,” and with spray tanning this is very true—the worst spray tans are the ones that usually get the most publicity. The best way to get the most natural looking tan is to see a professional and use the proper solution tone, meaning don't ask for the darkest tan if you have porcelain skin.
Myth #2: A Spray Tan Can Prevent Sun Burns
This is one of the most dangerous myths regarding spray tanning—falling just short of, “A spray tan can prevent a bear attack.”
A spray tan cannot prevent a sun burn. A spray tan is not a base tan—it provides no more protection from the sun than your makeup does (unless your makeup has SPF in it of course). Always use SPF protection and practice sun safety.
Myth #3: A Spray Tan Makes You Look Orange
This is based in the 70s right beside the “looks unnatural” myth. Back when Earth, Wind, and Fire
was pumping out funky grooves, and before glam metal took center stage with tight leather and gender-confused lead singers, spray tanning was in its infancy.
DHA was discovered for its tanning abilities in the 20s, but the first tanning solution came out in 1960 (Coppertone’s Quick Tan); unfortunately, the first solutions were far from natural looking. Lots of them came out orange and others made you look like a burnt piece of toast. This happened because the companies really didn’t understand how to correctly process DHA; they just could not find the balance between too little DHA and too much. Thankfully, this is no longer the case: nowadays, most spray tans look as natural as sun-based tans.
The only way to turn orange is to ask for a tan that is too dark for your skin tone, by using over the counter self tanners with the spray, or not following proper after care recommendations.
Myth #4: A Spray Tan Is Only For “Young People”
The idea behind this myth is that young people go tanning and older people don’t because tanning is a popularity tool and older people are more comfortable with where they stand among their friends, and thus don’t feel the pressure to “fit in”.
In fact, older clients can perhaps benefit more from the psychological effects of a spray tan. As you age, your skin slowly loses its color and begins to appear ashen or grey because your skin cells are becoming less oxygenated. This process can appear to be reversed with a spray tan, making you appear more vibrant.
I have many, many clients over the age of 50, and some into their 70's and 80's! Age is a state of mind.
Myth #5: All Spray Tans Stain Your Clothes, Your Furniture, Your Bed Sheets
You’ve no doubt heard the same horror stories as I have: "I lay down on my bed and now I have to throw out the sheets; I put my clothes back on and now my collar has a spray tan too; I sat down on my couch and my tan rubbed off on the cushion."
Sadly, this is only partly a myth. The truth is that the spray tan is not causing the stains—waiting too long to remove the cosmetic bronzers, present in the spray tanning solutions, from the affected surface is what commonly causes the staining. So to put it simply: if you wear dark colored clothing and wash away any bronzer transfer immediately, you will minimize the potential for staining.