Skip to main content

Spray Tanning Troubleshooting

By January 18, 2011July 7th, 2023FAQ

Everyone’s skin is different, so it’s important to know exactly how and what to do if things go wrong, which is possible as everyone’s skin is different.  Dry skin, poor exfoliating/moisturizing habits and lifestyle can all make a difference to the way the tan lasts/fades.  Below is a guide which may help.

Color Not Lasting

As with anything, proper care and maintenance is the key to longevity.  It is important that clients are given the proper preparation procedures, either over the phone when the appointment is made or provided a prep sheet if they’re in the salon when making their appointment.

Prior to tanning, skin must be well exfoliated.  No deodorants, perfumes or moisturizers should be on the skin.  To maintain the color, soap-free body washes are to be used and moisturizer must be applied a couple times a day.  Exposure to chlorine and extended hot baths may affect the tan also.  A client with oilier skin will find the tan will last better and longer than someone who has dry skin.  Your face and hands will typically fade faster.

Tan Too Light

If an adequate amount of product is not applied, the tan will not appear dark enough.  The recommended application amount for spray tanning is about 2 ounces of solution per client to ensure the skin receives enough DHA to produce the tan.  Also, if a client has very fair skin, they will not come up as dark  as someone of a darker skin type.  You can safely say the color should be at least 3 shades darker than their natural or base color.  If one area is lighter than the rest, then not enough solution has been applied to that area.

Tan Too Dark

This appears to only affect those with fairer skin, as they do not normally tan and may find the color too dark.  Use solution with a lower DHA percentage or apply product in a thinner coat.


Generally this is caused by excessive friction from clothing or can be caused if the tan is not allowed to dry sufficiently before dressing or insufficient moisturizing.

Scaly/Lizard Skin Appearance

This is most always attributed to dry skin.  If the skin is not well hydrated, it exfoliates away unevenly, thus causing the lizard skin look.  This can also be caused if the previous tan has not been totally removed, or proper exfoliation has not been performed prior to a new tan; it affects the color by having underlying color left and the dead skin has not been removed to expose fresh new cells.

Be careful not to apply a tanning solution with too high of a DHA percentage on a fair skinned client – especially if they are susceptible to dry skin.  Poor fading will be accentuated by a very dark tan on a fair skinned client.

Again, proper maintenance and preparation is the key.

Orange Cast to Skin

The most likely cause of an orange cast to the skin is from over application.  (Improper exfoliation may also play a role.)  The recommended amount for spray tanning is about 2 ounces per client.  One more cause could be when the solution contains too high of a DHA percentage for the client’s skin type.  A client with a darker skin type may tolerate a higher percentage, while a fair skinned client may need a much lower DHA percentage.

Removing a Sunless Tan

For larger areas, soak in warm water with lemon juice and baking soda.  Follow with exfoliation.  For smaller areas, hydrogen peroxide, body hair bleach remover or lemon juice and baking soda may be used.

Sandra Myatte

Sandra Myatte

Sandra, launched Sun Cocktail, sunless formulas and equipment in 2006. With her vast experience and knowledge in business, she has become a sought after beauty and social media blogger. A contributor in beauty magazines and speaker in beauty trade shows.

Leave a Reply