What is airbrush tanning?
A sun tan involves ultraviolet rays penetrating multiple layers of the skin which stimulates the production of melanin, a pigmented substance that both produces a tan appearance and provides additional UV protection. A "sunless" tanner contains the ingredient DHA (dihydroxyacetone) that reacts with the outer layer of the skin turning it a brownish tan color. When dissolved in water, DHA produces a colorless solution. Many self tanners have bronzers added so that the product goes on with a tan shade. The addition of color also makes application easier, since applied and un-applied areas are distinct. Since the sunless tan is on the outer layers of skin, it lasts until these skin cells shed in the normal exfoliating cycle. A fully developed sunless tan will typically take 4 to 8 hours depending on formulation.
In airbrush tanning, the tanning solution is applied by a technician using a compressor and airbrush. These tanning solutions contain the active ingredient DHA that reacts with the outer layer of skin to produce a bronzing effect, similar to what a traditional tan does. It must be emphasized that the pigments resulting from an airbrush tan do not provide UV protection. For most solutions, the color of the skin will continue to darken after the initial application, and the maximum color is reached within about a 12 hour period (exactly what to expect from a particular tanning solution will be specified on the website and/or the solution directions). Typical solutions also have a bronzer that provides an immediate tan effect and helps the technician to distinguish areas of the skin that have solution already applied. The majority of this bronzer will be washed off when showering after application.
How long will an airbrush tan last?
A typical tan lasts from a 4-10 day period depending on the aftercare attention and the general nature of a specific person's skin. It is recommended to only get a tan on average about once per week.
The sunless tan develops on the outer layers of the skin and lasts until these slough off in the natural cell renewal process. Proper exfoliation and cleansing before the sunless tanner is applied ensures the removal of dead cells ready to shed and the best contact of product and skin. This can lengthen the sunless tan. The application of a moisturizer after the sunless tan can extend the tan also. For maximum results, a tan extender containing a small amount of DHA can renew the sunless tan. The strength of the sunless formula is also a factor -- if appropriate to your skin type, a stronger formula can produce a more long lasting faux tan.
How long does it take to apply?
A single application can take as little as 12 minutes or so. Factor in the drying time of about 10 minutes, and you can average a total time of about 25 minutes for an airbrush session.
Disclaimer: Individual results may vary from patient to patient and there is no guarantee of specific results.