How Long Does a Spray Tan Take? Everything You Need to Know Before You Get a Spray Tan

Woman body paint instant tan spray skintone with airbrush in professional beauty salon on black background.
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Before deciding whether book an appointment for a spray tan, there are some details you need to know. Perhaps the most important is the question of timing and scheduling.

How long does a spray tan take?

Usually spray tan appointments are for 30-minute time periods, which includes check-in, undressing, spray tan prep, a bit of drying, and dressing. The actual application of the tanning solution can be done in as little as 5 minutes depending, on the tools used. 

In this article, I’ll go over everything you need to know to plan for booking your spray tan appointment! 


How Long Does A Spray Tan Take?

The actual application of spray tan solution can be applied in as little as 5 minutes. Some tan artists even claim that they can apply the tanning solution in as little as two minutes. 

As we’ve mentioned earlier, the time it takes to apply the product on the skin will depend on the tools that are used. Nowadays there are HVLP spray tan systems. These high volume low pressure spray tan equipment are the ones that claim to be the fastest applicator. 

Although some tanning salons claim that they could finish the spray tan application in as little as two minutes, it’s generally best to not rush things. Make sure that the application is properly done, rather than rushed. 

You don’t want screw-ups and spray tan all over your hair!

That’s why many technicians take their time and finish the application in 5 minutes in one pass. Other technicians do two spray passes. Although this takes a little longer, this will help ensure that the sunless tan solution gets into your skin properly and evenly. 

Other tanning salons and mobile tanning salons may use other equipment apart from the HVLP spray tan.

Compared to HVLP systems, older systems may be slower when it comes to application. With an airbrush, it can take as much as 20 minutes for the spray tan application to be completed. 

After the application, you need to give it time for it to dry about 5-10 minutes. That will add to the total time that it takes for you to have the spray tan session. 

Apart from that, you should consider the time it takes for you to remove your clothes and then dress back up after the spray tan session.

All in, it takes about 30 minutes to an hour to complete the spray tanning session.

All in, it takes about 30 minutes to an hour to complete the spray tanning session.

The Spray Tan Process FAQ

If it is your first time to have a DHA spray tan, you might be wondering about the process. Knowing what takes place during the process can help you better prepare for it especially if you want it to be done as quickly as possible. 

Exfoliate your skin the day before your spray tan to make your spray tan last as long as possible. Wax or shave before your spray tan.

1. Talk To Your Tanning Technician

At this time, you can go over what your goals are for tanning. You could tell your tech what you want, or show them a picture of how dark you’d like to be. 

The tech should be able to help you select a tan color that will go well with your skin undertone, hair color, eye color, etc.

You can tell them the reason for the tan, and if there are any special issues they need to be aware of.

Some people may want to go for a deeper shade because they’d want to look bronze and glowing during their holiday. Others may just want a slight tan just to give them a good glow for a wedding or a special occasion they’d want to attend.

2. Makeup Removal

Once you’ve got your plan, it’s time to remove all your makeup. It would be best to show up without makeup so that they can apply the spray tan properly, but if you’re wearing any, remove it. The salon will provide you with wipes and makeup removers.

Apart from makeup, you should remove your deodorant by using wipes. This needs to be removed because the deodorants could act as a barrier between your skin and the tanning solution. That would lead to a patchy, crackly tan. 

Ideally, you’ll come to the tanning salon without any makeup, deodorant, or any product on your skin to make sure that your skin reacts well to the tanning solution.

That way, you don’t have to take time to remove the products on your skin that could hinder the solution from tanning the skin.

3. Undress

After removing the products on your skin, you need to undress. You can keep your underwear if you wish, keep it to a minimum so that most of your skin is exposed. You’ll have tan lines on any unexposed skin.

When it comes to the clothes you wear, it would be best to wear something loose so that you can easily remove them and put them back on.

Many spray tan salons will provide you with temporary bras, thongs, foot pads if you want them. Many will also provide nipple covers for breastfeeding mothers.

A loose, long shirt is a great piece of clothing to use when you are going for a spray tan session. 

Apart from that, it would be best to wear flip flops or slip ons that could be easily removed and are non-constricting so the solution won’t be wiped off. 

4. Actual Spray Tanning

After you talk about what you want to achieve, the technician will now start to spray the solution on your face and throughout the body. The first spray may feel cold.

Before the spray starts, take a deep breath and close your eyes. They should provide you with spray tan nose plugs for safety, as you don’t want to inhale the solution.

The technician usually works from the head down to your toes.

They will ask you to be in various positions such as leaning your butt out. These positions will help make sure that your tan is even and that there are no creases or awkward missed spots. 

Follow their instructions to make sure that every crease is coated with the tanning solution. 

5. Allow The Solution To Dry

Different technicians can have various techniques to help the solution dry. Some could use a mitt to buff the skin, especially on the ankles and wrists to help it blend in. Others may use baby powder.

And other techs may blast you with air by using an air hose to help the solution dry quickly and fully before you dress up. This is the time when you wipe your palms and nails so that they don’t stain. 

6. Dressing Back Up

After the tanning solution dries, you can now wear your loose garments. You can leave the salon and head to your next destination.

Make sure that you don’t get your skin wet so that the tan will last as long as possible. Moisture will create streaks on your skin, and you don’t want to ruin your tan unnecessarily. 

After dressing, avoid any strenuous exercise so you don’t perspire.

Avoid crying, washing, exfoliating, or taking a shower. 

You should let the solution stay on your skin for a few hours depending on what is recommended by the tanning salon. You can take a shower 6-8 hours after the spray tan.

See this article for details on spray tan aftercare.

Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).