5 Reasons Self-Tanner is Better than Spray Tan

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It’s no secret that tanning in the sun is bad for you and can lead to premature skin aging, as well as cancer. And though tanning beds were initially thought to be a safer alternative, it turns out they are actually way worse for you than tanning in the sun, even in moderation!

With more access to information nowadays, people are wising up and turning to safer methods to get their bronzed skin without the inherent dangers of overexposure to UV radiation.

Enter – spray tans and sunless self-tanners! But which is better? That depends on your circumstances!

While both spray tans and sunless self-tanners are a much safer way to get your glow on than tanning in the sun or using a tanning bed, in this article, we are going to look at the 5 reasons self-tanner is better than a spray tan.


How do Spray Tans and Self-Tanners Work?

Surprisingly, the active ingredient in both spray tans and self-tanners is the same: Dihydroxyacetone (DHA). DHA works by creating a chemical reaction with dead cells on the skin’s surface layer to temporarily darken the skin and simulate a tan.

Regardless of the other ingredients in the formula of spray or self-tanner, it’s the DHA that’s responsible for the temporary tanning of the skin.

What is a Spray Tan?

Professional spray tanning is simple, quick, and produces natural looking results with none of the health risks associated with tanning beds or sun tanning.

There are two types of spray tan methods:

1. Spray Booth

Most salons that offer spray tans will use a spray tan booth. These booths are outfitted with several nozzles that emit tanning solution. You can have the solution applied to your entire body quickly and efficiently.

2. Airbrush Gun or Spray Gun

You may also find a salon that has a tanning artist that uses a spray gun to apply the spray tan. Tanning artists often work freelance and you can schedule in-home appointments. They will use a portable tanning airbrush and spray tan tent (to contain the spray).

The air brush provides a similar level of control and consistency as tanning booths, so you are guaranteed a flawless, smooth tan without streaking.

You can do a spray tan at home, but you need to know what you’re doing, and it’s a hassle.

What is a Self-Tanner?

A self-tanner is basically a spray tan in a bottle that you apply yourself. It’s a great way to get that tanned look in the comfort of your own home, also without the harmful effects of UV rays of the sun or tanning beds.

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5 Reasons Self-Tanner is Better than Spray Tan

So far, spray tanning and self-tanners both sound like equally perfect tanning alternatives, so what is it about self-tanners that make them better than spray tans?

We’re not hating on spray tans. Spray tanning is actually a great way to get an almost instant tan without the harmful effects of UV radiation, but there are a few advantages that self-tanners have over spray tans (in the real world) that edge them out as the winner in the debate as to which is better.

1. It’s a LOT Cheaper!

The average price of one spray tan session is more expensive than one bottle of self-tanner which usually holds about 4 applications.

You don’t need to be a math genius to figure out how much more cost-effective self-tanning is!

And let’s get real, at the end of the day, most of us are not independently wealthy. Sure it would be nice if we could just do whatever we wanted to and money wasn’t an issue. But it is an issue.

We have bills, we have debt, we have kids to feed, we have mortgages and dental bills, etc.,

We have a finite amount of money that has to pay for all of those things. But we also need to exercise a little self-care. And if that means getting a tan makes you feel better about yourself, then you go girl!

Just go the more cost-effective route so you can have your tan and still pay the bills.

2. It’s less time-consuming

Because you can do it at home, there’s no need to rearrange your schedule to fit in appointments. You can do it whenever you want.

You also don’t have to go anywhere and fight traffic to get there (and back). That time spent to and from the tanning salon can be better put to use.

3. More Privacy

Some people have more of an issue with stripping down in front of strangers than others. It can be an intimidating and even self-deprecating experience that can lead to emotional and mental stress.

You don’t have to have self-issues to not want to get naked in front of strangers (or maybe wear a bra).

A self-tanner is FAR less personally intrusive.

4. More Control & Less Chance of Breakouts

If you get a spray tan, it sprays you all over. Same color from head to toe. You may be thinking: “well I want to be tanned head to toe!” Here are a few things that you may not have considered:

1. Hands and feet tend to tan much darker than the rest of you (your tech should manage this).

When applying a self-tanner, rather than using more tanner on your mitt (which you should be using to apply self-tanner) to apply to your hands and feet, instead just smooth out the tanner from your arms and legs over your hands and feet, so they don’t end up darker than everything else.

2.       There’s nothing that screams fake tan like tanned palms, underarms, and places where the sun don’t shine.

3.       Self-tanners come in different formulas for face and body. Self-tanners for your face are specifically formulated to be non-comedogenic, which means it won’t clog pores and there is a much less chance of breakouts. 

4.       You will get a much more natural-looking tan if your face is actually a shade lighter than the rest of your body.

Use your face self-tanner to do your neck. Otherwise, the abrupt change in color between your face and your neck will be a total giveaway that it’s a fake tan. 

5. It’s Safer!

While DHA has been FDA approved for topical skin use and is safe on your skin, when inhaled or absorbed by mucous membranes can cause all sorts of issues.

There is no risk of inhaling your self-tanner. Just make sure you don’t get it near any of your mucous membranes a.k.a. your wet bits.

Self-Tanner Application Challenges

Self-tanners can take a bit of trial and error when it comes to application. If not done properly, you can end up with a streaky or blotchy, uneven tan.

But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

You can avoid that by making sure you check out our article on “8 mistakes you’re making while using self-tanner”, so you are way ahead of the game before you even start. 

In Summary

At the end of the day, getting a spray tan is far safer than tanning in the sun or using a tanning bed. You just have to be very mindful of not inhaling the mist. On the other hand, it’s also expensive and time consuming and you have far less control over what’s being sprayed.

This is why we’re going with self-tanners as the winner in the self-tanner vs. spray tan showdown in terms of real life practicality.

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).