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Basic Tanning Certification
Indoor Salon Certification
Regulatory Information
Business Resources
Sunless Airbrush/HVLP Technician Course Chapters
Introduction to Sunless
Setting up your Equipment
Skin Preparation and Application
Working with the Client
Federal Statement on DHA

Electrical Safety

Avoiding Slips & Falls

Chapter 2
Setting up Your Equipment

There are two types of technician-operated sunless spray systems: the traditional airbrush system and, emerging from the airbrush concept, the turbine-powered tanning system, also known as HVLP (high volume, low pressure). HVLP is vastly different from the airbrush units on the market. It is not an airbrush at tall. The machine is driven by a turbine motor rather than a compressor unit seen in airbrush systems. The turbine motor delivers a high volume of low-pressure “soft” airflow instead of a concentrated high-pressure blast found in compressor-based airbrush systems.

The soft air deposits the solution more efficiently on skin, reducing waste and overspray. The high volume and low pressure results in faster application time due to the larger fan pattern that puts out more solution at one time. HVLP allows for total body application in less than five minutes.

Because of the reduced application time, HVLP systems decrease operator fatigue, and more clients can be sprayed in a given time frame, allowing for the the possibility of increased profits. On the other hand, traditional airbrush units may be easier to learn to use and allow for ease in detailed work.

Setting Up Your Airbrush Equipment

In most cases, when you purchase a spray system from a sunless manufacturer or distributor, your airbrush system will come packed with an air hose and several reservoir bottles along with a small- to medium-size electric compressor. The airbrush system is usually ready to use when it is unpacked. No matter which system you use, you should always work in a ventilated area or spray booth designated specifically for spray tanning.

Although some setup steps may vary slightly from manufacturer to manufacturer, the following can be used as a general guide for setting up your airbrush system:

  • Attach the air hose to your compressor. The end of the hose with the larger fitting attaches to the fitting on your compressor. Attach the other end of the hose to your airbrush. You should be able to tighten these fittings by hand.
  • Plug in your compressor and turn it on. Make sure both fittings are tight and not leaking air.
  • To operate your airbrush, hold it in your hand like you would a pencil. The button, usually found on top of the airbrush, is the trigger. A typical airbrush will have two actions: When you press down on the trigger, air is released through the nozzle; when you pull back on the trigger, it releases solution mixed with air in a fine mist.
  • When you have confirmed your airbrush is working properly, fill one of the reservoir bottles with your sunless spray solution and begin spraying.
  • We recommend you practice your spraying technique on several sheets of paper prior to applying to the body. You may want to practice on yourself or co-workers until you have gained confidence in your equipment and your abilities. The more practice you have, the better you will become at mastering the technique of airbrush applications.

Cleaning and Maintaining Your Airbrush

  • Remove all the solution from your airbrush by removing the solution bottle and spray until the brush is empty.
  • Pour a small amount of cleaner into your spray bottle and shake vigorously to loosen the remaining bronzer and run this cleaner through your airbrush. Your airbrush manufacturer will recommend a cleaning solution that is compatible with your system.
  • Repeat with fresh amount of cleaner, spraying onto a clean piece of paper until spray appears to be clear.
  • Remove the needle and or spray nozzle and wipe with a soft cloth dipped in cleaner. Clean any residue on the surface of the nozzle and brush.
  • Do not immerse your spray unit in solvent.
  • It is normally not necessary to completely disassemble your airbrush unless you feel it has been damaged.
  • Always clean your spray unit when you are finished using it or whenever it may be unused for an extended period of time.

Tip: Spattering or spitting of the sunless solution is a sign of a dirty airbrush.

HVLP Equipment Setup

The setups for HVLP systems will vary depending on the manufacturer. The instructions listed below are meant to be used as a general guide. It is recommended you follow the instructions that come with your particular unit, and to contact the manufacturer or your distributor with specific questions.

The equipment typically will include the turbine unit, a solution holding cup with check valve assembly, a turbine gun and turbine hose.

  • Remove the cap covering the phalange on the gun.
  • Screw the fluid-holding cup onto the fluid passage of the gun at the bottom of the cup.
  • Make sure that the check valve assembly is on the same side as the phalange.
  • Connect the check valve assembly by sliding the end of the tube over the phalange until it is snug.
  • Tighten down the fluid cup to make sure there is no leakage.
  • Connect the turbine host to the front of the turbine exhaust port. Do this by screwing it on like you would a garden hose.
  • Attach the gun to the hose.
  • Pour the solution in to the cup, and replace the cup.
  • Plug the unit in, and turn it on.

Troubleshooting Tips

If the gun trigger is pulled and it doesn’t spray any solution, it is most likely that the check valve is upside down.

Make sure the pressure control at the top of the cup is closed all the way. If it is open, air is escaping out of the cup and the fluid will not pressurize.

Solution: Care And Storage

Sunless solution is a formulated and balanced chemical recipe for providing natural-looking tan color. You will get intended results with normal use under standard conditions. However, if the product is mishandled or stored improperly, its performance can be adversely effected--very much like food products, which must be stored carefully to maintain freshness. Sunless solution should be handled carefully to maintain its performance, efficacy, consistency and color. The following are a few basic steps to eliminating sunless solution irregularities:

  1. Due to the reactive nature of most sunless products, the solution should not be stored in direct sunlight. The solution will not spoil from incidental exposure; however, repeated or prolonged exposure may reduce the product’s effectiveness.
  2. Store product in a cool, dark place. Refrigerating the solution after it is open is recommended. Repeated or prolonged storage at high temperatures will reduce the product’s effectiveness.
  3. Rotate your inventory regularly. The solution has a limited shelf life and should be used in the order in which it is received from your distributor.
  4. Never pour the solution through a metal funnel or store in metal containers.
  5. Do not pour new solution into solution that is more than a few days old. Adding new product does not “refresh” the quality of old product in your reservoir tank or make it “new” again. In fact, the old product may reduce the effectiveness of the new product being added.

Remember: Sunless tanning solution’s balance of ingredients can be adversely affected by equipment that has not been cleaned and maintained properly.

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